No Mountain High Enough

Pliny, Natural History 36.1:

Everything that we have dealt with up to this volume seems to have been made for humanity’s sake. Nature made the mountains for herself so as joints of the earths for compressing its inner parts, as well as for taming the force of rivers, breaking the waves, and coercing the least restful parts of the world with its own hardest material. Yet we cut these down and cart them off for no other purpose than pleasure, but it was once a marvel that people even crossed them.

Our ancestors regarded it as almost a portent that the Alps were crossed by Hannibal, and later by the Cimbri. Now they are cut into a thousand types of marble. Promontories are opened to the sea, and the nature of the world is flattened out. We carry away those things which had been fashioned as boundaries for separating nations. Indeed, ships are built for the sake of marble, and they carry full mountain ranges through the waves, that most savage part of nature, with an even greater concession than when vessels are sought in the clouds for cold drinks, and when the nearby cliffs are cut out so that we can drink with ice.

How did Hannibal cross the alps?

omnia namque, quae usque ad hoc volumen tractavimus, hominum genita causa videri possunt: montes natura sibi fecerat ut quasdam compages telluris visceribus densandis, simul ad fluminum impetus domandos fluctusque frangendos ac minime quietas partes coercendas durissima sui materia, caedimus hos trahimusque nulla alia quam deliciarum causa, quos transcendisse quoque mirum fuit.

in portento prope maiores habuere Alpis ab Hannibale exsuperatas et postea a Cimbris: nunc ipsae caeduntur in mille genera marmorum. promunturia aperiuntur mari, et rerum natura agitur in planum; evehimus ea, quae separandis gentibus pro terminis constituta erant, navesque marmorum causa fiunt, ac per fluctus, saevissimam rerum naturae partem, huc illuc portantur iuga, maiore etiamnum venia quam cum ad frigidos potus vas petitur in nubila caeloque proximae rupes cavantur, ut bibatur glacie.

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