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« Who is Watching You III | Main | Julian's Spin Doctor: Ammianus Marcellinus 24.2.22-24.3.8 and the Persian Mutiny »

METAMORPHOSES OF MAN AND NATURE: The Myth of Philemon and Baucis as Represented by Rubens and La Fontaine

Posted by Naomi Levin

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Fig. 1 Rubens, Landscape with Philemon and Baucis, 1620

"Parfois, un arbre humanise mieux un paysage que ne le ferait un homme." Gibert Cesbron

Man and nature… The story of humanity has been an unending conflict between civilisation and that needing civilising. One is constantly assaulting the other: man with his axes and ploughs, and nature with its tempests and floods. Very rarely has man lived in complete harmony with his surroundings. Until the Renaissance in Western Europe, the kinds of emotions with which man associated nature centred on fear. And yet, over the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Western European man nurtured a different sort of relationship with his environment: a connection that was not based on necessity or the desire to tame, but an aesthetic appreciation of the mystery of nature’s wild beauties. Nature became “landscape”, and an artistic genre in its own right.

The rediscovery of ancient Greek and Roman literature after the fall of Constantinople in 1453 revived interest in the animist perspective of the great civilisations of the past. The Greeks believed not only that trees and brooks had spirits but also that natural phenomena could be explained by means of myths. Every element of nature stemmed from divine intervention. Storms, earthquakes, and plagues were physical manifestations of godly anger. Attributing emotions to nature helped man to understand the world around him. This tight understanding bridged a gap between man and nature, which enabled – with a small leap of imagination – the transformation of one matter into the other. Ovid illustrates this bond in his Metamorphosis, a compilation of poetry that had a profound influence on writers and artists of the Renaissance.

The myth that both dramatically and tenderly explores man’s relationship with nature in the Renaissance period is the story of Philemon and Baucis. Philemon and Baucis are an old mortal couple, still deeply in love after decades of marriage. Although they live very humbly, they offer hospitality to Jupiter and Mercury – travelling through the land in disguise – when the people of a nearby town had all turned the gods from their doorsteps. The gods punish the townsfolk by summoning a flood, but reward Philemon and Baucis by granting their wish: to be able to die together at the very same moment. When the old couple dies, they are transformed into trees that grow forever in each other’s embrace. The myth was the inspiration for two important artists of the seventeenth century: the French poet Jean de La Fontaine and the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens.

An analysis of the poem Philémon et Baucis by La Fontaine and the painting Landscape with Philemon and Baucis by Rubens (Fig.1) will illuminate the nature of the relationship between man and landscape. The term “man” encompasses many different bodies: the peasant, the urban-dweller, and for our purposes, even the gods. The works of art invite a comparison between the controlled power of the human body and the savage power of nature. Philemon and Baucis’ metamorphosis into trees unites the two worlds and humanises the landscape. Though, it is possible that the two spheres were not so different to begin with, as we consider the notion of landscape as the mirror of the human being.


I. Landscape and the Peasant

No link between man and nature is as deeply forged as the connection between the peasant and the land he cultivates. In his Court traité du paysage (Short Treaty on Landscape), Alain Roger states that the peasant does not appreciate the beauty of a landscape in an aesthetic capacity, but rather he judges the beauty of a landscape based on its usefulness. “This does not signify that the peasant is bereft of all ties to his country and that he does not feel any attachment towards his land, quite the contrary; but this attachment is all the more powerful because it is symbiotic” . Further in the text, Roger reassesses his idea of the “natural contract” that exists between peasant and landscape, defined as “either death or symbiosis.”

The myth of Philemon and Baucis corresponds to Roger’s theory. Philemon and Baucis live in peace with nature. La Fontaine writes that they “cultivated, without assistance, Their enclosure and their field for two score summers.” This wisdom is rewarded by “a bit of milk, of fruits, and the gifts of Ceres.” The earth is respected and well cared for; therefore, it reciprocates with its fertility. Moreover, the cabin belonging to Philemon and Baucis is described by La Fontaine as narrow and humble. With its broken table and used carpet, is so decrepit that it is practically an extension of nature itself.

