Joel C. Relihan

Professor of Greek, Latin and Ancient Mediterranean Studies


Phone: 508-286-3662


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


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 Chair of the Committee for the Encouragement of Scholarship (since 2007). I am also the past president of Wheaton’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP); I have served as Associate Provost (2010-14) and Research Compliance Officer (2010-16).




  • 2021: Lucian: Three Menippean Fantasies. Translated, with introduction and notes. Hackett Publishing Company.
  • 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.
  • 1993. Ancient Menippean Satire. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Book Chapters

  • “Prosimetra”, in Scott McGill and Ed Watts, eds., The Blackwell Companion to Late Antique Literature (Wiley-Blackwell 2018): 281-96.
  • “Prose Satire,” in Victoria Moul, ed., A Guide to Neo-Latin Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2017): 340-57.

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. 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 tutorials in Coptic.

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? 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?

Student Projects

I have directed eleven Honors Theses; these are the most recent:

  • “Ancient Coins in the Hendricks Bequest: Identification and Worth” (Dalton Adams 2020-21)
  • “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);

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. A volume of translations, Lucian: Three Menippean Fantasies, is forthcoming from Hackett; I am currently completing a translation of the Greek story The Ass as an on-line complement to my translation of The Golden Ass.


Greek, Latin and Ancient Mediterranean Studies



Knapton 124


MWF 10:30-11:15 and by appointment TR