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Greek Visual Humor

  • By: Alexandre G. Mitchell
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Visual humor is a major component of humor studies; its ancient Greek manifestation, which emerged from the first democracy in the history of the world, offers a unique insight into the Western origins of visual humor. Most comic images were produced in Athens on thousands of vases dating back to 550–375 BCE, with the exception of a few hilarious parodies painted on vases found at the Kabirion Sanctuary in central Greece and some theater-related vase-paintings produced in Southern Italy (the so-called Phlyax vases). This entry gives a short introduction to the ancient context of visual humor and how it is identified on ancient Greek vases, followed by a review of the four main categories of ancient visual humor: visual puns, parody, caricature, and situation comedy, ...

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