Elizabeth Asmis

Biography and Interests: 

Elizabeth Asmis

Title: Professor of Classics and in the College
Education: B.A., University of Toronto, 1962; M.A., Yale University, 1966; Ph.D., Yale University, 1970
Office: Classics 25B
Areas of Specialization: ancient philosophy

She is the author of Epicurus’ Scientific Method and numerous articles on Plato, Philodemus, Lucretius, Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and others. Her current research focuses on Roman Stoicism, Epicurean psychology, Cicero’s political philosophy, and ancient aesthetics. Her teaching covers Greek and Roman philosophy, rhetoric, and medicine.



  • Epicurus' Scientific Method.  Cornell University Press, 1984.
  • Co-editor (with Shadi Bartsch, and Martha Nussbaum), Seneca’s Complete Works, 20010-, University of Chicago Press.

Book Reviews

  • Robert B. Palmer and Robert Hamerton-Kelly, eds. Philomathes: Studies and Essays in the Humanities in Memory of Philip Merlan. In Classical World 66 (1972): 179-80.
  • J. M. Rist. Epicurus: An Introduction. In Philosophical Review 83 (1974): 413-16.
  • Edward Hussey. The Presocratics. In Philosophical Review 84 (1975): 287-90.
  • Owsei Temkin. Galenism. Rise and Decline of a Medical Philosophy. In Philosophical Review 84 (1975): 567-70.
  • David E. Hahm. The Origin of Stoic Cosmology. In Philosophical Review 87 (1978): 620-23.
  • Diskin Clay. Lucretius and Epicurus. In Journal of the History of Philosophy 23 (1985): 424-25.
  • Philip De Lacy and Estelle De Lacy. Philodemus: On Methods of Inference. In Ancient Philosophy 6 (1986): 51-55.
  • Richard D. Mohr. The Platonic Cosmology. In Phoenix 41 (1987): 89-90.
  • Guido Bonelli. I motivi profondi della poesia lucreziana. In Gnomon  1987,  160-62.
  • Sven-Tage Teodorsson. Anaxagoras's Theory of Matter. In International Studies in Philosophy  20 (1988): 116.
  • G. E. R. Lloyd. Revolutions of Wisdom. In Philosophical Review  100 (1991):321-324.
  • M. Griffin and J. Barnes, eds. Philosophia Togata.  Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989. In Ancient Philosophy 11 (1991):223-225.
  • A. S. L. Farquharson, tr. The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Oxford 1989; and R. B. Rutherford, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Oxford 1989. In Ancient Philosophy 13 (1993): 475-80.
  • Richard Janko, ed. and tr. Philodemus' On Poems Book I. In Classical Philology 97 (2002): 383-94.
  • Voula Tsouna, The Ethics of Philodemus. Oxford 2007. Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews (July 17, 2008)


