By Stephen Halliwell
The 1st ebook to provide an built-in interpreting of historical Greek attitudes to laughter. Taking fabric from quite a few genres and contexts, the booklet analyses either the speculation and the perform of laughter as a revealing expression of Greek values and mentalities. Greek society constructed special associations for the get together of laughter as a potential that could bridge the distance among people and gods; however it additionally feared laughter for its strength to reveal participants and teams to disgrace or even violence. stuck among rules of delight and discomfort, friendship and enmity, laughter grew to become a topic of recurrent curiosity in a number of contexts. applying a worldly version of cultural heritage, Stephen Halliwell lines gildings of the topic in a sequence of vital texts: ranging some distance past sleek bills of 'humour', he exhibits how perceptions of laughter helped to form Greek conceptions of the physique, the brain and the that means of existence.
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Additional resources for Greek Laughter: A Study of Cultural Psychology from Homer to Early Christianity
24 for euphrosun¯e and feasting. sooner than that, Amphinomus’ laughter at sixteen. 354 is phenomenal one of the laughter of the suitors, a burst of relieved shock on the sight of the returning send; cf. his reservations approximately killing Telemachus, sixteen. 394–405, with Hewitt (1928) 442–3. ‘Self-mockery’, Levine (1982b) ninety nine, is infrequently the purpose. Theog. 1068 makes use of the noun just about the youthfully sensual pleasures of symposium and k¯omos; comparable connotations at Archil. eleven. 2 IEG (cf. 215 IEG). The cognate verb is associated with feasting at Od. 1. 369, eight. 542, 15. 399, 18. 305–6 (cf. e. g. Theog. 1047). ninety in and out morality the Phaeacian episode of the Odyssey itself (8. 103, one hundred thirty, 206, 246), the current example, like every little thing subsidized via the suitors, is a corrupted distortion of it. A crudely pointless intrusion right into a ceremonial dinner (as good as a divergence from the norms of hospitality), it's grossly misplaced right here; it truly is, certainly, extra of a bare-knuckle brawl than a boxing-match, missing the latter’s recognized trappings (not least its leather-based fist-straps, Iliad 23. 684). In those conditions the suitors’ flippant delight in a struggle they can simply have avoided betokens the bigger depravity that infects their behaviour. What’s extra, Antinous augments the air of sadistic excitement with gratuitous cruelty: he threatens Irus, should still he lose, with slavery and the mutilation of his nostril, ears and genitals (18. 84–7). That the suitors’ laughter without difficulty slips into uncooked bloodthirstiness, and one whose dramatic ironies (given the possibility in their personal gory finish) are very unlikely to overlook, is underlined in what follows. while Odysseus simply flooring Irus with a unmarried blow, we pay attention that the suitors ‘threw up their palms and died with laughter’ (18. a hundred, ce±rav nasc»menoi glw kqanon), an idiom which enacts a grim pun at the destiny watching for the suitors. ninety four Their laughter is iterated a number of traces later (111) whilst, nonetheless oblivious to what his prowess presages for themselves, they toast the victor with a prayer that Zeus may well fulfil his dearest want. even though Odysseus himself rubs in Irus’ defeat with harsh phrases, he has no cause to take pleasure in his victory within the phrases during which the suitors understand it – no longer simply because he's sentimental (he considers hitting Irus challenging sufficient to kill him, ninety one) yet simply because defeating Irus (and profitable a blood sausage, 118–19! ) can topic little to him. He does, even if, inwardly exult over the blindness manifested by way of the suitors’ congratulatory prayer (117), simply as his ‘heart laughed’ at his good fortune in tricking the Cyclops into believing his fake identify (9. 413, in sharp distinction to the Cyclops’ personal groans, 415), and simply as we will later learn how he ‘gave a really sardonic smile in his middle (thumos)’ whilst he kept away from the cow’s foot thrown at him by means of Ctesippus (20. 301–2). ninety five The wary internalisation ninety four ninety five See Arnould (1990) 222–3, with my ch. 1 n. 21 for similar metaphorical expressions; cf. Levine (1982a) 203 for the thematic subtext within the suitors’ case. As for the raised fingers, Eustath.