Ancient Philosophy

Classics and Ancient Philosophy

The Department of Classics, Department of Philosophy, and Committee on Social Thought collaborate to offer graduate students the opportunity to take a rich variety of courses and do research on ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. The recently established Ph.D track in Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy allows students to fulfill the requirements for a Ph.D. Degree in Classics by taking courses in both the Classics and the Philosophy Departments. In addition, the Chicago Consortium on Ancient Philosophy offers the opportunity to take courses at any of the three member institutions (the University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago) and receive credit for these courses in the Classics Department.


Faculty members of the Classics Department, Philosophy Department, and Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago who have direct responsibility for instruction and research projects in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy:

  • Elizabeth Asmis (Professor of Classics) is author of Epicurus' Scientific Method (1984) and has published extensively on Epicurean and Stoic philosophy. Her current research is on the political thought of Cicero and on Hellenistic aesthetics.
  • Agnes Callard (Assistant Professor of Philosophy) is in the process of turning her PhD dissertation (Berkeley 2008), An Incomparabilist Account of Akrasia, into a book. She also has strong interests in Modern Philosophy (especially in Kant, Hobbes, and Hume) and in Political Philosophy.
  • Gabriel Richardson Lear (Professor of Philosophy) is author of Happy Lives and the Highest Good: An Essay on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics (Princeton, 2004). She is currently writing about Plato's aesthetics and about the status of beauty as an ethical concept in the work of several philosophers.
  • Jonathan Lear (Professor in the Philosophy Department and in the Committee on Social Thought) works on the legacy of ancient Greek philosophy for contemporary issues in ethics and moral psychology. His books include: Aristotle and Logical Theory (1980): Aristotle: The Desire to Understand (1988); Love and Its Place In Nature: A Philosophical Interpretation of Freudian Psychoanalysis (1990); Happiness, Death and the Remainder of Life (2000); Therapeutic Action: An Earnest Plea for Irony (2003); Freud (2005); Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation (2006); and A Case for Irony (2011). He is a recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award.
  • Glenn Most (Professor at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa and Visiting Professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago) has edited Theophrastus' Metaphysics (1993) and Hesiod for the Loeb series (2006-7) and has published extensively on early Greek philosophy, Plato, and Aristotle. His current projects include a new Loeb edition of the Presocratics in four volumes.
  • Martha Nussbaum (Professor of Law and Ethics in the Philosophy Department, the Law School, and the Divinity School) has published many books, including: Political Emotions: why Love Matters for Justice (2013); Creating Capabilities: the Human Development Approach (2011); Liberty of Conscience (2007); The Clash Within (2007); Frontiers of Justice (2006); Hiding from Humanity (2004); Upheavals of Thought (2001); Women and Human Development (2000); and Sex and Social Justice (2000), winner of the book award of the North American Society for Social Philosophy. Trained as a classicist and student of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, Nussbaum continues to teach advanced courses on Greek and Latin philosophical texts.
  • David Wray (Associate Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature) is author of Catullus and the Poetics of Roman Manhood (2001) and co-editor of Seneca and the Self (forthcoming). He regularly teaches courses on ancient philosophers, including Aristotle, Lucretius, Cicero, and Seneca. He is currently writing about relation and relatedness in Greek and Roman epic.

Other members of the Consortium who teach classes and direct research on ancient Greek and Roman philosophy:

  • Richard Kraut, Professor in the Departments of Philosophy and Classics at Northwestern University.
  • Constance Meinwald, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
  • Sarah Monoson, Professor in the Departments of Political Science and Classics at Northwestern University.
  • John Schafer, Assistant Professor in the Department of Classics at Northwestern University.
  • John Wynne, Associate Professor in the Classics Department at Northwestern University.

Courses and Workshops

Courses range from introductory surveys of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, to advanced courses and seminars. They also include close readings of texts in Greek and Latin. Courses that have been taught at the University of Chicago in the years 2006-7 and 2007-8 include: introductory courses on Ancient Philosophy, Plato's Psychology, and Lucretius and Marx; introductory Greek courses on Plato's Protagoras, Republic, Apology, and Crito; an upper level Greek course on Plato's Statesman; advanced courses on Nicomachean Ethics, Plato's Philosophy of Art, and Cicero's De finibus and Hellenistic Ethics; and seminars on Plato's Protagoras, Plato's Republic, the Sophists, the Roman Stoics, and Presocratic Philosophy.

A workshop on ancient Greek and Roman philosophy meets every week during the academic year at the University of Chicago. The meetings are devoted in large part to the reading of a philosophical text in Greek. In addition, graduate students give papers at the workshop and some speakers are invited from outside the University. Students also have the opportunity to attend workshops, reading groups, and talks by visiting lecturers at member institutions of the Consortium.


The Consortium on Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy has sponsored a conference every two years since its inception in 1995. The most recent conferences are:

  • October 2016 "Evil? The Bad, the Ugly, and the Depraved in Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy." Speakers: Yelena Baraz, Rachel Barney, Gábor Betegh, Stephen Engstrom, Mitzi Lee, and Jan Opsomer.
  • November 2014: "The Human and the Divine." (Speakers: Jonathan Beere, Charles Brittain, Margaret Graver, Aryeh Kosman, Stephen Menn, Suzanne Obdrzalek)
  • October 2012: "Animality: Greco-Roman Conceptions of the Human Being." (Speakers: Rachana Kamtekar, David O'Connor, Eric Brown, Hendrik Lorenz, Tamar Gendler, Brooke Holmes, Ursula Coope)
  • October 2010: "Representation, Emotion, and Cognition." (Speakers: Mark Schiefsky, Verity Harte, David Charles, Katja Vogt, Victor Caston, Calvin Normore)
  • October 2008: "Beauty, Harmony, and the Good." (Speakers: Rachel Barney, Andrew Barker, Terence Irwin, Aryeh Kosman, Richard Kraut, and Reviel Netz. PDF)
  • November 2006: "Religion and Philosophy in Ancient Greece" (Speakers: Gabor Betegh, Sarah Broadie, Pat Curd, Alasdair MacIntyre, Stephen Menn, and David Sedley)
  • April 2004: "Aristotle's Practical Philosophy" (Speakers: Stephen Halliwell, Rosalind Hursthouse, Josiah Ober, Gisela Striker, Bernard Yack, and Paul Woodruff.)