This experience is optimized for Internet Explorer version 9 and above.

Please upgrade your browser

Video title

Priority Code


Professor J. Rufus Fears

Professor J. Rufus Fears
  • University of Oklahoma
  • Harvard University
We are no wiser than the Athenians of the 5th century B.C., no wiser than Sophocles for our science of today has shown us the overwhelming power of genes, of DNA.
Dr. J. Rufus Fears was David Ross Boyd Professor of Classics at the University of Oklahoma, where he held the G. T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty. He also served as David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. He earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University. Before joining the faculty at the University of Oklahoma, Professor Fears was Professor of History and Distinguished Faculty Research Lecturer at Indiana University, and Professor of Classical Studies at Boston University. An acclaimed teacher and scholar with more than 25 awards for teaching excellence, Professor Fears was chosen Professor of the Year on three occasions by students at the University of Oklahoma. His other accolades included the Medal for Excellence in College and University Teaching from the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, the University Continuing Education Association (UCEA) Great Plains Region Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the UCEA's National Award for Teaching Excellence. Professor Fears's books and monographs include The Cult of Jupiter and Roman Imperial Ideology and The Theology of Victory at Rome. He edited a three-volume edition of Selected Writings of Lord Acton. His discussions of the Great Books have appeared in newspapers across the country and have aired on national television and radio programs. Professor Fears passed away in October 2012.

"Rufus Fears is an excellent teacher and storyteller.  I highly appreciate his dedication to learning from the ancients, not deconstructing them."


"Professor Fears made historical facts compelling and relevant. I, too, found myself applauding his presentation and spellbound throughout them."


"Dr. Fears is so entertaining that your attention never wanders and the pictures he leaves in your imagination make the material stick.  If only I had had even one teacher like that during my life in academia."

12 Courses

Grid List


12 Courses

  1. Special Collection - 36 Revolutionary Figures of History

    Special Collection - 36 Revolutionary Figures of History

    J. Rufus Fears
    Starting at $219.95
    Alexander the Great. Jesus. Darwin. Churchill. These are just a few of the revolutionary individuals who have transformed our world in ways that still resonate today. 36 Revolutionary Figures of History is a unique collection of 36 lectures from our extensive course catalog—one that takes you across time and around the globe to offer piercing insights into some of history’s most transformative figures.
  2. Special Collection - 36 Books That Changed the World

    Special Collection - 36 Books That Changed the World

    J. Rufus Fears
    Starting at $219.95
    Since the development of written language, books have played major roles in the world: Entertaining. Instructing. Inspiring. Even changing the course of history. Now, with 36 Books That Changed the World, a fascinating Great Courses Collection crafted from our extensive library of courses, take a riveting tour of the profound impact of books from thousands of years of history and from civilizations around the globe.
  3. Special Collection - The Joy of Ancient History Sale

    Special Collection - The Joy of Ancient History

    J. Rufus Fears
    Save up to $215.00
    For years, The Great Courses has taken you on stirring explorations of our ancient roots. The Joy of Ancient History is an insightful collection of 36 lectures curated from our most popular ancient history courses. Guided by our highly rated professors, hopscotch around the world to experience the fascinating variety that ancient history offers: from great heroes and epic battles to lost civilizations and beyond.
  4. The World Was Never the Same: Events That Changed History

    The World Was Never the Same: Events That Changed History

    J. Rufus Fears
    Starting at $199.95
    Join storyteller and award-winning Professor J. Rufus Fears as he presents what he considers to be the 36 defining moments in our past with The World Was Never the Same: Events That Changed History. This course is an intriguing tour of history, from the creation of the Code of Hammurabi to the opening battles of the American Revolution to the terrorist attacks of September 11th. Using his impressive ability to draw...
  5. Churchill


    J. Rufus Fears
    Starting at $89.95
    Who exactly was Winston Churchill? How did he rally the British during World War II? And what legacy did he leave for Western civilization? In Churchill, get the answers to these and other powerful questions as you follow the life of this iconic politician. View Churchill as a resourceful soldier, military strategist, gifted orator, doting father, devoted public servant, and winner of the Nobel Prize for literature....
  6. Wisdom of History Sale

    Wisdom of History

    J. Rufus Fears
    Save up to $275.00
    Professor J. Rufus Fears believes not only can we learn from history—we must. In this course, he draws on decades of experience as a world-renowned scholar and classical historian to examine the patterns of history. Ignoring them, by choice or because we've never learned to see them, is to risk becoming their prisoner, doomed to repeat the mistakes that have toppled leaders, nations, and empires throughout time.
  7. Life Lessons from the Great Myths

    Life Lessons from the Great Myths

    J. Rufus Fears
    Starting at $199.95
    Change the way you think about the greatest stories ever told with Life Lessons from the Great Myths by acclaimed Great Courses Professor J. Rufus Fears. A powerful work of storytelling prowess, this 36-lecture course explores individuals and events that so gripped civilizations, they transcended to the level of myth. Taking you from the battlefields of Alexander the Great to the conquests of Napoleon Bonaparte to...
  8. Books That Have Made History:  Books That Can Change Your Life Sale

    Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life

    J. Rufus Fears
    Save up to $275.00
    What makes a written work eternal—its message still so fundamental to the way we live that it continues to speak to us, hundreds or thousands of years distant from the lifetime of its author? Professor J. Rufus Fears presents his choices of some of the most essential writings in history—works that shaped the minds of great individuals and offer an extraordinary gift of wisdom. This course focuses on intellectual...
  9. Famous Romans

    Famous Romans

    J. Rufus Fears
    Starting at $129.95
    In this companion course to Famous Greeks—inspired this time by the works of Livy, Polybius, Suetonius, and Tacitus as well as the indispensable Plutarch—Professor J. Rufus Fears retells the lives of the statesmen and thinkers who shaped Rome from its rise to world power in the struggle against Carthage to the decline of the Empire after Marcus Aurelius.
  10. Life Lessons from the Great Books

    Life Lessons from the Great Books

    J. Rufus Fears
    Starting at $199.95
    For every important moment in your life, there is a Great Book that can give you a unique perspective on the experience. In Life Lessons from the Great Books, master storyteller and veteran Teaching Company Professor J. Rufus Fears shows you how some of Western civilization's greatest literary masterpieces can provide you with guidance and consolation. Every book you explore in this course—from the Odyssey to...
  11. History of Freedom Sale

    History of Freedom

    J. Rufus Fears
    Save up to $305.00
    Join historian and classical scholar J. Rufus Fears as he tells the dramatic story of history's most powerful idea from ancient Greece to our own day. What did freedom mean to Abraham Lincoln-and to Robert E. Lee? What did it mean to Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Martin Luther King? What does it mean to us today? Find out in this deeply moving, thought-provoking course.
  12. Famous Greeks Sale

    Famous Greeks

    J. Rufus Fears
    Save up to $205.00
    In lectures inspired and informed by the monumental works of Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, and Plutarch, Professor J. Rufus Fears examines a gallery of fascinating characters who shaped the story of Greece from the Trojan War through the rise of Rome.