Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, April 12, 1917:
“This new theory of pollination would doubtless be most welcome and most seemly when lecturing to young people and ladies, for, with the existing theories the teacher finds himself in considerable embarrassment. Moreover whenever innocent young minds, desirous of perfecting their knowledge, consulted botanical textbooks, they could not conceal the fact that their moral feelings were outraged. These perpetual “nuptials” which reduce monogamy, on which morals, law and religion are founded, into a vague and undefined lasciviousness are wholly intolerable to the pure in heart.”
“People have often reproached scholars — and not without justification — for having shown undue interest in the slightly improper and frivolous passages of ancient authors in order to compensate to some extent for the tedium and aridity of their own writings. In the same way certain naturalists, seeing Mother Nature partly in the buff, went so far as to crack ribald jokes at her expense, as they never failed to do about old Baubo (note 2). We recall having seen arabesques which depicted most realistically, in the style of antique art, the sexual relationships within the calix.”
NOTES BY TRANSLATORNote 1. In sexual reproduction of plants fertilization takes place by means of pollination (windblown pollen, transference of pollen by insects, etc.). Asexual reproduction is of a vegetative nature by means of bulbs, bulbules, tubers and runners. The fern shows alternate sexual and asexual reproduction. The spores fall to the ground where a new plant is formed. The plant which develops from a spore is attached to the ground by the prothallus (root-like hairs) which bears a number of male and female organs.Note 2. Baubo tried to divert the sorrowing Demeter by cynical jests or obscene antics. Goethe applies the name elsewhere to an immodest merry-maker in the Roman carnival, in Faust. She appears in the Walpurgis Night scene.Note 3. Ultra — one holding extreme views of the ultra royalist party in France, 1827. (The party of ultras split into parties of the “right” and the “left”.)Note 4. Ligneous plants are wood-forming plants, e.g. trees, shrubs, etc. Non-ligneous plants are herbaceous plants, e.g. annuals, herbs, etc.Note 5. On this subject see: Dr. Arnold Wadler, Der Turm von Babel. Urgemeingeschaft der Sprachen. Rudolf Geering Verlag, Stuttgart, 1935. Translated as One Language: American Press for Art and Science, 1948.