The dream of natural harmony

→ I. B. Slavery as a means of freedom from labor

II. Respecting nature in its harmony

A. The dream of natural harmony

In Greek mythology, Orpheus was the son of King Oeagre and the muse Calliope. He could charm wild animals with his lyre. He married Eurydice but she died. To deliver her from the Underworld, Orpheus puts Cerberus to sleep with his music. He is granted the right to live with Eurydice on the condition that he does not turn back to her on the way. But when Orpheus leaves the Underworld and is worried about Eurydice’s silence, he cannot help but look at her. Eurydice disappears for good, causing Orpheus sorrow.

“A hill rose, and on this hill, on the ground, softly leveled, nourished a green and bushy grass: but the shade missed in these places. As soon as, resting in this place, the singer son of the immortals touched the sounding strings, the shadow came of itself. Suddenly appeared and the tree of Chaonie, and the Heliads of the bocage, and the oak with the superb foliage, and the graceful lime tree, and the beech, and the virginal laurel. At the same time, the fragile cedar tree and the warlike ash, and the knotless fir, and the yew tree bent under the weight of its acorns, and the plane tree friend of joy, and the maple of various shades, and the willow of the rivers, and the lotus of the waters, and the evergreen box tree, and the shy heather, and the two-colored myrtles, and the tunes with azure berries. You ran to the envy, ivy, whose feet are twisted; vines loaded with vine branches, elm trees that the vine decorates, wild ash trees, resinous trees.”

Ovid – Metamorphoses – Book X

Orpheus, the singer son of the immortals, thus attracts to him nature and vegetation, thanks to his music. The ideal of the harmonious nature which transpires in the myth of Orpheus was taken up by Victor Hugo in the Contemplations of 1856:

“Orpheus is bent over the world;

The dazzling is dazzled;

The creation is deep

And monstrous around him;

The rocks, those rough Hercules,

Fight in the twilight

The hurricane, sinister unknown;

The weeping sea in the fray

Trembles and the disheveled wave

Clings to their naked torsos.”

Victor Hugo – Contemplations, 1856

The dream of a nature in harmony with humanity justifies protecting oneself from the consequences of work, by recognizing, on the one hand, that nature is superior, and, on the other hand, that its exploitation leads to the exploitation of men.

→ II. B. The vocation to work