Since the very beginning of its proliferation, the Homeric epic has been subject to various ways of interpretation and modes of understanding. Particular attention has been paid to those passages from Homeric poems in which the gods commit obscene, absurd, or comical actions. In the opinion of critics of Iliad and Odyssey, such myths were not worthy of the appropriate faith in the Greek gods. Therefore, my article focuses on the third, “comical” group of these Homeric grey areas, and deals with the following questions: how and why did Homer’s comical passages move from a discourse of the ridiculous and the funny to a discourse of the serious by means of philosophical interpretation over the centuries? I will try to uncover the general principles and conditions of that hermeneutical mechanism which made it possible to translate Homer’s comical plots from the language of Olympic “domestic” nonsense into the language of the most important physical, ethical, and metaphysical truths. To achieve this task, my article will conditionally distinguish two ways of transition from the comical to the serious: the first, which was carried out in ancient allegorism, was to directly produce a translation, and to declare that the “superficial” meaning of the myth is false, and its deep level is true. The second way – ancient symbolism – was to turn the comical into the serious through the immediate translation of comical myths into the religious discourse of the sacred, which did not imply a stark contrast between the comical and the serious but, on the contrary, harmonized them.
Averintsev, S. S. (1992). ‘Bachtin, smekh, khristianskaya kul’tura’ [Bakhtin, laughter, Christian culture], in: Gurevitch, P.S. (ed.), M.M. Bakhtin kak philosoph [Bakhtin as philosopher]. Moscow: Nauka.
Bakhtin, M. M. (1984). Rabelais and His World. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Bell, R. H. (2007). ‘Homer’s humor: Laughter in The Iliad’. Humanitas (20) 1 and 2, pp. 96-116.
Bergson, H. (1911). Laughter. An Essay of the Meaning of the Comic. London: MacMillan Company.
Brisson, L. (2004). How Philosophers Saved Myths: Allegorical Interpretation and Classical Mythology. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Bychkov, V. V. (2009). Estetika [Aesthetics]. Мoscow: Akademicheskiy Proekt.
Domaradzki, M. (2011). ‘Theagenes of Rhegium and the Rise of Allegorical Interpretation’. Elenchos 2, pp. 205-228.
Halliwell, S. (2008). Greek Laughter: A Study of Cultural Psychology from Homer to Early Christianity. Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press.
Hegel, G. W. F. (1988). Aesthetics. Lectures on Fine Art. Vol. I. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hegel, G. W. F. (1975). Aesthetics. Lectures on Fine Art. Vol. II. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Heraclitus, (2005). Homeric Problems. Ed. and trans. D. A. Russell & D. Konstan. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.
Homer, (1999). Iliad. Books 1-12 (Loeb Classical Library 170). With an English trans. by A.T. Murray. Revised by W. F. Wyatt. Cambridge, Massachusetts-London, England: Harvard University Press.
Homer, (1999). Iliad. Books 13-24 (Loeb Classical Library 171). With an English trans. by A.T. Murray. Revised by W. F. Wyatt. Cambridge, Massachusetts-London, England: Harvard University Press.
Ford, A. (1999). ‘Performing interpretation: Early allegorical exegesis of Homer’, in: Beissinger, M., Tylus, J. & Wofford, S. (eds.), Epic Traditions in the Contemporary World. The Poetics of Community. Berkeley, Los Angeles, Oxford: University of California Press, pp. 33-53.
Freidenberg, O. M. (1997). Poetika syzheta i zhanra [The poetics of plot and genre]. Moscow: Labirint.
Friedl, A. (1932). Die Homer-Interpretation des Neuplatonikers Proklos. Würzburg: Verlag M. Dittert & Co.
Graham, D. W. (ed. & trans.) (2010). Texts of Early Greek Philosophy. The Complete Fragments and Selected Testimonies of the Major Presocratics. Vol. 1. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Kant, I. (2007). Critique of Judgment. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lamberton, R. (1992). Homer the Theologian: Neoplatonist Allegorical Readings and the Growth of the Epic Tradition. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press.
Losev, A. F. (1996). Gomer [Homer]. Moscow: Molodaya gvardiya.
Plutarch, (1936). Moralia, Volume V (Loeb Classical Library 306). With an English trans. by F. C. Babbitt. Cambridge, Massachusetts - London, England: Harvard University Press.
Propp, V. Y. (1976). Folklor i deystvitel’nost [Folklore and reality]. Moscow: Nauka.
Russell, D. A. (2003). ‘The rhetoric of the Homeric problems’, in: Boys-Stones, G. R. (ed.), Metaphor, Allegory, and the Classical Tradition: Ancient Thought and Modern Revisions. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 217-235.
Ryumina, M. T. (2010). Estetika smekha. Smekh kak virtual’naya real’nost’ [The aesthetics of laughter: laughter as virtual reality]. Moscow: LIBROKOM.
Schelling, F. W. J. (1989). The Philosophy of Art. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Schlegel, F. (1983). Estetika. Filosofia. Kritika. T. 1 [Aesthetics. Philosophy. Critics. Vol. I]. Moscow: Iskusstvo.
Schopenhauer, A. (1969). The World as Will and Representation. Vol. I. New York: Dover Publications Inc.
Svetlov, R. V. (1996). Antichniy neoplatonism i aleksandriyskaya ekzegeza [Ancient Neo-Platonism and Alexandrian exegesis]. Saint Petersburg: Izdatel’stvo SPbU.
Tatarkiewicz, W. (1977). Antichnaya estetika [Ancient aesthetics] // Russian trans. by A. P. Ermilov from the Polish edition of 1960. Moscow: Iskusstvo.
Torshilov, D. O. (2010). ‘Vozmozhnye ob’yasneniya allegoricheskikh tolkovaniy iz Gomera Metrodorom iz Lampsaka’ [Possible explanations of Homer’s allegorical interpretations by Metrodorus from Lampsakos]. Aristey (1), pp. 110-117.
Whitman, J. (2000). ‘A retrospective forward: Interpretation, allegory, and historical change’ in: Whitman, J. (ed.), Interpretation and Allegory: Antiquity to the Modern Period. Boston: Brill.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Copyright (c) 2021 The European Journal of Humour Research