Greek Laughter: A Study in Cultural Psychology from Homer to Early Christianity

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November 2008



Shows how the theme of laughter can shed light on ancient Greek ethical values and attitudes to life.


1. Introduction; 2. Inside and outside morality: the laughter of Homeric gods and men; 3. Sympotic elation and resistance to death; 4. Ritual laughter and the renewal of life; 5. Aischrology, shame and Old Comedy; 6. Greek philosophy and the ethics of ridicule; 7. Greek laughter and the problem of the absurd; 8. The intermittencies of laughter in Menander's social world; 9. Lucian and the laughter of life and death; 10. Laughter denied, laughter deferred: the antigelastic tendencies of early Christianity; Appendix 1. The Greek (body) language of laughter and smiles; Appendix 2. Gelastic faces in visual art.


Stephen Halliwell is Professor of Greek at the University of St Andrews. His most recent book, The Aesthetics of Mimesis: Ancient Texts and Modern Problems (2002), has been awarded an international prize, the 'Premio Europeo d'Estetica' for 2008.


'... a wide survey of Greek laughter from Homer to the early Christians ... the introduction is quite the best brief overview of the role of laughter in any historical period that I have ever read ... some of [Halliwell's] discussions are brilliant ... The highlight is his discussion of Democritus, the fifth-century philosopher and atomist ...' Mary Beard, Times Literary Supplement '... a book of great originality as well as immense range ... it is remarkable how a chronological treatment also has a compelling thematic momentum: this is an exhilarating read.' Anglo-Hellenic Review 'Stephen Halliwell has written a monumental book on the notoriously volatile and elusive phenomenon of laughter. This book is an extraordinary resource. The trouble with laughter - and the delight of it - is that it impinges on practically every socio-cultural dynamic imaginable. Halliwell has given us a rich and remarkable starting point for thinking about such dynamics. That is why every student of the ancient world should attend this book.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review
EAN: 9780521717748
ISBN: 0521717744
Untertitel: Sprache: Englisch.
Erscheinungsdatum: November 2008
Seitenanzahl: 616 Seiten
Format: kartoniert
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