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Michael Fontaine

Professor and Associate Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education

Michael Fontaine

Goldwin Smith Hall, Room 121
439 Day Hall



***Summer 2020 Greek Mythology students: Click here to get the syllabus and booklist

Click here for my CV. My newest projects are listed below. In the picture, I'm petting Lola at The Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York (credit: Jason Koski).


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


  • Classics

Graduate Fields

  • Classics


  • Latin literature, classical Roman and Greek society, and the Renaissance. Humanism (forest), not philology (trees). Wine, swine, mind, and a good laugh. 

How to Drink cover animated The Pig War cover    


Spring 2020

Fall 2020


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

New Books


"Weirdly time-travelly” -- The Daily Beast. What's the buzz?

How to Drink cover animated     Vessels

Is there an art to drinking alcohol? Can drinking ever be a virtue? The Renaissance humanist and neoclassical poet Vincent Obsopoeus (ca. 1498–1539) thought so. In the winelands of sixteenth-century Germany, he witnessed the birth of a poisonous new culture of bingeing, hazing, peer pressure, and competitive drinking. Alarmed, and inspired by the Roman poet Ovid’s Art of Love, he wrote The Art of Drinking (De Arte Bibendi) (1536), a how-to manual for drinking with pleasure and discrimination. In How to Drink, Michael Fontaine offers the first proper English translation of Obsopoeus’s text, rendering his poetry into spirited, contemporary prose and uncorking a forgotten classic that will appeal to drinkers of all kinds and (legal) ages. Complete with the original Latin on facing pages, this sparkling work is as intoxicating today as when it was first published.

2. 2021. Cicero and Quintilian. How to Tell a Joke: An Ancient Guide to the Art of Humor.  Princeton University Press.

Cicero, standup guy

New Articles

1. 2020. "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)

2. 2020. Before Pussy Riot: Free Speech and Censorship in the Age of Plautus.’ In Sophia Papaioannou and Chrysanthi Demetriou (eds.), Plautus' Erudite Comedy: New Insights into the Work of a doctus poeta. Cambridge Scholars Press, 239-263.

3. 2020. ‘Joannes Burmeister.’ Frühe Neuzeit in Deutschland 1620–1720: Literaturwissenschaftliches Verfasserlexikon (VL17), vol. 2. Berlin: De Gruyter. Eventually online here.


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