Laughter in Ancient Rome

Laughter in Ancient Rome Cover

Laughter in Ancient Rome

On Joking, Tickling, and Cracking Up

By Mary Beard

University of California Press, Hardcover, 9780520277168, 319pp.

Publication Date: June 25, 2014

Description
What made the Romans laugh? Was ancient Rome a carnival, filled with practical jokes and hearty chuckles? Or was it a carefully regulated culture in which the uncontrollable excess of laughter was a force to feara world of wit, irony, and knowing smiles? How did Romans make sense of laughter? What role did it play in the world of the law courts, the imperial palace, or the spectacles of the arena?
"Laughter in Ancient Rome" explores one of the most intriguing, but also trickiest, of historical subjects. Drawing on a wide range of Roman writingfrom essays on rhetoric to a surviving Roman joke bookMary Beard tracks down the giggles, smirks, and guffaws of the ancient Romans themselves. From ancient monkey business to the role of a chuckle in a culture of tyranny, she explores Roman humor from the hilarious, to the momentous, to the surprising. But she also reflects on even bigger historical questions. What kind of history of laughter can we possibly tell? Can we ever really get the Romans jokes?


About the Author
Mary Beard is Professor of Classics at Cambridge University. Her many books include "The Roman Triumph" and "The Fires of Vesuvius."

Join the Conversation

Join the Conversation

Sign up today to hear about books and authors from an independent bookstore near you.