Libanius Declamatio 27 (The Morose Man and his Son): Misanthropy and the Polemics of Laughter

  Petrides, Antonis K. 2023. “Libanius Declamatio 27 (The Morose Man and his Son): Misanthropy and the Polemics of Laughter.” In “Γέρα: Studies in honor of Professor Menelaos Christopoulos,” ed. Athina Papachrysostomou, Andreas P. Antonopoulos, Alexandros-Fotios Mitsis, Fay Papadimitriou, and Panagiota Taktikou, special issue, Classics@ 25.

Libanius’ Declamations 26 and 27 delve into the traditional figure of the misanthrope, the man who harbours a deep-seated, ideologised hatred for mankind. This figure, whose archetype is the legendary Timon of Athens, was present in dramatic and other literature since the fifth century BC and would continue to fascinate the literary imagination long after Libanius. [1] Libanius’ misanthrope belongs to a particular subgroup, the δύσκολοι, cantankerous or morose men, whose paradigm is Knemon from Menander’s play Dyskolos. [2]
Such δύσκολοι are distinct from the extreme model of Timon in several vital respects that render them more suitable for comedic treatment. Fully-fledged misanthropes like Timon live in complete separation from society and despise all social conventions, particularly the imperative of marriage and procreation, which perpetuates the disease that is humanity. In contrast, the δύσκολοι, while criminally disagreeable and constantly critical of everything and everyone around them, live in organised communities—albeit in the ἐσχατιαί, where they remain as far removed from others as possible. Most importantly, δύσκολοι get married (even if they constantly bump heads with their wives) and father children, towards whom they even display smidgins of human affection.
This study explores the intertextual pedigree and the polemic discourses woven around the δύσκολος in Libanius’ Declamation 27. This fine piece of late-antique rhetoric tells the story of a cantankerous man who has a fall and disowns his son for laughing at him. Declamations are imaginary speeches that mainly serve as exercises for advanced students of rhetoric. [3] Composing a declamation, a trainee orator combines the various speech components he had practised as distinct “preliminary exercises” (προγυμνάσματα), such as ἠθοποιία, thesis, locus communis, and comparison, [4] into a more ambitious and polished whole. However, despite being primarily intended for classroom use, declamations also serve as a way for great masters like Libanius to display their skills and entertain the public. [5] The entertainment objective is prioritised in Libanius’ declamations, whose humour is inspired by Greek comedy, especially Menander, as evidenced by the “dyskolic” Declamations 26 and 27. [6] The public, deliberative aspect of declamation is often disregarded; nonetheless, as I will demonstrate, it may be crucial to consider for a full understanding of Declamation 27. I shall also speculate that Declamation 27 may have a polemical character, bolstered by the fact that public/deliberative declamations circulated as written texts intended to survive as literature.
Declamation 26 puts the δύσκολος at loggerheads with his wife. In Declamation 27, he antagonises his son. Both scenarios develop in a pseudo-forensic context, ridiculous enough to expose the misanthrope as a ludicrous eccentric. In Declamation 26, the δύσκολος seeks permission from the Boule, which acts as a court of law, to end his life in order to escape his wife’s incessant garrulity. In Declamation 27, he needs the councilmen’s approval for denouncing his son (ἀποκήρυξις) as punishment for the unforgivable outrage of laughing at his expense—or laughing in general.
Declamation 27 follows a variation of the regular four-part structure of the genre. It comprises a Prooemium (§1–2), a narration of the case’s facts (§3–8), and the Proof (§9–27). It lacks a formal epilogue, although §27 could idiosyncratically stand as one. In more detail, the speech runs as follows:

  1. Prooemium (§1–2): The δύσκολος addresses the jurors, expressing frustration with the law that denies him autonomy in managing his household and causes him the unnecessary trouble of having to appear before them.
  2. The events (§3–8): The δύσκολος had an accident that caused him to break his mattock. This meant he had to travel from his rural home in the ἐσχατιαί to the city for repairs. The journey was already bothersome to him as he had no love lost for the city and its ways. To make matters worse, his son sneaked in to join him and behaved childishly on the way. While at the marketplace, the δύσκολος slipped in a pothole and had a nasty fall. His son’s reaction was highly insulting as he broke into boisterous laughter at his father’s predicament.
  3. The Proof (§9–27): In the Proof, the speaker attempts to persuade the judges that laughter is a legitimate reason for ἀποκήρυξις. The speaker asserts that a person who laughs at their father should not be entitled to inherit their fortune (§9). The δύσκολος also anticipates potential counterarguments from his son or the jurors, whom he imagines siding with the youth, and addresses them accordingly (§10–13). Paragraphs 14–18 are a ψόγος γέλωτος καὶ γελώντων. The δύσκολος fulminates against laughter, which he believes is unnatural for human beings whose life is the stuff of pain and suffering (§14–15). The speaker is confused about how his son developed the nasty habit of laughing (laughing in general, not only in specific situations): the δύσκολος himself never laughed and went to great lengths to prevent the youth’s exposure to the theatre, which he believed was the main corrupting factor. In §19–21, ψόγος is pointed at the son who never emulated or valued his father’s (antigelastic) virtues; for that, he must now pay the price. In §22–23, the cantankerous man criticises the jurors, who he believes are pushing for leniency. The speaker expressed pride in his love for a solitary lifestyle and self-sufficiency. The concluding §27 is an ἔπαινος ἐρημίας: he praises living a life of absolute isolation, which the jurors brandish as a threat but he views as a blessing. The δύσκολος is resolute in his reluctance to compromise: he would only associate with like-minded individuals; If he cannot find such people, he would happily live all alone.
As mentioned, the δύσκολοι, notwithstanding their distinctive misanthropic characteristics, vary from the recluses of the Timonian stripe in that they do not live in complete social seclusion and adhere to the basic societal norms, even grudgingly and inconsistently. Libanius’ Declamation 27 features a δύσκολος who embodies this tradition. Although his exact story does not stem from any known classical text, he is a palimpsestic character built with material drawn from Menander’s Knemon. Libanius’ protagonist retains the essential traits of Knemon, often mimicking his language. He even adopts the cantankerous behaviours of other characters in Dyskolos. The similarities between Libanius and Menander are conspicuous, and, by and large, they have not gone unnoticed. [7] Scholars, however, have overlooked the following cardinal point: Libanius does not simply replicate Menander; his ethopoeic strategy is ironic. The palpable similarities with Knemon magnify the novel misanthrope’s essential differences from the prototype.
The following sections explore, first, the convergences and divergences between Menander’s and Libanius’ δύσκολοι. The two are compared in terms of (a) their violent fixation with solitude; (b) their concomitant self-condemnation to a life of needlessly hard labour; and (c) their shared fallacy of autarky (αὐτάρκεια). The comparison reveals how Libanius’ protagonist is stripped of the underlying seriousness of Menander’s old man. Pivotal Menandrian motifs such as ἀπανθρωπία and the misanthrope’s accident (his fall) are used by Libanius in a comically slanted form, deflating the δύσκολος.
Subsequently, I explore how the technical elements of the misanthrope’s speech, specifically its structure and handling of the “issue” or στάσις, align with Libanius’ ἠθοποιία. This reinforces the impression the Knemon intertext produces, namely, that the speaker is an outrageous buffoon. While the speaker shows sufficient technical knowledge of the stasis requirements, his argumentation content is so peculiar that it invalidates his methodological expertise. Additionally, the speaker follows the rules for constructing a declamation, but his use of a rigid contrarian structure ultimately undermines his intended goal.
An enlightening lesson learned from this informs the concluding section of this paper: Knemon retains a certain gravitas despite his disagreeable attitude; Libanius’ morose man is a risible oddity, a self-damning travesty of Knemon. Nevertheless, another weightier deviation exists between Libanius’ and Menander’s characters. The new δύσκολος is not the conventional agelast (the obstacle to comic fulfilment) but rather an antigelast, an adamant ideological opponent of laughter, mirth, and merriment tout court. It has escaped scholars’ attention that by introducing this newfangled trait to his character, Libanius revolutionised the dyskolic tradition. Turning the new misanthrope into a farcical reflection of Knemon is Libanius’ way of throwing his ridiculous antigelasticism, the main thrust of his ethos, into stronger relief. No misanthrope before Libanius—not even Timon—had launched such a thoroughgoing attack on laughter, which he presents as the sum of all evils, the quintessence of human depravity. Accounting for the origins of this extreme attitude could reveal the motives behind Libanius’ innovation. They may lie in the intellectual climate of contemporary (fourth century CE) Antioch.

1. Intertextuality as damning evidence: Libanius’ δύσκολος and Menander’s Knemon

Libanius lays bare the caricaturistic elements of his speaker with two rhetorical strategies: (a) designing the new δύσκολος as a (deceivingly) spitting image of Menander’s Knemon and (b) having him mishandle the two central technical features of declamation, the stasis and the structure of the speech, in a way that defeats his purpose to convince the jurors that his son should be denounced. The impression produced by the misanthrope’s rhetorical failures, analysed in the following section, bolsters that of intertextuality. This section focuses on the latter, detailing how Libanius conjures up Knemon every step of his new misanthrope’s way only to accentuate the essential dissimilarities between the two.

1.1 Ἐρημία, a misanthropic fixation

1.1.1 Living in the fringes
The characters of Menander and Libanius share a goal of living as far away from society (especially the city) as possible, which they achieve by residing in the ἐσχατιαί. Such places, the farthest locations in an inhabited area, constitute the symbolic limits of human civilisation—but they are decidedly within it. Misanthropes like Timon seek absolute isolation. [8] Δύσκολοι, on the contrary, in spatial terms, too, do not detach themselves from civilisation completely—they do not occupy the inhuman (ἀπάνθρωπος) heterotopias where monsters or gods dwell. Knemon lives in Phyle, a rocky and remote Attic deme close to the Boeotian border. [9] He has a house close to other people’s domiciles on the way to Pan’s famous shrine but spends most of his time in the least reachable part of his ἀγρός. [10] In Libanius, the δύσκολος lives in a nameless place, which, like Phyle, is close to the ἄστυ. Dyskolos characters can travel from Phyle to Cholargos and vice versa in less than a day. Similarly, Libanius’ misanthrope needs what appears to be only a few hours to journey from his ἀγρός to the nearest town.
1.1.2 Intolerance of other people
Even in ἐσχατιαί, the two recluses struggle with being around other people, which causes constant conflict with their family and anyone they encounter. Knemon’s wife could not handle their constant bickering, so she left him. Knemon has been estranged from her and her young son for years. [11] Libanius’ protagonist surpasses Knemon in this respect. Knemon’s inclusion of his wife in his διαθήκη can be interpreted as a sign of care. [12] If that is open to interpretation, the old man has an undeniable soft spot for his daughter: she is the only person whose presence he can bear. [13] Libanius’ δύσκολος, on the contrary, hates his wife [14] (although, unlike Knemon’s, she puts up with his abuse) and cannot stand his own shadow following him around, let alone his son. [15]
Knemon and Libanius share a similar attitude towards strangers. Knemon refuses to socialise with the idlers that swarm to Phyle and does not hesitate to violate the sacred covenant of hospitality and human solidarity, even when the requests are negligible. [16] Libanius’ δύσκολος abhors that he needs to deal with the χαλκοτύπος [17] and face the jury, whom he insults constantly. [18] Walking around the agora makes him sick, and he tries to avert his eyes from anything that goes on there, which leads to his accident. [19]
1.1.3 Loving ἐρημία
The two recluses inherit from Timon their shared love of ἐρημία. Libanius’ δύσκολος scoffs at the jury for seeing solitude as a threat. [20] Knemon may have lamented his isolation in a moment of weakness. [21] Still, once he recovers even slightly from his fall, he insists on being allowed “to live as he wishes,” which is all alone. [22] The two misanthropes mirror each other’s fantasies of a society where everyone shares their worldview and moral code—which would hardly be a “society” at all. They emphatically state that they would only socialise with like-minded individuals—who are, of course, in extremely short supply. [23]
1.1.4 Extreme measures
As ἐρημία is impossible to secure, the two δύσκολοι attempt to mitigate their plight. They both avoid public roads [24] and violently chase away anybody who dares trespass on their land, screaming and throwing clods of earth at them. [25] To enhance the motif of violence, Libanius transfers to his δύσκολος a different Menandrian character’s misanthropic idea. Hearing that Knemon lies flat in the well, the cook Sikon exhorts Knemon’s slave Simiche to finish him off by throwing rocks or other heavy objects on top of him. [26] In Libanius, it is the δύσκολος himself who imagines something similar. If his son had committed one of the outrages the law recognises as reasons for ἀποκήρυξις, he would not simply denounce him but cast him into a pit and cover him with stones. [27]

