For the Greeks and, to some extent, for the Romans, nature in general and mountains specifically were never an aesthetic phenomenon. Only nature that was dominated or domesticated by man was recognised by them and, in some cases, even considered beautiful. Wild, primeval nature did not interest in aesthetic terms. Mount Parnassus, Mount Helicon, Mount Ida and Olympus were sacred places for the Greeks, but in a very special sense: they were far away and belonged to mythology rather than to the space of experience. Mount Parnassus, for example, was first of all the mountain of Apollo and Dionysius (each god occupied a mountain peak, as it were), and only later did it become the sacred mountain of Apollo alone. Mount Helicon is important as well, because it is the mountain from which Pegasus flew towards the sky, giving birth to the Hippocrene spring, the source of inspiration. These mountains are, therefore, to be considered primarily as mythological images and, as such, abstract places.
The Greek were interested in the origin of things. Hence their interest into the origin of mountains, a topic resurfacing in 17th- and 18th-century Europe, when the question whether mountains were the result of volcanic activity or rather the consequence of tectonic factors became a much discussed topic. Classical Greek or Roman culture, unlike American Indian or Chinese culture, did not postulate the existence of scared mountains. In China, there are of course the five sacred mountains, Tài Shān, the supreme mountain, being the most sacred. For the Chinese, there is a relationship between the sacred nature of the mountains and the life force called ch’i (qi): there is a sacred spirit or pneuma within the mountains, but humans can also be possessed by this spirit. By reproducing these sacred mountains in a garden, the rock representing the holy mountain will contain the same force. This interpretation of nature is very different if we compare it to the highly rational, empirical approach of the Greeks.