Quae natura caduca est: Cicero and Lucretius on Ecological Change

  • Andres Matlock University of Georgia


Although starting from a common metaphor of vegetal descent (caducus), Lucretius and Cicero offer distinct perspectives on ecological change – that is, how species, particularly plants and humans, develop and relate to each other over time. Especially in the final two books of De rerum natura, Lucretius sketches a narrative of dwindling terrestrial fertility that closes off future reproduction via intraspecies lineages. By contrast, Cicero’s eco-writing in De senectute as well as the last book of De finibus, leaves open the possibility of interspecies fertility – what I call “feralization” – that can overcome the shared fallenness of plants and humans. To draw a conclusion out of this divergence, I propose an analogy between these ancient perspectives on the future and the horizons of the texts themselves by considering their reception history from our own crisis of eco-fertility.


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Author Biography

Andres Matlock, University of Georgia

Andres Matlock is assistant professor of Classics at the University of Georgia, Athens and serves as program faculty for UGA Classics in Rome. His research and publications focus on Roman philosophy, especially Cicero, and the relationship between ancient and modern thought on topics such as time, experience, and nature.

How to Cite
Matlock, A. (2023). Quae natura caduca est: Cicero and Lucretius on Ecological Change. Ciceroniana On Line, 7(2), 543-575. https://doi.org/10.13135/2532-5353/9346