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Jed W. Atkins, E. Blake Byrne Associate Professor and Director of the Duke Transformative Ideas Program

Jed W. Atkins

Cicero; Greek, Roman, and early Christian political and moral philosophy; history of political thought; the modern reception of ancient political thought.

My research focuses on Greek, Roman, and early Christian moral and political thought.  I have a special interest in Roman political philosophy and have published three books and numerous articles in that area.  My book Cicero on Politics and the Limits of Reason (paperback 2020) explores Cicero's political philosophy in his dialogues The Republic and The Laws.  My second book, Roman Political Thought, provides a thematic guide to Roman political thought and its enduring legacies for modern liberal democracies.  I am also editor (with Thomas Bénatouïl) of the Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy. Beyond Roman political thought, I have published on topics in Greek ethics and political thought, such as the concepts of politeia, moral conscience, and Stoic cosmopolitanism and natural law theory.  In the area of reception, I've written on the reception of Cicero's teaching on natural right in the 18th century and on the reception of Lucretius by Leo Strauss.  I continue to work on many topics related to Roman philosophy and Cicero's political philosophy: I have forthcoming essays on cosmopolitanism and patriotism, just war theory, property and economics, hope and empire, Roman republicanism, the Roman reception of Athenian democracy, Polybius' view of sovereignty (with Tripp Young), Cicero's De oratore (with Leo Trotz-Liboff), and the political theory of Cicero's De officiis. I am also completing a book manuscript on the concept of tolerance in early Christian political thought and modern liberal theory.

I regularly teach undergraduate courses on Greek and Roman political thought. I teach all levels of Latin and graduate seminars related to my research interests. I also teach in Duke's Visions of Freedom Focus Cluster.  Past and present PhD students have written on the political theology of Plato's Laws, Cicero's Platonic dialogues, Cicero's role in the development of the later republican tradition, the form and philosophy of Lucretius' De rerum natura, esotericism in philosophical writing, Tacitus' political thought, and non-liberal forms of toleration. I frequently serve on dissertation committees for PhD students from other departments and schools, such as Political Science, Philosophy, and Divinity. In 2022 I will be co-teaching a MOOC on Greek and Roman Political Philosophy with Professor Melissa Lane of Princeton University.

I serve as the Faculty Director of the Civil Discourse Project in the Kenan Institute for Ethics and as the Faculty Director for Transformative Ideas, a program for sophomores that introduces students to life's most important questions.

Contact Info:
Office Location:  232 Allen Building, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone:  (919) 684-2695
Email Address: send me a message

Teaching (Fall 2023):

  • CLST 210.01, THE GOOD LIFE Synopsis
    LSRC B101, TuTh 01:25 PM-02:40 PM
    (also cross-listed as ETHICS 210.01, PHIL 214.01, PUBPOL 229.01, RELIGION 210.01)
Teaching (Spring 2024):

  • HOUSECS 59.21, HOUSE COURSE (SP TOP) Synopsis
    SEE INSTRU, W 05:15 PM-06:45 PM
    Langford 060, W 01:25 PM-03:55 PM
    (also cross-listed as ETHICS 572S.01, PHIL 575S.01, POLSCI 572S.01)
Office Hours:

T 4:00 - 5:00 PM and W1:30-2:30.
Meet by Zoom (link available on course websites and by request).

Ph.D.University of Cambridge (United Kingdom)2009
M.Phil.University of Cambridge (United Kingdom)2005
B.A. Bowdoin College2004

Greek and Roman political philosophy and ethics
The history of political thought
Research Interests: Cicero; Greek, Roman, and early Christian political and moral philosophy; history of political thought

Cicero; Greek, Roman, and early Christian political and moral philosophy; history of political thought

Curriculum Vitae  Bio
Current Ph.D. Students  

  • Robert F. Dudley  
  • Carl E Young  
Representative Publications   (More Publications)

  1. Atkins, JW, Cicero on Politics and the Limits of Reason: The Republic and Laws (Fall, 2013), Cambridge University Press [9781107043589]  [abs]
  2. Atkins, JW, The officia of St. Ambrose's de officiis, Journal of Early Christian Studies, vol. 19 no. 1 (Spring, 2011), pp. 49-77, Johns Hopkins University Press, ISSN 1067-6341 [Gateway.cgi], [doi]  [abs]
  3. Atkins, JW, L'argument du De Re Publica et le Songe de Scipion, Les Études Philosophiques, vol. 99 no. 4 (Winter, 2011), pp. 455-469, CAIRN [doi]
  4. Atkins, JW, Greek and Roman Political Philosophy, in Oxford Bibliographies in "Classics", edited by Dee Clayman (Fall, 2012), Oxford University Press (Li nk.)
  5. Atkins, JW, Cicero on the Relationship between Plato’s Republic and Laws, in Ancient Approaches to Plato’s Republic, BICS Supplement 117, edited by Sheppard, A (2013), pp. 15-34
  6. Atkins, JW, Euripides's orestes and the concept of conscience in Greek philosophy, Journal of the History of Ideas, vol. 75 no. 1 (January, 2014), pp. 1-22, Johns Hopkins University Press [doi]
  7. Atkins, JW, A revolutionary doctrine? Cicero's natural right teaching in Mably and Burke, Classical Receptions Journal, vol. 6 no. 2 (Summer, 2014), pp. 177-197, Oxford University Press (OUP), ISSN 1759-5134 [doi]  [abs]
  8. Atkins, JW, Cicero, Marcus Tullius (106–43 BCE), in The Encyclopedia of Political Thought, edited by Gibbons, M (2014), pp. 489-498, WILEY-BLACKWELL
  9. Atkins, JW, Constitution and Empire in Roman Republican Thought, in Rome, Museums and World Civilizations (2015), Peyking University Press
  10. Atkins, JW, Zeno's Republic, plato's Laws, and the early development of stoic natural law theory, Polis: the Journal for Ancient Greek Political Thought, vol. 32 no. 1 (May, 2015), pp. 166-190, BRILL, ISSN 0142-257X [doi]  [abs]
  11. Atkins, JW, Review of Catherine Steel, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Cicero (Cambridge, 2013) (June, 2014), The Classical Journal [Atkins%20on%20Steel.pdf]
Conferences Organized

  • Panel Organizer & Participant : UK Classical Association Annual Conference. April 2009, Panel Organizer & Participant : UK Classical Association Annual Conference, April, 2009  

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