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Michael Fontaine

Professor and Associate Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education

Michael Fontaine

Goldwin Smith Hall, Room 121
439 Day Hall

Educational Background




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


  • Classics

Graduate Fields

  • Classics


Beyond Cornell, I'm an advisory board member of The Paideia Institute. I'm a big proponent of teaching Latin as an active, living (spoken) language (see here), which is how I learned it.

I regularly consult on Latin for museums, institutions, dealers, and collectors. I've exposed forgery in Renaissance and Dutch Golden Age paintings, discovered the forgotten provenance of a major manuscript, and I interpret manuscripts, books, maps, and engravings of all kinds. Please email me if you need help.

In 2016 I received the Thomas S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties.

Click here for my CV. My newest projects are listed below, not including the translation I'm working on now of selections from Melchior de Polignac's epic Anti-Lucretius (1745). (Polignac (1661-1742) was an older contemporary of Voltaire (1694-1778), who read his epic.)



For a complete list, click here. Book reviews are here.

New Books

1. 2019 (in press). The Pig War. (An illustrated edition and translation of Johannes Placentius' 1530 Pugna Porcorum). Paideia Institute Press.

Pugna Porcorum woodcut

2. 2020 (in press). How to Drink: A Classical Guide to the Art of Imbibing. Princeton University Press. (A translation and edition of Vincent Obsopoeus’ 1537 De Arte Bibendi).

Obsopoeus epigram

Greek and Roman wine vessels illustrated by Lucy Plowe

3. 2018. (co-ed.) Quasi Labor Intus: Ambiguity in Latin Literature (Essays in Honor of Fr. Reginald Foster, OCD) (co-ed. with Charles McNamara and William Short). Paideia Institute Press. Frontispiece  painted by Lucy Plowe.

New Articles:

2019. "Camerarius Camelarius: A New Salt Road to the Modern World." In Thomas Baier and Tobias Dänzer (eds.) Plautus in der Frühen Neuzeit. Tübingen: Narr Francke Attempto. On the manuscript tradition of Plautus' comedies; allegory painted by Lucy Plowe)

(in press). ‘Before Pussy Riot: Free Speech and Censorship in the Age of Plautus.’ (On Sotades as the "barbarian poet" in Miles Gloriosus; line drawings by Lucy Plowe; spot the palindromes.)

2019. ‘Joannes Burmeister.’ Frühe Neuzeit in Deutschland 1620–1720: Literaturwissenschaftliches Verfasserlexikon (VL17), vol. 2. Berlin: De Gruyter. Eventually online here.

2018. 'The Myth of Ovid's Exile.' Electryone (will appear elsewhere in Chinese translation.)

2018. 'A Cute Illness in Epidaurus: Eight sick jokes in Plautus' Gorgylio (Curculio).' Quasi Labor Intus: Ambiguity in Latin Literature.


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