Greek Laughter: A Study of Cultural Psychology from Homer to Early Christianity
by Stephen Halliwell
Product DescriptionThe first book to offer an integrated reading of ancient Greek attitudes to laughter. Taking material from various genres and contexts, the book analyses both the theory and the practice of laughter as a revealing expression of Greek values and mentalities. Greek society developed distinctive institutions for the celebration of laughter as a capacity which could bridge the gap between humans and gods; but it also feared laughter for its power to expose individuals and groups to shame and even violence. Caught between ideas of pleasure and pain, friendship and enmity, laughter became a theme of recurrent interest in various contexts. Employing a sophisticated model of cultural history, Stephen Halliwell traces elaborations of the theme in a series of important texts: ranging far beyond modern accounts of 'humour', he shows how perceptions of laughter helped to shape Greek conceptions of the body, the mind and the meaning of life. Book DescriptionThe first attempt to provide an integrated account of the bodily and psychological workings of laughter in ancient Greece. Adopting a wide chronological perspective and dealing with numerous aspects of cultural history, Halliwell shows how the theme of laughter can shed light on Greek ethical values and attitudes to life. About the AuthorStephen 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.