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Title: Street-life in Constantinople: Women and the Carnivalesque
Contributor(s): Garland, L (author)
Publication Date: 2006
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Abstract: The existence of humour in Byzantium still appears surprising to the modern scholarly mind. Humour - a phenomenon which can include a variety of behaviour intended to produce smiles of laughter in an audience or readership - is the ultimate unorthodoxy, with its implications of mockery, lack of respect or restraint, reversal of roles, and evasion of social and/or political control. This is especially the case as so much Byzantine humour, like its classical predecessors, was based on mockery, abuse and humiliation - subjects like defecation, obscenity, physical violence, ritual humiliation, insults, and heavy sexual innuendo are rampant in the twelfth century, if not earlier (Garland 1990b; 1999b; Haldon 2002a, 2002b). To the Byzantines themselves, laughter was generally considered not only vulgar, but licentious and impious: just as Jesus, in the Gospel tradition, is never recorded as indulging in laughter, so saints, for example, are rarely if ever described as laughing - though they occasionally indulge in a smile which characterises their apatheia, their lack of concern with humanity's passions and desires.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: Byzantine Women: Varieties of Experience 800-1200, p. 163-176
Publisher: Ashgate Publishing Limited
Place of Publication: Great Britain
ISBN: 9780754657378
Field of Research (FOR): 210306 Classical Greek and Roman History
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
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