Religion Past and Present

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Laughter and Weeping
(373 words)

[German Version]

Laughter and weeping are usually regarded as exclusively human expressions. They involve basic physiological processes, appear in social contexts and reflect culturally specific meanings. Laughter and weeping may appear as elements in myths and rituals. Sometimes they are obligatory, other times restricted. Laughter may be a characteristic of the divine world. The gods of ancient Greece laughed boisterously. Apuleius of Madaura and Plutarch both mention a god of laughter and, in a magical papyrus, God created the world through laughter. Al…

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Gilhus, Ingvild Sælid, “Laughter and Weeping”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 16 August 2022 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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