1.2 Obsessive labour(ing) and the degeneration of autarky (αὐτάρκεια)

1.2.1 Choosing the least workable place to live.
The ἐσχατιαί are not only the farthest but also the least habitable places one can occupy: the Greeks usually imagine them as mountainous, rocky, and hardly cultivable. By choosing to live there, δύσκολοι subject themselves to a life of hard labour, where even basic tasks like repairing household tools become a challenge. Knemon and the Phylasians “cultivate the rocks,” [28] but their efforts produce only suffering. [29] Back-breaking, thankless work, described in almost identical terms, is also the fate of Libanius’ δύσκολος, [30] who goes as far as to consider the rocks, more than any human being, as his true companion and soulmate. [31]
1.2.2 Compounding the constraints of the environment
The δύσκολοι make their lives unnecessarily harder by refusing to accept even the minimum of assistance. They insist on doing everything themselves, even when they have the means to hire help. Libanius’ speaker sends away the slave Manes “so that he is not the second farmer” in his fields (Declamation 27.25). This somewhat challenging expression must be interpreted in light of Menander’s Dyskolos. Although, in the preceding sentence, the speaker seems to praise Manes’ farming prowess (μὴ σὺ κρείττων εἶ τοῦ Μανοῦ γεωργός;), what he means is that he is loath to have another man, any other man, working his fields alongside him. Libanius’ δύσκολος imitates Knemon, who rejects helpers, although he can afford them. [32] In both cases, the motive is misanthropy, not miserliness. Julian, Libanius’ favourite emperor, saw Knemon as the paradigm of self-inflicted toil. [33] The misanthropes’ obsessive avoidance of human contact degenerates into self-abuse.
1.2.3 Αὐτάρκεια: from Cynic ideal to risible (Aristotelian) ὑπερβολή
Direct speech promotes Libanius’ agenda of farcifying the δύσκολος. In Dyskolos 328–33, an indignant and wary Gorgias reports Knemon’s rejection of help. Libanius’ approach has a stronger psychological effect on the jurors as the δύσκολος slams them directly with his grandiloquent and misguided contempt for aid. “Would I ever invite you to a partnership?” he asks sarcastically. “Of course, I would,” ἵν’ ὥσπερ τὰ κηλώνεια τὴν δίκελλαν ἀναφέρῃς. [34] Russell here mistranslates (“so that you can pull up the bucket, as the swipe does!),” [35] obfuscating the speaker’s self-damning cruelty by failing to consider the Dyskolos. δίκελλα is the mattock, not the bucket, and the image Libanius recalls is poor Sostratos doing ill-becoming manual labour and suffering as a result. [36] The jurors are pampered urban fops like Sostratos. The δύσκολος would only partner with them to enjoy watching them break their backs. In Dyskolos, this was the slave Daos’ petty thought [37] —hardly a flattering parallel for Libanius’ δύσκολος.
Once again, transferring non-Knemonian motifs to his protagonist Libanius renders him a cardboard caricature of Menander’s complex figure. Further down, Libanius’ language cleverly sets a trap for the misanthrope. He repeats Knemon’s erroneous philosophy of αὐτάρκεια. As long as one is healthy and able-bodied, he argues, no one is genuinely alone; all one needs are their hands and feet. [38] Although the speaker fails to mention Knemon’s admission of error, the knowledgeable audience sees through his silence. Knemon’s mishap serves as a reminder that life is unpredictable, so one must always have someone to rely on when needed. [39] Knemon eventually understood that he had twisted the Cynic ideal of autarky, or self-sufficiency, into a sophistic and Cyclopean fallacy—an objectionable ὑπερβολή in Aristotelian terms. [40] Knemon’s silly transfiguration in Libanius still does not get it.

1.3 Reversed or slanted motifs: ἀπανθρωπία and the fall

1.3.1 Apanthropia
Apanthropia is a central concept in Dyskolos, which Libanius rehashes in a slanted, humorous form. In Dyskolos, Pan describes Knemon as ἀπάνθρωπός τις ἄνθρωπος σφόδρα, “a singularly inhuman man.” The term also applied to Lucian’s Timon. [41] In Greek literature, ἀπανθρωπία was correlated with words denoting primitive brutality and savagery. [42] It is a mental disorder that verges dangerously towards ‘non-humanity’ and the bestial. More relevant to our discussion is that ἀπανθρωπία was also the vox propria for disproportionate punishment and complete lack of human consideration. [43] Libanius’ misanthrope discerns ἀπανθρωπία in this sense in the agora frequenters who see him fall but turn the other way: ἦν πολλὴ παρ’ ἐλπίδας, ὥς γε ὑμεῖς ἂν φαίητε, ἀπανθρωπία (Declamation 27.8). The reversal lies in παρ᾽ ἐλπίδας (“contrary to expectation”) and ὥς γε ὑμεῖς ἂν φαίητε (“as you would say,” emphasis on the pronoun): the jurors would speak negatively of this behaviour calling it ἀπανθρωπία, but the speaker, mocking them, begs to differ: he is delighted that those people, not taking heed of his predicament, spared him of their vexatious questioning, which he compares to having vomit thrown on him. [44] Libanius’ δύσκολος turns a central trait of Menander’s Knemon against his “enemies”—only he revels in their cruelty. However, simply by introducing the notion of ἀπανθρωπία into the discursive mix, he unintentionally reveals himself to be the true example of inhumanity. The legal action against his son is an extreme and unfair punishment, the very definition of ἀπανθρωπία. Once again, language entraps Libanius’ speaker, making a caricature of him.
1.3.2 The fall
The way Libanius turns Knemon’s life-threatening and life-changing accident into a farcical event constitutes the ultimate debunking of the misanthrope. Libanius upends all the details of Menander’s narrative. The mishap of his protagonist is the mirror image of Knemon’s accident. The latter falls into a deep well from which two people take considerable effort to extract him. The severity of his injuries causes Knemon to believe his death is imminent. [45] The shock of the accident and the feelings of shame and gratitude towards his saviour, Gorgias, generate a partial volte-face, whereby Knemon abandons his autarkic delusion and consents to his daughter’s marriage. In contrast, Libanius’ δύσκολος falls into a shallow pothole on the street, suffering no serious injuries and receiving no assistance, as none was necessary. Unlike Gorgias’, his son’s response is derisive rather than helpful. More importantly, far from checking his misanthropic attitude, the accident reinforces it. Instead of softening his demeanour like Knemon, Libanius’ δύσκολος embarks on a ludicrous campaign against laughter.

2. Entrapped in/by rhetoric: The structure and stasis of Declamation 27 as ethopoeic instruments

It transpires then that intertextuality undermines the Libanian misanthrope’s claims of credibility. We shall now see rhetoric doing the same. A declaimer’s primary concern is identifying his speech’s stasis (“issue”) and structuring the oration accordingly. Libanius’ speaker appears to have an elementary technical understanding of both requirements. Nevertheless, this proves illusory, as the δύσκολος soon finds himself entrapped in/by rhetoric.

2.1 (Mis)handling the stasis

Stasis theories started developing as early as the fourth century BCE—more systematically from the second century BCE onwards—to enable the orator to classify the various categories of “issues” that could arise, especially in court. The most influential relevant theorist was Hermogenes of Tarsus (second century CE), who established a thirteen-issue system developed around three basic questions. Malcolm Heath describes it succinctly:

How, then, does issue-theory work? Suppose that I am charged with assault; there are various points which might become the focus of dispute. I might deny that I had hit the other party; or, if I admit to hitting him, I might deny that doing so constitutes assault; or, conceding that an assault had been committed, I might argue about the degree of blame attaching to it. These options constitute respectively the issues of conjecture, definition, and quality: did it happen? how is what happened to be categorised? how is what happened to be evaluated? In the last case, where the issue is one of quality, there are several further options: I might deny that assaulting him was in any way wrong; or, conceding that there was a prima facie wrong, I might argue that it was justified by its outcome; or, if it cannot be justified in that way, I might try to shift the blame to the victim, or to a third party, or to circumstances. If all else fails, I might challenge the procedural validity of the charge. Failing that, I have no defence to offer: there is no issue. [46]

Having identified the “issue,” the next step is devising the most effective rhetorical strategy for tackling it. Ancient theorists called the various rhetorical paths one could follow διαιρέσεις (“divisions”). As issue theory was mainly aimed at forensic oratory, most “issues” naturally concern past actions. One stasis, though, called “practical” (πραγματική), involves deliberation on a future course of action. Such πραγματικὴ στάσις is the “issue” of Declamation 27, where the orator attempts to convince the jurors to allow him to denounce his son. “Practical” issues are argued according to six διαιρέσεις: “legality” (νομίμῳ); “justice” (δικαίῳ); “advantage” (συμφέροντι); “feasibility” (δυνατῷ); “honour” (ἐνδόξῳ); “consequence” (τῷ ἐκβησομένῳ). [47] The “legality” and “justice” arguments examine whether the proposed action follows the law, custom, and what is generally considered just. The “advantage” line argues for or against the action’s usefulness (χρήσιμον) and necessity (ἀναγκαῖον). “Feasibility” involves showing that the action is not difficult (in fact, it is easy) or, if it is indeed challenging, that it is necessary and worthy of one’s trouble. Following the “honour” division, the orator proves that the action will bestow a good reputation upon the doer, setting aside any existing disgrace or shame. Finally, “consequence” looks into the possible outcome of pursuing or not pursuing the proposed action.

The misanthrope of Declamation 27 employs all six argumentative resources for a “practical” stasis. At first sight, that is, he shows himself as an expert in handling this type of issue:

  1. Legality, Justice, and Feasibility: The speaker presents himself in front of the Boule as the law requires: to disown his son, he needs the expressed assent of the councilmen. The speaker thus acts τῷ νομίμῳ, although the law itself is unreasonable and unjust: it gives strange men a say in the management of one’s household. Disowning a son that derides his father is just (τῷ δικαίῳ) because such a person cannot be allowed to inherit his property and thus laugh at him even harder after his death. His son’s presumed legal defence that ἀποκήρυξις is permissible only for reasons of moral turpitude (being a glutton, a spendthrift, a fornicator, or a gambler) may be founded on law, but it is again unjust: such trespasses would deserve not ἀποκήρυξις but the death penalty.
  2. Advantage and Honour: The advantage the community gains from the misanthrope’s proposal is that laughter will be condemned and hopefully excised from people’s lives: thus, his proposal is both useful and necessary. An extra implied advantage would be to validate the misanthrope’s gloomy outlook on life, which is again seen as useful and necessary because he is the paragon of virtue; that is, voting for disowning his son, the judges would bestow honour not only on the misanthrope as a wronged ageing father but also on his ideology and life practices.
  3. Consequence: The misanthrope dismisses the idea that his proposal will have negative consequences on him above all because he would be “all alone” (ἔρημος) from then on: he loves ἐρημία!
Examined closely, of course, the misanthrope’s argumentation is illogical and ridiculous, which is consistent with his comedic background. According to him, his proposed action would be recommendable on the grounds of all six arguments if only the law were more reasonable, judicial practice less convoluted, and society knew better what is advantageous for it! However, when he argues for legality and justice, he runs into rough waters. He finds himself forced to acknowledge that the law places severe limitations on a father’s right to disown his son. “Laughing at one’s parent”—or laughing, in general—is not a situation that would warrant such extreme legal action. Facing such challenges, which practically mean that his proposal is unfeasible, the misanthrope’s approach is in tune with his comical character: he fulminates against the law, judicial practice, and the βουλευταί themselves, whom he imagines to be on his son’s side, perhaps because they put him through this trouble in the first place. This approach is unlikely to have been successful in a real court of law.
Russell states that the speaker of Declamation 27 is “able to make fun of common rhetorical teaching (of which, of course, this speech is an example as well as a parody) by anticipating the ἀντίληψις [“counterargument”] which the boy will have learned from his teachers.” [48] However, this is not entirely accurate. Libanius’ misanthrope does attempt to invalidate the counterarguments his son would have learned from his teachers—only the son’s arguments are legally valid, whereas the misanthrope’s refutations are ridiculous. Libanius has the speaker attempting to “make fun of rhetorical teaching.” The speaker is attempting to mock rhetorical teaching, but instead, he reveals his eccentricity and lack of legal foundation.
Libanius’ declamation is thus a parody of stasis instruction: his speaker knows the rules, but, unable to escape who he is, he applies them in a crooked and self-defeating fashion.

2.2 Structure

Added to how he handles the stasis, the structure of the speech is an ingenious reflection of the speaker’s character (and Libanius’ ethopoeic mastery). Once more, Libanius’ speaker demonstrates awareness of technical rhetorical instruction vis-à-vis the most effective strategies for challenging opposing viewpoints, as propounded, e.g. by Hermogenes. Eventually, however, his tactic backfires because his character gets in the way of structural effectiveness.
Typically, a declamation has a four-part structure: Prooemium, a narration of the facts, the Proof and an epilogue, which Libanius’ speaker follows (see above). On top of that, the misanthrope structures the Proof of Declamation 27 as a quadruple refutation of the son’s imagined defences. I quote Russell’s analysis: [49]

§10–11. Implicit antithesis: “he might say, ‘I haven’t done any of the things that merit disowning.’”
§13–21. Antithesis: “he only laughed.” Answer: “Laughter is what I hate most.”
§22–24. Antithesis: “he is young and should be forgiven.” Answer: “None of your business.”
§25–27. Antithesis: “You will be lost without him.” Answer: “None of your business, and I prefer to be alone.”

Each of the son’s hypothetical arguments adheres to specific argumentation strategies. His first and second pleas are classic examples of the μετάληψις (“objection”) and ἀντίληψις (“counterplea”) approaches, respectively. [50] The “objection” strategy involves countering the opponent’s arguments through refutation or counter-representation (κατά τε ἔνστασιν καὶ ἀντιπαράστασιν). In this case, the son is imagined denying that his actions warrant denunciation (the legal prerequisites of ἀποκήρυξις are different) and then making a “counterplea” argument of the type ὅτι ἔξεστι καὶ οὐ κεκώλυται, asserting that the act of laughing is permissible and a natural trait of humans. The third argument is a “mitigation” (συγγνώμη), which the misanthrope envisions the jurors presenting on behalf of the accused (an outrage in itself!). A mitigation plea involves portraying the perpetrator of a felonious act as unable to be held fully responsible for their actions (οὐ δυνάμενον ὑπεύθυνον γενέσθαι, ἀνεύθυνον δὲ πάντῃ). [51] While having offended his father with disrespectful laughter, the misanthrope’s son cannot be held fully accountable due to his youth and lack of maturity. As the fourth and final defence of the son, the jurors propose a plea of κοινὴ ποιότης. Hermogenes recommended using this “common quality” strategy in epilogues and second speeches. After completing their logical argumentation, speakers could appeal to the audience’s emotions and attempt to evoke pity (ἐλεεινολογουμένων τε καὶ πάθη κινούντων). [52] The misanthrope accuses the jurors of brandishing the spectre of ἐρημία to intimidate him, a threat which he dismisses with disdain.

