Jed W. Atkins
E. Blake Byrne Associate Professor

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 Projec t 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.

Office Hours

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

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Contact Information

  • 232 Allen Building, Durham, NC 27708
  • Box 90103, Durham, NC 27708-0103

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