Satire is the term of Latin origin, which means a way of reality representation that consists in acute and critical ridicule of the negative phenomena; it is applied in art through such stylistic devices as sarcasm, irony, hyperbole, allegory, and others. Usually, satire opposes negative situations or events, which hinder the development of society. Unlike humor, it is sharply condemnable. Humor is a kind of author’s special mood, which usually includes explicit or veiled sympathy to the ridiculed target, and satirical ridicule is a way of struggle and rejection; its object of critics is antipodes of generally accepted notions of morality that do not meet aesthetic ideals. Satire is oriented towards the public. Thus its essence is always publicistic.
Satirical work could be a fable, a tale, a story, a novel, and a poem.
The term comes from the Latin name of mythical goat-like creatures, satyres. It is also associated with the word satura, a dish with different fruits, annual offering for gods.
This phenomenon arose in ancient Roman literature as a poetic work, a lyrical poem, where certain qualities of a person or a group of people were condemned.
The first gleams of this stylistic device appeared in comic works in Sicily and Italy. A comedy of satirical character was created by Epicharmus of Kos in Syracuse; the satire of this work is based on folk laughter. The first mime appeared on the same basis. Its creator, Epicharmus’s contemporary Sophron, was those who brought the image of a drunkard to the scene.
Rome is considered to be the homeland of satire. Quintilian, a famous Roman rhetorician, said “satira tota nostra est,” which means “satire is completely ours.” But nonetheless, this phenomenon was developed in Greek folklore and other genres, and it greatly influenced Roman satire.
A parody of epic poetry arose quite early. It was Batrachomyomachia or the Battle of Frogs and Mice. This fact testifies that Greeks had a high culture of parody already in VI-VII centuries BC. Outdated style of the poem was the object of ridicule. Thus, it was a kind of parody of the passing epoch.
There was no special satirical genre in ancient Greece. Aristophanes is considered to be one of the first satirists; his dramatic works are known because of his critical derision of political figures, and the comedies gave the ground for the further development of such works. Menander, a famous antique writer, took over Aristophanes’ style in one of his plays Drunkenness, where politician Callimedon was condemned in a humorous way.
Ancient satire combined such features as a dialogical character, often enriched with parody, mockery at the current state structure; everyone could be ridiculed, even gods and rulers.
Sometimes satire appears as a key to understanding a society with a critical point of view. During the whole time of formation of the phenomenon, it helped people to ridicule representatives of the highest strata of society. The task of satire is to identify problems, obsolescence, moral vices, but it does not correct them, it is just an indicator of the defects that need to be changed.
As it was mentioned, satire did not belong to a particular genre, appearing in various kinds of literature and art, so it is difficult to classify its forms. There are two types of satire – Horatian and Juvenalian. Horatian satire (comes from the name of Horace) does not intend to expose shortcomings of society to sharp criticism. It is more like a slight humor, which does not have a purpose to offend someone. From this satirical type, problems appear to be not the root of evil in society, but rather the reason to smile.
Juvenalian satire (the term comes from the name of a satirist Juvenal) is sharp and critical; it applies grotesque, parody, exaggeration. Here social disadvantages are not considered condescendingly; they cannot be accepted. This type is intended to provoke certain changes, undermine the opponent’s reputation.
Satire is a genre of literature or stylistic device which bases on comic disclosure and ridicule of negative phenomenon in society and human nature. This phenomenon is applied in various types of literature and other kinds of art; for its expression authors usually use such literary techniques as irony, grotesque, exaggeration, sarcasm and others. Satire originated in ancient Greece and Rome. It is divided into Horatian and Juvenalian types. Horatian satire exposes disadvantages to light criticism, and Juvenalian type sharply condemns shortcomings and demands eradication of evil and vices; it requires making changes in the customary order of life.