Abstract Giambattista Vico is a philosopher with a deeply tragic sense of life. His theory of the course of nations does not entail a notion of progress. Nations are born, mature, decline, and perish, and the nations that rise in their wake must begin again from barbarism. Nevertheless, Vico has a doctrine of humor and laughter, which he details in a digression within short apologia, the “Vici Vindiciae.” No significant scholarly attention has ever been paid to this digression. In this article, I critically consider Vico’s theory, with the greater intention of situating it in the context of his philosophy as a whole. I demonstrate that Vico’s association of “acute remarks” with the pursuit of truth, and his criticism of “argute remarks,” mockery, and laughter are an extension of his doctrine of the heroic mind. I also discuss the significance of Roman comedy for Vico as philologist.

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