In this engaging study, a follow up to his earlier Looking at Lovemaking John R. Clarke asks what the Romans found funny, and why. As the title would suggest, he focuses on the evidence to be found in Roman art and material culture, including graffitti, although literary sources of course provide a framework for the study. He draws heavily on the theories of Mikhail Bakhtin, finding that much of Roman humour relies on the overturning of the existing social order, and breaking of taboos, be they social, religious or sexual.
John R. Clarke is Annie Laurie Howard Regents Professor of History of Art at the University of Texas, Austin. He is the author of Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans (UC Press, 2003), Roman Sex (2003), Looking at Lovemaking: Constructions of Sexuality in Roman Art,100 B.C. A.D. 250 (UC Press, 1998), and The Houses of Roman Italy: 100 B.C. A.D. 250: Ritual, Space, and Decoration (UC Press, 1991).