Robert Gurval

A photo of Robert Gurval
E-mail: Office: Dodd Hall 247K

Robert Gurval is Associate Professor Emeritus in the Department of Classics. He was Chair of the Department for six years (2000-05; 2013-14). He is most proud of his university service as Director of the Mellon Program in Post-Classical Latin (2014-17); Chair of the GE Governance Committee (2007-10); Chair of College Honors Faculty Advisory Committee (2009-10; 2011-13); and Chair of Undergraduate Student Support, Honors, & Prizes (1999-2002).

His major publication is Actium and Augustus: The Politics and Emotions of Civil War (University of Michigan, 1996). His interests include Latin literature, ancient biography, Roman numismatics, Cleopatra, and especially the reception of Classics in American popular culture. Most recently, he has become very interested in the early history and architecture of UCLA. Since 2018, he has taught a Fiat Lux seminar that offers a walking tour of the first 40 years of the Westwood campus.

His favorite courses have been Discovering the Romans (Classics 20), Ancient Lives: The Art of Biography (Classics 137), The Female in Roman Thought and Culture (Classics 150B), and Representing Cleopatra (Honors Collegium 5).  Since 2008, he led the UCLA Summer Travel Study Abroad Program in Rome. And he is hoping to teach it again in July 2021, if conditions allow. In Fall 2020, he is teaching the Fiat Lux seminar, Ancient Rome and the Monuments of Washington, D.C.

His two best cities in the world are Rome and Hong Kong. He was a Rome Prize Fellow in 1996-97, and he tries to return to the Eternal City as often as he can, whether to teach or be a tourist. He was a Fulbright Scholar at the Chinese University Hong Kong in 2010-11. As a Fulbright, he was a participant in a four-year, 20-person team effort to assist in building a program of General Education as the eight public universities of Hong Kong prepared to shift from a three to four-year system of undergraduate education in Fall 2012. At Chinese University of Hong Kong he taught a pilot of the foundation course, In Dialogue with Humanity. Since his Fulbright year, he has been actively engaged in promoting the teaching Classics in China and has given public lectures on General Education and Classics, especially on Cleopatra and Hollywood films on Ancient Rome, in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau. He has also taught seminars on Roman history topics at Fudan University, Shanghai Normal University, Beijing Normal University, and most recently Sun Yat-Sen University, Boya College, Guangzhou.

He was also co-Principal Investigator of a series of workshops held at UCLA and Hong Kong on comparative approaches to the study of religion in 2014-16. In May 2015, he co-organized at UCLA the workshop, Empire and the Media of Religion: A Workshop on Comparative Approaches to the Study of Religion in the Greco-Roman Imperial Era and Early China.

He welcomes questions from Chinese mainland students interested in studying Classics in the U.S.


  • University of California, Berkeley | Ph.D. Classics (1988)
  • University of California, Santa Barbara | M.A. Classics (1982)
  • Brown University | A.B. Classics (1980) magna cum laude
  • Washington & Lee University (1976-78)


Undergraduate Courses | Classical Civilization

    • Discovering the Romans, Classics 20 General Education Lecture course
    • Reading Latin Literature, Classics 41 General Education Lecture course
    • Cinema and the Ancient World, Classics 42 General Education Lecture course
    • The Hollywood Myth of the Gladiator, Classics 42 (six-week summer course)
    • HBO Rome, Classics 89 Honors Seminar
    • Ancient Empires: Rome and China, Classics 89 Honors seminar
    • Ancient Epic, Classics 142 Lecture course
    • Ancient Lives: The Art of Biography, Classics 137 (formerly 144) Lecture course
    • The Female in Roman Thought and Culture, Classics 150B Lecture course
    • America and Rome: Politics / Culture / Art, Classics 191 Capstone Seminar
    • Hadrian: The Enigmatic Emperor, Classics 191 Capstone Seminar
    • The Age of Nero: Politics, Literature, and Society, Classics 197 Departmental Seminar
    • Re-Discovering Pompeii, Classics 19, Classics 87GE, Classics 197 Fiat Lux (freshman) SeminarHonors Seminar, Departmental Seminar
    • Representing Cleopatra: History, Literature, and Film, Classics 19, Honors 5 Fiat Lux (freshman) SeminarHonors Seminar
    • UCLA Centennial: The Architecture of Westwood, Classics 19 Fiat Lux (freshman) Seminar
    • UCLA 1919: The First Professors, Classics 19 Fiat Lux (freshman) Seminar
    • Ancient Rome and the Monuments of Washington, D.C., Classics 19 Fiat Lux (freshman) Seminar
    • The Affairs of Caesar: Sex and Politics in Ancient Rome, Classics 19 Fiat Lux (freshman) Seminar
    • Exploring Ancient Rome, Classics 19 Fiat Lux (freshman) Seminar
    • Film and Society: The Hollywood Myth of Ancient Rome, Honors 34 Honors Seminar Male Identity and Sexuality in Ancient Rome, Honors 43 Honors Seminar

