In comparative study with European medieval satire
Albert A. Makaryan, Ani A. Shahnazaryan
The study of the origin and development of humor in the context of ancient and medieval cultures makes it possible to define, to classify and to interpret the generic system of the comic in European and Armenian literature. The Roman rhetorician Quintilian had already developed a true theory of the humor devoting a whole chapter of his masterwork to the art of provoking laughter and focusing on the genres of humor, parody in the first place. Even though the culture of laughter in Medieval literature was subjected to the pedantic rules of religious and scholastic literature, from the 9th century on, we find visible generic changes in European literature: parody replaces eulogy (such is the poetry of the Vagrants), the Fabliaux and the Schwank come to substitute didactic and moralistic genres). Humour had its distinctive qualities in Armenian Medieval literature: elements of mirth would reveal in sermons, hagiographic works, in the genres of Parsav (criticism in literal translation), Arak (fable) or Zruyts (Tale). The latter were miniature counterparts of European Fabliaux and Scwank. Later, in the 14th-17th centuries humor found its way in comical poetic texts appearing in different Armenian communities.