David Trachtenberg

Thesis title: Lucreus Madidus: Poetry, Liquidity, and Cosmic Flux in De rerum natura


Originally from southeast Pennsylvania in the United States, David Trachtenberg is a doctoral candidate and postgraduate researcher in Classics at the University of Edinburgh. David completed undergraduate degrees in history and Classics at West Chester University (USA) before earning Master’s degrees in both Education and Classics from Villanova University (USA).

After a successful career in education as a secondary school Latin instructor and student-focused school administrator, David and his family moved to Scotland so he could pursue his additional interests in research. David completed his MScR in Classics at the University of Edinburgh under the supervision of Donncha O’Rourke in 2022, and he is delighted to continue his research at the University of Edinburgh at the doctoral level.

David is an active member of the HCA postgraduate community. He is a Latin tutor, Postgraduate Representative, and PhD Room Representative, drawing on his leadership skills and experience in education to engage with the wider Classics community. He is grateful for the many opportunities for growth, development, and research at the University of Edinburgh.


  • MScR Classics, University of Edinburgh
  • M.A. Classics, Villanova University
  • M.A. Education, Villanova University
  • B.A. Classics & History, West Chester University

Responsibilities & affiliations

  • Latin Tutor, University of Edinburgh Classics Department Delivers instruction, guidance, and support to undergraduate students in Latin 1A and 1B.
  • Postgraduate Representative, University of Edinburgh Classics Department David is responsible for coordinating events, resources, and cultural engagement initiatives that benefit the wider postgraduate student body in Classics at the University in Edinburgh. With his postgraduate representative team, he organises and moderates the Edinburgh Classics Postgraduate Seminar Series (additional details about this programme can be found here: http://edinburghclassicspgseminars.weebly.com/).
  • PhD Room Representative, University of Edinburgh Classics Department David works with a team of representatives to manage the Classics PhD room. His responsibilities include allocating desk space, managing working conditions, and assisting with room-related administration.

Undergraduate teaching

Latin 1A, Latin 1B

Research summary

David conducts research into the intersection of Philosophy and poetry. His interests include intertextuality, Lucretius, Vergil, and Epicureanism.

Current research interests

David explores how Lucretius uses the language of liquidity and fluidity throughout De rerum natura to convey philosophical arguments. This investigation positions fluidity as a metaphor for Epicurean flux, demonstrating a systematic, innovative approach to interpreting and understanding Lucretius and his work.

Knowledge exchange

In 2022, David delivered a postgraduate research seminar on the topic of Palinurus and Vergil’s Aeneid. In 2023, David was invited to work with postgraduate students in HCA’s Latin Text Seminar to examine the significance of a selection of Book 1 in Lucretius’s De rerum natura. In 2024, he will deliver another postgraduate seminar and plans to begin submitting articles for review. He is a regularly attendee at the University of Edinburgh’s Classics Research Seminar Series, and he is an active member of the Classical Association of Scotland.


David’s work will provide a pioneering roadmap for scholars to better understand the nuance of Lucretius’s style and philosophy. De rerum natura was a primary influence of the Enlightenment, reinforcing and guiding our modern understanding of physics and the universe. David’s work reimagines De rerum natura through a refreshing exegesis on the poem that will ultimately help scholars  develop a richer and more holistic understanding of the work. 

Project activity

  • PhD Thesis: Lucreus Madidus: Poetry, Liquidity, and Cosmic Flux in De rerum natura
  • MScR Thesis: Life, Death, and Burial in Aeneas’ Crew: A Philosophical Approach to Misenus and Palinurus