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Jon Solomon

Profile picture for Jon Solomon

Contact Information

4056 FLB
707 S Mathews Ave
M/C 174
Urbana, IL 61801
Robert D. Novak Professor of Western Civilization and Culture


My research incorporates a variety of humanistic interests ranging from classical philology to medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque adaptations of the classics to contemporary cinema. Examples of the first began with my dissertation on ancient Greek music theory, continued with papyrological and epigraphical studies of fragments and newly discovered ancient Greek music, and culminated with a book-length translation and commentary on Harmonics by Claudius Ptolemy. I have also published several articles on ancient Greek poetry, including metrical and grammatical exegeses of Hesiod and Sophocles, and an essay on the Polyphemus episode in Homer's Odyssey. Many years ago I made several excursions into ancient Greek medicine, helping to identify "The Thucydides Syndrome" in the New England Journal of Medicine and for the Centers for Disease Control, and into ancient cookery, publishing a cookbook and several articles about Roman sauces and pastry. My The Ancient World in the Cinema helped create a new subfield of classical studies and pedagogy. From there I made an excursion into a different area of popular culture and wrote a complete filmography of The Three Stooges [!]. Since 2001 I have written a number of chapters in anthologies and journals on such modern films as Gladiator, Troy, and Alexander. 

Currently I am preparing Volumes II and III of my edition and translation of Boccaccio's Genealogy of the Pagan Gods for Harvard University Press. Volume I was published in 2011. I have now completed a study of Ben-Hur as the prototype for American consumerism and synergy between popular art and business. It was published by Edinburgh University Press in May, 2016. I am revising a multi-volume book manuscript surveying the classical tradition in opera. And I am constantly collecting examples of classical allusions in contemporary cinema.

Additional Campus Affiliations

Robert D. Novak Chair, Classics
Professor, Classics
Professor, Program in Medieval Studies
Professor, Media and Cinema Studies

Recent Publications

Solomon, J. (2021). Comparing the reception of Quo vadis and Ben-Hur in the United States, 1896-1913. In M. Woźniak, & M. Wyke (Eds.), The Novel of Neronian Rome and its Multimedial Transformations: Sienkiewicz’s Quo vadis (pp. 87-104). Oxford University Press.

Solomon, J. (2020). Messala: Roman Villain via Boss Tweed and Billy the Kid. In The Real and the Reflected: Heroes and Villains in Existent and Imagined Worlds (pp. 13-22). Brill.

Solomon, J. (2019). Cinematic Signatures of Orpheus and Operatic Evocations. Illinois classical studies, 44(1), 111-136.

Solomon, J. (2019). The Muscleman Peplum: From Le fatiche di Ercole (1958) to Hercules and the Princess of Troy (1965). In The Italian Cinema Book (pp. 163-171). Bloomsbury Publishing Plc..

Solomon, J. (2018). Belief Is in the Eye of the Spectator: Beholding the Other Actor’s Reaction. In T&T Clark Companion to the Bible and Film (pp. 369-380). Bloomsbury Publishing Plc..

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