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Michael Fontaine C.V.

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Research Interests

Latin literature of all time periods, from the middle Republic through the Italian and Northern Renaissance, and classical Roman, Greek, and Renaissance society. Special interests include wine, ancient comedy and jokes, Virgil, classical ideas about the mind, psychiatry, or mental illness, and the application of social psychology to classical texts.






Board Appointments

  • 2015- The Paideia Institute for Humanistic Studies, advisory board member
  • 2015- Classical World journal, Associate Editor for Latin literature
  • 2015- Anales de Filología Clásica journal (Buenos Aires), advisory board member
  • 2016- Faculty Advisor to Humor Us! sketch comedy group, Cornell University
  • 2016- Electryone (Rhodes and Alexandria) journal, advisory board member
  • 2016  Eidolon, editorial board



Ph.D. 2003, Brown University, Classics. Dissertation: "The Sophisticated παρὰ προσδοκίαν [para prosdokian] in Plautus," directed by Adele Scafuro

I took 1999-2000 off to study Latin in Rome with Reginald Foster as a lay student at the Pontifical Gregorian University, courtesy of a Rotary Club Ambassadorial scholarship. I spent summer 2001 at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens.

B.A. 1998, Millsaps College, Classics, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa

I spent spring 1997 in Rome at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies, summer 1997 in Rome at Reginald Foster’s Latin school, and summer 1995 at the U.C. Berkeley Latin workshop.


Image result for Funny Words in Plautine Comedy google booksImage result for oxford handbook greek roman comedy fontaineImage result for fontaine burmeister aulularia

1. In progress. How to Drink: A Classical Guide to the Art of Imbibing. Princeton University Press. (A translation and edition of Vincent Obsopoeus’ 1537 De Arte Bibendi).

2. In press. (co-ed.) Quasi Labor Intus: Ambiguity in the Latin Language (Essays in Honor of Fr. Reginald Foster, OCD) (co-ed. with Charles McNamara and William Short). Paideia Institute Press.

3. 2015. Joannes Burmeister: Aulularia and other Inversions of Plautus. Leuven University Press: Bibliotheca Latinitatis Novae. (380 pp.) (The interesting story behind this book is here)

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Reviews: Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2016-03-27 (F. Franko); Germanistik 56 (2015), 113-4 (Jorißen); Gymnasium 123, (2016), 200-2 (N. Holzberg); Journal of Roman Studies 107 (2017) (V. Moul); Latomus (2017), 632-4 (S. Jeppesen); Renaissance Quarterly 70 (2017), 246-8 (J. Parente); Seventeenth Century News (including Neo-Latin News 64) 74 (2016), 74-6 (F. Schaffenrath); Wiener Studien 129 (2016), 352-4 (W. Stockert); Vox Latina 52 (2016), 463-5 (S. Albert).




4. 2014. (co-ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Comedy (co-ed. with Adele Scafuro). Oxford University Press USA, 2014 (898 pp.). Arabic translation in progress.

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Reviews: Choice (July 2014) (M. J. Johnson); Classical Review (2015), 2 pages (M. L. Lech); Greece and Rome 62 (2015), 124 (Izzet and Shorrock); Gymnasium (2015), 3 pages (N. Holzberg); Journal of Classics Teaching 16 (2015), 50 (A. Beale)




5. 2010. Funny Words in Plautine Comedy. Oxford University Press USA, 2010. (328 pp.)

Image result for Funny Words in Plautine Comedy google books

Reviews: The book was the subject of a mammoth 88-page review essay titled “Doing Justice to Plautus, a Master of Comedy, a Master of Wordplay,” in International Studies in Humour, 4(2), 2015, 2-89 (E. Nissan). Other reviews: American Journal of Philology 132 (2011), 510-3 (A. Sharrock); Ancient History Bulletin Reviews Online 1 (2011) 67-70 (W. Stockert); Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2014-06-52 (J. Tatum); Eos 98 (2011), 317-20 (D. Dutsch); Greece and Rome 58 (2011) 116-117 (R. Langlands); Gnomon 83 (2011), 692-5 (John Henderson); Journal of Roman Studies 101 (2011), 9-14 (S. Goldberg); Latomus 71 (2012), 863-866; (M. Crampon); New England Classical Journal 37.4 (2010), 296-8 (D. Christenson)


Articles, chapters, and notes

For a chronological list of recent articles, click here.

