The natural can be opposed to the artificial, the immoral, the moral, the civilized, the supernatural, the unnatural—and all of these have further ramified senses, including some that combine with each other.
Images of mutual and contrasting courtesies between the God and angels, angels and man, Adam and Eve, are some of his most persistent; even the damned angels cannot function without a parody of heavenly order.
Cicero’s formulation of ethics was a major influence on minds as diverse as St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Locke, Voltaire, and Thomas Jefferson. Perhaps we would do wisely to return to a fountain that has watered so many so well.
During quarantine, ideas like eternity and time dilation can go from “abstract speculation” to “oh, I could have told you that.” Eternity can therefore be a very useful point of entry into the great conversation, in which it has (appropriately) been a perennial topic.
Although his philosophy was never held by more than a small fraction of the Roman people, his work had a major impact on the poets that succeeded him and remained popular for centuries, and went on to influence many eminent scholars.