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Please note that it is recommended you read as much as possible selected general bibliography (below in bold) over the summer holidays. It is also advisable to read as many as possible of the set texts in translation before the module begins (see Syllabus tab, and author-specific bibliography below for editions and commentaries). Students taking this module with the Latin texts option should also begin reading Terence's Eunuch with the recommended commentary (see Syllabus tab)

See pages on 'The Philosophy of Humor' in the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy (

  • Bakhtin, M. (1968) Rabelais and His World. Trans. H.Iswolsky. Cambridge, MA.
  • Beard, M. (2014) Laughter in Ancient Rome. Berkeley and Los Angeles.
  • Bergson, H. (1911) Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic. Trans. C.Brereton and F.Rothwell, London.
  • Bernstein, M.A. (1992) Bitter Carnival. Ressentiment and the Abject Hero. Princeton, NJ.
  • Billig, M. (2005) Laughter and Ridicule: Towards a Social Critique of Humour. London.
  • Bremmer, J. and Roodenburg, H. (eds.) (1997) A Cultural History of Humour. Cambridge.
  • Clark, J. R. (2007) Looking at Laughter. Humor, Power and Transgression in Roman Visual Culture, 100BC-AD250. Berkeley and Los Angeles.
  • Connors, C. (2004) ‘Monkey business: imitation, authenticity and identity from Pithekoussai to Plautus’ Classical Antiquity 23: 179-207.
  • Corbeill, A. (1996) Controlling Laughter: Political Humour in the Late Republic. Princeton, NJ.
  • Critchley, S. (2002) On Humour. London and New York.
  • Dominik, W. and Hall, J. (eds.) A Companion to Roman Rhetoric. Malden, MA and Oxford.
  • Dutsch, D. and Suterand, A. (eds.) (2018), Ancient Obscenities: Their Nature and Use in the Ancient Greek and Roman Worlds, Ann Arbor.
  • Fantham, E. (1989) 'Mime: the missing link in Roman literary history'. Classical World 82.3: 153-63.
  • Feeney, D. (2016) Beyond Greek: The Beginnings of Latin Literature. Harvard.
  • Freud, S. (1960) Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious. Trans. J.Strachey, London.
  • Foka, A and Liliequist, J. (eds.) (2015) Laughter, Humor and the (un)Making of Gender: Historical and Cultural Perspectives.New York.
  • Gunderson, E. (2000) Staging Masculinity. The Rhetoric of Performance in the Roman World. Ann Arbor, MI.
  • Halliwell, S. (2008) Greek Laughter. A Study in Cultural Psychology from Homer to Early Christianity. Cambridge.
  • Henderson, John. 1999. Writing down Rome: satire, comedy, and other offences in Latin poetry. Oxford.
  • Kidd, S.E. (2014) Nonsense and Meaning in Ancient Greek Comedy. Cambridge.
  • Laurence, R. and Paterson, J. (1999) ‘Power and Laughter: Imperial dicta PBSR 67: 183-97.
  • Leigh, M. (2004) Comedy and the Rise of Rome. Oxford.
  • Oring, E. (2016) Asides. The Theory, Analysis and Aesthetics of Humor. Colorado.
  • Papaioannou. S. and Serafim, A. (eds.). Comic Invective in Ancient Greek and Roman Oratory (Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter, Trends in Classics, Supplementary Volumes – forthcoming in 2021).
  • Perks, L. (2012) 'The ancient roots of Humor Theory' Humor 25.2: 119-32
  • Richlin, A. (1992) The Garden of Priapus. Sexuality and Aggression in Roman Humor. Oxford.
  • Ruffell, I. (2011) Politics and Anti-Realism in Athenian Old Comedy. Oxford.
  • Sharrock, A. (2009) Reading Roman Comedy. Poetics and Playfulness in Plautus and Terence. Cambridge.
  • Stallybrass, P. and White, A. (1986) The Politics and Poetics of Transgression. London.

According to author/text

  • Beard M. (2014) Laughter in Ancient Rome. Berkeley and Los Angeles.
  • Dominik, W and Hall, J. (eds.) (2007) A Companion to Roman Rhetoric. Malden, MA and Oxford.
