This paper seeks to reevaluate scholarly responses to the laughter in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes. Using Zupančič's recent work on comedy, I argue that Hermes intentionally exploits surplus potentials that emerge from splits in the perceived unity and completeness of Zeus's cosmos. Through surpluses (a tortoise-lyre, a baby cattle rustler, a baby master of legal speech), Hermes is able to attain his place among the Olympians. The laughter of the audience is one final expression of this acceptance of Hermes and his potential.
Copyright © 2011 The Johns Hopkins University Press. This article first appeared in ARETHUSA, Volume 44, Issue 2, Spring, 2011, pages 143-165.
Bungard, Christopher. 2011. “Lies, Lyres, and Laughter: Surplus Potential in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes.” Arethusa 44(2): 143-165. Available from: digitalcommons.butler.edu/facsch_papers/559/