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Greek Epigram in the Roman EmpireMartial's Forgotten Rivals$
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Gideon Nisbet

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199263370

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199263370.001.0001

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(p.36) 3 Loukillios
Greek Epigram in the Roman Empire


Oxford University Press

The chapter begins with a close reading of the poem that opened Loukillios' second book, arguing that its complex literary allusion and ambiguous political comment advertise the author's capacity for comic misdirection. Further close readings show how Loukillian skoptic humour emerges from carefully stage-managed detail and timing, and expects a reader aware of contemporary trends in Greek culture. Some jokes are based on subtle manipulation of satirical personae; others are broad slapstick rooted in the hyperbole of Old Comedy. Some elements are repeatedly re-used, and the chapter argues that Loukillios' books were structured for easy use at symposia rather than as artful literary compositions. The negativity of Loukillian humour (many skoptic targets meet wretched fates) is explained both with reference to material culture (skoptic epigram on papyrus is invariably in cheap copies) and the symposium's role in forging group solidarity. The symposium also provides a context for Loukillios' aggressive misogyny.

Keywords:   Loukillios, persona, Second Sophistic, symposium, misogyny, ancient poetry-books, humour

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