Skip directly to main navigation | secondary navigation | main content

Department of Classics

Cornell University Cornell University Cornell Univeristy Department of Classics

People Detail


Portrait on a Roman funerary stele

Vessel Lid

Lid of an Etruscan cinerary urn

Red-Figure Bell Krater

Red-Figure Bell Krater

Green Glass Bottle

Roman Glass Bottle


Jupiter and eagle

Previous ImageNext Image

Fontaine, Michael

Associate Professor

phone: 607/255-5541
room: Goldwin Smith Hall, Room 121

Department Appointments

  • Fontaine, Michael
  • Classics (CLASS)
  • Office of the Provost

Graduate Fields

  • Classics


Latin Literature


Clicking on the titles of papers below will bring up a copy or preprint.



Spring 2016 Office Hours:
By appointment

Spring 2016
Wine Culture (CLASS 2810/VIEN 2810) this course includes an option section conducted entirely in Latin.
Latin FLAC - Foreign Language Across the Curriculum (LATIN 3212)
Graduate Seminar in Latin (LATIN 7272)

Fall 2015
Introduction to Ancient Rome (CLASS 1615)
Latin Prose (LATIN 2201: Sallust's Bellum Catilinae)

Spring 2015
Latin Historiography (LATIN 2208: Livy Book 1)
Survey of Latin Literature (LATIN 4204: focus is on ancient drama)

I mostly teach Latin. In the last five years, graduate courses covered Plautus, Sallust, Lucretius, Suetonius, Ovid, and the survey of Latin literature; undergraduate courses covered Virgil, Catullus, Cicero, Sallust, Livy, and Tacitus. I love the language and the literature and can't get enough of it!

I'm a huge fan of The Paideia Institute, and in summer 2016 I'll teach for their Living Latin in Rome program again. If you want to get good at Latin--really good--this is the best way to do it. (Read more about it here, and note that Paideia offers scholarships). I'm also a fan of Eidolon, Paideia's public-facing Classics journal. My essays in it are linked here.

Selected Publications


c. 2017. (ed.) Quasi Labor Intus: Ambiguity in the Latin Language. Co-edited with William M. Short and Charles McNamara. This is a Festschrift and will be published by Brill as a Mnemosyne supplement

2015. (ed., tr.) Joannes Burmeister:  Aulularia and other Inversions of Plautus.  Leuven University Press (Bibliotheca Latinitatis Novae). (See here.)

2014. (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Comedy. Co-edited with Adele Scafuro.  Oxford University Press. I wrote the main chapters on Plautus and Terence.

2010. Funny Words in Plautine Comedy. Oxford University Press. (BMCR review here)

Newer articles and greatest hits

  • On Greek and Roman comedy:

(in progress). "The Lucifer Effect in Plautus' Captivi."

(in progress). 'A Cute Illness in Epidaurus: Morbus hepatiarius and other sick jokes in Plautus' Gorgylio (Curculio).'

2016. Reconsidering Some Plautine Elements in Plautus (Amphitryo 303-7, Captivi 80-4). Classical Journal 111.

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, de Gruyter.

2015. 'Von Athen nach Rom: Von dem Griechischen ins Lateinische Komödie,’ in Fragmente einer Geschichte der griechischen Komödie/Fragmentary History of Greek Comedy, Verlag-Antike.

2014. ‘Dynamics of Appropriation in Roman Comedy:  Menander’s Kolax in Three Roman Receptions (Naevius, Plautus, and Terence’s Eunuchus),’ in Ancient Comedy and Reception. De Gruyter.

2014. ‘The Reception of Greek Comedy in Rome’ in The Cambridge Companion to Greek Comedy.

  • On Virgil:

2015. 'Aeneas in Palestine.' Eidolon.

2015. 'Freudian Bullseyes in Classical Perspective--The Psycholinguistics of Guilt in Virgil's Aeneid.' Wordplay and Powerplay in Latin poetry, de Gruyter.

(This essay brings to light a new reason why Aeneas kills Turnus at the end of the Aeneid.)

  • On psychiatry or mental illness:

(in press). "The Myth of Paranoid Schizophrenia in Classical Perspective: Aeschylus' Libation Bearers and the Legacy of Thomas Szasz." For an edited volume on the Legacy of Thomas Szasz.

2016. 'Joachim Camerarius on Witches, Witchcraft, and Criminal Responsibility, Or, How to Philologize with a Witches' Hammer.' The proceedings of the Camerarius Polyhistor Neolatina conference (Wuerzburg, 2015).

2015. Review essay of W. V. Harris (ed.), Mental Disorders in the Classical World (Brill 2013). Electryone 3.2, reposted at

2014. 'On Religious and Psychiatric Atheism: The Success of Epicurus, the Failure of Thomas Szasz.' (August 26).

2013. ‘On Being Sane in an Insane Place—The Rosenhan Experiment in the Laboratory of Plautus’ Epidamnus,’ Current Psychology. (reposted at; an oral version here, a summary here.)


For golden oldies, B-sides, and book reviews, see here.

For my essays in Eidolon, the public-facing Classics journal, see here.