In Rubens’ painting, the artist transmits by his use of colours the notion of commensalism between the old couple and nature. While Zeus and Hermes are garbed in vibrant blue and red, Philemon and Baucis’ clothes are coloured in tones nearly indistinguishable from the hues of the countryside. Rubens uses the same greys and browns to paint their clothing and skin as the shades he applies to the waterfalls and trees. Already, during their lifetimes, Philemon and Baucis blended in with nature. This link in life prefigures their bond beyond death.

Meanwhile, the city-dwellers of the nearby burg have lost their contact with the land and consequently, they perish as punishment. Is there a correlation between life in an urban environment and the corruption of its inhabitants? In Ovid’s time, cities were being built around the quintessential city, Rome. The poet would have been able to witness the degeneration of nature and the result of this rupture between men of the countryside and city-dwellers. In his work entitled Philémon et Baucis, author Ernst Jünger says of Ovid, “He was born in the Samnite village of Sulmo, and although he lived in Rome since his earliest youth, it is likely that he always spent a part of the year in his country estates. As always with the Latins, cultivated lands, labours and gardens were more familiar than the woods. The way in which one sowed, cultivated, harvested and consumed the fruit of the land held not the slightest secret from him.”

For Ovid, the myth of Philemon and Baucis might have represented the joy of civilising nature while still cultivating and appreciating the goodness of the earth. The danger lay only in building a civilisation to the detriment of nature. City-dwellers lose their roots, so to speak, and their connection to the land. And since the land is, in animist cosmology, simply a physical manifestation of spirits and gods, we can deduce that the city-dwellers lose a certain part of their faith.

After the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453, scholars fled the great city with their manuscripts and knowledge, and Western Europe found itself flooded by the literature and philosophy of Antiquity. Authors of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries began to re-examine ancient literary themes, finding in the old stories material with which they could easily identify. Why did La Fontaine choose the myth of Philemon and Baucis in particular? As in Ovid’s era, large cities were developing in France. Consequently, the abundance of bodies, malnutrition and lack of hygiene contributed to the diseases that raged across Europe. Numerous illnesses, notably the bubonic plague, struck thousands of victims, particularly in overpopulated cities where maladies spread quickly. The punishment delivered upon the townspeople in the myth of Philemon and Baucis would have struck a chord with the public of La Fontaine’s Europe. We can consider the destruction wrought by Jupiter and Mercury as symbolic of the plague, which was also considered a punishment imposed by God: “God, irritated by the sins of an entire population had decided to extract vengeance…” Readers of La Fontaine’s poem might have hoped to be protected from divine retribution in the same way that Philemon and Baucis were spared by the gods. The health of the body depended on the respect that that body showed for its environment.


II. The Power of Men and Gods

In Homer’s Odyssey, the text describes only the voice of the sirens and neglects their entire physical description. This omittance only thickens their elusive and mysterious character. La Fontaine’s poem, however, often alludes to parts of the body in reference to its human and godly protagonists: hearts, front, wrinkles, feet, eyes, eyebrows, hand. Instead of distancing the characters, as Homer does with the sirens, these physical details humanise not only the mortal characters but also the gods. If it looks like a human and walks like a human… Although the gods possess abilities lacking in ordinary men, in art, we represent and thus consider them to be simply glorified humans: powerful undying men.

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Fig. 2 Rubens, Self-Portrait with Isabella Brant, 1609

Artists employ many different kinds of visual strategies to depict the importance of a certain figure in relation to others present in a painted scene. For instance, in Rubens’ 1609 Self Portrait with his wife Isabelle Brant, the artist places himself in an elevated position. (Fig. 2) His wife is seated at his side; the top of her hat does not even reach the level of her husband’s nose. In this case, height designates Rubens’ superiority over Isabelle, and establishes in the mind of the observer a certain dynamic in the perception of their marriage.

