The history and importance of humor από τη ζωή των λέξεων

Φιλολογικό Φροντιστήριο “Γιώργος Δαμιανός”
Με ειδικότητα στο μάθημα της Έκθεσης – Έκφρασης

α. Βριλήσσια – Μαρούσι – Αγία Παρασκευή
β. Οnline μαθήματα σε οποιοδήποτε σημείο της Ελληνικής Επικράτειας
γ. Οnline Τμήματα Ελλήνων του εξωτερικού. Εξετάσεις ομογενών (ακόμα και με βιντεοσυνδιάσκεψη) κλικ εδώ

The history and importance of humor

by Yiorgos Damianos, δημοσιεύτηκε το Φεβρουάριο του 2012 στο αγγλικό περιοδικό naked but safe

για να διαβάσετε τη μετάφραση του κειμένου στα ελληνικά κλικ εδώ

Laughter frees the villein from fear of the Devil, because in the feast of fools the Devil also appears poor and foolish, and therefore controllable. But this book could teach that freeing oneself of the fear of the Devil is wisdom. […] Laughter, for a few moments, distracts the villein from fear. But law is imposed by fear, whose true name is the fear of God. […] To the villein who laughs, at that moment, dying does not matter: but then, when the license is past, the liturgy again imposes on him, according to the divine plan, the fear of death. And from this book there could be born the new destructive aim to destroy death through redemption from fear. And what would we be, we sinful creatures, without fear, perhaps the most foresighted, the most loving of divine gifts?”

This is part of how Umberto Eco describes the importance of laugher in the life of humans, in the Name of the Rose. Indeed, at some point, the two arguing monks in the dialogue, William and Jorge, state that bathing, like laughter, restores the balance of the humors (that exist in humans, and act therapeutically). In this way, Eco conveys in his work the belief – popular up to the Middle Ages – on the relationship of the four humors of the body with mental and physical health. If balanced correctly according to their natural ratios, these four humors (blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm) allow humans to be in good humor, in boun umore (in Italian) or en bonne humoeur (in French). In fact, the Italian word umore, the French humoeur and the English humor are thought to derive from the Greek word hymos(althoughSchenkl and Georges support that they derive from the Greek word hygros).

This theory, proposed by the philosopher Embedocles (495 – 435 BC) and promoted by the doctor Hippocrates (460 – 377 BC) and Galen (129 – 199 AD) influenced medical thought up to the Middle Ages, and thus Humor was linked to human health. Let us not forget that the word melancholy means black bile (melas:black + choly:bile).

Humor” and the significance of “jest”

As of the late 16th century, the word humor conveys the meaning of jest: in 1598, Benjamin Jonson (1572 – 1637) presents the comedy Every Man in His Humour and, a year later, the show Every Man out of His Humour. At the same time, in Henry IV, Part 2, Shakespeare supports that humor is “a joke told with a sad face”. Slightly later, in 1636, humoeur is analyzed by the French Pierre Corneille. Almost a century later, in False and True Humour, Joseph Addison (1672-1719) would analyze the term humor and present its imaginary genealogy: “Truth was the founder of the family, and the father of Good Sense. Good Sense was the father of Wit, who married a lady of a collateral line called Mirth, by whom he had issue Humour”. On the same wavelength, Thackeray supports that humor is the son of love. One of the most interesting comments I have happened upon is that of Mark Twain (1835 – 1910), who supports that the internal source of humor is not joy, but sadness.

Humor and irony

The English language uses many Greek words to denote something funny. Indicatively, I list humor, satire, sarcasm, sardonic, comic, comedy, euthemy, irony. This last word is perhaps slightly different from humor and Socratic irony in particular is based on the religious perception of man. According to Socrates, irony without modesty and prudency is impertinence and arrogance. Only those who know that they should submit to a higher force have the right to be ironic “because we should believe in something greater than man to be able to be ironic about his conduct and convictions”.