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Michael Fontaine


Goldwin Smith Hall, Room 121
315 Day Hall



Latin Literature, Classics, ancient Rome, ancient Comedy, Plautus, Terence, jokes, puns, Virgil, neo-Latin


  • Classics

Graduate Fields

  • Classics


  • Latin literature and classical Roman society. Special interests include ancient comedy and jokes, Virgil, classical ideas about the mind, psychiatry, or mental illness, and the application of social psychology to classical texts.

Beyond Cornell, I'm the associate editor for Latin literature at Classical World and an advisory board member of The Paideia Institute.

In 2016 I received the Thomas S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties. (Who was Szasz? I discuss his ideas here and their application to classical literature in this essay on Aeschylus.)



    For a complete list of publications, with links and reviews, click here.

    New Books

    1. In progress. How to Fall in Love (a translation of Ovid’s Ars Amatoria for the millennial generation). For Princeton University Press.

    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).

    Recent Articles:

    (in press). ‘Before Pussy Riot: Free Speech and Censorship in the Age of Plautus.’ (On Sotades as the "barbarian poet" in Miles Gloriosus)

    (in press). 'A Cute Illness in Epidaurus: Eight sick jokes in Plautus' Gorgylio (Curculio).' Quasi Labor Intus: Ambiguity in the Latin Language.

    2017. 'Schizophrenia, then and now: The Libation Bearers of Aeschylus.' Thomas S. Szasz: The Man and His Ideas.

    2017. ‘O Maravilhoso Mistério de Mater-Virgo de Joannes Burmeister.’ A comédia e seus duplos: o Anfitrião de Plauto. (English translation here)

    2017. 'Joachim Camerarius on Witches, Witchcraft, and Criminal Responsibility, Or, How to Philologize with a Witches' Hammer.' Camerarius Polyhistor.

    2016. 'What Rome Can Teach Us Today: Ancient Lessons for Modern Politics.' Foreign Affairs.

    2016. 'Reconsidering Some Plautine Elements in Plautus (Amphitryo 303-7, Captivi 80-4).' Classical Journal.

    2016. 'Is the Story of Susanna and the Elders based on a Greek New Comedy? The Evidence of Plautus' Casina and Burmeister's Susanna.'  Roman Drama and its Contexts.

    2016. 'Freudian Bullseyes in Classical Perspective--The Psycholinguistics of Guilt in Virgil's Aeneid.' Wordplay and Powerplay in Latin Poetry.

    2016. 'Schizophrenia in The Golden Ass.' Electryone &