On Greek and Roman Comedy

  1. In press. Before Pussy Riot: Free Speech and Censorship in the Age of Plautus.’ For S. Pappaioannou (ed.), Plautus Doctus. (Brill or DeGruyter) 
  2. In press. ‘A Cute Illness in Epidaurus: Eight sick jokes in Plautus’ Gorgylio (Curculio).' in Fontaine, McNamara, and Short (eds.), Quasi Labor Intus: Ambiguity in the Latin Language (Brill).
  3. Forthcoming? (submitted 2011). ‘Who was in the Audience of Roman Comedy?’ Proceedings of the 2011 JOCOSA conference, ed. Emiliano Buis, Buenos Aires.
  4. 2016. ‘Reconsidering Some Plautine Elements in Plautus (Amphitryo 302-7 and Captivi 80-4),’ Classical Journal 111, 417-427.
  5. 2016. ‘Is the Story of Susanna and the Elders Based on a Greek New Comedy? The Evidence of Plautus’ Casina and Burmeister’s Susanna,’ In Roman Drama and its Contexts, edited by Gesine Manuwald, Stephen Harrison and Stavros Frangoulidis. Trends in Classics-Supplementary Volumes. Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 471-87.
  6. 2015. ‘Von Athen nach Rom: Von dem Griechischen ins Lateinische Komödie,’ tr. Katharina Xenia Epstein, in Stylianos Chronopoulos and Christian Orth, eds., Fragmente einer Geschichte der griechischen Komödie/Fragmentary History of Greek Comedy (Heidelberg: Verlag-Antike), 250-277.
  7. 2014. ‘A Note on Philolaches’ Simile of the House in Plautus’ Mostellaria,’ in Ioannis Perysinakis and Evangelos Karakasis, eds., Plautine Trends: Studies in Plautine Comedy and its Reception (Berlin: De Gruyter), 143-148
  8. 2014. ‘A Cranberry-Morpheme Joke in Plautus (Menaechmi 295),’ Mnemosyne 67, 824-827.
  9. 2014. ‘The Terentian Reformation: From Menander to Alexandria’ in The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Comedy (Oxford and New York), 538-554
  10. 2014. ‘Between Two Paradigms: Plautus’ in M. Fontaine and A. Scafuro (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Comedy (Oxford and New York), 516-537
  11. 2014. ‘The Reception of Greek Comedy in Rome,’ in The Cambridge Companion to Greek Comedy, ed. M. Revermann, Cambridge University Press, 404-423.
  12. 2014. ‘Dynamics of Appropriation in Roman Comedy: Menander’s Kolax in Three Roman Receptions (Naevius, Plautus, and Terence’s Eunuchus),’ in S.D. Olson, ed., Ancient Comedy and Reception: Studies in the classical tradition of comedy from Aristophanes to the twenty-first century. Berlin: De Gruyter, 180-202.
  13. 2013. ‘On Being Sane in an Insane Place—The Rosenhan Experiment in the Laboratory of Plautus’ Epidamnus,’ Current Psychology 32, 348-365.
  14. 2012. ‘The Jokes at the Start of Plautus’ Pseudylus (Pseudolus),’ Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica 102, 89-94.
  15. 2011. ‘Tale padre, tale figlia? alcune ambiguità nel Persa’ (Like Father, Like Daugher? Some Ambiguities in Persa)', tr. Giorgia Parlato, in R. Raffaelli, A. Tontini, eds., Lecturae Plautinae Sarsinates XIV: Persa. Urbino, 13-35 (English version here)
  16. 2008. ‘Plautus, Truculentus 78,’ Mnemosyne 61, 298-299.
  17. 2007. Parasitus Colax (Terence, Eunuchus 30),’ Mnemosyne 60, 483-489.
  18. 2007. ‘Freudian Slips in Plautus,’ American Journal of Philology 128, 209-237.
  19. 2006. ‘Troy Destroyed (Plautus, Bacchides 973-4 and 1053),’ Classical Philology 101, 280-286.
  20. 2006. Sicilicissitat (Plautus, Men. 12) and Early Geminate Writing in Latin,’ Mnemosyne 59, 95-110.
  21. 2005. Unum Somnum (Plautus, Amphitruo 697): A Lost Example of Code-Switching?’ Rheinisches Museum 148, 404-406.
  22. 2004. ‘Agnus κουριῶν (Plautus, Aulularia 561-4),’ Classical Philology 99, 147-153.
  23. 2003. ‘A Lacuna in Plautus’ Menaechmi V.2,’ Mnemosyne 56, 72-74.
  24. 2002. ‘The Punctuation and Assignation of Menaechmi 184, 185, 189,’ Mnemosyne 55, 735-736.