In Rubens’ painting commissioned by Marie de Medici, Henri IV Receiving the Portrait of Marie de Medici (1621), (Fig. 3) the gods are seated at the top of the painting in the clouds – the head of Zeus in a slightly more elevated position than that of his wife Hera. Again, dominance is conveyed through height. The portrait of Marie de Medici is prominently displayed in the middle of the canvas; she is the centre of attention of all, even of the gods. Although in the political hierarchy of France he was more important than she, King Henri IV is allocated only a tertiary importance as he is placed off on the side. The positioning of figures is a tool; it is an integral part of a language that was easily decoded by those with artistic know-how in Rubens’ time. Keeping in mind this symbolic toolbox, or rather, this toolbox of symbols, let us examine Rubens’ painting of Philemon and Baucis.

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Fig. 3 Rubens, Henri IV Receiving the Portrait of Marie de Medici

In Landscape with Philemon and Baucis, the most immediate observation is that the figures do not occupy the centre of the painting. The background, which is generally only present in mythological paintings in order to highlight the figures, is the focal point of this particular work. Subverting our expectations of a mythic scene, it seems that the figures are only present in order to justify the artist’s desire to paint a dramatic landscape. Clearly the landscape is the protagonist that plays the biggest role in this moment of the story.

Once we have located the figures, we note that Rubens subtly alludes to a social hierarchy. Jupiter’s head is the most elevated, followed by that of Mercury, Philemon and finally Baucis. (Fig. 3) This is in accordance with the norms of the times: gods must be placed higher than men, and men higher than women. What is surprising, however, is the fact that all four figures are equally tiny when faced with the immensity of nature. Their proximity to each other suggests solidarity between men and gods confronted with the wilderness. Men and gods, beside one another, like equals… Could Rubens have been commenting on the contiguity of human and divine power?


The Renaissance saw the birth of the Humanist movement, which is defined in part by the exaltation of the capacities of man. Man awoke to the realization of being capable of dominating the world. He was, after all, a creation of God, and thus a manifestation of divine inspiration. Mixing old stories with new values, can we say that this new consciousness of power is present in La Fontaine’s poem and Rubens’ painting? Philemon and Baucis do not exert power on their environment: they simply lack the physical strength to do so. Instead of taming the world around them, they are content to coexist. The area in which they do exert a significant force, however, a force that humbles even the gods, is on an emotional level. Philemon and Baucis love each other with an undying passion. Even the gods cannot claim to possess such devotion to marital fidelity. And yet, as beautiful as eternal love is, it is not a characteristic of a Renaissance man or a Humanist. Philemon and Baucis are not embodiments of Humanist ideals. They are not… but someone else is.

In La Fontaine’s poem and in Rubens’ painting, the gods themselves fulfil the role of Renaissance man – and not in the sense of a man with many talents, but rather a man of the Renaissance period coming to terms with his mastery over the world surrounding him. The vocabulary of power pervades the poem: “Jupiter interceded”; “Jupiter granted”; “powerful hand” . Jupiter speaks in the imperative. To the old couple, he orders, “Follow us”. Too mighty to take it upon himself to create a storm, he relegates power to his companion: “Mercury, summon the vapours” . In Rubens’ painting though, Mercury protects the mortals with a comforting hand on Philemon’s shoulder while Jupiter commands the storm with outstretched arm. It is an authoritative gesture.

These gods are clearly very powerful; but what is the nature of their power? The gods are able manipulate nature and effect transformations. Manipulate and transform, but not create. Mercury could transport pre-existing vapours, but he could not to create them. The gods were incapable of creating something out of nothing. Similarly, men of the Renaissance learned to influence their environment and accomplish their desires with the tools that nature provided, but they were not magicians who could create matter in a void. Jupiter, Mercury, and the other gods did not create the world. They inherited it from divinities far more ancient. Similarly, Rubens’ and La Fontaine’s contemporaries did not create the stories they represented in art, but they had recently inherited a vision of the world enlightened by Antiquity. La Fontaine designates the gods by the expression “Masters of the world”, a title that could apply equally well to the sixteenth and seventeenth century intellectual elite.

