Impervious Nature as a Path to Virtue: Cato in the Ninth Book of Bellum Civile

Vittoria Prencipe

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in libroChapter


At the end of the twentieth century the relationship between man and nature becomes the object of a new discipline, ecocriticism. Ecocriticism strives to find an answer to the environmental crisis caused by a distortion in the relationship, between humans and nature, re-reading narrative texts with a more ecological view. This relationship permeates literature throughout time and in the ancient Greek and Latin world, nature is presented with different features, but with quite a defined role, summarized generally in a ‘guide’ for the human being, through a path not always linear, to fulfil his destiny. So, if Aristotle asserts that the righteous man is one who acts in agreement with nature, many heroes, mythical or historical, clash with the environment, often hostile, to assert themselves. This happens, for example, to Cato in Lucan Bellum Civile. When he finds himself at a crossroads, he chooses the hard way, namely crossing the Libyan desert, with all its pitfalls, to restore his fortitude and make his soul wise, in a word to come to virtus. The aim of this paper is exactly to show, through the analysis of Bellum Civile IX and the many references to the earlier tradition contained within, one of the ways in which literature can answer the question that preoccupies ecocriticism nowadays, that is if the interaction between man and the environment can benefit both. As a matter of fact, the analysis shows how the relationship between man and nature in part of ancient literature presents features almost completely absent in modern literature. Nature actually played the role of agent in ancient times, while nowadays it is man to be considered the only agent in the relationship with the natural environment by contemporary ecocritics.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteEcocriticism, Ecology, and the Cultures of Antiquity
Numero di pagine16
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2016


  • Ecocritica, Letteratura latina, Catone
  • Ecocriticism, Classical Studies, Cato


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