On Classical Latin and Greek Literature and Roman Society

  1. In press. 'The Myth of Ovid's Exile.' (On why we continue to believe Ovid really went into exile, when the evidence is massively against it.) Electryone. Will also appear in Chinese translation.
  2. 2016. ‘Freudian Bullseyes in Classical Perspective—The Psycholinguistics of Guilt in Virgil’s Aeneid. In P. Mitsis and I. Ziogas (eds.), Wordplay and Powerplay in Latin Poetry (Festschrift for Frederick M. Ahl), Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2016, 131-151.
  3. 2015. ‘American Bacchae,’ Eidolon.
  4. 2015. ‘Straight Talk on Gay Marriage in Ancient Rome: The Perils of Precedent,’ Eidolon
  5. 2015. ‘Aeneas in Palestine,’ Eidolon.
  6. 2013. ‘Puns’ in R. Thomas and J. Ziolkowski (eds.), The Virgil Encyclopedia (Blackwell)
  7. 2008. ‘The Lesbia Code: Backmasking, Pillow Talk, and Cacemphaton in Catullus 5 and 16,’ Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica 89, 55-69.
  8. 2008. ‘Umbricius and Greek Shell Games (Juvenal, Sat. 3.74-81),’ Scripta Classica Israelica 27, 55-58.
  9. 2004. ‘Propertius 3.4, 1.1, and the Aeneid Incipit,’ Classical Quarterly n.s. 54, 649-650.

On psychiatry or mental illness in antiquity

  1. In progress. “The Lucifer Effect in Plautus’ Captives: How the Stanford Prison Experiment was scooped by an ancient comedy.”
  2. 2017. 'Joachim Camerarius on Witches, Witchcraft, and Criminal Responsibility, Or, How to Philologize with a Witches' Hammer.' Thomas Baier (ed.), Camerarius Polyhistor Wissensvermittlung im deutschen Humanismus. Tübingen: Narr Francke Attempto. 335-56.
  3. 2017. ‘Schizophrenia, then and now:  The Libation Bearers of Aeschylus,’ in J.A. Schaler, H.Z. Lothane, and R.E. Vatz, eds., Thomas S. Szasz: The Man and his Ideas. Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, New Jersey, pp. 169-193.
  4. 2016. ‘Schizophrenia in The Golden Ass,’ Electryone 4.1, 1-11
  5. 2014. ‘On Religious and Psychiatric Atheism: the success of Epicurus, the failure of Thomas Szasz,’, August 26, 2014.
  6. 2013. ‘On Being Sane in an Insane Place—the Rosenhan Experiment in the Laboratory of Plautus’ Epidamnus,' Current Psychology 32, 348-365.

