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Conversely, not all humour, even on such topics as politics, religion or art is necessarily "satirical", even when it uses the satirical tools of irony, parody, and burlesque. Even light-hearted satire has a serious "after-taste": the organizers of the Ig Nobel Prize describe this as "first make people laugh, and then make them think". Satire and irony in some cases have been regarded as the most effective source to understand a society, the oldest form of social study.
Historically, satire has satisfied the popular need to debunk and ridicule the leading figures in politics, economy, religion and other prominent realms of power. For instance, it forces administrations to clarify, amend or establish their policies. Satire's job is to expose problems and contradictions, and it's not obligated to solve them. For its nature and social role, satire has enjoyed in many societies a special freedom license to mock prominent individuals and institutions.
The state of political satire in a given society reflects the tolerance or intolerance that characterizes it,  and the state of civil liberties and human rights. Under totalitarian regimes any criticism of a political system, and especially satire, is suppressed. A typical example is the Soviet Union where the dissidents , such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov were under strong pressure from the government. While satire of everyday life in the USSR was allowed, the most prominent satirist being Arkady Raikin , political satire existed in the form of anecdotes  that made fun of Soviet political leaders, especially Brezhnev , famous for his narrow-mindedness and love for awards and decorations.
Satire is a diverse genre which is complex to classify and define, with a wide range of satiric "modes". Satirical literature can commonly be categorized as either Horatian, Juvenalian, or Menippean. Horatian satire, named for the Roman satirist Horace 65—8 BCE , playfully criticizes some social vice through gentle, mild, and light-hearted humour.
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Horace Quintus Horatius Flaccus wrote Satires to gently ridicule the dominant opinions and "philosophical beliefs of ancient Rome and Greece" Rankin. Horatian satire follows this same pattern of "gently [ridiculing] the absurdities and follies of human beings" Drury. Horatian satire's sympathetic tone is common in modern society.
Horatian satire is a gentle reminder to take life less seriously and evokes a wry smile. Shamekia Thomas suggests, "In a work using Horatian satire, readers often laugh at the characters in the story who are the subject of mockery as well as themselves and society for behaving in those ways. Juvenalian satire, named for the writings of the Roman satirist Juvenal late first century — early second century AD , is more contemptuous and abrasive than the Horatian.
Juvenal disagreed with the opinions of the public figures and institutions of the Republic and actively attacked them through his literature. Juvenal also, unlike Horace, attacked public officials and governmental organizations through his satires, regarding their opinions as not just wrong, but evil. Following in this tradition, Juvenalian satire addresses perceived social evil through scorn, outrage, and savage ridicule.
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This form is often pessimistic, characterized by the use of irony, sarcasm, moral indignation and personal invective, with less emphasis on humor. Strongly polarized political satire can often be classified as Juvenalian. A Juvenal satirist's goal is generally to provoke some sort of political or societal change because he sees his opponent or object as evil or harmful. Jonathan Swift has been established as an author who "borrowed heavily from Juvenal's techniques in [his critique] of contemporary English society" Podzemny. In the history of theatre there has always been a conflict between engagement and disengagement on politics and relevant issue, between satire and grotesque on one side, and jest with teasing on the other.
The side-effect of teasing is that it humanizes and draws sympathy for the powerful individual towards which it is directed. Satire instead uses the comic to go against power and its oppressions, has a subversive character, and a moral dimension which draws judgement against its targets. Teasing includes light and affectionate parody, good-humoured mockery, simple one-dimensional poking fun, and benign spoofs.
By contrast, teasing never touches on the core issue, never makes a serious criticism judging the target with irony ; it never harms the target's conduct, ideology and position of power; it never undermines the perception of his morality and cultural dimension. Types of satire can also be classified according to the topics it deals with.
From the earliest times, at least since the plays of Aristophanes , the primary topics of literary satire have been politics , religion and sex. Scatology has a long literary association with satire,    as it is a classical mode of the grotesque , the grotesque body and the satiric grotesque.
Another classification by topics is the distinction between political satire, religious satire and satire of manners. Comedy of manners , sometimes also called satire of manners, criticizes mode of life of common people; political satire aims at behavior, manners of politicians, and vices of political systems.
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Historically, comedy of manners, which first appeared in British theater in , has uncritically accepted the social code of the upper classes. Another analysis of satire is the spectrum of his possible tones : wit , ridicule , irony , sarcasm , cynicism , the sardonic and invective. Satire is found not only in written literary forms. In preliterate cultures it manifests itself in ritual and folk forms, as well as in trickster tales and oral poetry. It appears also in graphic arts, music, sculpture, dance, cartoon strips , and graffiti. 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. 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: his plays are known for their critical political and societal commentary ,  particularly for the political satire by which he criticized the powerful Cleon as in The Knights.
He is also notable for the persecution he underwent. His early play Drunkenness contains an attack on the politician Callimedon.
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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 first Roman to discuss satire critically was Quintilian , who invented the term to describe the writings of Gaius Lucilius.
The two most prominent and influential ancient Roman satirists are Horace and Juvenal , who 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 Augustus , he 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 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. While dealing with serious topics in what are now known as anthropology , sociology and psychology , he introduced a satirical approach, "based on the premise that, however serious the subject under review, it could be made more interesting and thus achieve greater effect, if only one leavened the lump of solemnity by the insertion of a few amusing anecdotes or by the throwing out of some witty or paradoxical observations.
He was well aware that, in treating of new themes in his prose works, he would have to employ a vocabulary of a nature more familiar in hija , satirical poetry. Another satirical story based on this preference was an Arabian Nights tale called "Ali with the Large Member". In the 10th century, the writer Tha'alibi recorded satirical poetry written by the Arabic poets As-Salami and Abu Dulaf, with As-Salami praising Abu Dulaf's wide breadth of knowledge and then mocking his ability in all these subjects, and with Abu Dulaf responding back and satirizing As-Salami in return.
The terms " comedy " and "satire" became synonymous after Aristotle 's Poetics was translated into Arabic in the medieval Islamic world , where it was elaborated upon by Islamic philosophers and writers, such as Abu Bischr, his pupil Al-Farabi , Avicenna , and Averroes.
Due to cultural differences, they disassociated comedy from Greek dramatic representation and instead identified it with Arabic poetic themes and forms, such as hija satirical poetry. They viewed comedy as simply the "art of reprehension", and made no reference to light and cheerful events, or troubled beginnings and happy endings, associated with classical Greek comedy.
After the Latin translations of the 12th century , the term "comedy" thus gained a new semantic meaning in Medieval literature. Ubayd Zakani introduced satire in Persian literature during the 14th century. His work is noted for its satire and obscene verses, often political or bawdy, and often cited in debates involving homosexual practices.
His non-satirical serious classical verses have also been regarded as very well written, in league with the other great works of Persian literature.