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Favorinus as a ‘comic authority figure’

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Chapter Summary

Gellius makes optimal use of the humorous resources of the chreia, a short, memorable anecdote featuring a famous intellectual, in which a particular point of a general moral and/or educational value is made in a seriocomic way. This chapter focuses on Gellius self-authorising use of this rhetoric of humour, with special attention to his representations of the Academic philosopher Favorinus. One specifically advantageous feature of the chreia for Gellius authorising strategies is the technique of implicit allusion to controversial aspects of a famous persons reputation. Gellius use of Favorinus as a comic authority figure should be seen against the background of the contemporary intellectual discourse on the body-mind problem as the chapter outlines, and can be illustrated by Favorinus striking parallels with Socrates as a protreptic authority who is simultaneously comically ambiguous and notoriously suspicious as a result of his physiognomy.

Keywords: Aulus Gellius; body-mind problem; chreia; comic authority figure; Favorinus; humour; physiognomy; Socrates

10.1163/ej.9789004169869.i-364.22
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