Homeric laughter

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Vulkan shows the gods Venus and Mars trapped in his net , around 1540, Kunsthistorisches Museum , Vienna
Lovis Corinth : The Homeric Laughter , 1909 (Munich, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen)

Homeric laughter (from the Greek  ἄσβεστος γέλως ásbestos gélōs " inextinguishable laughter") denotes the laughter that the legendary epic poet of the Greeks Homer in the Iliad (1, 599) and the Odyssey (8, 326) let the gods sing. It is described as loud, never-ending laughter. The German expression "Homeric Laughter" could be derived from the French. rire homérique .

The reason for this was the god Hephaestus in the Odyssey : he had caught his wife Aphrodite , who cheated on him with Ares , together with him in an invisible web made of lightning bolts that he had attached over his marriage bed. Then he called the other gods ( Odyssey 8, 306–320 and 325–327 in the translation by Johann Heinrich Voss ):

“Father Zeus, and you others, immortal blessed gods!
Come and see the hideous, intolerable outrage:
How I was paralyzed by the daughter of Zeus' Aphrodite
Jetzo forever, and Ares embraced the villain;
Because that one is beautiful and straight legs, but I am
such a crippled figure! But nobody is to blame for the paralysis, but
the parents alone! Oh, they would never have begotten!
But see how both of them
cultivate rest and lust in my own bed ! My heart bursts at the sight!
In future they would like to lie like this, not even for a while!
No matter how discouraged they are, they will not ask again
to rest like this! Alone I hold her tight in the noose,
Until the father gives me back all the presents that
I gave as bridegroom for his shameless breeding!
His daughter is beautiful, she alone has an irrepressible heart! "

The other gods burst into laughter, which mortal people could hear as thunder. It is not entirely clear who:

“Now the gods, the givers of good, were standing in the anteroom;
And long laughter rang out from the blessed gods
When they saw the arts of the clever inventor Hephestus. "

Individual evidence

  1. a b Rudolf Köster: Proper names in the German vocabulary: Ein Lexikon (page 72), Walter de Gruyter, 2003, ISBN 3110177021 and ISBN 9783110177022
  2. a b Friedrich Leberecht Wilhelm Schwartz: The origin of mythology: Explained in Greek and German sagas (page 152), W. Hertz , 1860 (the original is in the University of California )