The misanthrope, too, uses “objection by refutation and counter-representation” to dispute the pleas. Laughter, he says, is not generally permissible but only in the morally degraded space of the theatre. It is hardly an understandable human reaction, as some would suggest, let alone in this circumstance (against one’s injured father). The jurors have no business defending the youth by appealing to his age or any other mitigating factors because they do not know him and have had no share in raising him. Finally, threatening solitude is pointless because, for the misanthrope, ἐρημία is a blessing, not a curse! The implicit humour behind this argumentation is that the misanthrope’s inherent contrarianism is directed not only at the defendant but also at the law, the jurors, and even, implicitly, the declaimer (Libanius) himself, who lies behind the teachers that would fill the misanthrope’s son’s head with sophistic drivel. [53] The misanthrope structures his speech strictly to rhetorical conventions, which he appears adequately to command. However, rather than utilising persuasive oratory tactics to argue in favour of his case, with all the blandishments an orator needs to sway the audience, the misanthrope launches a crusade against everybody and everything. One can hardly imagine this strategy to have been a winning one!
One of the more nuanced themes Libanius derives from literary tradition, particularly Menander’s Dyskolos, is the misanthrope’s self-entrapment in the quagmire of public speaking. Misanthropes are notorious μισόλογοι; they despise not just formal oratory but human communication at large. However, these individuals are unexpectedly forced to make a structured speech in front of an audience to defend their interests—Knemon, in his Act IV apologia, before the family he had shirked all his life; Libanius’ speaker, before a panel of jurors. The outcome is a spectacular rhetorical catastrophe. At the crucial juncture, λόγος fails the misanthrope as the misanthrope had failed λόγος throughout his life.
Intertextuality exposes Libanius’ misanthrope as a laughable caricature of Menander’s Knemon. Rhetorical analysis of the structure and stasis of Declamation 27 demonstrates that he is also a parody of an effective public speaker. Libanius’ speaker unwittingly uses rhetoric to reveal his character rather than serve his purpose—and his character is the strongest argument against him. He knows the rules, but unable to escape who he is, he applies them in a twisted and counterproductive fashion. Locating the stasis and developing a strategy for addressing it with the appropriate argumentative resources in the proper order is critical in delivering an effective speech, whether real or imaginary. The misanthrope of Declamation 27 correctly identifies the “issue” of his oration as a “practical” one (πραγματική στάσις) and effectively employs all six strategies recommended in rhetorical textbooks for this purpose. He is also shrewd enough to structure his speech as a pre-emptive demolition of anticipated counterpleas. In both cases, however, he makes crucial mistakes that turn his rhetoric against him: he utterly fails in his εὕρεσις (inventio, producing the appropriate content for the speech). This rhetorical fiasco is the declamation’s most effective ethopoeic gesture. The rhetorical ability of Libanius’ speaker is skin-deep. In the end, rhetoric entraps him.

3. Misanthropic antigelasticism and the polemics of laughter

The traditional misanthrope was not typically a buffoon; Libanius makes him one. The most innovative trait he bestows upon him, his vehement aversion to laughter, is the core of his buffoonery. Traditional δύσκολοι are gloomy moralists who style themselves as fierce μισοπόνηροι. [54] Being only partially withdrawn from society (unlike “pure” misanthropes), they spoil everybody’s fun with their endless pontification and obstruct the happy ending—in Knemon’s case, his daughter’s marriage. Libanius’ δύσκολος is different. He is not simply an insufferable grumbler glued to his high horse. He has developed a theory that, while all men are to be shunned, some are more deleterious than others. He seeks to disown his son not to punish the boy’s irreverent behaviour or scare him into reform [55] but rather because he believes that the youth has been irredeemably corrupted by the disease of laughter, which he contracted through bad associations despite the father’s best efforts to prevent it. For Libanius’ δύσκολος, laughter is μέγιστον ἀδικημάτων—not just laughing at one’s father but laughing in general: γελῶν ἐπ’ ἐμοί, μᾶλλον δὲ ὅλως γελῶν (Declamation 27.14). This man is not just an agelast but something never seen in the misanthropic tradition before, an antigelast.
The term “agelast” was coined by George Meredith: [56]

We have in this world men whom Rabelais would call agelasts; that is to say, non-laughers; men who are in that respect as dead bodies, which, if you prick them, do not bleed. The old grey boulder-stone that has finished its peregrination from the rock to the valley is as easily to be set rolling up again as these men laughing.

Agelasts are the traditional “blocking characters” [57] of comedy, “spoilsports,” and “enemies of festivity.” [58] For Meredith, agelasts are the antagonists of hypergelasts,

… the excessive laughers, ever-laughing, who are as clappers of a bell, that may be rung by a breeze, a grimace; who are so loosely put together that a wink will shake them. ‘… C’est n’estimer rien qu’estimer tout le monde’, and to laugh at everything is to have no appreciation of the Comic of Comedy.

More importantly, in Meredith’s theory, the agelast is one step before becoming a misogelast (μισόγελως), a puritanical hater of laughter:

No collision of circumstances in our mortal career strikes a light for them. It is but one step from being agelastic to misogelastic, and the μισόγελως, the laughter-hating, soon learns to dignify his dislike as an objection in morality.

The antigelast’s condition, I argue, is even more progressed than that of the μισόγελως. Antigelasts do not simply harbour a revulsion for laughter. The laughter-hating of men like Libanius’ δύσκολος has morphed into an ideology that governs their lives, a comprehensive system of thought and action founded on the concept that laughter is the apex of human vices and the root of all evil.

Antigelasticism is not just another humorous quirk added to the misanthrope’s already eccentric personality. Condemning a quintessentially human trait like laughter denies human beings the very right to be human. In these terms, antigelasticism represents the most severe expression of misanthropy, such that it strips the misanthrope of any right to be regarded with human sympathy and understanding. Libanius pushes his morose man to the fringes. Still, one must recall that by manipulating intertextuality and formal rhetorical instruction, the declaimer systematically portrays his δύσκολος as a fool and the entire situation in which he embroils himself as a comical absurdity. This is the lens through which the misanthrope’s faux-pas must be evaluated: if the anti-laugher is a harmless buffoon (his constant faux-pax ensure that the trial could not have ended in his favour), antigelasticism itself is diluted into light farce—a send-up of such attitudes and their notional proponents in real life.
The question arises: if the ideological hatred of laughter is not a traditional trait of literary misanthropes, where did it originate from, and why did the declaimer pursue this fascinating renovation of the dyskolic tradition? Older generations of scholars regarded Libanius as a “recluse student,” [59] “an oblivious composer of epideictic exercises… deaf to contemporary issues and finding solace only in the study and consideration of the Trojan War.” [60] If my interpretation is correct, declamations like no. 27 belie such outdated assumptions, presenting Libanius as actively engaged with the cultural and political landscape of his era—and not just in his epistolary writings: constructing his antigelastic δύσκολος, Libanius may be subtly commenting on contemporary cultural politics in ways that previous scholarship had overlooked.
Not elsewhere, but in his native Antioch, Libanius could easily encounter real-life polemicists raging against laughter with arguments almost identical to those expressed by the misanthrope of Declamation 27. Primary among them, inheriting a long tradition of Christian antigelasticism that he pushes to new extremes, [61] was John Chrysostom. The firebrand Christian ascetic, who was to become Bishop of Constantinople, coincided with Libanius in Antioch for decades [62] and was once believed to have been his student. [63] In the following paragraphs, I will provide evidence of the remarkable similarity between the antigelastic discourses of John Chrysostom and Libanius’ δύσκολος. These similarities cannot simply be dismissed as coincidental.
There should be little doubt that Libanius, who cannot but have been well aware of John’s fervent activity in his city, [64] was familiar with the Christian preacher’s antigelastic crusade. Chrysostom’s most sustained harangue against laughter is concentrated in the seventeenth homily on St Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians (Ὑπόμνημα εἰς τὴν Πρὸς Ἐφεσίους Ἐπιστολήν, PG 62.118–122). This sermon, dated ca. 395–397 CE, was delivered after Libanius died in 393 CE. The fifteenth homily on St Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews (Ἑρμηνεία εἰς τὴν Πρὸς Ἑβραίους Ἐπιστολήν, PG 63.121–124) is another primary source from after the pagan rhetor’s passing (402–3 CE). [65] However, identical positions are ample in texts produced in Libanius’ lifetime, most notably in the sixth homily on the Gospel of Matthew (Ὑπόμνημα εἰς τὸν ἅγιον Ματθαῖον τὸν Εὐαγγελιστήν, PG 57.69–72, dated ca. 390 CE). Severe antigelastic comments are also dispersed in texts dating from John’s return to Antioch in 378 CE, after his six-year sojourn as a monk, to shortly after his ordination as a priest in 386 CE. These works are the speech Against the Enemies of Monasticism (Πρὸς τοὺς πολεμοῦντας τοῖς ἐπὶ τὸ μονάζειν ἐνάγουσιν, PG 47.319–86), written shortly after 378 CE; [66] two complementary books on the theme of contrition, dated 381/382 CE (Πρὸς Δημήτριον μονάζοντα περὶ κατανύξεως, PG 47.393–410, and Πρὸς Στελέχιον καὶ περὶ κατανύξεως, PG 47.410–432); [67] three works attributed to the years of John’s diaconate (381–386), probably also written in 381/382 CE: Against Men who Cohabitate with Women out of Wedlock (Πρὸς τοὺς ἔχοντας συνεισάκτους, PG 47.495–514), How to Guard One’s Virginity (Περὶ τοῦ πῶς δεῖ παρθενίαν φυλάττειν, PG 514–52), and On Virginity (Περὶ παρθενίας, PG 48.533–96); and finally, some of the Homilies on the Statues (Εἰς τοὺς ἀνδριάντας ὁμιλίαι κα´ ἐν Ἀντιοχείᾳ λεχθεῖσαι, PG 49.15–222), which John delivered to the Antiochenes after the serious riot that terrified the city in 387 CE. Five speeches of Libanius (Orations 19–23) refer to the same events. Notably, the riot’s instigators were a small group Robert Browning identified as the theatrical claque. [68] We shall see both Libanius’ δύσκολος and John Chrysostom venting most vehemently against the people of theatre and how they corrupt everyone around them by exposure to ostensibly harmless “funny” spectacles.
The fundamental premises on which the antigelasticism of Libanius’ δύσκολος is grounded are the following: (a) that laughter is not, as commonly believed, “a human thing”; (b) that it characterises the behaviour of immature/incomplete men (children and slaves) and lower life forms, such as animals, being intolerable even in those cases; (c) that human beings are meant to weep rather than laugh; (d) that laughter belongs to the depraved world of the theatre, from where it should not be allowed to spill into respectable society; and (e) that decent people should imitate proper models rather than the mimes. As the analysis below shows, John Chrysostom’s relevant discourse runs on exactly these lines. The passages from Libanius and John on which my analysis is based (the “Exhibits”) are fully quoted in the Appendix.

3.1 Laughter is an unhuman/ un-Christian aberration. Underestimating its dangers makes it even more pernicious (Exhibits L1–L5, J1–J16).

Both Libanius’ δύσκολος and John Chrysostom brand laughter as a perverse form of behaviour, alien to their respective ideal man.
Libanius’ δύσκολος refutes as “nonsense” (φλυαροῦσιν) the established view that laughter is natural to humans (ἀνθρώπων τὸ πρᾶγμα or ἴδιον ἀνθρώπου, Exh. L1), an ordinary, automatic, and light-hearted reaction to minor disturbances of life’s flow (Exh. L2). Whatever the circumstances (cf. below, under “Laughter is the attribute of children…”), laughter is the gravest offence (μέγιστον ἀδικημάτων, Exh. L3). It is even a form of madness (μαινομένων ἡγοῦμαι τὸν τῶν γελώντων εἶναι χορόν, Exh. L4). [69]
Nothing grates on the δύσκολος more than laughter. Nonetheless, the law does not recognise it as an ἀδίκημα; therefore, the victim of gelastic outrage is totally at the mercy of the laughers: “Who will save us from those offenders?” (Exh. L3). If his son is not punished now, but his gelastic insult is disregarded, he will behave even worse in the future (Exh. L5).
John Chrysostom, too, declares laughter as unnatural. “Making fun” (τὸ κωμῳδεῖν) and “laughing out of order” (γέλως ἄκαιρος) are especially aberrant for Christians, but, ironically enough, they would render even a pagan καταγέλαστος (Exhs. J1–J2). Laughter is the habit of men surrendering to the Devil (Exh. J3). Christians should be sober and focused on eternal life in a true spirit of repentance and contrition (Exh. J4).
Libanius suspects that if his son laughed uncontrollably (ἀκάθεκτος ὑπὸ γέλωτος ἦν) at something minor like a fall, his reaction to his father’s future death would be even more outrageous (Exh. L5): a laugher, that is, walks on a slippery moral slope. Similarly, John believes that “disorderly laughter” (ἄτακτος γέλως) [70] is a “gateway offence” of sorts (ἁμάρτημα) that can lead (ἄγει) to the more “established” violations (ὡμολογημένα ἁμαρτήματα, Exh. J5). The seemingly innocuous act of laughing at small things breaks the dam of decency. As a result, depravity inundates the soul of a Christian.
The negligence of the law, in Libanius, or widespread complacency, in John, make laughter hard to guard oneself against (δυσφύλακτόν, Exh. J6; cf. L3: τίς ἐπὶ τούτῳ τὸν ἠδικηκότα ἀμύνεται;). John finds it alarming that people do not take the dangers of laughter seriously and do not even count it among the offences (ἀδιάφορον εἶναι τὸ πρᾶγμα δοκεῖ, Exh. J6). Laughter is literally diabolical. It is the Devil that causes people to make light of laughter (οὐδὲν ἡγῇ τὸ πρᾶγμα, Exh. J8), not realising how it undermines Christian resistance to evil. In reality, however, untimely laughter and “funny words” (ἀστεῖα ήματα) are the root of all wickedness (Exh. J7). Laughter destroys a Christian soul’s harmony (κέχηνεν ἡ ἁρμονία, Exh. 9) and removes the salutary barrier of fear. Fear benefits a Christian; removing it exposes the soul to malevolent influence (Exhs. J9–J11). Facetious, seemingly innocent words lead to immoral, soul-damning actions (Exhs. J12–14). Nothing infuriates God more than irreverent laughter (Exh. J15).
Neither Libanius’ δύσκολος nor John want anything to do with laughter and those who practice it. The former hopes that, if he cannot do so himself, the jurors will denounce τὸ πολύγελων μειράκιον; the latter, that Christians will eventually heed St Paul’s advice (Exh. J7)—if not his own—and banish this nasty habit (ἐξορίσωμεν τοῦτο τὸ ἔθος, Exh. J16).