The power of the gods that men truly lack is the ability to outlast time. For what else is immortality but the possibility to conquer nature and its limitations? The most precious gift the gods may bestow is a share of their immortality. However mortals who actively seek immortality are punished for their presumption. Philemon and Baucis demonstrate humility when they request only the privilege of serving the gods in their temple and dying together. Their prayer is granted beyond their hopes and they are indeed rendered somewhat immortal when they are transformed into trees at their death. But as trees, not as men. As La Fontaine opines at the beginning of his poem, “Fortune sells what we think she gives”. That is to say, no gift of the gods comes without a price. Philemon and Baucis do not conquer nature – to the contrary, the gods oblige them to climb a hill with no consideration for the fact that it is difficult for two elderly people walking with canes to make such a hike. While they could have spared the old couple from the ravages of age by alleviating their aching bodies, the gods proceeded with the attitude “If you can’t beat’em, join ‘em”. Instead of helping Philemon and Baucis rise above nature, they united them to nature forevermore.


III. The Power of Nature

Men have the power of love, and gods have the power to manipulate the physical world. Yet, in the symbolic language of art, we can read in Rubens’ painting that all four figures, both mortal and divine, are small and weak relative to the dominating power of the elements. Their diminutive size connotes the inferiority of mere creatures faced with the enormity of nature. The environment expresses itself in four ways, through water, fire, air and earth. All of these elements are necessary for life, but they can also all be tools of destruction and death. In the myth of Philemon and Baucis, water is the weapon of choice.

Floods play a significant role in creation myths of many religions. The most salient example in western culture is of course the story of Noah’s Ark from the Old Testament. God, saddened and angry at the corruption of man, unleashed a deluge that annihilated all traces of life on land, with the exception of Noah and the animals sheltered in his ark. While the flood caused by Jupiter and Mercury in the myth of Philemon and Baucis was localised, the flood of the Judaeo-Christian tradition covered the entire planet.

Deluges, like storms, hurricanes and tsunamis, are a source of fear and panic. All the technology in the world is powerless to stop the devastating forces of nature. Even nowadays, we are constantly confronted with new examples of technology’s failing faced with disaster. We are reminded of the true weakness of what is considered by many to be humanity’s greatest strength. Sometimes natural disasters such as storms are seasonal and expected, yet they also arrive seemingly at random, surprising locals with their brutality. While the forces of nature have always commanded fear and humility in man, since the Renaissance man has striven not only to subdue nature but also, when complete mastery is not possible, to admire even the monstrous and ferocious side of the world for its savage beauty.

In the same way that children love, in spite of themselves, stories that make them hide under their blankets in fear, men enjoy finding in art the representation of subjects that would ordinarily frighten them were they to experience them in real life. Capturing a terrible scene in a work of art allows it to be admired in a safe and imaginary space. That which is dangerous becomes sublime. “The sublime is not only that which elevates the soul, but it also signifies to the observer its crushing, its annihilation confronted with the spectacle of an incommensurable force.” This quote by C. Legrand refers to the Joseph Vernet painting entitled The Tempest (1777). In L’homme dans le paysage, Alain Corbin also mentions “sublime chaos” in reference to the painting Fire at Sea (1835) by William Turner .

In the myth, Jupiter transforms Philemon and Baucis’ home into a temple with the exploits of the day inscribed on the walls: “All the events were traced on the panel. Far, far from the tableaux of Zeuxis and Apelle! These were traced by an immortal hand.” Jupiter guarantees that neither the force of his anger nor his mercy will be forgotten. By himself immortalising the scene in paint, Rubens echoes Jupiter’s intentions. His landscape painting is a representation made by a mortal hand that recounts the same events that the god wanted to preserve for posterity.

Rubens presents a violent and cruel scene. Uprooted broken trees bear witness to the chaos caused by the storm. The myth involves close ties between men and trees; the battered trees are symbolic of the city-dwellers also cut down by Jupiter’s wrath. Dead human bodies scattered about a landscape painting would not have been tasteful, but in the context of the story, it is a short leap of the imagination from trees to men.

