Zu Bedeutung von Waldbränden in der Antike

Klaus FREITAG   356–363


Abstract: The present paper should be recognized as a preliminary study about forest fires in an­cient times, which so far had been largely ignored in the studies of the ancient world. After some basic methodological and theoretical considerations the question is how often and in which con­text forest fires are mentioned in the ancient sources. In Homer’s epics huge forest fires are often used as a stylistic element to dramatize the description of battles. Furthermore it is difficult to cha­rac­­­terize the impact of concrete firefighting measures in the Greek Poleis. However it is not neces­sary to assume that the issue was not relevant in the ancient societies. In Athens a “fire guard” is only mentioned by Aristotle, we do not known in which context magistrates were responsible for this task in other Poleis. The phenomenon of auto-ignition of trees found particular interest in the ancient world and it was controversially discussed in the natural science in the Hellenistic period. All in all it is remarkable that Lucretius’ typology of causes of fire is still valid today. In the course of this study it has been turned out that this typology is suitable to sort the material about forest fires to enable further studies.

Keywords: Wood-fire; ecological problems; Homer; Lucretius; Thucydides.



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