Mike Fontaine



I'm a Latinist with broad interests in Ancient Rome, the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment. In recent years I held a variety of leadership roles in Cornell's central administration. My latest work is a book on breakups and another on addiction and bullying, both for Princeton University Press. Previous books covered wine, swine, grief, mind, and a good laugh. Next up, free speech through the ages, with projects on Plato, Plutarch, Lucian, and the Enlightenment. Oh, and I was also recently parodied on Saturday Night Live (really! see it here.) 

At Cornell, I teach courses on Ancient Rome, Greek Mythology, Wine Culture, and Latin literature of all time periods. For business executives worldwide, I teach eCornell courses on leadership from Ancient Rome and the effective use of humor in the workplace.

  • Cornell students: click here for current course syllabi.
  • Exec ed students: click here for course information.


For a complete list, click here. Book reviews are here. Popular press writings are here.

Latest Books

1. 2024. Ovid. How to Get Over a Breakup: An Ancient Guide to Moving On. Princeton University Press.

Breakups are the worst. On one scale devised by psychiatrists, only a spouse’s death was ranked as more stressful than a marital split. Is there any treatment for a breakup? The ancient Roman poet Ovid thought so. Having become famous for teaching the art of seduction in The Art of Love, he then wrote Remedies for Love (Remedia Amoris), which presents thirty-eight frank and witty strategies for coping with unrequited love, falling out of love, ending a relationship, and healing a broken heart. How to Get Over a Breakup presents an unabashedly modern prose translation of Ovid’s lighthearted and provocative work, complete with a lively introduction and the original Latin on facing pages.

Ovid’s advice—which he illustrates with ingenious interpretations of classical mythology—ranges from the practical, psychologically astute, and profound, to the ironic, deliberately offensive, and bizarre. Some advice is conventional—such as staying busy, not spending time alone, and avoiding places associated with an ex. Some is off-color, such as having sex until you’re sick of it. And some, for modern readers, is, simply and delightfully, weird—such as becoming a lawyer and not eating arugula. 

But far more often, How to Get Over a Breakup reveals an Ovid whose advice—good or bad, entertaining or outrageous—can sound startlingly modern.

2. 2024 or 2025 (in press). Plutarch and Prudentius. How to Resist: An Ancient Guide to Coping with Pressure. Princeton University Press.

Pin on Bernini Sculpture

Latest Articles

  1. 2023. “The Stanford Prison Experiment of 200 BC  The Lucifer Effect in Plautus’ Prisoners.” In Gregor Vogt-Spira and Bernhard Zimmermann (eds.), Plautus Revisited: Problemstellungen und Perspektiven der Plautusforschung (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht), 344-358.
  2. 2023. Ut Pictura Po(e)sis? Wine, Women, and Song in Plautus’ Gorgylio (Curculio).” In Gregor Vogt-Spira and Bernhard Zimmermann (eds.), Plautus Revisited: Problemstellungen und Perspektiven der Plautusforschung (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht), 375-391.
  3. In press. Verba Genuina: Parole autentiche e parole “cheeky” in Plauto.”
  4. In press. "L'arte del prologo." (In Roman drama)
  5. In press. “How to Make a Joke Without Getting Cancelled: Plutarch’s Survival Guide to Jesting Safely.” (On some passages in Table Talk and Macrobius' Saturnalia).
  6. (Just for fun)2024. How to Steal From Homer: Duplicative Language in Ancient Greece and Rome. Classical Wisdom.

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