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Humor and Ethnography in Herodotus' Histories

Humor and Ethnography in Herodotus' Histories

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Published by: herodotean_fan on Apr 12, 2013
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 HUMOR AND ETHNOGRAPHY IN HERODOTUS’
HISTORIES
 Mark Christopher MashA dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of North Carolinaat Chapel Hill in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Classics.Chapel Hill2010Approved by:Emily Baragwanath, AdvisorPeter M. Smith, ReaderOwen E. Goslin, ReaderCecil W. Wooten, ReaderFred S. Naiden, Reader
 
 
ii ©2010Mark Christopher MashALL RIGHTS RESERVED
 
 
iii 
ABSTRACT
MARK CHRISTOPHER MASH: Humor and Ethnography in Herodotus’
Histories
 (Under the direction of Emily Baragwanath)This dissertation examines the role of humor in Herodotus’
Histories
. I arguethat Herodotus’ humor is best understood in the context of his ethnography, and basemy analyses on the thoughts of ancient and modern writers on humor. In particular, Iincorporate anthropological perspectives on humor, and most notably ethnic humor.In chapter one, I establish the groundwork for later discussions by situating mywork in the context of previous ancient and modern analyses of humor. In chaptertwo, I examine derision and witty retorts, starting first with Herodotus’ own ridicule of mapmakers in 4.36.2. In chapter three, I discuss the role of humorous deception in the
Histories
. In this interplay of humor and deception, I examine three main types: tricksthat are reveled in by the instigator, tricks that are uncovered, and tricks that turndeadly. In chapter four, I take up the relationship between didacticism and humor, andshow how it appears as an oblique tool by which wise advisors are able to challenge therigidity of their recipient’s thinking. What is more, didactic humor sometimes appearsby negative example, as when Cambyses laughs at Egyptian religious
nomoi
(3.29.1-2) orwhen Xerxes laughs at Spartan
nomoi
(7.101-105). Finally, in chapter five, I discussmemorializing humor, which I find in particular relation to monuments, battles andpolitical disputes.

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