On Neo-Latin

  1. In press. ‘Joannes Burmeister.’ Encyclopedia article for the VL17 (Literaturwissenschaftliches Verfasserlexikon)
  2. 2017. ‘O Maravilhoso Mistério de Mater-Virgo de Joannes Burmeister’ (The Marvelous Mystery of Joannes Burmeister’s Mater-Virgo), tr. Adriano Scando, In Rodrigo T.Gonçalves, Isabella T. Cardoso, and Lilian da C. Nunes. Anfitriões e Sósias. Kotter Editorial. São Paulo, 105-136. (English translation here)
  3. 2015. ‘The Intercalary Scenes in the Aulularia of Joannes Burmeister (1629),’ in Acta Conventus Neo-Latini Monasteriensis: Proceedings of the Fifteenth International Congress of Neo-Latin Studies (Münster 2012) (Leiden: Brill), 202-213.
  4. 2013. ‘The Aulularia Inversa of Joannes Burmeister,’ in J. Kwapisz, D. Petrain, and M. Szymanski, eds., The Muse at Play. Riddles and Wordplay in Greek and Latin Poetry, Berlin/De Gruyter, 325-348.

Outreach Publications

  1. 2018. Fun with Baroque Latin. InMediasRes. An ongoing series of articles and reviews about the Latin poetry of the Northern Renaissance.
  2. 2018. The Mythic Origin of a Famous Wine: The Ballad of Old Falernus. InMediasRes. Translation from Silius Italicus' Punica 7.
  3. 2017. "Ergasilus' Monologue (Plautus, Captivi 69-87)." Translation from the Latin. Minerva Journal, 1.
  4. 2017. "What is the Best Way to Learn Latin?" Moderated conversation on Eidolon.
  5. 2016. "Wine Critics: Everything Old is New Again." The Huffington Post. With Justine Vanden Heuvel (on Pliny the Elder's recommendations for wine)
  6. 2016. "Growing Old with Latin." Moderated conversation on Eidolon.
  7. 2016. ‘Hack your Latin’ series. Six short articles addressed to Latin teachers, students, graduate students, and enthusiasts everywhere.
  8. 2014. ‘On the Acronym Origin of the Phrase Hep! Hep!,’ to appear as an appendix to an article published by colleagues at Weill Cornell Medical School.
  9. 2014. Report on the August 8, 2014, ‘Celebration of the Life and Work of Thomas Szasz’, Everson Museum, in Syracuse, New York, for
  10. 2012. ‘Happy End mit Brauschatz,’ Gülzower Gemeindebrief (local church bulletin of Gülzow, Germany) 191 (November 2012, translated from the English by Ilka Weihmann)
  11. 2012. ‘“Goldtopf” in Kopenhagen entdeckt,’ Gülzower Gemeindebrief 188 (February 2012, tr. Mona Eikel-Pohen)

Book Reviews

On Greek and Roman Comedy

  1. In progress. Renaissance Quarterly. Richard Hardin, Plautus and the English Renaissance of Comedy.
  2. 2017. Latomus, 656-8. Erin Moodie, ed. Plautus’ Poenulus. A Student Commentary.
  3. 2017. Journal of Roman Studies 107: Erik Gunderson, Laughing Awry: Plautus and Tragicomedy.
  4. 2015. Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2015.07.08: R. Raffaelli and A. Tontini (eds.), Lecturae Plautinae Sarsinates XVII, Rudens and R. Raffaelli (ed.), TuttoPlauto: un profilo dell’autore e delle commedie.
  5. 2014. Electryone 2.  M. Beard, Laughter in Ancient Rome: On Joking, Tickling, and Cracking Up. Arabic translation by Ghada Gad and Magda El-Nowiemy, in the Bulletin of Ain-Shams University Center of Papyrological Studies and Inscriptions (BACPSI), Cairo, 2014.
  6. 2011. Gnomon 83, 494-499: W. Stockert, ed., T. Maccius Plautus: Cistellaria.
  7. 2011. Classical Journal 106, 113-117: A. Sharrock, Reading Roman Comedy. Poetics and Playfulness in Plautus and Terence.
  8. 2010. Classical Review 60, 379-380: M. J. Pernerstorfer, ed., Menanders Kolax: Ein Beitrag zu Rekonstruktion und Interpretation der Komödie. Mit Edition und Übersetzung der Fragmente und Testimonien sowie einem dramaturgischen Kommentar.
  9. 2010. Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2010.02.62: G. Clementi, La filologia plautina negli Adversaria di Adrien Turnèbe.
  10. 2005. Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2005.11.15: A. Antonsen-Resch, Von Gnathon zu Saturio. Die Parasitenfigur und das Verhältnis der römischen Komödie zur griechischen.
  11. 2005. Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2005.07.39: R. Danese (ed.), Titus Maccius Plautus. Asinaria. Editio Plautina Sarsinatis, 2.
  12. 2005. Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2005.05.36: S. Monda (ed.), Titus Maccius Plautus. Vidularia et deperditarum fabularum fragmenta. Editio Plautina Sarsinatis, 21.
  13. 2005. Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2005.05.35: R. Calderan (ed.), Tito Maccio Plauto: Vidularia. Introduzione, testo critico e commento. Edizione riveduta (a cura di Salvatore Monda).
  14. 2004. Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2004.11.30: M. Leigh, Comedy and the Rise of Rome.
  15. 2003. Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2003.12.14: C. Questa, R. Raffaelli (eds.), Due Seminari Plautini: La tradizione del testo; i modelli.

