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Department of Classics

Cornell University Cornell University Cornell Univeristy Department of Classics

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Red-Figure Bell Krater

Red-Figure Bell Krater

Green Glass Bottle

Roman Glass Bottle

Vessel Lid

Lid of an Etruscan cinerary urn

Tablet

Portrait on a Roman funerary stele

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Jupiter and eagle

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Fontaine, Michael

Associate Professor
Director of Graduate Studies

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

Department Appointments

  • Classics (CLASS)

Graduate Fields

  • Classics

Keywords

Latin Literature

Research

Courses

Spring 2015 Office Hours:
MW 11:00-11:30, and by appointment

Spring 2015
Latin Historiography (LATIN 2208)
Survey of Latin Literature (LATIN 4204)

I teach a lot of 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, and Livy + Tacitus.

I teach an undergraduate course in English titled "Paranoia and Conspiracy in Ancient Fact and Fiction" (CLASS 2632/COML 2632) and in the Winter Term I sometimes teach Greek Mythology (CLASS 2604).

Selected Publications

Newer major publications:

2015. "Freudian Bullseyes in Classical Perspective." (On the psycholinguistics of guilt in Virgil's Aeneid, Lucretius, and Catullus 63)

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

Joannes Burmeister of Lüneburg (1576-1638) was among the greatest Neo-Latin poets of the German Baroque. His masterpieces, now mostly lost, are Christian ‘inversions’ of the classical Roman comedies of Plautus. With only minimal changes in language and none in meter, each transforms Plautus’ pagan plays into comedies based on biblical themes. Singular Renaissance curiosities in their day, they have since been entirely forgotten.  This volume offers the first critical edition of the newly discovered Aulularia (1629), which exists in a sole copy, and the fragments of Mater-Virgo (1621), which adapts Plautus’ Amphitryo to show the Nativity of Jesus. The introduction offers reconstructions of Susanna (based on Casina) and Asinaria (1625), his two lost or unpublished inversions of Plautus. It also provides the only biography of Burmeister based on archival sources, along with discussions of his inimitable Latinity and the perilous context of war and witch burning in which he wrote. Scholars of early modern literature will take special interest in the poetic German plot summaries (also translated), while students of the Thirty Years War or Holy Roman Empire will want to add Burmeister's views on military abuses to those of Grimmelshausen's Simplicius Simplicissimus.

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

2014. (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Comedy. Co-edited with Adele Scafuro.  Oxford University Press.

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. Essays etc. De Gruyter.

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

2013. ‘On Being Sane in an Insane Place—the Laboratory of Plautus’ Epidamnus,’ Current Psychology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12144-013-9188-z (reposted with comments at Szasz.com)

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

I’m always alert to possible jokes, ambiguities, rhetoric, and metaphors—and hence the Latin text—of Plautus’ comedies. Some sample reinterpretations are of Amphitryo 302-7 (email me), Captivi 80-4 (email me), Menaechmi 295, Mostellaria 84-132, Persa (or in English), Pseudylus 31-7. These papers are effectively addenda to my 2010 tenure book on the same topic, Funny Words, and more are on the way.

For older, minor, and forthcoming publications, including reviews, see http://cornell.academia.edu/MichaelFontaine