Erich Stephen Gruen (//; German: [ˈɡʀuːən]; born May 7, 1935 in Vienna, Austria) is an American classicist and ancient historian. He was the Gladys Rehard Wood Professor of History and Classics at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught full-time from 1966 until 2008. He served as president of the American Philological Association in 1992.
Born in Vienna, he received BAs from Columbia University and Oxford University, and the PhD from Harvard University in 1964. From 1957 to 1960, he was a Rhodes Scholar at Merton College, Oxford.
His earlier work focussed on the later Roman Republic, and culminated in The Last Generation of the Roman Republic, a work often cited as a response to Ronald Syme's The Roman Revolution. Gruen's argument is that the Republic was not in decay, and so not necessarily in need of "rescue" by Caesar Augustus and the institutions of the Empire. He later worked on the Hellenistic period and on Judaism in the classical world.
Gruen taught what was purportedly his final undergraduate lecture course, The Hellenistic World, in the Fall of 2006. Despite his retirement from full-time teaching, he continues to oversee doctoral dissertations and is widely sought for visiting professorships. In addition to U.C. Berkeley, Gruen has taught at Harvard University, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Cornell University. He says that his most inspirational teaching experience, however, was a brief stint instructing prisoners at San Quentin State Prison in the late 2000s. At Berkeley, his students have included Kenneth Sacks.
In 1969–70 and 1989–90, Gruen was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. He received the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art in 1998.