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The Function of Humour in Roman Verse SatireLaughing and Lying$
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Maria Plaza

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199281114

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199281114.001.0001

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Object-Oriented Humour

Object-Oriented Humour

(p.53) 1 Object-Oriented Humour
The Function of Humour in Roman Verse Satire

Maria Plaza

Oxford University Press

This chapter on object-oriented humour argues that a favourite device of Roman satire is to use the structure of ‘mockery from below’ for various attacks. It analyses how metaphors ‘heightening’ the target or ‘lowering’ the speaker are employed by Horace and Juvenal when the target is not actually someone or something in a high position; for Persius, this is achieved by metaphorical ‘swelling’/‘piercing’. In effect, the satiric persona often cheats the reader into sympathizing with his attack as righteous. In a discussion of the special case of Juvenal’s Satires 6 and 9, it is argued that the satirist’s heightening of his objects there — women and passive homosexuals — endows them with such vigour that they overpower the speaker himself.

Keywords:   object-oriented humour, heightening, lowering, metaphor, cheating

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