The scene is not without hope. Rubens includes three easily recognizable elements that inspire optimism: the sunlight piercing the clouds, the white bird, and the rainbow. The sun will come out tomorrow… light breaking through heavy clouds is a sign of brighter days, and is often representative of God in Christian art. The white bird is evocative of the Holy Spirit, but also of the dove that brought Noah an olive branch: a sign that it was possible to start life anew on dry land. In the story of Noah’s Ark, the rainbow was God’s gift to mankind, his promise of peace.


IV. The Metamorphosis

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Fig. 4 Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Winter, 1573

The term “anthropomorphised landscape” designates a humanised countryside. We tend to associate this term with the works of Arcimboldo (Fig.4) or with the Vexierbilder because in these cases the humanisation is conspicuously visible. These kinds of artwork play with optical illusions and are pleasing to the eye in the same way that a pun or a play-on-words amuses the ear. The tradition was widely appreciated in the Renaissance and is maintained today by contemporary artists, such as the Mexican painter Octavio Ocampo.

The kind of anthropomorphisation practised by La Fontaine and Rubens is less visually obvious. Instead of playing with illusions, Rubens directs the observer’s eye in the direction he wishes it to follow in order to transmit a message about the eventual metamorphosis of the figures. Rubens chose to depict the storm scene of the myth; therefore, in keeping with the laws of temporality, he cannot show the transformation of Philemon and Baucis in the same frame. Rubens compresses time already in order to show the entirety of the storm – from its beginnings in the commanding gesture of Jupiter, to its end beneath the rainbow. He cannot show the entire myth occurring in one moment. He can, however, allude to the future. The viewer’s gaze starts at the right on the figures and follows Jupiter’s arm to the left in order to determine what the god is designating with his finger. Following the pathway up to the sky, the gaze is guided by continuity in colour. Gravity pulls the gaze down the path along with the rain, from the clouds to the waterfalls and finally to the rainbow (Fig. 1).

Once the viewer’s eye has traced the pathway drawn by the artist, it returns to the place it started from in order to re-examine the figures: Baucis, Philemon, Mercury and Jupiter. At that instant, it is possible to observe the foreshadowing of the impending metamorphosis. The gaze rises above Philemon and Baucis and perceives two trees intertwined (Fig. 1). These trees are symbolic of the trees that Philemon and Baucis become at the moment of their death. The trees grow beside one another and try to hold each other, even in death, in an embrace: “She became a tree, and extended her arms to him…” says La Fontaine.

Rubens is not unique in wanting to foreshadow the transformation in his artwork. La Fontaine follows suit: images of plants abound in his poem. Philemon says that the adoration of gods is more sincere when idols are sculpted of “simple wood” instead of gold, evoking the authenticity of wood. Philemon and Baucis walk with the help of a cane of reeds. This is reminiscent of the famous enigma posed by the Sphinx, which only Oedipus was able to answer correctly: what walks on four feet in the morning, two feet in the afternoon and three feet in the evening? Philemon and Baucis walk on three feet in the evening of their life. They already belong to the world of trees when they use branches to assist their movements.

In his article entitled “Arborisms in Ovid’s Baucis and Philemon from Metamorphoses”, Dr. Patrick Hunt of Stanford University proposes several hypotheses that explain the reason why Philemon and Baucis turn into oak and linden trees as opposed to other species. The interpretation that best conforms to the archetypal images of old age in La Fontaine’s poem is that the oak and linden both flower in the winter, just as Philemon and Baucis “blossom” in old age. In his poem, La Fontaine uses the metaphor of the seasons: “constant desires, had united their hearts since their sweetest Springtime.” Philemon and Baucis find themselves in a state of grace before the gods in the winter of their lives, just before their deaths. It is appropriate then that they should become trees that flower in winter.


V. The Landscape as Mirror

It is possible to contemplate the landscape as an extension of man after death, as in the case of Philemon and Baucis transformed into trees. However, the landscape is also a mirror of man while he is alive. In La Fontaine’s poem, the following verse links men’s feelings and their surroundings: “O hard people! You open neither your homes nor your hearts!” The home reflects the generosity and warm-heartedness of the individual who possesses it. Philemon and Baucis’ cabin is described in the following manner: “hospitable dwelling, humble and chaste house.” The adjectives describe the qualities of the old couple more than they inform the reader on the appearance of the house. The house is nothing more than a reflection of the personality of its inhabitants.

