By Stephen Halliwell
The 1st booklet to supply an built-in analyzing of historic Greek attitudes to laughter. Taking fabric from numerous 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 built special associations for the occasion of laughter as a capability 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 ache, friendship and enmity, laughter grew to become a topic of recurrent curiosity in a number of contexts. using a worldly version of cultural heritage, Stephen Halliwell lines embellishments of the subject matter in a sequence of vital texts: ranging a ways past glossy money owed of 'humour', he indicates how perceptions of laughter helped to form Greek conceptions of the physique, the brain and the which means of lifestyles.
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Extra resources for Greek Laughter: A Study of Cultural Psychology from Homer to Early Christianity
Dancing is apt for stable feasting (cf. Phaeacia, eight. 248) yet is tainted by means of the suitors’ illicit extra. the single dancing linked to Odysseus is the faux wedding-party at 23. 134, one hundred forty five, 298. Dancing and laughter are either varieties of ‘play’ (ch. 1 n. forty five) which mix exuberantly in komastic celebrations (ch. three, esp. 105–6); but if bodily over the top or contemptuous, either tip over into hubris (ch. 1 nn. 89, 91). ‘Soft’, pal»v, is an extraordinary note within the Odyssey; in other places it describes the our bodies of the younger suitors (21. 151, 22. sixteen) or their like (13. 223). a few historic critics took tender laughter to be effeminate: see Athen. five. 180a, Clem. Paed. 2. five. forty eight (a Christian slant: ch. 10, 493), with Plut. Mor. 503e–f, 645a for additional reflections on Od. 14. 463–6; cf. ch. three, 107–8. Stanford (1965) ii 235 indicates ‘feebly’ for pal»n; that can't be correct. See Appendix 1 n. 17; cf. Arnould (1990) 165–6. The interdict, at 22. 411–12 (cf. ch. 1, 29), considerably allows rejoicing ‘in the guts’ (qum ), in line with Odysseus’ personal behaviour at 20. 301–2 (see 90–1); cf. ch. 1 n. sixty five. nevertheless, Eurycleia can't inhibit noisy jubilation (kagcalw: n. 15 above) as she runs to inform Penelope the scoop (23. 1, 59). 88 in and out morality and is usually smiled at with affectionate admiration (for his quasi-Odyssean shrewdness) via his surrogate father Menelaus. 89 In a lot of these circumstances, smiling is encumbered with indirect, figuring out value. there's hence a recurrent distinction among the insolent, coarse laughter of the usurping suitors and the principally suppressed laughter, but in addition the delicate smiles, of the king, his kinfolk and his divine helpers. The laughter of the suitors advantages nearer scrutiny. whereas functioning quite often as an extrovert trademark in their contemptuous profession of the palace, it additionally develops, within the later components of the epic, right into a signal of the more and more light-headed and (at a supremely eerie second) crazed method within which their boastful feasting consists of them unseeing in the direction of a violent loss of life. lots of the suitors’ laughter is heard within the build-up to their downfall, from ebook sixteen onwards, yet an early incidence indicators us to a few of the subject’s thematic strength. In publication 2, after the meeting at which he has denounced the suitors and introduced his goal to sail to Pylos and Sparta, Telemachus returns to the palace, distressed at middle (2. 298), to discover the standard dinner party being ready within the nice corridor. Antinous methods him at once, with amusing and a handshake (301–2), and invitations him to hitch them in consuming and ingesting. The invitation is doubly ironic: the suitors are illicitly appropriating Odysseus’ items (and, via extension, Telemachus’, 313), and there has already been a famous indication in their self-engrossed overlook for the customs of hospitality (1. 119–20). additionally, Antinous’ phrases go away doubtless that he's belittling Telemachus’ plan to sail off looking for information of his father. during this recognize, Antinous offers a cue to the gang as an entire. within the passage that follows, the suitors – whose youthfulness is pointed out two times during this context (324, 331) – jointly sneer and jeer on the goal and attainable end result of the voyage.