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Terra Has Standing

Terra Has Standing

(p.24) Chapter 1 Terra Has Standing
Phillip John Usher
Fordham University Press

This chapter offers a reading of a late fifteenth-century Latin text, Paulus Niavis’s Judicium Jovis(Judgment of Jupiter), which grants Terra legal standing, a right it uses to enter Jupiter’s court and accuse a miner of matricide. Situating Niavis’s Terra in a tradition going from Greek Gaia to Roman Terra up through the twelfth-century Terra of Alain de Lille in his De planctu naturae and finally reaching forward to Anthropocene-era debates over the relationship between humans and the Gaia of Lovelock and Latour, the chapter teases out how the Judicium Jovis fashions a sense of the exterranean in which Terra is neither just a body (or globe) nor a vital force (i.e., Earth’s systems), but both at the same time, such that the text’s final locking together of Terra and human activity serves as an argument against forms of ecological thought that depend upon seeing totalities from afar.

Keywords:   fortuna, mining, natura, niavis, terra

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