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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.
1. Object-oriented humour
2. Humour directed at the persona
3. Non-aligned humour
Epilogue: The genre devours itself