Friday, November 7, 2008

Footnote 124 of NRH

In the chapter on Locke, footnote 124 illustrates this quote from Locke: "nature and the earth furnish only the almost most worthless materials as in themselves"*

* 124. "Locke's statements about the relative importance of the gifts of nature and human labor [are illustrated--sic] with a statement from Ambrose's Hexameron, translated by George Boas, in Essays on Primitivism and Related Ideas in the Middle Ages (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1948), p. 42."

The passage cited by Strauss quotes the Church father Ambrose in this way:

"In the Hexameron he gives us a description of the world and of man as they came from the hands of their creator, before their nature had been changed by sin. This description combines themes from Genesis and pictures of the Golden Age from classical poetry. Its general tone is that of soft primitivism.

Spontaneously earth bore all fruits; though it could not be plowed in the absence of a plowman--no farmer yet existed--nevertheless it abounded in the richest harvests, and, I do not doubt, with an even larger yield, since the slothfulness of the husbandman could not rob the soil of its richness . . . Thus, O Man, while you are asleep and unconscious, the earth still produces its fruits; you sleep and then you rise and marvel to see how the grain has grown through the night."

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