3.2 Laughter is the attribute of children or lower forms of life (animal or human), intolerable under any circumstances, even for them (Exhibits L6–L8, J17–J25).

Presenting further “evidence” against the supposed misconception that laughter is a uniquely human trait, Libanius’ δύσκολος isolates animal behaviours like a calf leaping about or a dog wagging his tail as examples of “laughter” in their own right (Exh. L6). Animals, too, then, “laugh” in a way; laughter is not exclusive to humans. The argument is cunning: if beasts and immature men like his son behave identically, laughter pertains not to the human but to the subhuman. The law allows the δύσκολος to punish his domestic animals but, alas, not his equally mindless son (Exh. L6).
Similarly, John Chrysostom considers laughter to be evidence of immaturity and foolishness (ἀνοίας τεκμήριον). Children and slaves laugh at what is not laughable, wasting their time on play or matters of no significance (τῶν ἀσυμφόρων); on the contrary, “we,” that is, mature men, turn to the pressing issues at hand (τὰ παιδία τὰ μικρὰ πολλάκις γελᾷ, σπουδαιολογουμένων ἡμῶν καὶ περὶ τῶν ἀναγκαίων ἀσχολουμένων, Exh. 17). [71] Laughter is childish behaviour (παιδικώτερον, Exh. J18). Alluding to St Paul, John urges grown men “to abandon the ways of children” (Exh. J19).
Laughter may be a youth’s wont, but this does not imply that it can be excused. For Libanius’ δύσκολος, no time is ripe for laughter, and nothing, not even young age, justifies gelastic behaviour (Exhs. L7–L8). For John, too, laughter is indefensible, especially when one wanders around the agora laughing untroubled by one’s sins: such an attitude would be intolerable in a domestic slave, let alone the slave of God (Exh. J19). “What sort of forgiveness will [the laughing man] deserve?” (ποίας ἔσται συγγνώμης ἄξιος; Exh. J20) is the rhetorical question of John that Libanius’ morose man also implies.
Libanius’ δύσκολος strives to convince his audience that laughter is more subversive than it looks. Similarly, John Chrysostom attempts to shroud laughter in existential dread. Laughter is the useless activity of idlers—another “low” life form compared to the battle-ready Christian. Laughter serves no practical purpose but pure momentary entertainment (Exh. J21). Christians are constantly at war with the Devil (Exh. 22), who lurks in the dark, ready to pounce on their soul like a lion against its human opponent in a theriomachy (Exh. J23). Laughter, play, and relaxation ruin the Christian’s chances of winning the fight with the forces of darkness (Exh. J22–24). Laughter belongs to the world of perishable matter (τοῦ γὰρ κόσμου ἐστιν, Exh. J25); Christians should strive for heaven.

3.3 Human beings should weep rather than laugh (Exhibits L9, J26–29).

Libanius’ δύσκολος proclaims that, normally, it would be impractical for human beings to laugh as they have nothing to laugh about: they make each other miserable just by being in each other’s company, and their wicked actions fill their lives with woe (Exh. L9). In the same vein, that laughter is impossible for Christians is the cornerstone of John’s antigelasticism. Jesus teaches Christians always to be sombre, contained, and on their guard. After all, those who mourn in this life will be consoled in the next: Christians will laugh in Paradise (Exhs. J26–J27).
Life on earth is no time to relax and soften up (διάχυσις, Exh. J28). Surprisingly, Libanius’ δύσκολος allows one day when laughter is permissible, the day of one’s death, which brings sweet release from life’s misery (Exh. L9). This statement reads like an ironic reversal of John’s warning that anyone who laughs in this life will regret it “on that fated day” of judgement (κατ’ ἐκείνην τὴν ἡμέραν) and will constantly weep in life eternal (Exh. J29). The image of the formerly mirthful men bitterly lamenting their gelastic behaviour on judgement day (τρίζοντες… καὶ βρυχώμενοι, Exh. J29) recalls the Libanian misanthrope’s intention to force, on this day of (literal) trial, “this laughter-filled little boy” καὶ κλαῦσαί ποτε (Declamation 27.1).

3.4 Laughter is (literally) for clowns, not “for the men who work the stones” (Exhibits L10–L13, J30–J32).

Associating laughter with the theatre, and indeed with its supposedly lowest form, the mime, is one of the most vital points of contact between Libanius and John Chrysostom. Antigelasticism goes hand in hand with antitheatricalism both in Declamation 27 and in John’s homilies. Respectable people and serious matters are not to be laughed at—and the theatrical stage is a hotbed of such offensive activities.
Laughter, Libanius’ δύσκολος argues, is “altogether alien to mankind” if one laughs at what is not laughable (Exh. L10). [72] A father falling is barely reason to laugh unless real life is mistaken for the ludicrous shows and lurid dances of the theatre, where mimes and other clowns (κωμῳδοί, γελωτοποιοί, κόρδακες) poke irreverent fun at all that is good and decent (Exh. L11). The mimes tend to focus their ridicule on upright individuals like the δύσκολος, and his stupid son has furnished them with the material they needed (Exh. L12). Honest people should come in no contact with laughter whatsoever, even in the theatre. Even under such controlled conditions, laughter demeans the person, equating them with the mimes. The δύσκολος kept his son away from the poisonous spectacles of the stage to protect him from even knowing what laughter is. Apparently, he failed (Exh. L13).
John’s argument runs along the same lines. Laughter is not for Christians but for “the people of the stage, women prostituting themselves, men who shave their bodies for the same purpose, parasites, flatterers…” (Exh. J30). Theatre is the devil’s weapon for unnerving “the soldiers of Christ” (ἵνα τοὺς στρατιώτας ἐκλύσῃ τοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ μαλακώτερα αὐτῶν ποιήσῃ τῆς προθυμίας τὰ νεῦρα, Exh. J30). The mimes ridicule the holiest of Christian holies, such as the mysteries of marriage and the Eucharist (τὸ μυστήριον τὸ μέγα παραδειγματίζοντες, Exh. J30). [73] Laughing with such lewd shows instead of stoning their performers to death or glossing them over as mere “playacting” (ὑπόκρισις) is not innocent fun (Exh. J32). Such an attitude degrades the soul and harms proper social relationships by causing people to imitate what they see onstage. One remembers Libanius’ δύσκολος when John accuses theatregoers of being the mime’s veritable sponsors and accomplices. The misanthrope’s son became the χορηγός of the mimes by providing them with a real-life scenario to enact (Exh. L12). Similarly, Christians who attend mime shows are “those who furnish the beginning and the root of these scandals” (οἱ παρέχοντες τὴν ἀρχὴν καὶ τὴν ίζαν τῆς τοιαύτης παρανομίας); for if these spectacles had no audience, they would not exist (εἰ γὰρ μηδεὶς ἦν ὁ τὰ τοιαῦτα θεώμενος, οὐδ’ ἂν ὁ ἀγωνιζόμενος ἦν, Exh. J30). Christians who attend the theatre become themselves “the builders of those workshops of the devil” (παντὶ τρόπῳ συγκροτῶν τὰ τοιαῦτα ἐργαστήρια τῶν δαιμόνων, Exh. J30). Notably, John describes the theatregoer’s dangerous complicity with the activities on the stage with the exact phrase Libanius’ δύσκολος uses to portray his son’s watching his fall as if it were a mime show in statu nascendi: “standing there laughing” (Hebrews, PG 63.121 = Exh. J31: σὺ δὲ ἕστηκας γελῶν; Declamation 27.17: καὶ σὺ μὲν ἴσως ἑστήξεις γελῶν, ἐγὼ δὲ κείσομαι κατὰ γῆς, οἱ δὲ προσθήσουσιν οἷα εἰώθασι ήματα).
“Our whole life,” John cries, “has become laughter and urbane ways and jokes; nothing is stable, nothing is solid” (Exh. J31). I use the phrase “urbane ways” to render John’s πολιτισμός. Laughter is literally “the manner of the πόλις,” the city and its “high,” pleasure-prone, idle society. Taking after his Menandrian forefather but echoing John, too, there is nothing Libanius’ δύσκολος dislikes more than the ἄστυ and its ways (Declamation 27.3).

3.5 Imitating the proper models (Exhibits L14–L16, J33–J36)

Ultimately, both Libanius’ morose man and John Chrysostom insist that gelasticism is the result of misguided imitation. This would allow for the possibility of correction: rather than the mimes, one should imitate appropriate models. In the place of Chrysostom’s Jesus and St Paul, Libanius’ δύσκολος puts himself!
The models that John and Libanius’ δύσκολος prioritise never laugh or tolerate laughter and mirth in others (even in animals!); rather, they lead a stern, humourless life of “working the stones,” literally or metaphorically (Exh. L14, J33; further below).
Both John and Libanius’ δύσκολος try to shame their respective audiences into conformity. “The animals follow my ways, but you do not?” is the dyskolos’ drift (Exh. L15); “Christ and St Paul never laughed, but you do?” is John’s. Guilt is also a shared strategy: “I was hard at work, and you never came to watch me; you are watching me now and laugh?” (Exh. L16); “Christ was crucified for your sins, and you laugh?” (Exh. J34). “When and where did you see me laugh?” (Exh. L15); “When and where did you see Christ or Paul laugh?” (Exh. J35).
The Christian preacher chastises his flock harshly but still believes in their ability to find their way back to the right path. As for Libanius’ δύσκολος, unless we believe that, deep down, he shares the jurors’ belief in punishment as σωφρονισμός (Declamation 27.14), he has lost all hope for his son.
The following remark clinches the connection between his ideal soldier of Christ and Libanius’ antigelastic crusader. Defining the εὐτράπελος type, whom he identifies mostly with theatre practitioners, [74] John Chrysostom describes a man that is evil incarnate and Satan’s agent (Exh. J36). “To understand the nature of this man,” John suggests analysing

…the word itself: εὐτράπελος literally means ‘the versatile man’, one who can assume any colour and shape, someone unstable and pliable, a man capable of being anything and everything.

John’s word for “pliable” is εὔκολος. Being εὔκολος, writes Chrysostom, is the opposite of “those who work the stones” (τῶν τῇ πέτρᾳ δουλευόντων). Decisively, in Libanius, as we saw, these are the δύσκολοι. The soldier of Christ, metaphorically assuming the toilsome profession of Libanius’ speaker, is imbued with the latter’s morality: he is δύσκολος in the face of εὐτραπελία and the associated moral depravity.

4. Conclusions

The misanthrope’s antigelasticism, as seen in Libanius’ Declamation 27, represents a radical departure from the misanthropic/dyskolic tradition. Therefore, it should be the focal point of any analysis of Libanius’ imaginary speech. My investigation has shown that the morose man’s arguments against laughter are intertextual in nature and bear a striking resemblance to the Christian attacks on γέλως and εὐτραπελία, prevalent since the time of St. Paul but exceptionally pronounced in the homilies of Libanius’ contemporary (and possibly, former student) John Chrysostom. Libanius’ innovative use of antigelasticism in redefining the traditional misanthrope serves a deliberate and provocative purpose, albeit executed in a playful manner that is characteristic of the declamation genre. In my interpretation, it represents the pagan rhetor’s satirical response to what could be perceived as the anti-laughing hysteria of the Christians.
Libanius plays an intriguing rhetorical game. He constructs a μελέτη of evident classical origins, built almost exclusively with Menandrian material. His morose man, however, completely lacks Knemon’s solemnity. He is a hyperbolic, farcical variation of Menander’s cantankerous man, a buffoon who commands no sympathy or respect and undermines his case by constantly revealing his disagreeable character behind his superficial rhetorical skill. The new misanthrope’s damning deviations from his classical models are designed to accentuate the absurdity of his laughter-hating. The more ridiculous the man, the more excessive (and laughable) his antigelastic sermon.
Libanius’ δύσκολος erodes the classical misanthrope, and antigelasticism is his crowning buffoonery. When a closer look reveals that this new kind of laughter-hating fool echoes John Chrysostom and his campaign against γέλως, Declamation 27 acquires surprising fresh dimensions: it becomes Libanius’ delightful contribution to the polemics of laughter raging all around him in Antioch. One need not dig too deep into John Chrysostom’s discourses to discover an implicit admission that his puritanical version of Christianity did not always sit well with its target audience. [75] Libanius’ Declamation 27 could suggest that John’s extreme denunciation of laughter as the root of all evil, an ἀποκήρυξις of its own kind, elicited in pagan circles, too, the reaction that would mostly infuriate John: amusement.