On Classical Latin and Greek Literature and Society

  1. 2017. Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2017.07.48. S. Kourakou-Dragona, Vine and Wine in the Ancient Greek World. (With Justine Vanden Heuvel)
  2. 2016. Foreign Affairs, March/April 2016: “What Rome Can Teach Us Today: Ancient Lessons for Modern Politics.” Review essay of Mary Beard, SPQR.
  3. 2015. Electryone 3.2: Review essay of W. V. Harris (ed.), Mental Disorders in the Classical World.
  4. 2015. The Humanist, January/February 2015: H. Crespo, Tending the Epicurean Garden. (Spanish translation here)
  5. 2014. Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2014.10.44: P. J. Ahrensdorf and T. L. Pangle (trans.). Sophocles. The Theban plays: Oedipus the tyrant; Oedipus at Colonus; Antigone. (Co-authored with Richard Fontaine)
  6. 2012. Gnomon 84, 370: L. Nicolini, Ad (L)usum Lectoris: Etimologia e giochi di parole in Apuleio.
  7. 2007. Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2007.04.18: W. Krenkel, Naturalia non turpia. Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece and Rome. Schriften zur antiken Kultur- und Sexualwissenschaft. Ed. W. Bernard and C. Reitz.
  8. 2004. Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2005.02.40: M. Schauer, G. Thome (eds.), Altera Ratio. Klassische Philologie zwischen Subjektivität und Wissenschaft. Festschrift für Werner Suerbaum zum 70. Geburtstag.
  9. 2003. Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2003.09.48: R. Danese (ed.), A. Bacianini, A. Torino, Tra ‘volumen’ e byte: per una didattica sostenibile della cultura latina: una guida a più di 50 siti web (seri, divertenti, kitsch) che ospitano il latino.
  10. 2003. Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2003.08.10: E. Lelli (ed.), Arma Virumque... Studi di poesia e storiografia in onore di Luca Canali.

On the Latin language and postclassical Latin literature

  1. In progress. Bryn Mawr Classical Review: Minkova, Milena. Florileguim recentioris Lantinitatis.
  2. 2017. Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2017.11.22: E. Lefèvre (ed.), Jakob Baldes ›Expeditio Polemico-Poëtica‹ (1664): Eine satirische Verteidigung der lateinischen und neulateinischen Literatur.
  3. 2017. Hack your Latin. Reginaldus Thomas Foster and Daniel Patricius McCarthy, Ossa Latinitatis Sola Ad Mentem Reginaldi Rationemque (The Mere Bones of Latin According to the Thought and System of Reginald).
  4. 2017. Gnomon. Eleanor Dickie, Learning Latin the Ancient Way.
  5. 2009. Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2009.10.58: J. Dellaneva and B. Duvick (eds.), Ciceronian Controversies.
  6. 2003. New England Classical Journal 2003, 50-3: D. Califf, A Guide to Latin Meter and Verse Composition.

Public Presentations

Since 1998, 61 lectures (delivered in English, Italian, or Latin) at universities, conferences, medical schools, and learned societies in the USA, Argentina, Canada, China, Egypt, England, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Romania, and Switzerland. Click here for a list.