Elizabeth Asmis

Biography and Interests: 

Elizabeth Asmis

Title: Professor of Classics and in the College
Education: Ph.D. Yale University, 1970
Office: Classics 25B
Areas of Specialization: Ancient Philosophy

Elizabeth Asmis has worked on ancient Greek and Roman philosophy from the pre-Socratics to the Neoplatonists, with a focus on Epicureanism and Stoicism. An abiding interest is how later thinkers adapt previous thought to their own purposes. The topics that have most engaged her are:  philosophical methodology; aesthetics; and social reform. She has argued that Epicurus developed a uniquely empirical method for showing that the universe is composed of atoms and void. She has also sought to show that not only Plato and Aristotle, but also the Stoics and other later thinkers laid the foundation of a science of aesthetics. Her interest in aesthetics has prompted her to give close attention to Philodemus' papyrological fragments. Asmis has studied Cicero as a political thinker, intent on educating the Romans both culturally and politically. Currently, she has been focusing on Lucretius' attempt to save the Romans. She has also looked ahead to Marx as somehow who sought to renew Hegelianism with ideas taken from Epicurus and Lucretius.

Recent Publications: 

Full List of Publications


  • Co-editor (with Shadi Bartsch, and Martha Nussbaum), Seneca’s Complete Works, 2010-17, University of Chicago Press.
  • Epicurus' Scientific Method. Cornell University Press, 1984.

Book Reviews


  • "A Tribute to a Hero: Marx's interpretation of Epicureanism in his Dissertation". Forthcoming in volume on the reception of Lucretius, edited by Donncha O'Rourke, Cambridge University Press.
  • "Lucretian Pleasure". Forthcoming in volume of conference proceedings edited by William V. Harris, Columbia University.
  • "The Stoics on the Craft of Poetry". Rheinisches Museum 160 (2017) 113–151.
  • "Lucretius' Reception of Epicurus: De Rerum Natura as a Conversion Narrative". Hermes 144/4 (2016): 239-61.
  • "Art and Morality". A companion to Ancient Aesthetics. Eds. P. Destrée and P. Murray. Malden, MA. (Wiley Blackwell) 2015: 486-504.
  • "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.
  • "Seneca's Originality". In The Cambridge Companion to Seneca. Eds. S. Bartsch and A. Schiesaro. Cambridge 2015: 224-38.
  • "Cicero Mythologus: the Myth of the Founders in de republica." Classical Journal 110 (2014): 23-42.
  • "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.


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