Undergraduate Courses | Travel Study Abroad

      • The History and Monuments of Rome, Classics M114A-B/History M112C-E
        • Four-week summer field study and lecture course taught in Rome summer 2008, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018

Undergraduate Courses | Latin and Greek

  • Latin, Latin 1-3 Elementary Latin first-year sequence
  • Hybrid-Online Elementary Latin creator, supervisor and instructor
  • Faculty Supervisor of Elementary Latin program
  • Readings in Latin Prose & Poetry, Latin 100 Intermediate Latin course
  • Latin Prose Composition, Latin 110
  • Ovid, Latin 104 Advanced Latin Reading course
  • Vergil, Latin 105A, 105B Advanced Latin Reading course
  • Roman Elegy, Latin 108 Advanced Latin Reading course
  • Horace, Latin 109 Advanced Latin Reading course
  • Livy, Latin 111 Advanced Latin Reading course
  • Tacitus, Latin 112 Advanced Latin Reading course
  • Apuleius, Latin 116 Advanced Latin Reading course
    Suetonius, Latin 119A Advanced Latin Reading course
  • Sallust, Latin 117 Advanced Latin Reading course
  • Plutarch, Greek 131 Advanced Greek Reading course

Graduate Courses

  • Topics in Ancient History: The Roman World, Classics 201B Graduate Seminar
  • Reflections of Augustus, Classics 201B Graduate Seminar
  • Reading Horace: Poetry, Politics, and Augustus, Latin 206 Graduate Seminar
  • Tacitus and Nero, Latin 211C Graduate Seminar
  • Biography, Latin 214 Graduate Seminar
  • History of Republican Literature, Latin 200A Graduate Latin Literature Survey
  • History of Augustan Literature, Latin 200B Graduate Latin Literature Survey

Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou

  • Caesar Augustus: The First Emperor of Rome. Four-week intensive undergraduate seminar, Boya College (May-June 2018)

East China University of Science and Technology, Shanghai

  • In Search of Cleopatra. One-week intensive graduate seminar in Department of Foreign Languages (December 2016)

Beijing Normal University, Beijing

  • Caesar Augustus: The First Emperor of Rome Two-week intensive graduate seminar in Department of World History (May 2016)

Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai

  • Caesar Augustus: The First Emperor of Rome Two-week intensive graduate seminar in Department of World History (May 2016)

Fudan University, Shanghai

  • Ancient Biography Four-week intensive graduate seminar in Department of World History (April-May 2014)

The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

  • In Dialogue with Humanity First-year General Education foundational course (Spring 2011) Authors/texts include Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, Zhuangzi, Old Testament, Qur’an, Buddhist Heart Sutra, Huang Zongxi, Rousseau, Adam Smith, and Karl Marx.

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

  • University of California, Los Angeles | Eugen Weber Honors Collegium Faculty Award, 2019
  • Fulbright Scholarship | Hong Kong General Education, 2010-11
  • American Philological Association | Excellence in Teaching Award, 2006
  • University of California, Los Angeles | Distinguished Teaching Award, 2006 | Eby Award for the Art of Teaching
  • University of California, San Diego | Distinguished Undergraduate Mentor, 2005
    University of California, Los Angeles | Distinguished Advisor | Regents Scholars Society, 1999-02
  • University of California, Los Angeles | Teaching Award, Honors Program, 2000
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor | Outstanding Reader’s Report Award, 2000
  • American Academy in Rome | Rome Prize, School of Classical Studies, 1996-97
  • Golden Key National Honor Society| Honorary Member, 1993
  • University of California, Berkeley | Chancellor’s Fellowship, 1987-88
  • University of California, Berkeley | Regents Scholarship, 1982-83
  • University of California, Santa Barbara | Regents Scholarship, 1980-81
  • American Numismatic Society | Graduate Seminar Fellowship, 1986