Sarcasm

From the Greek sarkasmos, meaning to sneer at or taunt (and derived from a term for rending the flesh), sarcasm is one of the building blocks of civilization. The ability to express an unwelcome observation in a wickedly passive-aggressive manner is, at the very least, a great alternative to old-fashioned fisticuffs, or rape ‘n’ pillage. When I think about those ancient Greeks and the carte blanche they enjoyed to say horrid things to one another, I get quite jealous. For example: If you were strolling through downtown Thebes and you ran into a pal who was looking particularly soiled and unkempt, you might say, “Going somewhere special?” to which the other Greek might good-naturedly reply, “Oh! You and your flesh-rending ironic observations!” It’s sad to think that such a remark would, in our squishy and oversensitive age, be met with accusations of “hating.”

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