The artistic link between the representation of nature and the representation of the body is very strong. In the Musée du Louvre’s catalogue for an exhibit on figures in landscapes, we read “The artist, and more precisely the painter, will draw, paint the landscape as he would the face. We see to which extent the interaction, the interference remains important between man and the nature than surrounds him, and how much this dependence will act on the ‘portrait’ that is created of one like of the other.” The myth of Philemon and Baucis does not need to be depicted in a Vexierbilder kind of drawing, for the countryside is already a portrait of the figures. Besides being present in their human form, Philemon and Baucis exist in the trees just as the wrath of the gods is manifested in the cloudy storm.


Conclusion

« Nature is personified, thus may it be understood,” says the review of the Louvre exhibit. Nature is an enigma and its behaviour often mystifies men. Despite their differences, men are able to understand each other. In essence, they feel the same emotions and act according to motivations that are more or less discernable. Nature is not so easily decrypted. However, if we are able to see nature as just another step in the evolution of man’s life, we can understand and justify its peculiarities.

Philemon and Baucis are humans who become part of their landscape. Flesh becomes bark, hair becomes leaves… Man becomes nature. The result of this naturalisation of man is the humanisation of nature. The land becomes an entity with a human soul, thus rendering it more accessible and less frightening. La Fontaine says that that couples would sit in the shadow of oak and linden trees to honour the metamorphosed couple. The human body does not last, but its emotions last as long as the collective memory of those feelings survives. Man achieves immortality then in his communion with nature. And the immortality of the gods? Ironically, it is dependent on human creativity. The gods that facilitated man’s communion with nature in the first place live on only through works of art such as Philemon and Baucis by La Fontaine and Landscape with Philemon and Baucis by Rubens.


Naomi Levin, graduate student at the Sorbonne, Université de Paris IV
levinnao@gmail.com

Bibliography

Corbin, Alain. L’homme dans le paysage. Paris : Éditions Textuel, 2001.

Delumeau, Jean. La Peur en Occident, Une cité assiégée. Paris : Fayard, 1978.

Giraud, Yves. Le Paysage à la Renaissance. Fribourg (Suisse): Éditions Universitaires Fribourg, 1988.

Hunt, Patrick. « Arborisms in Ovid’s Baucis and Philemon from Metamorphoses » PHILOLOG (Dec. 2005) Stanford University, philolog/2005/12/arborisms_in_ovids_baucis_and.html>

Jünger, Ernst. Les nombres et les dieux / Philémon et Baucis. Paris : Christian Bourgois Éditeur, 1995.

Legrand, Catherine, Jean-François Méjanès et Emmanuel Starcky. Le Paysage en Europe du XVIe au XVIIIe siècle, Actes du colloque organisé au musée de Louvre par le Service Culturel du 25 au 27 janvier 1990. Paris : Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1994.

Le Roy Ladurie, Emmanuel. Paysage, paysans, L’art et la terre en Europe du Moyen Âge au XXe siècle. Paris : Réunion des musées nationaux, 1994.

Musée National du Grand Palais . Le Paysage dans la peinture occidentale, du XVIe au XIXe siècle, Chefs-d’œuvres du Musée du Louvre. Paris : Réunion des musées nationaux, 1995.

Roger, Alain. Court traité du paysage. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1997.


Paintings

Rubens, Pierre Paul. Landscape with Philemon and Baucis (1625) Vienne : Kunsthistorisches Museum.
Image from the site Olga’s Gallery, http://www.abcgallery.com/R/rubens/rubens81.html.

Rubens, Pierre Paul. Self-Potrait with Isabelle Brant (1609) Munich : Alte Pinakothek.
Image from the site Wikipedia, http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubens.

