Laugh? I Nearly Bought One! - Laughter in Literature - Laughter For The Greeks - Herodotus

Herodotus

For Herodotus, laughers can be distinguished into three types

  • Those who are innocent of wrongdoing, but ignorant of their own vulnerability.
  • Those who are mad.
  • Those who are overconfident.

According to Donald Lateiner, Herodotus reports about laughter for valid literary and historiological reasons. "Herodotus believes either that both nature (better, the gods' direction of it) and human nature coincide sufficiently, or that the latter is but an aspect or analogue of the former, so that to the recipient the outcome is suggested." When reporting laughter, Herodotus does so in the conviction that it tells the reader something about the future and/or the character of the person laughing. It is also in this sense that it is not coincidental that in about eighty percent of the times when Herodotus speaks about laughter it is followed by a retribution. "Men whose laughter deserves report are marked, because laughter connotes scornful disdain, disdain feeling of superiority, and this feeling and the actions which stem from it attract the wrath of the gods."

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