Laughter in Ancient Rome: On Joking, Tickling, and Cracking Up

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Overview


Laughter in Ancient Rome is a masterwork, simultaneously a sophisticated work of historical and literary scholarship and an unputdownable read. Beard never loses sight of the specificities of Roman culture, yet she encompasses an extraordinary range of ancient and modern theorizing. Her book will appeal to psychologists and anthropologists, as well as to classicists and indeed anyone who has ever thought about the much-debated question of why we laugh.”
—William V. Harris, ...
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Laughter in Ancient Rome: On Joking, Tickling, and Cracking Up

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Overview


Laughter in Ancient Rome is a masterwork, simultaneously a sophisticated work of historical and literary scholarship and an unputdownable read. Beard never loses sight of the specificities of Roman culture, yet she encompasses an extraordinary range of ancient and modern theorizing. Her book will appeal to psychologists and anthropologists, as well as to classicists and indeed anyone who has ever thought about the much-debated question of why we laugh.”
—William V. Harris, William R. Shepherd Professor of History at Columbia University, and author of Dreams and Experience in Classical Antiquity

“With a bounty of suggestive and unfailingly intelligent conclusions about the situation of laughter within ancient Roman culture, Beard’s remarkable learning is displayed on every page. Laughter in Ancient Rome is unmistakably a work of scholarship, but it is also an unpretentious and inviting exploration available to anyone who is interested. As a literary attainment, this book is marvelous.”
—Dylan Sailor, Associate Professor of Classics at University of California, Berkeley

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Editorial Reviews

New York Review of Books - Gregory Hays

"Few things are more tiresome than seeing a joke analyzed. . . . Beard’s book avoids pedantry but also its opposite, the archness that preens itself on 'not taking humor too seriously' and signals inane wordplays with 'pun intended!' More importantly, her treatment makes one look with new eyes  . . . even at works she does not herself discuss . . . [a] stimulating book."
The Independent - Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

"[Beard] makes the Romans come alive and through them, gets readers to ponder that most fundamental and uniquely human facility—laughter. The phenomenal Ms. Beard has written another cracking book, one of her best, I think."
The Spectator - Harry Mount

"Expect to be engaged by an enthralling book."
The Scotsman

"[Beard's] central question is simple: what made the Romans laugh? Her answers are pleasingly complex. . . . Beard is always enlightening, and writes with a perfect balance of forensic detail and wide-ranging intellect."
The Telegraph - Iona McLaren

"Superbly acute and unashamedly complex. . . . To our vision of the solemn grandeur that was Rome, she restores a raucous, ghostly laughter."
Shelf Awareness for Readers - Pamela Toler

"Written in Beard's trademark combination of erudition and effortless prose, Laughter in Ancient Rome is a fascinating combination of history, psychology, linguistic exploration and humor. This is scholarly writing at its best."
Columbus Commercial Dispatch - Rob Hardy

"You can read hundreds of books on Roman emperors and conquests; this represents a valiant attempt to bring a little understanding of a smaller, but no less important, part of what made Rome run."
New Yorker - Rebecca Mead

“'Laughter in Ancient Rome: On Joking, Tickling, and Cracking Up,' which has just been published, is an engaging exploration of what made the Romans laugh—bad breath, among other things—but it also explores dimensions of Roman sensibility that have become elusive to us."
TLS - Roy Gibson

"Rich and provocative."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520277168
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 6/25/2014
  • Series: Sather Classical Lectures , #71
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 167,172
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author


Mary Beard is Professor of Classics at Cambridge University. Her many books include The Roman Triumph and The Fires of Vesuvius.
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Table of Contents


Preface

1. Introducing Roman Laughter: Dio’s “Giggle” and Gnatho’s Two Laughs

PART ONE
2. Questions of Laughter, Ancient and Modern
3. The History of Laughter
4. Roman Laughter in Latin and Greek

PART TWO
5. The Orator
6. From Emperor to Jester
7. Between Human and Animal—Especially Monkeys and Asses
8. The Laughter Lover

Afterword
Acknowledgments
Texts and Abbreviations
Notes
References
List of Illustrations and Credits
Index

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 25, 2014

    boring really truly boring

    have gotten thru 60 pages. wrote mary beard told her no laughter yet. she says i should have more carefully read the reviews. this is a book only a mother could love.

    this is a book for the very few and i did not fit in!

    p. bloomberg
    old man
    glendale, caliofornia

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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