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6. Appendix

6.1 Exhibits of antigelastic discourse in Libanius and John Chrysostom in the order they are commented upon above

6.1.1 Libanius

L1. Declamation 27.15: οὐδὲ γὰρ εἶναι ἀνθρώπων τὸ πρᾶγμά φημι, ἀλλὰ φλυαροῦσιν ὥσπερ καὶ τἄλλα πάντα οἱ τὸ γελᾶν ἴδιον ἀνθρώπου τιθέμενοι.
L2. Declamation 27.13: Ἀλλ’ εἰ… γελᾷ δὲ πεπτωκότος πατρὸς ἢ καὶ μὴ πεπτωκότος, ποῦ γὰρ ἄνθρωπος νοῦν ἔχων οὐ γελᾷ;
L3. Declamation 27.14: ἐμοὶ δὲ μέγιστον ἀδικημάτων ὁ γέλως· τοῦτό με λυπεῖ. τίς ἐπὶ τούτῳ τὸν ἠδικηκότα ἀμύνεται; εἰ λάγνος ὢν ὁ παῖς ἀνιᾷ, τότε αὐτὸν ἀποκήρυξον· εἰ πορνοκόπος, τότε. ἐμὲ δὲ γελῶν ἐπ’ ἐμοί, μᾶλλον δὲ ὅλως γελῶν.
L4. Declamation 27.18: ὅς γε καὶ ὅτε τὴν πολύ σου μιαρωτέραν ἠγόμην μητέρα, πόρρωθεν ἠπείλουν ταῖς βώλοις βαλεῖν τοὺς τὸν ὑμέναιον ᾄδοντας, εἰ μὴ τῆς ἐσχατιᾶς ἀποσταῖεν. οὐδὲ γὰρ ὑμεναιούντων, ἀλλὰ μαινομένων ἡγοῦμαι τὸν τῶν γελώντων εἶναι χορόν.
L5. Declamation 27.9: οὗτος οὖν ἐμὲ κληρονομήσει καὶ αὖθις γελάσεται τεθνεῶτος, μᾶλλον δὲ ἑορτάσει λαμπρῶς; εἰ γὰρ πεπτωκότος ἁπλῶς ἀκάθεκτος ὑπὸ γέλωτος ἦν, τεθνεῶτος δηλαδὴ πάνδημον ἄξει πανήγυριν.
L6. Declamation 27.18: καὶ οὐκ ἄνθρωποι μόνον πλημμελεῖν μοι δοκοῦσιν ἁλισκόμενοι τούτῳ τῷ πάθει, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὸ μοσχίον εἴ ποτε ἐσκίρτησε, κατέαξα λίθοις αὐτοῦ τῶν ποδῶν, καὶ ὁ κύων εἰ σαίνει με προσιόντα, τῇ σκαπάνῃ συνθραύω.
L7. Declamation 27.22: καί μοι μηδεὶς ἐνταῦθα ἐνοχλήσῃ ὡς νέος ἐστὶ λέγων καὶ ὡς συγγνῶναι δεῖ τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ταύτην αὐτῷ.
L8. Declamation 27.23: σύγγνωθι, φησίν, αὐτοῦ τῇ νεότητι.
L9. Declamation 27.15: τὸ δακρύειν γὰρ καὶ τὸ οἰμώζειν τίθεσθαι μᾶλλον ἐχρῆν. τούτου γὰρ ἄξια πράττουσιν ἅπαντες… οὐδέποτε γὰρ οὐδὲν χρηστὸν οὔτε εἶδον οὔτε μὴν ὄψονται, ἀλλ’ ἀεὶ τὰ κακά, πρῶτον μὲν ἀλλήλους, εἶτα ἃ πράττουσιν. γελᾶν δὲ μίαν ἡμέραν ἐχρῆν, ὅτε ὁ βέλτιστος θάνατος παραγίνεται.
L10. Declamation 27.15: ὁ δὲ γέλως, εἴπερ ἐπὶ χρηστοῖς γίνεται πράγμασιν, ἀλλότριον ἀνθρώπου παντάπασιν.
L11. Declamation 27.16–17: σὲ οὖν τί δήποτε, ὦ κακόδαιμον, ἐπῆρε γελᾶν; κωμῳδοὺς ἐθεῶ καὶ τῶν ἐκεῖ γελωτοποιῶν ἕνα με εἶναι ἐνόμισας; ἢ κόρδακά γε ὀρχεῖσθαι κατὰ μέσης τῆς ἀγορᾶς, ἀλλ’ οὐ πίπτειν ᾠήθης με;…
L12. Declamation 27.17: σὺ δὲ εἰς ἄκρον τοῦ πράγματος ἥκων ἐλάνθανες, ὥστε καὶ μισθώσαιντο ἄν σε οἱ κωμῳδοί, ἵνα γέλωτος αὐτοῖς πληροίης τὸ θέατρον. οἶμαι δὲ τοὺς κακοδαίμονας καὶ δρᾶμα ποιῆσαι τὸ νυνὶ τοῦτο συμβὰν καὶ ἄλλως εἰωθότας τοὺς οἷος ἐγὼ τὸν βίον εἰμὶ κωμῳδεῖν. καὶ σὺ μὲν ἴσως ἑστήξεις γελῶν, ἐγὼ δὲ κείσομαι κατὰ γῆς, οἱ δὲ προσθήσουσιν οἷα εἰώθασι ήματα. τοιοῦτον αὐτοῖς δρᾶμα κεχορήγηκεν ὁ γέλως ὁ σός.
L13. Declamation 27.17: καίτοι οὐδὲ κωμῳδοὺς πώποτέ σε θεασόμενον ἔπεμψα, ὡς μηδ’ ἐπ’ ἐκείνοις γελάσειας, καὶ οὐδ’ ὅ τι ποτ’ ἐστὶν ὁ γέλως ἔγωγε ᾤμην εἰδέναι σε.
L14. Declamation 27.17–18: ὃν ποῦ μεμάθηκας, ὦ κακόδαιμον; τίνα ἐζήλωκας; οὐκ ὀλιγάκις μέν, ἀεὶ δὲ ἀηδῶς σε προσεφθεγγόμην; εἰ δέ ποτε ἀνασχοίμην ἀργῶν, μίαν ταύτην ἠφίειν φωνήν, ἐμὲ ζηλοῦν καὶ τὸν ἐμὸν τρόπον. πότε οὖν ἐμὲ γελῶντα τεθέασαι; πότε τοὺς γελῶντας ἐπαινοῦντος ἀκήκοας; … γεωργῶ δὲ ἀγρὸν οὐ, μὰ Δία, χλιδῶντα καὶ δένδροις κατάσκιον, ἀλλ’ ὄχθον τραχύν, θύμον γεωργοῦντα καὶ σφακόν.
L15. Declamation 27.19: Εἶτα, ὦ μιαρώτατε, τὰ μὲν βοΐδια καὶ οἱ κύνες ζῶσι τὸν ἐμὸν βίον καὶ στέργουσί μου τὸν τρόπον, σὺ δὲ ὁ φάσκων ἐξ ἐμοῦ γεγονέναι καὶ κληρονομεῖν τῶν ἐμῶν ἀξιῶν, ὁ τραφεὶς ἐν τοιούτοις χωρίοις καὶ μετὰ ζώων οἵων ἄρτι κατέλεξα μόνος τῶν ἐκεῖθεν γελᾷς καὶ ταῦτα ἐμοῦ κατὰ γῆς ἐρριμμένου.
L16. Declamation 27.21: καὶ εἰ μέν τι χρηστὸν πώποτε ἔπραξα ἢ τὴν αἱμασιὰν οἰκοδομήσας ἢ τὰς ἀκάνθας ἐκτεμὼν ἢ λύκον διώξας, οὐκ ἐπῆλθες ὀψόμενος· ἐπεὶ δὲ ἐκείμην χαμαὶ βορβόρου τε ἀνάπλεως ἦν καὶ κακῶς εἶχον ὑπὸ τοῦ πτώματος, θεατὴς ἦσθα καὶ ἡδονὴν ἐποιοῦ τὰς ἐμὰς συμφορὰς και που καὶ ἔλεγες· εἰ γὰρ διαρραγείη μέσος, εἰ γὰρ ἀπαλλαγείην τοῦ Κρόνου τούτου ποτέ, εἰ γὰρ ἐπὶ πλέον γελάσαιμι.
6.1.2 John Chrysostom