  • Harries, B. (2007), ‘Acting the Part: Techniques of the Comic Stage in Cicero’s Early Speeches’, in: J. Booth (ed.), Cicero on the Attack: Invective and Subversion in the Orations and Beyond, Swansea, 129–147.
  • Manuwald, G. (2014), ‘Cicero, an Interpreter of Terence’, in S. Papaioannou (ed.), Terence and Interpretation, Newcastle upon Tyne, 179–200.
  • Martin, J.M. (1990) ‘Cicero’s jokes at the court of Henry II of England.’ Modern Language Quarterly 51: 144-66
  • Steel, C. (ed.) (2013) The Cambridge Companion to Cicero. Cambridge.
  • Anderson, W.S. (1961) 'Juvenal and Quintilian' Yale Classical Studies 17: 1-91.
  • Braund.S.M. (1996) Juvenal Satires Book I. Cambridge.
  • Braund, S.M. (1992) Roman Verse Satire. Oxford.
  • Braund, S.M, and W. Raschke (2002) ‘Satiric grotesques in public and private: Juvenal, Dr. Frankenstein, Raymond Chandler, and Absolutely Fabulous.’ Greece and Rome 49:62–84
  • Ferguson, J. (1979) Juvenal. The Satires. London
  • Freudenburg, K. (2001) Satires of Rome: Threatening poses from Lucilius to Juvenal. Cambridge. (See especially pp209-77).
  • Freudenburg, K. (ed.) (2005) The Cambridge companion to Roman satire. Cambridge (see chapter by Rimell)
  • Gold, B.K. (1998) ' "The house I live in is not my own": women's bodies in Juvenal's satires' Arethusa 31: 368-86.
  • Gowers, Emily. (1993). The Loaded Table: Representations of food in Roman literature. Oxford (see chapter on Sat 4)
  • Griffith, J. G. (1969) ‘ Juvenal, Statius, and the Flavian establishment.’ Greece and Rome 16:134–150.
  • Henderson, John. (1995) 'Pump up the volume: Juvenal Satire 1.1–21.' Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 41:101–137.
  • Hooley, D. (ed.) (2007) The Blackwell Companion to Roman Satire. Malden, MA.
  • Jones, F. (2007) Juvenal and the satiric genre. London: Duckworth
  • Keane, C. (2006) Figuring genre in Roman satire. New York and Oxford.
  • Larmour, D. H. J. (2007) ‘Holes in the body: Sites of abjection in Juvenal’s Rome. In The sites of Rome: Time, space, and memory. Eds. D. H. J. Larmour and D. Spencer, 169–210. Oxford.
  • Miller, P.A. (1998) 'The bodily grotesque in Roman Satire: images of sterility.' Arethusa 31: 257-83.
  • Plaza, M. (2006) The function of humour in Roman verse satire: Laughing and lying. Oxford.
  • Richlin, Amy. (1992) The garden of Priapus: Sexuality and aggression in Roman humor. New York and Oxford. (See pp.196-213 on Juvenal)
  • Rosen, R. (2007) Making Mockery. The Poetics of Ancient Satire. Oxford.
  • Winkler, M.M. (1995) ‘Alogia and emphasis in Juvenal’s fourth satire' Ramus 24:59–81.
  • Fitzgerald, W. (2007) Martial: The World of the Epigram. Chicago.
  • Hinds, S. (2007) ‘Martial’s Ovid/Ovid’s Martial.’ Journal of Roman Studies 97:113–154.
  • Howell, P. (1980) A Commentary on book one of the Epigrams of Martial. London.
  • Livingstone, N., and Nisbet. G. (2010) Epigram. Greece and Rome: New Surveys in the Classics 38. Cambridge.
  • Rimell, V. (2009) Martial’s Rome: Empire and the ideology of epigram. Cambridge.
  • Sullivan, J. P. (1989) ‘Martial’s “witty conceits”: Some technical observations. Illinois Classical Studies 14.1/2: 185–199.
  • Watson, L., and Watson, P. (2003) Select epigrams. Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics. Cambridge.
