The Function of Humour in Roman Verse Satire: Laughing and Lying

The Function of Humour in Roman Verse Satire: Laughing and Lying

The Function of Humour in Roman Verse Satire: Laughing and Lying

The Function of Humour in Roman Verse Satire: Laughing and Lying

Synopsis

Maria Plaza sets out to analyze the function of humor in the Roman satirists Horace, Persius, and Juvenal. Her starting point is that satire is driven by two motives, which are to a certain extent opposed: to display humor, and to promote a serious moral message. She argues that, while the Roman satirist needs humor for his work's aesthetic merit, his proposed message suffers from the ambivalence that humor brings with it. Her analysis shows that this paradox is not only socio-ideological but also aesthetic, forming the ground for the curious, hybrid nature of Roman satire.

Excerpt

The writing of this book was made possible by a grant from the Swedish Research Council, which I held between 2001 and the spring of 2004.

During this time I have spent one term (Michaelmas 2001) at Corpus Christi College, Oxford; and I have presented my project at the seminars of Stockholm University, Göteborg University, and the University of Oslo—to all these environments I express my gratitude for their kind reception and many helpful suggestions.

Throughout my work on the satires I have received different kinds of help from many quarters, and I would like to thank the following people: Monika Asztalos, Ewen Bowie, Bracht Branham, Sandy Hardie, Stephen Harrison, Nicholas Horsfall, Paolo Leva, Elena Merli, Ruurd Nauta, Magnus Wistrand, and Maaike Zimmermann. Special thanks are due to Susanna Morton Braund and Inga Gerkan.

Finally, I am very grateful to the Oxford University Press, especially to Hilary O’Shea and the two anonymous readers of the Press.

All the above have helped make this a better book; the remaining imperfections are entirely my own responsibility.

M.P.

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