J1. Ephesians, PG 62.119: πόρρω δὲ τοῦτο Χριστιανοῦ, τὸ κωμῳδεῖν.
J2. Ephesians, PG 62.119: ὁ τοίνυν τὰ εὐτράπελα λέγων οὐχ ἅγιος· κἂν Ἕλλην ᾖ, καταγέλαστος ὁ τοιοῦτος· τοῖς ἐν τῇ σκηνῇ ταῦτα ἐφεῖται μόνοις. ἔνθα αἰσχρότης, ἐκεῖ καὶ εὐτραπελία. ἔνθα γέλως ἄκαιρος, ἐκεῖ καὶ εὐτραπελία.
J3. Matthew, PG 57.71: οὐ τοίνυν ἡμέτερον τὸ γελᾷν διηνεκῶς καὶ θρύπτεσθαι καὶ τρυφᾶν… οὐ τῶν ἐπὶ τὸν οὐρανὸν κεκλημένων, οὐ τῶν εἰς τὴν ἄνω πόλιν ἐγγεγραμμένων, οὐ τῶν ὅπλα βασταζόντων πνευματικά, ἀλλὰ τῶν τῷ διαβόλῳ τελουμένων.
J4. Matthew, PG 57.70: μὴ τοίνυν αἴτει παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ ταῦτα, ἃ παρὰ τοῦ διαβόλου λαμβάνεις. τοῦ γὰρ Θεοῦ, δοῦναι καρδίαν συντετριμμένην καὶ τεταπεινωμένην, νήφουσαν, σωφρονοῦσαν καὶ κατεσταλμένην, μετανοοῦσαν καὶ κατανενυγμένην.
J5. Statues, PG 49.158: τὸ γελᾷν καὶ ἀστεῖα λέγειν οὐ δοκεῖ μὲν ὡμολογημένον ἁμάρτημα εἶναι , ἄγει δὲ εἰς ὡμολογημένον ἁμάρτημα· πολλάκις γοῦν ἀπὸ γέλωτος αἰσχρὰ ήματα τίκτεται, ἀπὸ ημάτων αἰσχρῶν πράξεις αἰσχρότεραι· πολλάκις ἀπὸ ημάτων καὶ γέλωτος λοιδορία καὶ ὕβρις, ἀπὸ λοιδορίας καὶ ὕβρεως πληγαὶ καὶ τραύματα, ἀπὸ τραυμάτων καὶ πληγῶν σφαγαὶ καὶ φόνοι.
J6. Ephesians, PG 62.119: ἀλλ’ ἐπειδή τισιν ἀδιάφορον εἶναι τὸ πρᾶγμα δοκεῖ, ὃ καὶ δυσφύλακτόν ἐστι, φέρε, μικρὰ περὶ τούτου διαλεχθῶμεν, ὅσον ἐστὶ κακὸν διδάξαντες. καὶ γὰρ τοῦτο τοῦ διαβόλου ἔργον ἐστί, τὸ ποιεῖν τῶν ἀδιαφόρων καταφρονεῖν. πρῶτον μὲν οὖν εἰ καὶ ἀδιάφορον ἦν, οὐδὲ οὕτως ἐχρῆν αὐτοῦ καταφρονεῖν, εἰδότα ὅτι τὰ μεγάλα ἀπὸ τούτου τίκτεται κακὰ καὶ αὔξεται καὶ εἰς πορνείαν τελευτᾷ πολλάκις· ὅτι δὲ οὐδὲ ἀδιάφορόν ἐστιν ἐκεῖθεν δῆλον.
J7. Statues, PG 49.158: ἂν τοίνυν μέλλῃς περὶ σεαυτοῦ καλῶς βουλεύεσθαι, οὐχὶ τὰ αἰσχρὰ ήματα μόνον οὐδὲ τὰ αἰσχρὰ πράγματα οὐδὲ τὰς πληγὰς καὶ τὰ τραύματα καὶ τοὺς φόνους, ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτὸν τὸν ἄκαιρον γέλωτα καὶ αὐτὰ τὰ ἀστεῖα ἀποφεύξῃ ήματα, ἐπειδὴ τῶν μετὰ ταῦτα κακῶν ίζα ταῦτα ἐγένετο. διὰ τοῦτο ὁ Παῦλός φησι «μωρολογία καὶ εὐτραπελία μὴ ἐκπορευέσθω ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ὑμῶν. εἰ γὰρ καὶ αὐτὸ καθ’ ἑαυτὸ μικρὸν εἶναι δοκεῖ, ἀλλὰ μεγάλων ἡμῖν κακῶν αἴτιον γίνεται».
J8. Ephesians, PG 62.119: παίζεις καὶ τρυφᾷς καὶ ἀστεῖα λέγεις καὶ γέλωτα κινεῖς καὶ οὐδὲν ἡγῇ τὸ πρᾶγμα; πόσαι ἀπὸ ἀστειολογιῶν ἐπιορκίαι, πόσαι βλάβαι, πόσαι αἰσχρολογίαι!
J9. Ephesians, PG 62.120: μεγάλα κακὰ ἐν ψυχῇ εὐτραπελευομένῃ οἰκεῖ, μεγάλη διάχυσις καὶ ἐρημία· κέχηνεν ἡ ἁρμονία, σεσάθρωται ἡ οἰκοδομή, ὁ φόβος ἐξώρισται, εὐλάβεια ἀπέστη.
J10. Ephesians, PG 62.119: ἄκουε τοῦ Προφήτου λέγοντος «δουλεύσατε τῷ Κυρίῳ ἐν φόβῳ, καὶ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε αὐτῷ ἐν τρόμῳ». ἡ εὐτραπελία μαλακὴν ποιεῖ τὴν ψυχήν, ᾴθυμον, ἀναπεπτωκυῖαν· αὕτη καὶ ὕβρεις πολλάκις ὤδινε καὶ πολέμους ποιεῖ.
J11. Ephesians, PG 62.120: καὶ τοῦτο λέγω τοῦ αἰσχροῦ ἤθους δεικνύων τὴν ἀτοπίαν· ψυχῆς γὰρ ἐρήμου εὐλαβείας ταυτὶ τὰ ήματα. ἆρ’ οὐχὶ σκηπτῶν ἄξια ταῦτα;
J12. Ephesians, PG 62.118: τὴν αἰσχρολογίαν καὶ εὐτραπελίαν ὄχημα οὖσαν τῆς πορνείας.
J13. Ephesians, PG 62.118: οἱ γὰρ λόγοι τῶν πραγμάτων εἰσὶν ὁδοί.
J14. Ephesians, PG 62.120: ὁ γὰρ εὐτραπελευόμενος κακήγορος ἔσται ταχέως· ὁ δὲ κακήγορος καὶ μυρία ἑαυτῷ ἐπισωρεύει ἕτερα κακά.
J15. Matthew, PG 57.70: σὺ δὲ βασιλεῖ μὲν παρεστὼς οὐδὲ ἁπλῶς μειδιᾶσαι ἀνέχῃ· τὸν δὲ τῶν ἀγγέλων Δεσπότην ἔχων ἔνοικον οὐχ ἕστηκας μετὰ τρόμου καὶ σωφροσύνης τῆς προσηκούσης, ἀλλὰ γελᾷς αὐτοῦ πολλάκις ὀργιζομένου; καὶ οὐκ ἐννοεῖς ὅτι τῶν ἁμαρτημάτων ταύτῃ μειζόνως παροξύνεις αὐτόν;
J16. Ephesians, PG 62.120: οὐδὲν δὲ τοῦ εὐτραπέλου ἀναισχυντότερον. ὥστε οὐ χάριτος αὐτοῦ γέμει τὸ στόμα, ἀλλ’ ὀδύνης. ἐξορίσωμεν τοῦτο τὸ ἔθος τῶν τραπεζῶν.
J17. in diem natalem, PG 49.359: καὶ γὰρ τὰ παιδία τὰ μικρὰ πολλάκις γελᾷ, σπουδαιολογουμένων ἡμῶν καὶ περὶ τῶν ἀναγκαίων ἀσχολουμένων· ἀλλ’ οὐ τῆς τῶν γελωμένων πραγμάτων εὐτελείας, ἀλλὰ τῆς τῶν γελώντων ἀνοίας τεκμήριον ὁ γέλως ἐστίν.
J18. Matthew, PG 57.70: ἐμοὶ δὲ μὴ γένοιτο δακρῦσαί ποτε, ἀλλὰ δῴη μοι γελᾷν καὶ παίζειν ὁ Θεὸς πάντα τὸν χρόνον. καὶ τί ταύτης τῆς διανοίας παιδικώτερον γένοιτ’ ἄν;
J19. Ephesians, PG 62.119: τί δέ; ὅλως οὐχὶ ἐν ἀνδράσι γέγονας ; οὐκοῦν κατάργησον τὰ τοῦ νηπίου. ἀλλὰ τὸν μὲν οἰκέτην τὸν σὸν ἐν ἀγορᾷ οὐκ ἀξιοῖς εἰπεῖν τι τῶν ἀσυμφόρων· σὺ δὲ τοῦ Θεοῦ λέγων οἰκέτης εἶναι, ἐν ἀγορᾷ ἀστεῖα φθέγγῃ;
J20. Hebrews, PG 63.122: εἰ ἐπὶ τοῖς ἑτέρων ἁμαρτήμασιν ὁ μὴ ἀλγῶν, κατηγορίας ἄξιος· ὁ ἐπὶ τοῖς αὑτοῦ ἀναλγήτως διακείμενος καὶ γελῶν, ποίας ἔσται συγγνώμης ἄξιος;
J21. Ephesians, PG 62.118: τί ὠφελεῖ τὸ ἀστεῖον εἰπεῖν; γέλωτα ἐκίνησας μόνον. εἰπέ μοι, ὁ σκυτοτόμος ἐργάσεταί τί ποτε τῶν οὐκ ἀνηκόντων εἰς τὴν αὑτοῦ τέχνην; ἢ κτήσεταί τι τοιοῦτον ὄργανον; οὐδαμῶς· τὰ γὰρ οὐκ ἐν χρείᾳ οὐδὲν πρὸς ἡμᾶς. μηδεὶς ἔστω λόγος ἀργός· ἀπὸ γὰρ τοῦ ἀργοῦ καὶ εἰς ἀτόπους καταπίπτομεν.
J22. Ephesians, PG 62.118: σὺ δὲ γελᾷς καὶ παίζεις; πολέμου καιρὸς καὶ σὺ τὰ τῶν χορευόντων μεταχειρίζῃ; οὐχ ὁρᾷς τῶν πολεμούντων τὰ πρόσωπα, πῶς εἰσι σκυθρωπά, πῶς συνηγμένα, ὀφρὺς γὰρ παρ’ αὐτοῖς φοβερὰ καὶ φρίκης γέμουσα. ὁρᾷς ὄμμα αὐστηρόν, καρδίαν διεγηγερμένην καὶ πηδῶσαν καὶ ἀλλομένην, συνηγμένον νοῦν, τρέμοντα καὶ ἀγωνιῶντα, πολλὴν τὴν εὐταξίαν, πολλὴν τὴν εὐρυθμίαν, πολλὴν τὴν σιγὴν ἐν τοῖς στρατοπέδοις.
J23. Ephesians, PG 62.118: τίς ἀθλητὴς εἰς τὸ στάδιον εἰσελθὼν καὶ τὴν ἀγωνίαν ἀφεὶς τὴν πρὸς τὸν ἀντίδικον ἀστεῖα φθέγγεται; ἐφέστηκεν ὁ διάβολος, περιέρχεται ὠρυόμενος τοῦ ἁρπάσαι, πάντα κινεῖ καὶ πάντα στρέφει κατὰ τῆς σῆς κεφαλῆς καὶ μηχανᾶται τῆς καλιᾶς σε ἐκβαλεῖν, τρίζει τοὺς ὀδόντας, βρυχᾶται, πῦρ πνεῖ κατὰ τῆς σωτηρίας τῆς σῆς· καὶ σὺ κάθησαι ἀστεῖα λέγων καὶ μωρολογῶν καὶ τὰ μὴ ἀνήκοντα φθεγγόμενος;
J24. Matthew, PG 57.71: καὶ γὰρ ἀγὼν ἐφέστηκε χαλεπὸς καὶ πρὸς τὰς ἀοράτους ἡμῖν δυνάμεις ἡ πάλη, πρὸς τὰ πνευματικὰ τῆς πονηρίας ἡ μάχη, πρὸς τὰς ἀρχάς, πρὸς τὰς ἐξουσίας ὁ πόλεμος· καὶ ἀγαπητὸν σπουδάζοντας ἡμᾶς καὶ νήφοντας καὶ διεγηγερμένους δυνηθῆναι τὴν ἀγρίαν ἐκείνην φάλαγγα ἐνεγκεῖν. ἂν δὲ γελῶμεν καὶ παίζωμεν καὶ διαπαντὸς ᾳθυμῶμεν, καὶ πρὸ τῆς συμβολῆς ὑπὸ τῆς οἰκείας καταπεσούμεθα ᾳθυμίας.
J25. Ephesians, PG 62.119: ἀλλ’ οὐ τοιαῦτά ἐστι τὰ ἀστεῖα, φησίν. ἀλλ’ ἄκουε ὅτι πᾶσαν εὐτραπελίαν ἐξέβαλε. Πολέμου καιρὸς νῦν καὶ μάχης, ἀγρυπνίας καὶ φυλακῆς, ὁπλίσεως καὶ παρατάξεως· οὐδένα τόπον ἐνταῦθα ὁ τοῦ γέλωτος ἂν ἔχοι καιρός · τοῦ γὰρ κόσμου οὗτός ἐστιν.
J26. To the Monk Demetrius on the Theme of Contrition, PG 47.395: ἦ δῆλον ὅτι τοῦ Χριστοῦ τὰ ήματα, δι’ ὧν ταλανίζει μὲν τοὺς γελῶντας, ἐν δὲ τοῖς μακαριζομένοις τίθησι τοὺς πενθοῦντας, οὑτωσὶ λέγων· «Μακάριοι οἱ πενθοῦντες, ὅτι αὐτοὶ παρακληθήσονται»· καὶ «Οὐαὶ οἱ γελῶντες νῦν, ὅτι πενθήσετε καὶ κλαύσετε». καὶ μάλα εἰκότως· πένθους γὰρ ἀληθῶς, πένθους καὶ ὀδυρμῶν ὁ παρὼν ἅπας καιρός.
