Rivers and waters protection in the Ancient world: how can religion protect the environment

Dec 02, 2014 | 04:00 PM - 06:00 PM

[NB: Please note that the talk will be given in German!]

In the Ancient world, rivers are considered not only as natural elements, but also as personified gods, able to give the polis and its territory richness and prosperity. Albeit the importance of the water for the economy of a city and for everyday life rivers, sources, fountains and wells are often polluted and the waters intoxicated by rubbish. In many cases, river banks as well as public fountains were used as dumps, representing a danger for the public health, and streets and public and private places also became public toilettes. Numerous literary and epigraphic sources attest the measures undertaken against such pollution acts against the public waters and spaces.

This paper aims at showing how the religion and the belief in the power of the gods could be used as medium to protect the waters and in general the environment against human pollution, regarded not only as an act of violence against the nature and the beauty of the cityscape, but also against the holiness of the gods. These prohibitions, often connected to the religious practices, can also be understood as the presence of a sensibility for a clean environment, important not only for the god, but also for the quality of everyday life.

Time & Location

Dec 02, 2014 | 04:00 PM - 06:00 PM

Environmental Policy Research Centre (FFU), Ihnestraße 22, Room 3.1c