Saturday, October 17, 2009

Where the beauty of the landscape will give pleasure

While I've got Martin Warnke's book Political Landscape to hand (see previous post), here's an interesting quotation from the start of Chapter 4.

'"When founding a city, one should choose a location where the beauty of the landscape will give pleasure to the inhabitants", asserts St. Thomas Aquinas: 'For they are unlikely to leave a pleasant place, and it is equally unlikely that inhabitants will flock to a place devoid of all natural charm, for people cannot live for long wihout a certain measure of beauty.  The site should be extensive, with level fields and trees, and hills nearby to afford a pleasing prospect; the landscape should be fringed by woodlands, and everywhere there should be streams flowing through it.  However, because excessive amenity inclines man to immoderate pleasure, which is extremely harmful to the state, amenity must be enjoyed in moderation."

'The appreciation of the beauty of the landscape that Aquinas shows in this advice, proferred c. 1265 to princes intending to found cities, is immediately blocked by the fear that attractive surroundings might tempt the citizens to devote themselves to worldly pleasures.'

The quotation is from De Regimine principum (Book 2) and you can see it in context at Joseph Kenney's site.  Reading further there, Aquinas goes on to explain that 'pleasure is, by its very nature, greedy, and thus on a slight occasion one is precipitated into the seductions of shameful pleasures just as a little spark is sufficient to kindle dry wood; moreover, indulgence does not satisfy the appetite for the first sip only makes the thirst all the keener. Consequently, it is part of virtue’s task to lead men to refrain from pleasures.'  He concludes that it is 'harmful to a city to superabound in delightful things, whether it be on account of its situation or from whatever other cause. However, in human intercourse it is best to have a moderate share of pleasure as a spice of life, so to speak, wherein man’s mind may find some recreation.'

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The thing i want most to know about any picture is 'where is it?'

No hope here!