Laughter, Social Norms and Ethics in Cicero’s Works

Author: Guérin, Charles
Title: Laughter, Social Norms and Ethics in Cicero’s Works
Review/Collection: in: P. Destrée & F. Trivigno (dir.), Laughter, Humor and Comedy in Ancient Philosophy
Place edition: Oxford
Editor: Oxford University Press
Year edition: 2019
Pages: 112-144
Keywords: Sources - Fonti - Sources

ISBN 9780190460549

Description: [Abstract] Among Latin authors, Cicero is our most important source on the topic of laughter. Cicero views laughter as a defining feature of human sociability, and tackles it with four different uses and contexts in mind: the enhancing of human relationships, the enforcing of the norms shared by the community, the strengthening of one’s public figure, and the maintaining of the ethical agent’s individual coherence. By offering a synthesis of these various views, which Cicero expounds both in a rhetorical (De oratore, 55 BCE) and a philosophical (De officiis, 46 BCE) context, this chapter shows that these approaches stem from a unified understanding of laughter, and that there is no real difference between Cicero’s rhetorical and ethical approach to the topic. The proper and improper uses of laughter, in Cicero’s views, illustrate perfectly what’s at stake in the relationship between the moral agent and the community he belongs to.
Author initials: Guérin 2019