J27. Virginity, 63: καὶ τὸν ἀπὸ τῶν ἱματίων δὲ καλλωπισμὸν περικόψασα καὶ τῷ προσώπῳ παραινεῖ συνεχῶς μὴ διαχεῖσθαι τῷ γέλωτι ἀλλὰ μηδὲ ἠρέμα μειδιᾶν ἀλλ’ ἐπισκύνιον αἰδέσιμον ἀεὶ καὶ αὐστηρὸν ἐπιδείκνυσθαι καὶ πρὸς δάκρυα παρεσκευάσθαι διὰ παντός, πρὸς γέλωτα δὲ μηδέποτε.
J28. Ephesians, PG 62.118: οὐ διαχύσεως ὁ παρὼν καιρός, ἀλλὰ πένθους, θλίψεων καὶ ὀδυρμῶν· σὺ δὲ εὐτραπελεύῃ;
J29. Statues, PG 49.210: ὅταν οὖν ἴδῃς γελῶντας, ἐννόησον, ὅτι οἱ γελῶντες νῦν ὀδόντες τότε κλαυθμὸν καὶ βρυγμὸν ὑποστήσονται χαλεπώτατον, καὶ τοῦ γέλωτος τούτου μνησθήσονται τρίζοντες κατ ’ ἐκείνην τὴν ἡμέραν καὶ βρυχώμενοι· τότε ἀναμνησθήσῃ τοῦ γέλωτος τούτου.
J30. Matthew, PG 57.71: οὐ τοίνυν ἡμέτερον τὸ γελᾷν διηνεκῶς καὶ θρύπτεσθαι καὶ τρυφᾶν, ἀλλὰ τῶν ἐπὶ σκηνῆς , τῶν πορνευομένων γυναικῶν , τῶν εἰς τοῦτο ἐξυρημένων ἀνδρῶν , τῶν παρασίτων , τῶν κολάκων· οὐ τῶν ἐπὶ τὸν οὐρανὸν κεκλημένων… ἀλλὰ τῶν τῷ διαβόλῳ τελουμένων. ἐκεῖνος γάρ ἐστιν, ἐκεῖνος, ὁ καὶ τέχνην τὸ πρᾶγμα ποιήσας, ἵνα τοὺς στρατιώτας ἐκλύσῃ τοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ μαλακώτερα αὐτῶν ποιήσῃ τῆς προθυμίας τὰ νεῦρα. Διὰ τοῦτο καὶ θέατρα ᾠκοδόμησεν ἐν ταῖς πόλεσι καὶ τοὺς γελωτοποιοὺς ἐκείνους ἀσκήσας διὰ τῆς ἐκείνων λύμης κατὰ τῆς πόλεως ἁπάσης τὸν τοιοῦτον ἐνσκήπτει λοιμόν· ἃ φεύγειν ὁ Παῦλος ἐκέλευσε, τὴν μωρολογίαν καὶ τὴν εὐτραπελίαν, ταῦτα διώκειν ἀναπείθων. καὶ τὸ δὴ χαλεπώτερον τούτων ἡ τοῦ γέλωτός ἐστιν ὑπόθεσις. ὅταν μὲν γὰρ βλάσφημόν τι εἴπωσιν ἢ αἰσχρὸν οἱ μῖμοι τῶν γελοίων ἐκείνων, τότε πολλοὶ τῶν ἀνοητοτέρων γελῶσι καὶ τέρπονται, ὑπὲρ ὧν αὐτοὺς λιθάζειν ἐχρῆν, ὑπὲρ τούτων κροτοῦντες καὶ τὴν κάμινον τοῦ πυρὸς διὰ τῆς ἡδονῆς ταύτης κατὰ τῆς ἑαυτῶν ἕλκοντες κεφαλῆς. οἱ γὰρ ἐπαινοῦντες τοὺς ταῦτα λέγοντας, οὗτοι μάλιστά εἰσιν οἱ λέγειν ἀναπείθοντες· διὸ καὶ τῆς κολάσεως τῆς ἐπὶ τούτοις κειμένης δικαιότερον ἂν εἶεν ὑπεύθυνοι. εἰ γὰρ μηδεὶς ἦν ὁ τὰ τοιαῦτα θεώμενος, οὐδ’ ἂν ὁ ἀγωνιζόμενος ἦν · ὅταν δὲ ἴδωσιν ὑμᾶς καὶ ἐργαστήρια καὶ τέχνας καὶ τὴν ἐκ τούτων πρόσοδον καὶ πάντα ἁπλῶς ὑπὲρ τῆς ἐκεῖ διατριβῆς ἀφέντας, μείζονα δέχονται τὴν προθυμίαν καὶ πλείονα περὶ ταῦτα ποιοῦνται σπουδήν. καὶ ταῦτα οὐκ ἐκείνους ἀπαλλάττων ἐγκλημάτων λέγω, ἀλλ’ ἵνα ὑμεῖς μάθητε ὅτι τὴν ἀρχὴν καὶ τὴν ίζαν τῆς τοιαύτης παρανομίας ὑμεῖς μάλιστά ἐστε οἱ παρέχοντες, οἱ τὴν ἡμέραν ἅπασαν εἰς ταῦτα καταναλίσκοντες καὶ τὰ σεμνὰ τοῦ γάμου πράγματα ἐκπομπεύοντες καὶ τὸ μυστήριον τὸ μέγα παραδειγματίζοντες. οὐδὲ γὰρ οὕτως ἐκεῖνος ὁ ταῦτα ὑποκρινόμενός ἐστιν ὁ πλημμελῶν, ὡς πρὸ ἐκείνου σύ, ὁ ταῦτα κελεύων ποιεῖν· μᾶλλον δὲ οὐ κελεύων μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ σπουδάζων καὶ εὐφραινόμενος καὶ γελῶν καὶ ἐπαινῶν τὰ γινόμενα καὶ παντὶ τρόπῳ συγκροτῶν τὰ τοιαῦτα ἐργαστήρια τῶν δαιμόνων. ποίοις οὖν ὀφθαλμοῖς, εἰπέ μοι, λοιπὸν τὴν γυναῖκα ἐπὶ τῆς οἰκίας ὄψει, ἰδὼν αὐτὴν ὑβριζομένην ἐκεῖ; πῶς δὲ οὐκ ἐρυθριᾷς ἀναμιμνησκόμενος τῆς συνοίκου, ἡνίκα ἂν τὴν φύσιν αὐτὴν παραδειγματιζομένην ἴδῃς;
J31. Hebrews, PG 63.121: σὺ δὲ ἕστηκας γελῶν κατὰ τὰς βιωτικὰς γυναῖκας, γελωτοποιῶν κατὰ τὰς ἐν τῇ σκηνῇ; τοῦτο πάντα ἀνέτρεψε, τοῦτο κατέβαλε· γέλως γέγονε τὰ ἡμέτερα καὶ πολιτισμὸς καὶ ἀστειότης· οὐδὲν εὐσταθές, οὐδὲν στιβαρόν.
J32. Matthew, PG 57.72: μὴ γάρ μοι τοῦτο εἴπῃς, ὅτι ὑπόκρισίς ἐστι τὰ γινόμενα· ἡ γὰρ ὑπόκρισις αὕτη πολλοὺς εἰργάσατο μοιχοὺς καὶ πολλὰς ἀνέτρεψεν οἰκίας. καὶ διὰ τοῦτο μάλιστα στένω, ὅτι οὐδὲ δοκεῖ πονηρὸν εἶναι τὸ γινόμενον, ἀλλὰ καὶ κρότοι καὶ κραυγὴ καὶ γέλως πολὺς μοιχείας τολμωμένης τοσαύτης. τί λέγεις; ὑπόκρισις τὰ γινόμενα; δι’ αὐτὸ μὲν οὖν τοῦτο μυρίων ἂν εἶεν ἐκεῖνοι θανάτων ἄξιοι, ὅτι ἃ φεύγειν οἱ νόμοι κελεύουσιν ἅπαντες, ταῦτα μιμεῖσθαι ἐσπουδάκασιν ἐκεῖνοι. εἰ γὰρ αὐτὸ κακόν, καὶ ἡ μίμησις τούτου κακόν. καὶ οὔπω λέγω πόσους ἐργάζονται μοιχοὺς οἱ τὰ τοιαῦτα τῆς μοιχείας ὑποκρινόμενοι δράματα, πῶς ἰταμοὺς καὶ ἀναισχύντους κατασκευάζουσι τοὺς τῶν τοιούτων θεωρούς· οὐδὲν γὰρ πορνικώτερον καὶ ἰταμώτερον ὀφθαλμοῦ τοιαῦτα βλέπειν ἀνεχομένου. σὺ δὲ ἐν ἀγορᾷ μὲν οὐκ ἂν ἕλοιο γυναῖκα γυμνουμένην ἰδεῖν, μᾶλλον δὲ οὐδὲ ἐν οἰκίᾳ, ἀλλὰ καὶ ὕβριν τὸ πρᾶγμα καλεῖς· ἐπὶ δὲ τὸ θέατρον ἀναβαίνεις, ἵνα τὸ κοινὸν τῶν ἀνδρῶν καὶ τῶν γυναικῶν ἐνυβρίσῃς γένος καὶ τοὺς σαυτοῦ αἰσχύνῃς ὀφθαλμούς; μὴ γὰρ δὴ τοῦτο εἴπῃς, ὅτι πόρνη ἐστὶν ἡ γυμνουμένη, ἀλλ’ ὅτι ἡ αὐτὴ φύσις καὶ σῶμα τὸ αὐτὸ καὶ τῆς πόρνης καὶ τῆς ἐλευθέρας. εἰ γὰρ οὐδὲν ἄτοπον τοῦτο, τίνος ἕνεκεν ἐπ’ ἀγορᾶς ἂν ἴδῃς τοῦτο γινόμενον καὶ αὐτὸς ἀποπηδᾷς καὶ τὴν ἀσχημονοῦσαν ἐλαύνεις; ἢ ὅταν μὲν διῃρημένοι ὦμεν, τότε ἄτοπον τὸ τοιοῦτον· ὅταν δὲ συνηγμένοι καὶ πάντες ὁμοῦ καθήμενοι, οὐκέτι ὁμοίως αἰσχρόν; ἀλλὰ γέλως ταῦτα καὶ ὄνειδος καὶ ἐσχάτης παραπληξίας ήματα· καὶ βέλτιον πηλῷ καὶ βορβόρῳ τὴν ὄψιν ἀναχρῶσαι πᾶσαν ἢ τοιαύτην θεωρῆσαι παρανομίαν. οὔτε γὰρ οὕτως ὀφθαλμῷ βλάβη βόρβορος ὡς ἀκόλαστος ὄψις καὶ γεγυμνωμένης γυναικὸς θεωρία.
J33. Matthew, PG 57.69: ἂν οὕτω καὶ αὐτὸς δακρύῃς, μιμητὴς τοῦ Δεσπότου σου γέγονας. καὶ γὰρ καὶ αὐτὸς ἐδάκρυσε καὶ ἐπὶ Λαζάρου καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς πόλεως καὶ ἐπὶ τοῦ Ἰούδα διεταράχθη. καὶ τοῦτο μὲν πολλάκις ἔστιν ἰδεῖν αὐτὸν ποιοῦντα , γελῶντα δὲ οὐδαμοῦ· ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ μειδιῶντα ἠρέμα· οὐκοῦν τῶν εὐαγγελιστῶν οὐδεὶς εἴρηκε. διὰ τοῦτο καὶ Παῦλος ὅτι μὲν ἐδάκρυσε καὶ τριετίαν νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν τοῦτο ἐποίει καὶ αὐτὸς περὶ ἑαυτοῦ καὶ ἕτεροι περὶ αὐτοῦ τοῦτο λέγουσιν· ὅτι δὲ ἐγέλασεν , οὐδαμοῦ οὔτε αὐτὸς εἴρηκεν οὔτε ἄλλος οὐδὲ εἷς τῶν ἁγίων οὔτε περὶ ἑαυτοῦ οὔτε περὶ ἑτέρου τινὸς τοιούτου.
J34. Ephesians, PG 62.119: ὁ Χριστὸς ἐσταυρώθη διὰ τὰ σὰ κακά , σὺ δὲ γελᾷς; ἐκεῖνος ἐρραπίσθη καὶ τοσαῦτα ἔπαθε διὰ τὴν σὴν συμφορὰν καὶ τὸν καταλαβόντα σε χειμῶνα· σὺ δὲ τρυφᾷς; καὶ πῶς οὐ μᾶλλον αὐτὸν παροξύνεις;
J35. Hebrews, PG 63.122: οὐκ ἀκούετε Παύλου λέγοντος· αἰσχρότης καὶ μωρολογία καὶ εὐτραπελία ἀρθήτω ἀφ’ ὑμῶν; μετὰ τῆς αἰσχρότητος τὴν εὐτραπελίαν τίθησι· σὺ δὲ γελᾷς; μωρολογία τί ἐστι; τὰ μηδὲν ἔχοντα χρήσιμον. γελᾷς δὲ ὅλως καὶ διαχεῖς τὸ πρόσωπον ὁ μονάζων; ὁ ἐσταυρωμένος, ὁ πενθῶν, γελᾷς , εἰπέ μοι ; ποῦ τοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦτο ἤκουσας ποιοῦντος;
J36. Ephesians, PG 62.119: Ἵνα δὲ καὶ μάθῃς, ὅρα καὶ αὐτὸ τοὔνομα· εὐτράπελος λέγεται ὁ ποικίλος, ὁ παντοδαπός, ὁ ἄστατος, ὁ εὔκολος, ὁ πάντα γινόμενος· τοῦτο δὲ πόρρω τῶν τῇ πέτρᾳ δουλευόντων.