Rubens, Pierre Paul. Henri IV Receiving the Portrait of Marie de Medici (1621) Paris : Musée du Louvre.
Image from the site of the University of Illinois in Chicago, http://www.uic.edu/depts/ahaa/classes/ah111/imagebank.html

Arcimboldo, Giuseppe. Winter (1573) Paris : Musée du Louvre.
Image from the site Wikipedia, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Giuseppe_Arcimboldo

Ocampo, Octavio. Las visiones del Quijote. Guanajuato : Museo iconográfico del Quijote.
Image from the site of the Museo iconográfico del Quijote, http://museoiconografico.guanajuato.gob.mx/pintura.html

Notes

(1) « Cela ne signifie pas que le paysan est dépourvu de tout rapport à son pays et qu’il n’éprouve aucun attachement pour sa terre, bien au contraire ; mais cet attachement est d’autant plus puissant qu’il est plus symbiotique. » A. Roger, Court traité du paysage. Paris: Gallimard, 1997, p27.
(2) « contrat naturel (…) ou la mort ou la symbiose » Ibid. p152.
« surent cultiver, sans se voir assistés, Leur enclos et leur champ par deux fois vingt Etés. (…) un peu de lait, de fruits, et des dons de Cérès. » La Fontaine
(3) « Il y est né, au village samnite de Sulmo, et bien que vivant à Rome dès sa prime jeunesse, il est probable qu’il a toujours passé une partie de l’année dans ses domaines campagnards. Comme toujours chez les Latins, terres cultivées, labours et jardins lui sont plus familiers que les bois. La façon dont on sème, cultive, moissonne et consomme le fruit de la terre n’a plus pour lui le moindre secret » Jünger, Philémon et Baucis, Paris: Christian Bourgois, 1995, p151.
(4) “Thus in France, but also more generally in the West, the endimicity of the plague diminished as of the sixteenth century, which only serves to highlight the most violent outbreaks: London in 1603,1625 and 1665 ; Milan and Venis in 1576 and 1630 ; Spain in 1596-1602, 1648-1652, 1677-1685 ; Marseilles in 1720.” Delumeau, La Peur en Occident, Une cité assiégée. Paris : Fayard, 1978, p99.
(5) Ibid. p.129.
(6) « Jupiter intercède » ; « Jupiter exauça » ; « main puissante » La Fontaine.
(7) « Suivez-nous » ; « Mercure, appelle les vapeurs » La Fontaine.
(8) « Le sublime ce n’est pas ici seulement ce qui élève l’âme, mais signifie à l’observateur son écrasement, son anéantissement devant le spectacle d’une force incommensurable à la science… » C. Legrand. Le Paysage en Europe du XVIe au XVIIIe siècle, Actes du colloque organisé au musée de Louvre par le Service Culturel du 25 au 27 janvier 1990. Paris : Réunion des musées nationaux, 1994, p206.
(9) Corbin, L’homme dans le paysage. Paris : Éditions Textuel, 2001, p80.
(10) « Tous ces événements sont peints sur le lambris. Loin, bien loin les tableaux de Zeuxis et d’Apelle ! Ceux-ci furent tracés d’une main immortelle. » La Fontaine.
(11) « Elle devenait arbre, et lui tendait les bras… » La Fontaine.
(12) « des désirs constants, Avaient uni leurs cœurs dès leur plus doux Printemps. » La Fontaine.
(13) « O gens durs ! vous n’ouvrez vos logis ni vos cœurs ! » La Fontaine.
(14) « Demeure hospitalière, humble et chaste maison. » La Fontaine.
(15) « L’artiste, et plus précisément le peintre, va dessiner, peindre le paysage tout comme il le fera du visage. On voit combien l’interaction, l’interférence demeure d’importance entre l’homme et la nature qui l’entoure, combien cette dépendance va agir sur le « portrait » qui sera fait de l’un comme de l’autre. » Le Paysage dans la peinture occidentale, du XVIe au XIXe siècle, Chefs-d’œuvres du Musée du Louvre, Paris : Musée National du Palais, 1995, p308.
(16) « La nature est personnifiée, ainsi peut-elle être comprise. » Ibid. p257.