  • Gibson, R., Green. S. and Sharrock, A. (eds.) (2006) The Art of Love. Bimillennial Essays on Ovid’s Ars Amatoria and Remedia Amoris. Oxford.
  • Gibson, R. (2003) Ovid, Ars Amatoria 3. Cambridge.
  • James, S. L. (2012) ‘Elegy and new comedy’ in B.K.Gold (ed.) A Companion to Roman Love Elegy. Malden MA and Oxford.
  • James, S.L. (2016) 'Fallite fallentes. Rape and intertextuality in Terence's Eunuch and Ovid's Ars Amatoria'. find online at
  • McKeown, J.C. (1979) ‘Augustan elegy and mime’ Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 25: 71-84.
  • Sharrock, A. R. (1994) Seduction and Repetition in Ovid’s Ars Amatoria 2. Oxford.
  • Sharrock, A.R. (2002) ‘An a-musing tale: gender, genre and Ovid’s battles with inspiration in the Metamorphoses’, in Cultivating the Muse: Power, Desire and Inspiration in the Ancient World, ed. E. Spentzou and D. P. Fowler. Oxford: 207–27.
  • Smith, M.S. (1975) Cena Trimalchionis. Oxford.
  • Beck, R. (1975) ‘Encolpius at the Cena.’ Phoenix 29:271–283.
  • Bodel, J. (1994) ‘Trimalchio’s underworld.’ In The search for the ancient novel. Ed. James Tatum. Baltimore, 237–259.
  • Boyce, B. (1991) The language of the freedmen in Petronius Cena Trimalchionis. Mnemosyne, Bibliotheca Classica Batava, Supplementum 117. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill.
  • Courtney, E. (2001) A Companion to Petronius. Oxford.
  • Harrison, S. J. (Ed.) (1999) Oxford Readings in the Roman Novel. Oxford.
  • Panayotakis, C. (1995) Theatrum Arbitri: Theatrical Elements in the Satyrica of Petronius. Leiden.
  • Plaza, M. (2000) Laughter and Derision in Petronius’ Satyrica: A Literary Study. Stockholm.
  • Prag, J. R. W.and Repath, I. (eds.) (2009) Petronius: A handbook. Malden, MA.
  • Rimell, V. (2002) Petronius and the Anatomy of Fiction. Cambridge.
  • Rimell, V. (2007) ‘Petronius’ lessons in learning - the hard way’ in J.Konig and T.Whitmarsh (eds.) Ordering Knowledge in the Roman Empire. Cambridge, 108-32.
  • Star, C. (2012) The Empire of the Self. Baltimore.
Pliny the Elder
  • Carey, S. (2003) Pliny’s Catalogue of Culture: Art and empire in the Natural History. Oxford.
  • Conte, G.-B. (1994) ‘The inventory of the world: Form of nature and the encyclopaedic project in the work of Pliny the Elder.’ In Gian Biagio Conte, Genres and readers. Baltimore and London, 67–104.
  • Henderson, J. (2002) ‘Knowing someone through their books: Pliny on Uncle Pliny.’ Classical Philology 97.3: 256–284.
  • Anderson, W.S. (1961) 'Juvenal and Quintilian' Yale Classical Studies 17: 1-91.
  • Clarke, M. L. 1996. Rhetoric at Rome: A historical survey. New York.
  • Murgia.C. 1991 ‘Notes on Quintilian’ CQ 41: 183-212.
  • Rabbie, E. (2019) ‘Wit and humour in Roman Rhetoric’ in W.Dominik and J.Hall (eds.) A Companion to Roman Rhetoric. Wiley-Blackwell, 207-17.
Seneca The Younger (General and on The Epistles)
  • Bartsch.S and Wray. D. (eds.) (2009) Seneca and the Self. Cambridge.
  • Bartsch, S. and Schiesaro, A. (eds.) (2015) The Cambridge Companion to Seneca. Cambridge.
  • Costa, C.D.N. (1988) Seneca, 17 Letters, with translation and commentary. Warminster (see commentary on Letters 24 and 47)
  • Damschen, G, and Heil, A. (eds.) (2014) Brill’s Companion to Seneca. Leiden.
