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Assyrian and Babylonian Humor

  • By: Franco D’Agostino
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Being a cultural attitude with a specific history and development, humor can be appreciated and understood only inside the cultural references, and the psychological frame, of a given tradition. In this respect, and in order to avoid any possible superimposition to the ancient Mesopotamian mentality by the modern reader, it is proposed here to consider humor in its most basic evidence as the representation of a deviation from a given norm. This means that the best way to appreciate a humorous situation in a Mesopotamian text is by highlighting the way in which that situation represents an “unexpected” behavior and collides with other, known situations representing the “expected,” “right” way to behave.

Humor in Mesopotamian Tradition

If humor is a cultural trait with its own history and ...

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