  • "What is Anaximander's Apeiron?". Journal of the History of Philosophy 19 (1981): 279-297.
  • "Lucretius' Explanation of Moving Dream Figures at 4.768-776". American Journal of Philology  102 (1981): 138-145.
  • "Lucretius' Venus and Stoic Zeus". Hermes  110 (1982): 458-470. Reprinted in Lucretius. Ed. by M. R. Gale. Oxford Readings in Classical Studies. 2007: 88-103
  • "Rhetoric and Reason in Lucretius". American Journal of Philology 104 (1983): 36-66.
  • "Psychagogia in Plato's Phaedrus". Illinois Studies in Classical Philology 11 (1986): 153-72.
  • "Roman Philosophical Movements". In Civilization of the Ancient Mediterranean, edited by Michael Grant, v. 3, New York 1988,  1637-1649.
  • "The Stoicism of Marcus Aurelius". In Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt, part II, v. 36.3, Berlin 1989,  2228-2252.
  • "Philodemus' Epicureanism".  In Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt, part II, v. 36.4, ed. by W. Haase, Berlin 1990, 2369-2406.
  • "The Poetic Theory of the Stoic 'Aristo'". Apeiron  23 (1990): 147-201.
  • "Seneca on the Happy Life".  In The Poetics of Therapy, ed. by M. Nussbaum, Apeiron  23 (1990): 219-255.
  • "Free Action and the Swerve." Review article of Walter G. Englert's Epicurus on the Swerve and Voluntary Action. In Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy  8 (1990):  269-285.
  • "Philodemus' Poetic Theory and 'On the Good King According to Homer'". Classical Antiquity, 10 (1991): 1-45.
  • "Epicurean Poetics". In Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy  7, 1991, pp. 63-93. Reprinted in Philodemus and Poetry: Poetic Theory and Practice in Lucretius, Philodemus and Horace, ed. by  D. Obbink, Oxford University Press 1995, pp. 15-34; and in Ancient Literary Criticism, ed. Andrew Laird, Oxford University Press 2006, pp. 238-66.
  • "Crates on Poetic Criticism". Phoenix 46 (1991): 138-69.
  • "Neoptolemus and the Classification of Poetry". Classical Philology  87 (1992): 206-31.
  • "Plato on Poetic Creativity". In The Cambridge Companion to Plato, edited by Richard Kraut. 338-64. Cambridge University Press, 1992.
  • "An Epicurean Survey of Poetic Theories (Philodemus On Poems  5, cols. 26-36)".  Classical Quarterly  42 (1992): 395-415.
  • “Asclepiades Rediscovered?”  Review article of J. T. Vallance, The Lost Theory of  Asclepiades of Bithynia  Oxford 1992. In Classical Philology  88 (1993): 137-48.
  • “Philodemus on Censorship, Moral Utility, and Formalism on Poetry”. In Philodemus and Poetry: Poetic Theory and Practice in Lucretius, Philodemus and Horace, ed. by  D. Obbink. 148-77. Oxford University Press, 1995.
  • Foreword to: Mark Usher, Texts and Their Transformations: Continuity and Change to the Classical Tradition, Chicago 1994, pp. xi-xii.
  • “Epicurean Semiotics”. In Knowledge Through Signs, Ancient Semiotic Theories and Practices, ed. by G. Manetti. Brepols, 1995. Pp. 155-85.
  • “The Stoics on Women”. In Ancient Philosophy and Feminism. Edited by J. Ward. London 1996: 68-94.
  • “Lucretius on the Growth of Ideas”. In Epicureismo greco e romano,Atti del Congresso internazionale Napoli, 19-26 maggio 1993. Edited by M. Gigante. 3 vols. Vol. 2,  pp. 763-78. Naples, 1996.
  • Articles on Epicurus, Panaetius, Philodemus, Seneca, and Epictetus, in Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by D. Zeyl, Greenwood Press, 1997.
  •  “Hellenistic Aesthetics. Philosophers and Literary Critics”. Article in Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. Edited by Michael Kelly. Vol. 2. Oxford: 1998, 389-91.
  • “Inner Selves and Outer Selves”. Response to Burkert, W. “Towards Plato and Paul: The ‘Inner’ Human Being.” In Ancient and Modern Perspectives on the Bible and Culture. Edited by A. Y. Collins. Atlanta 1998: 83-87.
  • "Epicurean Epistemology". In Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy. Edited by Jonathan Barnes, Jaap Mansfeld, and Malcolm Schofield. Cambridge 1999: 260-94.
  • “The Politician as Public Servant in Cicero's De Republica“. In Cicéron et Philodème. La Polémique en philosophie. Edited by Clara Auvray -Assayas and Daniel Delattre. Paris, 2001: 109-128.
  • "Basic Education in Epicureanism". In Education in Greek and Roman Antiquity. Edited by Yun Lee Too. Leiden 2001: 209-39.
  • "Choice in Epictetus' Philosophy". In Antiquity and Humanity: Essays on Ancient Religion and Philosophy presented to Hans Dieter Betz on his 70th Birthday. Edited by Adela Yarbro Collins and Margaret M. Mitchell, Tübingen: 2001: 385-412.
  • “Epicurean Economics”.  In Philodemus and the New Testament World. Edited by John T. Fitzgerald, Glenn Holland, and Dirk Obbink. Supplements to Novum Testamentum. Leiden 2004: 133- 176
  • "Sound and Sense in Philodemus' Poetics." Cronache Ercolanesi 34 (2004): 5-27.
  • "L'education épicurienne". In Que reste-t-il de l'education classique? Edited by Jean-Marie Pailler and Pascal Payen. Presses Universitaires du Mirail, 2004: 211-18.
  • "The State as a Partnership:  Cicero's Definition of res publica in his work On the State."   History of Political Thought 25 (2004): 569-98.
  • "A New Kind of Model: Cicero's Roman Constitution in De republica." American Journal of Philology 126 (2005): 377-416.
  • “Myth and Philosophy in Cleanthes’ Hymn to Zeus”. Greek Roman and Byzantine Studies 47 (2007): 413-29.
  • “Lucretius’ New World Order: Making a Pact with Nature”. Classical Quarterly 58 (2008) 141-57.
  • “Cicero on Natural Law and the Laws of the State.” Classical Antiquity 27 (2008): 1-34.
  • “Seneca on Fortune and the Kingdom of God.” In Seneca and the Self. Edited by S. Bartsch and David Wray. Cambridge 2009: 115-38.
  • “Epicurean Empiricism.” In Cambridge Companion to Epicureanism. Edited by James Warren. Cambridge 2009: 84-104
  • “Philodemus on Anger”. In Epicurus and the Epicurean Tradition. Ed. J. Fish and K. Sanders. Cambridge  2011: 152-82.
  • "Galen's De indolentia and the Creation of a Personal Philosophy." In Galen's De indolentia. Ed. C. Rothschild and T. Thompson. Studien und Texte zu Antike und Christentum. Tübingen: 2014: 127-42.
  • "Cicero Mythologus: the Myth of the Founders in de republica." Classical Journal 110 (2014): 23-42.
  • "Seneca's Originality". In The Cambridge Companion to Seneca. Eds. S. Bartsch and A. Schiesaro. Cambridge 2015: 224-38.
  • "Venus and the Passion for Renewal in Lucretius's On the Nature of Things." In Venus as Muse. Eds. H. Berressem, G. Blamberger, Sebastian Goth, Leiden, Brill/Rodopi 2015: 41-54.
  • "Art and Morality". A companion to Ancient Aesthetics. Eds. P. Destrée and P. Murray. Malden, MA. (Wiley Blackwell) 2015: 486-504.
  • "Lucretius' Reception of Epicurus: De Rerum Natura as a Conversion Narrative". Hermes 144 (2016): 239-61.


  • Greek Orators
  • Stoics and Epicureans
  • Roman Stoicism
  • Ancient Medicine
  • Vergil's Georgics
  • Lucretius and Marx
  • Cicero and Machiavelli
  • Plato’s Politicus