Elizabeth Asmis

Professor of Classics and in the College
Classics 25B
Ph.D. Yale University, 1970
Research Interests: 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 Epicureans, 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. Recently, she has written on Lucretius’ attempt to convert the Romans to Epicureanism. She has also looked ahead to Marx as somehow who sought to renew Hegelianism with ideas taken from Epicurus and Lucretius. Currently, she is focusing on Epicurean social philosophy, with special attention to justice, pity, and parental love.

Recent Publications

  • “Epicurean Psychology.” Ed. P. Mitsis. In Oxford Handbook of Epicurus and Epicureanism, Oxford, 2020: 189-220. 
  • “A Tribute to a Hero: Marx’s interpretation of Epicureanism in his Dissertation”. Approaches to Lucretius, edited by Donncha O'Rourke, Cambridge, 2020: 241-58.
  • “Epicurus’ Divided Line: Proceeding from the Visible to the Invisible”. Ed. G. Leone, F. Masi, and F. Verde. Forthcoming in Cronache Ercolanesi, Supplement VI. Napoli, 2020: 25-46.
  • “Lucretius’ Reception of Epicurus: De Rerum Natura as a Conversion Narrative”. Hermes 144/4 (2017): 239-61.
  • “The Stoics on the Craft of Poetry”. Rheinisches Museum 160 (2017) 113–151.