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The satirical papyrus at the British Museum Satirical ostraca showing a cat guarding geese, c. Figured ostracon showing a cat waiting on a mouse, Egypt One of the earliest examples of what we might call satire, The Satire of the Trades is in Egyptian writing from the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC.
The text's apparent readers are students, tired of studying. It argues that their lot as scribes is not only useful, but far superior to that of the ordinary man. Scholars such as Helck  think that the context was meant to be serious. The Papyrus Anastasi I  late 2nd millennium BC contains a satirical letter which first praises the virtues of its recipient, but then mocks the reader's meagre knowledge and achievements.
Ancient Greece[ edit ] The Greeks had no word for what later would be called "satire", although the terms cynicism and parody were used. Modern critics call the Greek playwright Aristophanes one of the best known early satirists: He is also notable for the persecution he underwent.
His early play Drunkenness contains an attack on the politician Callimedon.
The oldest form of satire still in use is the Menippean satire by Menippus of Gadara. His own writings are lost. Examples from his admirers and imitators mix seriousness and mockery in dialogues and present parodies before a background of diatribe.
As in the case of Aristophanes plays, menippean satire turned upon images of filth and disease. The two most prominent and influential ancient Roman satirists are Horace and Juvenalwho wrote during the early days of the Roman Empire.
Other important satirists in ancient Latin are Gaius Lucilius and Persius. Satire in their work is much wider than in the modern sense of the word, including fantastic and highly coloured humorous writing with little or no real mocking intent.
When Horace criticized Augustushe used veiled ironic terms.
In contrast, Pliny reports that the 6th-century-BC poet Hipponax wrote satirae that were so cruel that the offended hanged themselves. He states that he was surprised they expected people to believe their lies, and stating that he, like they, has no actual knowledge or experience, but shall now tell lies as if he did.
He goes on to describe a far more obviously extreme and unrealistic tale, involving interplanetary exploration, war among alien life forms, and life inside a mile long whale back in the terrestrial ocean, all intended to make obvious the fallacies of books like Indica and The Odyssey.
Medieval Islamic world[ edit ] Main articles: Arabic satire and Persian satire Medieval Arabic poetry included the satiric genre hija. Satire was introduced into Arabic prose literature by the Afro-Arab author Al-Jahiz in the 9th century.
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