Michael Fontaine C.V.
You are here
Latin literature of all time periods (antiquity through Renaissance) and classical Roman, Greek, and Renaissance society. Special interests include wine, comedy and jokes, wisdom literature, and classical ideas about psychiatry and mental illness.
- Professor of Classics, Cornell University (Assistant 2004/Associate 2010/Full 2017)
- Paideia Professor for Living Latin in Rome (2016, 2014)
- Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics, Amherst College (2003-4, three semesters)
- Associate Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education, Cornell University (since 2018)
- Acting Dean of the University Faculty, Cornell University (spring 2016)
- Associate Dean of the University Faculty, Cornell University (2012-6)
- The Paideia Institute (New York and Rome) (since 2015)
- The Polis Institute (Jerusalem) (since 2018)
- Anales de Filología Clásica (Buenos Aires) (since 2015)
- Electryone (Rhodes and Alexandria) (since 2016)
- Opera Camerarii (Würzburg) (since 2017)
Lagniappe (recent past)
- Chair of the Society for Classical Studies Committee on Public Information and Media Relations (2016-8)
- Classical World, Associate Editor for Latin literature (2015-7)
- Recipient of the 2016 Thomas S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties
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
1. c. 2021 (in progress). Cicero and Quintilian. How to Tell a Joke: An Ancient Guide to Humor and How to Use It. Princeton University Press. (Edition and translation of Cicero's and Quintilian's embedded treatises on humor).
2. 2020 (April). Vincent Obsopoeus. How to Drink: A Classical Guide to the Art of Imbibing. Edited and translated with commentary by Michael Fontaine. Princeton University Press.
3. 2019. John Placentius. The Pig War. Puzzled Out by Michael Phontaine. Pigtures penned by David Beck. Paideia Institute Press.
All proceeds from the sale of this book go to benefit student scholarships, with a directive to promote diversity, access and inclusion at the Paideia Institute.
Or, as Placentius might put it,
Potential patrons! ’Pon purchase, publication proceeds—pennies, pounds, pesos—pay pupils’ programs - provisions - pilgrimages, produce perks, promote participation, push progress!
In 1530, amid the ferment of the Reformation, the strangest poem in all of Latin literature appeared. Written by one John Placentius, it consists of 248 verses in which every word begins with the letter p. The poem—titled Pugna Porcorum—is a satirical tale of a conflict between the corrupt hogs, who are hogging all the privileges, and the piglets, who want in on them. It devolves into open war. In The Pig War, Michael Fontaine offers the first critical Latin text and dtranslation into any language, and original illustrations by David Beck bring the story to life. In an afterword, Fontaine establishes the poem’s authorship and explores its possible influence on Orwell’s Animal Farm. (Click here for more.)
4. 2018. (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. (See here.)