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Greek Laughter and Tears

Antiquity and After

Edited by Margaret Alexiou, Douglas Cairns

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Explores the range and complexity of human emotions and their transmission across cultural traditions

What makes us laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time? How do these two primal, seemingly discrete and non-verbal modes of expression intersect in everyday life and ritual, and what range of emotions do they evoke? How may they be voiced, shaped and coloured in literature and liturgy, art and music?

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Contents

Preface
List of Illustrations
Notes on contributors
1. Introduction, Margaret Alexiou and Douglas Cairns
Part I. Ancient Keynotes: From Homer to Lucian
2. Laughter and Tears in Early Greek Literature, Richard Seaford
3. Imagining Divine Laughter in Homer and Lucian, Stephen Halliwell
4. Parody, Symbol and the Literary Past in Lucian, Calum Maciver
Part II. Ancient Models, Byzantine Collections: Epigrams, Riddles and Jokes
5. ‘Tantalus Ever in Tears’: The Greek Anthology as a Source of Emotions in Late Antiquity, Judith Herrin
6. ‘Do you think you’re clever? Solve this riddle, then!’ The Comic Side of Byzantine Enigmatic Poetry, Simone Beta
7. Philogelos: An Anti-intellectual Joke-book, Stephanie West
Part III. Byzantine Perspectives: Tears and Laughter, Theory and Praxis
8. ‘Messages of the Soul’: Tears, Smiles, Laughter and Emotions Expressed by them in Byzantine Literature, Martin Hinterberger
9. Towards a Byzantine Theory of the Comic?, Aglae Pizzone
10. Staging Laughter and Tears: Libanius, Chrysostom and the Riot of the Statues, Jan R. Stenger
11. Lamenting for the Fall of Jerusalem in the Seventh Century CE, Ioannis Papadogiannakis
12. Guiding Grief: Liturgical Poetry and Ritual Lamentation in Early Byzantium, Susan Harvey
Part IV. Laughter, Power and Subversion
13. Mime and the Dangers of Laughter in Late Antiquity, Ruth Webb
14. Laughter on Display – Mimic Performances and the Danger of Laughing in Byzantium, Przemesław Marciniak
15. The Power of Amusement and the Amusement of Power: The Princely Frescoes of St. Sophia, Kiev, and their Connections to the Byzantine World, Elena Boeck
16. Laughing at Eros and Aphrodite: Sexual Inversion and its Resolution in the Classicising Arts of Medieval Byzantium, Alicia Walker
Part V. Gender, Genre and Language: Loss and Survival
17. Comforting Tears and Suggestive Smiles: To Laugh and Cry in the Komnenian Novel, Ingela Nilsson
18. Do Brothers Weep? Male Grief, Mourning, Lament and Tears in Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century Byzantium, Margaret Mullett
19. Laments by Nicetas Choniates and Others for the Fall of Constantinople in 1204, Michael Angold
20. ‘Words Filled With Tears’: Amorous Discourse as Lamentation in the Palaiologan Romances, Panagiotis Agapitos
21. The Tragic, the Comic and Tragi-Comic in Cretan Renaissance Literature, David Holton
22. Belisarius in the Shadow Theatre: The Private Calvary of a Legendary General, Anna Stavrakopoulou
23. Afterword, Roderick Beaton
Appendix: Chyrogles or The girl with two husbands
Bibliography
Index.

About the Author

Margaret Alexiou is Professor Emerita of Modern Greek Studies and of Comparative Literature, Harvard University. She is the author of The Ritual Lament in Greek Tradition (Cambridge University Press, 1974, Rowman & Littlefield second edition, 2002) and After Antiquity: Greek Language, Myth and Metaphor (Cornell University Press, 2002).

Douglas Cairns is Professor of Classics in the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of Aidôs: The Psychology and Ethics of Honour and Shame in Ancient Greek Literature (1993), Bacchylides: Five Epinician Odes (2010), and Sophocles: Antigone (2014).

Reviews

Greek Laughter and Tears is the first major overview to take the study of emotions beyond the classical period and fills an important scholarly gap inasmuch as it shows continuities and differences in the expression of emotions over the centuries. Not only does it offer a theoretical framework for the discourse of emotion in Greek literature, but it also illustrates the performance of emotion in specific classical and post-classical texts, making it a riveting read.

- Prof M. D. Lauxtermann (Bywater and Sotheby Professor of Byzantine and Modern Greek Language and Literature, Oxford)

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