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Luca Grillo, along with Jennifer Gates-Foster, joined the department this year. Read below to learn more about our newest Philologist.

Luca Grillo
Assistant professor
Kenan Junior Fellow of Classics

This is my first year at UNC, my 16th year in the USA, and the fourth state I have lived in.

My first stop was in Minnesota, where I taught High School for five years, and where I completed my MA in Classical and Near Eastern Studies at the U of M, as it is called there, in Minneapolis (2001-3). I so enjoyed my MA classes that I applied to PhD programs and decided to go to Princeton. The first reason why I smile as I look back at my five years there is that I planned to work on Greek poetry and I ended up specializing in Latin prose. The second is the wonderful memories I have of my cohort and my teachers. And the third, most importantly, is that Princeton is where I met my wife. Graduate school gave me a chance to read broadly, to engage with wonderful scholars, to be exposed to ancillary disciplines like numismatics and epigraphy, and to reflect on teaching.

In spring 2008 I applied broadly for various positions, and chose to go to Amherst College, which fascinated me for its focus on teaching undergraduates and for encouraging original research. I spent five years there as Assistant Professor in Classics, and since the department has only four people, I taught more widely than I could dream of – Latin love elegy, Greek, Civilization courses and first-year seminars. In these years I spent a sabbatical in Germany (Göttingen), became an American citizen, and got married.

My research also developed: Cambridge accepted my revised dissertation and published it in 2012 with a changed title, The Art of Caesar’s Bellum Civile. Two other projects stemmed from this one: editing the Cambridge Companion to Caesar together with Christopher Krebs, which has kept me busy throughout this year and which should appear in 2015; and research on Caesar also led me to work on a commentary on Cicero’s De Provinciis Consularibus, which I completed last summer and should appear in the American Philological Association/Oxford University Press series in the next year or so.

My first goal at UNC is to break the pattern that has shaped half of my life –- moving every five years –- and see if I can manage to last a bit longer. The second is to continue to do what I love, teaching and researching. This year I have enjoyed my students enormously, and I am proud to be part of a public university which offers first class education, and of a world-renowned department where quality in teaching and publishing are equally encouraged. In the time left for research, I have made some progress on different fronts, developing an idea on irony in Cicero and working on articles on “Caesar and Intertextuality”, on an important senatorial debate of 56, and on “Invective in Lucilius.”

This is a very different place from Amherst, and throughout this year a number of surprises have been particularly pleasing. The collegiality of the department naturally fosters discussion, intellectual engagement, exchange of views and ideas -– I have just submitted an article and very much benefited from suggestions and corrections from three colleagues. The presence of graduate students dramatically adds to the life of the department, and I very much look forward to teaching my first graduate class this coming fall; and the undergraduates bring a fascinating mixture of experiences to the classroom but share a healthy pride and sense of privilege for being where they are. This helps to make every student excitable and every class enjoyable. I am also excited, and so far I could not have enjoyed my job more.