There are many comments on the role of humour and laughter in influencing serious issues.  Here the first century Roman writer Quintilian ackowledges that it can ‘turn the scale in matters of great importance’.

‘Now, though laughter may be regarded as a trivial matter, and an emotion frequently awakened by buffoons, actors or fools, it has a certain imperious force of its own which it is very hard to resist … it frequently turns the scale in matters of great importance.’

‘Cum videatur autem res levis et quae ab scurris, mimis, insipientibus denique saepe moveatur, tamen habet vim nescio an imperiosissimam et cui repugnari minime potest … Rerum autem saepe … maximarum momenta vertit.’

Source: Quintilian (c. 35-100), The “Institutio Oratorio” of Quintilian, trans. H.E. Butler, Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1953), 6.3.8-9


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