  • Edwards, C. (1997) ‘Self-scrutiny and self-transformation in Seneca’s Letters’, Greece and Rome 44: 23-38.
  • Grant, M. (2000) ‘Humour in Seneca’s Letters to Lucilius’ Ancient Society 30: 319-329.
  • Habinek, T. (2000) ‘Seneca’s renown: “Gloria, Claritudo,” and the replication of the Roman elite.’ Classical Antiquity 19:264–303.
  • Inwood, B. (1995) ‘Seneca in his philosophical milieu.’ Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 97:63–76.
  • Ker, J. (2006) ‘Seneca, man of many genres.’ In Seeing Seneca Whole: Perspectives on philosophy, poetry, and politics. K. Volk and Gareth D. Williams (eds.), Leiden. 19–41.
  • Mannering, J. (2013) ‘Seneca’s philosophical writings. In A companion to the Neronian age. Ed. E.Buckley and M. Dinter, Chichester. 188–203.
  • Michalopoulos, A. (2015) ‘Mocking the (disabled) dead : Seneca’s Claudius in the Apocolocyntosis’ Illinois Classical Studies 43.2: 459-72.
  • Motto, L and Clark, J.R. (1970) ‘Epistle 56: Seneca's Ironic Art.’ Classical Philology 65.2: 102-105.
  • Rimell, V. (2015) The Closure of Space in Roman Poetics. Cambridge. (See pp 157-77 on Ep.56).
  • Romm, J. (2014) Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero. New York.
  • Schafer, J. (2011) ‘Seneca’s Epistulae Morales as dramatized education.’ Classical Philology 106:32–52.
  • Star, C. (2012) The Empire of the Self. Baltimore.
  • Too, Y.L. (1994) ‘Educating Nero: a reading of Seneca’s Moral Epistles’ in J.Elsner and J.Masters (eds.) Reflections of Nero. Culture, History and Representation. London, 211-24.
(On the Apocolocyntosis)
  • Coffey, M. (1989) Roman Satire. Bristol, 165-77.
  • Eden, P.T. (1984). Seneca: Apocolocyntosis. Cambridge.
  • Hooley, D. (ed.) (2007) The Blackwell Companion to Roman Satire. Malden, MA.
  • Leach, E.W. (1989) ‘The implied reader and the political argument in Seneca’s Apocolocyntosis and De Clementia. Arethusa 22: 197-230.
  • Motto, A.L. and Clark, J.R. (1993) ‘Satiric plotting in Seneca’s Apocolocyntosis’ in Motto and Clark, Essays on Seneca. Frankfurt, 197- 208.
  • Nussbaum, M. (2009) ‘Stoic laughter: a reading of Seneca’s Apocolocyntosis’ in S.Bartsch and D.Wray (eds.) Seneca and the Self. Cambridge, 84-112.
  • O’Gorman, E. (2005) ‘Citation and authority in Seneca’s Apocolocyntosis’ in K.Freudenburg (ed.) (2005) The Cambridge Companion to Roman Satire. Cambridge, 95-108.
  • Osgood, J. (2007) ‘The Vox and Verba of an emperor: Seneca, Claudius, and le prince idéal.' Classical Journal 102:329–354.
  • Relihan, J.(1993) Ancient Menippean Satire. Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Weinbrot, H.D. (2005) Menippean Satire Reconsidered. From Antiquity to the Eighteenth Century. Baltimore.
  • Whitton, C.L. (2013) ‘Seneca, Apocolocyntosis.’ In A Companion to the Neronian age. Eds. E.Buckley and M. Dinter. Chichester, 151–169.
  • Milns, R.D. (2010) ‘Suetonius and Vespasian’s humour’ Acta Classica 53: 117-123
  • Power, T. and Gibson, R. (eds.) (2014). Suetonius the Biographer. Studies in Roman Lives. Oxford.
  • Barsby, J. (1999) Terence, Eunuchus. Cambridge.
  • Barsby, J. (1990) ‘The characterisation of Parmeno in the opening scene of Terence’s Eunuch’, Prudentia 22: 4–12.
  • Barsby, J. (1993) ‘Problems of adaptation in the Eunuchus of Terence’, in Slater and Zimmermann (1993) (eds.) (1993) Intertextualität in der griechisch- römischen Komödie. Stuttgart: 160–79.