[ back ] 1. For a history of misanthropy on the Greek stage and beyond, including the legends of Timon, see, e.g., Photiadès 1959, Jauss 1983, Konstan 1983, Tomassi 2011, Anastasiadis 2016, Gibson 2017, Konstantakos 2021.
[ back ] 2. In this study, Libanius’ text is cited from Foerster 1963; the Dyskolos, from Petrides forthcoming.
[ back ] 3. On Greek declamation, Russell 1983. On Latin declamation, Knoch 2021.
[ back ] 4. On progymnasmata, see Gibson 2014 with general bibliography.
[ back ] 5. On Libanius’ school in Antioch, see Cribiore 2007.
[ back ] 6. For Libanius’ declamations, Penella 2014. On the relationship between Imperial declamation and comedy, Costa e Silva 2016 (focuses on the stock character of the miser). More generally, Gonçalves Fernandes 2022. On Libanius’ Declamation 26 and its debts to comedy: Lucassen 1955, García Soler 1990, García Soler 2016, and García Soler 2020. On Declamation 27: García Soler 1991.
[ back ] 7. See mainly García Soler 1991.
[ back ] 8. For Lucian’s Timon, contact with other people is miasma (Timon 43): οἱ δὲ ἄλλοι πάντες ἐχθροὶ καὶ ἐπίβουλοι· καὶ τὸ προσομιλῆσαί τινι αὐτῶν μίασμα· καὶ ἤν τινα ἴδω μόνον, ἀποφρὰς ἡ ἡμέρα· καὶ ὅλως ἀνδριάντων λιθίνων ἢ χαλκῶν μηδὲν ἡμῖν διαφερέτωσαν (the latter image echoes Dyskolos 157–159).
[ back ] 9. Dyskolos 1–4.
[ back ] 10. Dyskolos 5–13, 160–166.
[ back ] 11. Dyskolos 14–27.
[ back ] 12. Dyskolos 737–739: τοῦ κτήματος / ἐπιδίδου <σὺ> προῖκα τοὐμοῦ διαμετρήσας <θ>ἤμισυ, / τὸ] δ̣’ ἕτερον λαβὼν διοίκει κἀμὲ καὶ τὴν μητέρα.
[ back ] 13. Dyskolos 333–335: μεθ’ αὑτοῦ τὴν κόρην ἐργάζεται / ἔχων τὰ πολλά· προσλαλεῖ ταύτῃ μόνῃ, / ἑτέρῳ δὲ τοῦτ’ οὐκ ἂν ποήσαι ᾳδίως.
[ back ] 14. Declamation 27.18: τὴν πολύ σου μιαρωτέραν ἠγόμην μητέρα.
[ back ] 15. Declamation 27.4: καὶ γὰρ πρὸς τὴν σκιὰν τὴν ἐμαυτοῦ πολλάκις ἄχθομαι πανταχῆ μοι συνεπομένην καὶ δι’ αὐτὴν πρὸς τὸν ἥλιον καὶ τὴν σελήνην, ὅτι ποιοῦσιν αὐτήν.
[ back ] 16. These hilarious ‘door-knocking scenes’ form the core of Act III (Dyskolos 456–521).
[ back ] 17. Declamation 27.3.
[ back ] 18. Declamation 27.1. See further below.
[ back ] 19. Declamation 27.6: ἵνα μὴ παροξυνοίμην ταῦτα ὁρῶν, ἀπῆγον, ὡς οἷόν τ’ ἦν, τὼ ὀφθαλμὼ καὶ προῄειν μηδὲν τῶν ἐν ποσὶ καθορῶν.
[ back ] 20. Declamation 27.25–27.
[ back ] 21. In my edition (Petrides forthcoming), I restore Dyskolos 596–598 as follows: οὔ σοι λέγω; θᾶττον βάδιζ’ εἴσω. [τάλας] / ἐγώ, τάλας ἐρημίας τῆς νῦν, [τάλας,] / ὡς οὐδὲ εἷς. For a commentary, see Petrides 2022:14.
[ back ] 22. Dyskolos 735: ἀλλ’ ἐμὲ μέν, <ἂν ζῶ>, ζῆν ἐᾶθ’ ὡς βούλομαι.
[ back ] 23. In Dyskolos 742–745, Knemon describes a utopia of universal harmony whose prerequisite is that everybody would be “this kind of people,” i.e., like him: εἰ τοιοῦτ⌟οι πάντες ἦσαν, οὔτε τὰ δικαστήρια / ἦν ἄν ο⸥ὔθ’ αὑτοὺς ἀπῆγον εἰς τὰ δεσμωτήρια, / ο̣ὔτε π⸥όλεμος ἦν, ἔχων δ’ ἂν μέτρι’ ἕκαστος ἠγάπα. Above (Dyskolos 336–338), Knemon was reported stating that he would only approve of a husband for his daughter if he had a character like his—“which means, never” as Sostratos wryly comments: (Go.) τότε φησὶν ἐκδώσειν ἐκείνην, ἡνίκ’ ἂν/ ὁμότροπον αὑτῷ νυμφίον λάβῃ. (Sos.) λέγεις / οὐδέποτε. Similarly, Libanius’ δύσκολος declares: ἐγὼ δὲ μάλιστα μὲν οὐδένα ὁρᾶν βούλομαι, εἰ δ’ ἄρα ἀνάγκη, ἐμοί τινα παραπλήσιον, αὐχμῶντα καὶ μοχθηρόν (Declamation 27.27).
[ back ] 24. Dyskolos 162–165: παρ’ αὐτὴν τὴν ὁδὸν γάρ, νὴ Δία, / εἴωθα διατρίβειν· ὃς οὐδ’ ἐργάζομαι / τοῦτο τὸ μέρος <τοῦ> χωρίου, πέφευγα δὲ / διὰ τοὺς παριόντας (cf. Dyskolos 115); Declamation 27.5: ἵνα μηδὲ ἄκων τινὶ περιτύχω, οὐδὲ τὴν δημοσίαν εἴωθα βαδίζειν ὁδόν, ἀλλ’ ἐκτρεπόμενος κατὰ τὰ χωρία ποιεῖσθαι τοὺς περιπάτους. In Dyskolos 115, Knemon wishes that people followed τὴν δημοσίαν rather than going through his fields.
[ back ] 25. Declamation 27.18: πόρρωθεν ἠπείλουν ταῖς βώλοις βαλεῖν τοὺς τὸν ὑμέναιον ᾄδοντας, εἰ μὴ τῆς ἐσχατιᾶς ἀποσταῖεν. βῶλοι are Knemon’s weapon of choice, too, although he would use anything: Dyskolos 81–83, 120–121, 365–366. These are Timonian behaviours, cf. Lucian Timon 34: τίνες ἐστέ, ὦ κατάρατοι; ἢ τί βουλόμενοι δεῦρο ἥκετε ἄνδρα ἐργάτην καὶ μισθοφόρον ἐνοχλήσοντες; ἀλλ’ οὐ χαίροντες ἄπιτε μιαροὶ πάντες ὄντες· ἐγὼ γὰρ ὑμᾶς αὐτίκα μάλα βάλλων τοῖς βώλοις καὶ τοῖς λίθοις συντρίψω.
[ back ] 26. Dyskolos 630–632: (Sik.) ὦ φιλτάτη γραῦ, νῦν σὸν ἔργον ἐστί. (Sim.) πῶς; / (Sik.) ὅλμον τιν’ ἢ λίθον τιν’ ἢ τοιοῦτό τι ἄνωθεν ἔνσεισον λαβοῦσα.
[ back ] 27. Declamation 27.11: εἰς βόθρον κατορύξας βαθὺν λίθων σωρὸν ἐπεφόρησα.
[ back ] 28. Dyskolos 3–4: Φυλασίων καὶ τῶν δυναμένων τὰς πέτρας / ἐνθάδε γεωργεῖν.
[ back ] 29. Dyskolos 604–606: τοῦτ’ ἐστὶν εἰλικρ̣[ινὴς] γεωργὸς Ἀττικός· / πέτραις μαχόμ[εν]ος θύμα φερούσαις καὶ σφάκον / ὀδύνας ἐπισπᾶ[τ’ ο]ὐδὲν ἀγαθὸν λαμβάνων. Lucian’s Timon cultivates a similar terrain (Timon 31): ὁ Τίμων οὑτοσὶ σκάπτει πλησίον ὀρεινὸν καὶ ὑπόλιθον γήδιον.
[ back ] 30. Declamation 27.18: γεωργῶ δὲ ἀγρὸν οὐ, μὰ Δία, χλιδῶντα καὶ δένδροις κατάσκιον, ἀλλ’ ὄχθον τραχύν, θύμον γεωργοῦντα καὶ σφακόν.
[ back ] 31. Declamation 27.24: οὐδενὸς ἀνθρώπων ἐγὼ συγγενής. ἐκ τῶν πετρῶν ἀνέφυν. ἐκεῖναί μοι φίλαι, ἐκεῖναί μοι συγγενεῖς.
[ back ] 32. Dyskolos 328–333: τούτῳ ταλάντων ἔστ’ ἴσως τουτὶ δυεῖν / τὸ κτῆμα. τοῦτ’ αὐτὸς γεωργῶν διατελεῖ / μόνος, συνεργὸν δ’ οὐδέν’ ἀνθρώπων ἔχων, / οὐκ οἰκέτην οἰκεῖον, οὐκ ἐκ τοῦ τόπου / μισθωτόν, οὐχὶ γείτον’, ἀλλ’ αὐτὸς μόνος. ἥδιστόν ἐστ’ αὐτῷ γὰρ ἀνθρώπων ὁρᾶν / οὐδένα. Knemon and Libanius’ δύσκολος live like paupers out of choice rather than necessity. In Lucian (Timon 31), the life of Timon is imagined as follows: παπαί, καὶ ἡ Πενία πάρεστι καὶ ὁ Πόνος ἐκεῖνος, ἡ Καρτερία τε καὶ ἡ Σοφία καὶ ἡ Ἀνδρεία καὶ ὁ τοιοῦτος ὄχλος τῶν ὑπὸ τῷ Λιμῷ ταττομένων ἁπάντων, πολὺ ἀμείνους τῶν σῶν δορυφόρων. Bekker, Anec. I, 344, 29 reports the phrase ἄδουλον βίον, which relates to the modus vivendi of Timon.
[ back ] 33. Julian Misopogon 8: οὕτω μὲν οὖν ἐγὼ καὶ ἐν Κελτοῖς, κατὰ τὸν τοῦ Μενάνδρου Δύσκολον, αὐτὸς ἐμαυτῷ πόνους προσετίθην. That said, Julian, idealising the barbarians he encountered, saw the pursuit of toil as a sign of moral purity.
[ back ] 34. Declamation 27.25.
[ back ] 35. Russell 1986:129.
[ back ] 36. Dyskolos 535–538. ὁ δ’ ἥλιος κατέκα’, ἑώρα τ’ ἐμβλέπων / ὁ Γοργίας ὥσπερ τὰ κηλώνειά με / μόλις ἀνακύπτοντ’ εἶθ’ ὅλῳ τῷ σώματι / πάλιν κατακύπτοντ’.
[ back ] 37. Dyskolos 371–374: βούλομαι / ὡς πλεῖστον ἡμᾶς ἐργάσασθαι τήμερον / τοῦτόν τε τὴν ὀσφῦν ἀπορρήξανθ’ ἅμα / παύσασθ’ ἐνοχλοῦνθ’ ἡμῖν προσιόντα τ’ ἐνθάδε.
[ back ] 38. Declamation 27.26: τίς ἔρημος ἀνθρώπων χεῖρας ἔχων καὶ πόδας; οὐκ ἀρκεῖ τοῦτο τὸ πλῆθος αὐτῷ σκάπτειν, ἀροῦν, ὑδροφορεῖν, τἄλλα ποιεῖν ἃ κατ’ ἀγρὸν ἀεὶ πράττεται;
[ back ] 39. Dyskolos 713–717: ἓν δ’ ἴσω[ς] ἥμαρτον ὅστις τῶν ἁπάντων ὠιόμην / αὐτὸς αὐ[τά]ρκης τις εἶναι καὶ δεήσεσθ’ οὐδενός. / νῦν δ’ [ἰ]δ̣ὼν ὀξεῖαν οὖσαν ἄσκοπόν τε τοῦ βίου / τὴν τε[λ]ε̣υτήν, εὗρον οὐκ εὖ τοῦτο γινώσκων τότε. / δεῖ γὰ̣ρ̣ [εἶ]ναι καὶ παρεῖναι τὸν ἐπικουρήσοντ’ ἀεί.
[ back ] 40. Petrides 2014:34–41.
[ back ] 41. Lucian Timon. 44: καὶ ὄνομα μὲν ἔστω ὁ Μισάνθρωπος ἥδιστον, τοῦ τρόπου δὲ γνωρίσματα δυσκολία καὶ τραχύτης καὶ σκαιότης καὶ ὀργὴ καὶ ἀπανθρωπία.
[ back ] 42. Such as ὠμότης (“raw violence”); χαλεπότης (from “unpleasantness” to “savagery,” e.g. Aristophanes Wasps 942); ἀγριότης (“viciousness”; e.g. Xenophon Anabasis 5.8.24, on dogs, an animal that looms large in the constructions of Knemon in Dyskolos); μισοξενία (“hatred of guests,” e.g. Diodorus Siculus 40.3.4); and, significantly, with ἀσέβεια (“impiety,” e.g. Libanius Declamation 45.2.9). Knemon is decried as ἄγριος (Dyskolos 388) and χαλεπός by Sostratos (Dyskolos 171, 325) and Sikon (Dyskolos 628); ἀνήμερος (“untamed, wild”) and ἀνόσιος (“unholy”) by Pyrrhias (Dyskolos 122–123); ἱερόσυλος (“sacrilegious, breaker of religious custom”) by Sikon again (Dyskolos 640).
[ back ] 43. Knemon is a prime example of both these facets of ἀπανθρωπία. He ignores Gorgias all his life. A good beating (Dyskolos 195) or even death is what Simiche should expect for dropping the bucket and the mattock into the well (Dyskolos 587). Cf. Cassius Dio 56.41.6.
[ back ] 44. Declamation 27.7: ἔμετον ημάτων καὶ ἐρωτήματα οἷα ἄν με παραχρῆμα ἀπώλεσε.
[ back ] 45. Dyskolos 729–731.
[ back ] 46. Heath 1995:20–21.
[ back ] 47. Hermogenes, Περὶ στάσεων, pp. 76–79 Rabe, and Heath 1995:52–53, 129–134.
[ back ] 48. Russel 1996:214 n. 3.
[ back ] 49. Russell 1996:214.
[ back ] 50. Hermogenes, Περὶ στάσεων, p. 48 Rabe; Heath 1995:38.
[ back ] 51. Hermogenes, Περὶ στάσεων, p. 39 Rabe; Heath 1995:33–34.
[ back ] 52. Hermogenes, Περὶ στάσεων, p. 52 Rabe; Heath 1995:40.
[ back ] 53. Declamation 27.11: ἀλλὰ κακὸς κακῶς ἀπόλοιο μετὰ τῶν καλῶν διδασκάλων πρῶτον μὲν καὶ τὰ ὀνόματα ταῦτα μαθών. Libanius here evokes Aristophanes’ Clouds and Pheidippides turning his sophistic education against his father.
[ back ] 54. Menander Dyskolos 388: πατρὸς μετ’ ἀγρίου, μισοπονήρου τῷ τρόπῳ.
[ back ] 55. Still, his wounded pride is indeed a factor (Declamation 27.1: καταγέλαστος αὐτῷ νομισθείς; cf. 27.9–10) and he does concede that some people, the jurors among them, could regard ἀποκήρυξις as a means of σωφρονισμός (27.14). These discrepancies are part of what makes the misanthrope a laughable individual.
[ back ] 56. It first appeared in Meredith’s essay entitled “On the idea of Comedy, and of the uses of the comic spirit,” published in The New Quarterly Magazine in April 1877; cf. Ives 1997. For an extensive discussion of agelasts in Plautus, go to Segal 1987:71–98.
[ back ] 57. Frye 1957:163–185.
[ back ] 58. Segal 1987:71, 75.
[ back ] 59. Richard Bentley, cited approvingly by Gibbon 1946: vol. 1, 704.
[ back ] 60. Cribiore 2013:3.
[ back ] 61. On the Christian polemics of laughter, from the Evangelists to St Paul and from Clement of Alexandria to Basil of Caesarea and finally St John Chrysostom, see Halliwell 2008:471–519.
[ back ] 62. For John Chrysostom’s life and career, I rely on Kelly 1995.
[ back ] 63. This once-established view, which still finds supporters (e.g. Wintjes 2005:176–190), has come under attack by Malosse 2008. See there also the full doxography of the issue.
[ back ] 64. Although none mentions the other by name in any of their writings, two such ebullient public personalities cannot have remained hidden from one another in a place like Antioch. John alludes to Libanius in several of his works (see Hunter 1988 and 1989, with previous bibliography), whereas Libanius “était au courant de tout dans la cité et il en savait bien plus sur le christianisme et sur les Églises qui se disputaient alors la prééminence dans sa patrie que ne le laisserait croire son ignorance affichée” (Malosse 2008:274). Beyond this, there are various indications of at least indirect interaction between Libanius and John. Libanius’ oration on the Kalendae Ianuariae (Oration 9), for instance, has been cogently interpreted “as his reaction to the Christian sermons against the Kalends, and especially to John’s that must have preceded it at a short distance in time” (Graf 2011:185).
[ back ] 65. On these homilies, their dates, and context, see Kelly 1995:90–2, 133.
[ back ] 66. Kelly 1995:29, 34.
[ back ] 67. Kelly 1995:42–3.
[ back ] 68. Browning 1952.
[ back ] 69. Libanius here alludes to the New Comedy chorus, a band of drunken, disorderly revellers (κωμασταί) whose sudden onslaught into the orchestra at the end of Act I causes the characters on stage to scatter in fear.
[ back ] 70. Τhe phrase ἄτακτος γέλως is used in Statues, PG 49.159.
[ back ] 71. In Menander’s Dyskolos, too, Gorgias, an agelast-in-waiting at this stage, contrasts the dangerous σχολή of the rich, who roam about hunting beasts (or girls), to the toilsome ἀσχολία οf the poor, who spare no time for love or childish play: οὐ δίκαιόν ἐστι γοῦν / τὴν σὴν σχολὴν τοῖς ἀσχολουμένοις κακὸν 
/ ἡμῖν γενέσθαι (Dyskolos 293–295).
[ back ] 72. Cf. Menander Sententiae 159 Liapis: γελᾷ δ’ ὁ μῶρος, κἄν τι μὴ γελοῖον ᾖ.
[ back ] 73. John alludes to two common mime plots, the adultery mime and the parody of Christian rituals.
[ back ] 74. For John, the men of the theatre are the εὐτράπελοι par excellence: οὐχ ὁρᾷς τοὺς λεγομένους γελωτοποιούς, τοὺς κόρδακας; οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ εὐτράπελοι (Ephesians, PG 62.119).
[ back ] 75. Sandwell 2010.