Joel C. Relihan

Professor of Classics






Knapton 124

TR 9:00—12:30



A story that I told at the Wheaton Story Slam in spring 2016 will give you the sound of my voice, an idea of my childhood, and a glimpse of my personality. There are photos too.

Main Interests

My research interests include late classical and early Christian literature (Apuleius, Lucian, romance literature, Augustine, Boethius), medieval Latin literature, and Menippean satire.

I am an active member of Wheaton’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, serving formerly as President (1999 to 2004) and currently as Co-chair of the Committee for the Encouragement of Scholarship (since 2007).


Curriculum Vitae (pdf)


Ph.D., M.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison
B.A., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Research Interests

My first major book, Ancient Menippean Satire (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993), both defines the ancient genre of Menippean satire and shows how the genre was Christianized in late antiquity; a sequel to this study was published by University of Notre Dame Press in 2006: The Prisoner’s Philosophy: Life and Death in Boethius’s Consolation. I have also published a translation of Consolation (Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2001; 2nd revised printing 2004).

My most recent work focused on Apuleius. My translation, also for Hackett Publishing Company, of Apuleius’s Metamorphoses (better known as The Golden Ass) appeared late in 2007; a separate edition of an excerpt from this, the famous tale Cupid and Psyche, with new introduction and notes, came out in 2009.

After four years as Associate Provost, I returned in  the 2014-15 year both to the classroom and to my Menippean roots, laying the groundwork for a wide-ranging literary study, Panopticon: A History of Menippean Satire. I am currently completing a translation of the Greek story The Ass as an on-line complement to my translation of The Golden Ass. A volume of translations from Lucian, to be called Menippus: Texts, Testimonia, and Traditions, is in the planning stages.

Teaching Interests

In courses in Classical Civilization, I present broad literary and historical topics that both demonstrate the nature of influential Classical traditions and illustrate their transformations in the late classical and early medieval periods: Tales of Troy; The Ancient Romance; The Ancient Landscape; The Life and Death of the Ancient City. I also teach a full range of language courses in Greek and Latin, from the elementary level through intermediate courses in specific authors to advanced classes in intensive reading and prose composition; I have also directed a tutorial in Coptic.

Egyptian matters occupied me in 2014-15, with both a First-year Seminar (The Myth of the Hieroglyph) and a Senior Seminar (Cleopatra) in the fall, and a 100-level literature and civilization course (Egypt in the Greco-Roman World) in the spring. In the spring of 2016 I revised my Tales of Troy course (CLAS 258/358) to form a new two-course connection with Anni Baker’s European Military History (HIST 214); I am teaching this again in fall 2018.

I am currently working on revising the pedagogy of the Elementary Latin sequence, specifically to address this question: How might Latin 101 be best taught to those students who will not be taking more Latin but will be using these two semesters only in fulfillment of the foreign language requirement? How can two semesters of Elementary Latin be a complete and satisfying component of a 32-course Liberal Arts curriculum, not as an English grammar course, or an etymology course, or a “Wisdom of the Ancients” course, but as the study of a foreign culture through an understanding of the nature and limits of its language?


    • 2009. Apuleius: The Tale of Cupid and Psyche. Translated, with introduction and notes. Hackett Publishing Company.
    • 2007. Apuleius: The Golden Ass. Translated, with introduction and notes. Hackett Publishing Company.
    • 2006. The Prisoner’s Philosophy: Life and Death in Boethius’s Consolation. University of Notre Dame Press.
    • 2001. Boethius: The Consolation of Philosophy. Translated, with introduction and notes. Hackett Publishing Company; 2nd printing, 2004. [Books III.9 through V.6 anthologized in Arthur Hyman, James J. Walsh, and Thomas Williams, edd., Philosophy in the Middle Ages, 3rd ed., Hackett Publishing Company, 2010, pp. 103-137; Book V (prose sections only) anthologized in Steven M. Cahn, ed., Classics of Western Philosophy, 7th ed., Hackett Publishing Company, 2006, pp. 400-410; V.3, V.4, V.5, and V.6.1-32 anthologized in Timothy A. Robinson, ed., God, 2nd ed., Hackett Publishing Company, 2002, pp. 182-95.]
    • 1993. Ancient Menippean Satire. Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • 1985. The Montpellier Codex, Part IV: Texts and Translations. Translated with Susan Stakel. Recent Researches in the Music of the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance, Volume VIII. A-R Editions, Inc., Madison, WI.

Student Projects

In the past twelve years I have directed the following senior Honors Theses:

  • “Augustine’s Confessions and the Origins of Modern Psychology” (Julia Atwood, 2010-11);
  • “A History of the English Translations of Plautus’ Menaechmi (Carol-Ann Schneider, 2009-2010);
  • “Euripides’ Orestes: A New Translation for Performance” (Michael Balderrama, 2007-2008);
  • “The Three Empires of Vergil’s Aeneid: From Voice & Loom to Text” (John Smith-MacDonald, 2007-2008);
  • “The Roman Argonautica: An Adventurous Epic of of Kings and Battles” (Laurel Mulherin, 2004-2005);
  • “Atalanta: The Art of the Storyteller” (Elizabeth “KirAwen” Jarvis, 2004-2005).