  • Caston, R.R. (2014) 'Reinvention in Terence's Eunuchus' Transactions of the American Philological Association 144: 41-70.
  • Dessen, C.S. (1995) ‘The figure of the eunuch in Terence’s Eunuchus’, Helios 22: 123–39.
  • Duckworth, G.E. (1994) The Nature of Roman Comedy: A Study in Popular Entertainment, 2nd edn (with foreword and bibliographical appendix by R. Hunter). Norman, OK. (1st edn 1952, Princeton, NJ.)
  • Dutsch, D. (2008) Feminine Discourse in Roman Comedy: On Echoes and Voices. Oxford.
  • Frangoulidis, S. A. (1993) ‘Modes of metatheatre: theatricalisation and detheatricalisation in Terence, Eunuchus’, Liverpool Classical Monthly 18: 146–51.
  • Frangoulidis, S.A. (1994a) ‘The soldier as a storyteller in Terence’s Eunuchus’, Mnemosyne 47: 586–95.
  • Frangoulidis, S.A. (1994b) ‘Performance and improvisation in Terence’s Eunuchus’, QUCC 48: 121–30.
  • Germany, R. (2016) Mimetic Contagion. Art and Artifice in Terence's Eunuch. Oxford.
  • Goldberg.S (1986) Understanding Terence. Guildford and Princeton, NJ.
  • Gowers, E. (2004) 'The plot thickens. Hidden outlines in Terence's prologues' Ramus 33: 150-66.
  • James, S. L. (ed.) (1998a) Gender and Genre in Roman Comedy and Elegy. Helios 25: 1 (special edn).
  • James, S.L. (2016) 'Fallite fallentes. Rape and intertextuality in Terence's Eunuch and Ovid's Ars Amatoria'. find online at
  • Konstan, D. (1986) ‘Love in Terence’s Eunuch: the origins of erotic subjectivity’, AJPh 107: 369–93.
  • Leigh, M. (2004) Comedy and the Rise of Rome. Oxford.
  • Lowe, J. C. B. (1983) ‘The Eunuchus: Terence and Menander.’ Classical Quarterly 33:429–444.
  • McCarthy, K. (2004) ‘The joker in the pack: slaves in Terence’, Ramus 33: 100–19.
  • Parker, H. N. (1989) ‘Crucially funny or Tranio on the couch: the servus callidus and jokes about torture’, TAPhA 119: 233–46.
  • Segal, E. (1987) Roman Laughter: The Comedy of Plautus, 2nd edn. Oxford. (1st edn 1968, Cambridge, MA.)
  • Segal, E (ed.) (2001b) Oxford Readings in Menander, Plautus and Terence. Oxford.
  • Sharrock, A. (2009) Reading Roman Comedy. Cambridge.
  • Smith, L. P. (1994) ‘Audience response to rape: Chaerea in Terence’s Eunuchus’, Helios 21: 21–38.
Virgil (Eclogue 4)
  • Bataille, G. (1997) ‘Laughter’ in F.Botting and S.Wilson (eds.) The Bataille Reader, Oxford and Malden, MA, 59-63.
  • Beard, M. (2014) Laughter in Ancient Rome. Oakland, CA, pp81-5.
  • Clausen, W. (1994) Virgil Eclogues. Edition and Commentary. Oxford.
  • Coleman, R. (1977) Vergil, Eclogues. Cambridge.
  • Du Quesnay, I.M.LeM. (1977) ‘Virgil’s fourth Eclogue’ reprinted in P.R.Hardie (ed.) (1999) Virgil: Critical Assessments of Classical Authors: Volume 1, general articles and the Eclogues. New York and London, 283-350.
  • Nisbet, R.G.M. (1999) ‘Virgil’s Fourth Eclogue: Easteners and Westeners’ In P.R.Hardie (ed.) (1999) Virgil: Critical Assessments of Classical Authors: Volume 1, general articles and the Eclogues. New York and London, 256-82.
  • Stuart, D.R. (1921) ‘On Virgil Ecl.4.60-63’ Classical Philology 16.3: 209-30.