Michael Fontaine C.V.

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Research Interests

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.






Lagniappe (recent past)


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.


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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). 

A statue of Cicero photoshopped with a microphone and stand          

2. 2020 (April)Vincent Obsopoeus. How to Drink: A Classical Guide to the Art of Imbibing. Edited and translated with commentary by Michael FontainePrinceton University Press.

How to Drink cover animated  Vessels

3.  2019. John Placentius. The Pig War. Puzzled Out by Michael Phontaine. Pigtures penned by David Beck. Paideia Institute Press. 

Revolt The Pig War cover  Rejoice

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. 

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.)