Greek literature in late antiquity contains a wealth of depictions of and references to landscapes. Literary representations of landscapes permeate the entire spectrum of genres, from rhetorical exercises to biographical texts to Christian homilies. Athanasius in the Life of Antony describes the saint’s withdrawal from human civilisation into the desert, where he is exposed to diabolic temptations and assaults. The pagan orator-cum-philosopher Themistius praises his father’s running of a farm in the countryside and extols the benefits of rural life. At the same time, the Church Father Basil the Great in his Homilies on the Hexaemeron invites his audience to contemplate, and enjoy, nature so that they become aware of the Creator. Most of these texts display little genuine interest in specific features or the individuality of landscapes. Instead, by focussing on human perception the authors discuss what landscapes mean to the viewer; they lay great stress on the human experience of the environment, while the landscape itself remains sketchy. This paper examines what literary representations of landscapes reveal about the ideologies, beliefs and identities of their authors and the intended audiences. For what reasons did Greek writers when they reflected on religious, cultural or social self-definition turn to the literary construction of rural space? Addressing these questions the talk argues that the authors make use of landscape as a mirror in order to stimulate reflection and self-awareness.