Basil L. Gildersleeve Professor of Classics


His research focuses in particular on Roman sexuality, education, and rhetoric. He is the author of Controlling Laughter: Political Humor in the Late Roman Republic (Princeton, 1996); Nature Embodied: Gesture in Ancient Rome (Princeton, 2004); and Sexing the World: Grammatical Gender and Biological Sex in Ancient Rome (Princeton, 2015), which received a 2016 Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit from the Society for Classical Studies. He is currently co-authoring a commentary on Cicero's De Haruspicum Responsis with Andrew Riggsby (University of Texas at Austin).

Research Interests

My research focuses on the cultural history of ancient Rome, a topic that I normally approach by beginning with a close examination of language and grammar. I have published books on Roman humor and gesture, as well as on the significance of grammatical gender for ancient Latin grammarians and poets, and for an understanding of Roman religion. I have also published on Roman literature and ancient sex / gender, and am currently writing a full-scale commentary on Cicero’s oration De haruspicum responsis with Andrew Riggsby (University of Texas, Austin).


Selected Publications (see for a full list)


  • Sexing the World: Grammatical Gender and Biological Sex in Ancient Rome. Princeton: Princeton UP 2015. Charles A. Goodwin Award of Merit winner, 2016 (Society for Classical Studies).
  • Nature Embodied: Gesture in Ancient Rome. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2004.           
  • Controlling Laughter: Political Humor in the Late Roman Republic. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1996. Outstanding Academic Book of 1997 (Choice).
  • (co-authored): Horace: Odes and Carmen Saeculare. Trans. S. Lombardo, introduction and notes A. Corbeill. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing 2018.


Recent Articles and Chapters in Books

  • "Creating Roman Memories of Plautus," Cultural Memory in the Roman Republic. Ed. M. Dinter, C. Guérin, M. Martinho. Forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.
  • "Clodius's Contio de haruspicum responsis," Reading Republican Oratory: Reconstructions, Contexts, Receptions. Ed. C. Gray et al. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2018. 171-190.
  • "A New Painting of Calypso in Pliny the Elder," Eugesta 7 (2017) 184-198.
  • "Invective, Wit, and Irony" and "Anticato." Cambridge Companion to the Writings of Julius Caesar. Ed. L. Grillo and C. Krebs. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2018. 144-156 & 215-222.
  • "A Student Speaks for Social Equality in the Roman Classroom (Quintilian, Declamationes Minores 260)," Reading Roman Declamation: The Declamations ascribed to Quintilian. Ed. M. Dinter, C. Guérin, M. Martinho. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2016. 11-23.
  • "'A Shouting and Bustling on All Sides' (Hor. Sat. 1.9.77-8): Everyday Justice in the Streets of Republican Rome," The Moving City. Processions, Passages and Promenades in Ancient Rome. Ed. I. Östenberg, S. Malmberg and J. Bjørnebye. London: Bloomsbury, 2015. 89-98.
  • "Cicero and the Intellectual Milieu of the Late Republic." Cambridge Companion to Cicero. Ed. C. Steel. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2013. 9-24.



After receiving my A.B. in Classics from the University of Michigan, and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, I spent a transformative year as the SCS (née APA) Fellow to the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae in Munich, Germany. I then taught in the Department of Classics at the University of Kansas for twenty-six happy years, leaving for Virginia in 2017. I have been a Rome Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Rome (1994-1995), subsequent to which I served as editor of Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome and as a Trustee (2014-2016). I have also held visiting appointments or fellowships at Vassar College, the Universities of Wisconsin and Michigan, All Souls and Corpus Christi Colleges (Oxford), and the Institute of Classical Studies (London).