Eumaeus, Homer’s swineherd, is surely the only person in the Odyssey who is totally without guile. Respectful, loyal, hospitable, conscientious, he lives in the hills in a hut he built for himself adjoining his pigsties; he avoids the town and considers the influence of the court as corrupting. His character indicates that culture’s wistful love affair with what it called nature, the idea of the natural, must be very old, no doubt as old as culture itself.

This idea supposes a condition which existed before culture, and continues to exist outside of it and in contrast to it; the love of the natural also includes the thought, if it does not originate with it, that something may easily go wrong with what is too deliberately cultivated. Far from being merely the product of romanticism, this is expressed in the structure of language; from “art” derives...


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