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ἀστεῖα, σκώμματα, ioci, iocularia, facete dicta). In their fun-making, the Greeks and Romans seem to have differed somewhat as do the French and the English of to-day—the Greeks inclining more to wit and the Romans to humour. The Greeks admired what was neat in form, terse, pointed, sparkling; the Romans what was provocative of laughter. This is, in fact, the essential difference between the sal Atticum and the acetum Italicum. (See Epigramma.) The witty sayings of the most famous Greeks, preserved for us in the pages of Diogenes Laertius and Plutarch, have a higher quality about them than mere fun. Such is that of Diogenes the Cynic, who, when journeying from Sparta to Athens, was asked where he was going, and replied, “From the men's apartments to the women's.” The same person, observing the son of a courtesan throwing stones among a crowd, said to him, “Take care lest you hit your father!” A stock joke of modern times is told of him, for seeing an unskilful archer practising, he went and sat by the target, saying, “Now I shall be out of harm's way.” Clever, also, is the saying of Aristotle on being told that a person had been abusing him in his absence: “He may even beat me, if he likes, in my absence.” Two of his sayings anticipate two famous passages of the New Testament. Being asked how we should treat our friends, he replied, “As we should wish our friends to treat us.” And to one who inquired how students should get on, he said, “Pressing on upon those who are before and not waiting for those who are behind.”

Parody and burlesque flourished among the Greeks from very early times, witness the mockheroics of the Batrachomyomachia (q. v.) and the other ludicrous imitations of the Homeric poems, and so in Latin in the pseudo-Vergilian comic epic Culex. As early as Epicharmus (in the fifth century B.C.) tragic themes were burlesqued, as in later times by Rhinthon (q.v.), who gave his name to this species of composition (fabula Rhinthonica); while Aristophanes (q.v.) has filled his comedies with the richest kind of drollery based upon the presentation of serious subjects in a comic light. Lucian's dialogues are remarkable examples of clever burlesque and keen irony, which spares neither men nor gods. See Lucianus; Parodia.

In later times special collections of facetiae were made, one of the best known being the Ἀστεῖα ascribed to Hierocles. This is the source of many jokes that are professedly modern, and deals principally with the absurd doings of pedants (σχολαστικοί), which bear a strong family likeness to many of the jokes that appear in the Fliegende Blätter. The following will serve as specimens of these ancient jests:

“A bookworm, wishing to teach his horse to be a small eater, gave him no food at all. Finally the horse starved to death, whereupon the bookworm exclaimed, ‘What a loss I have suffered! Just as he had learned to live without eating, he has gone and died!’”—a story which reappears in modern fiction in Sir Walter Scott's Waverley, where it is put into the mouth of Evan Dhu Maccombich.

“A bookworm, meeting another of his own kind, said, ‘Why, I heard you were dead!’ ‘And yet,’ replied the other, ‘you see that I am alive.’ ‘Well,’ said the first, with a puzzled air, ‘I really don't know what to believe, for the party who told me is a much more reliable person than you are.’”

Quintilian devotes a part of his treatise (vi. 3) to the discussion of humour, giving copious examples from Roman sources. In it he deprecates the use of puns as being only a cheap form of wit; yet punning was much practised by the Romans. Cicero was an inveterate punster, much to the disgust of Pompey when they were associated together in the Civil War. Many of these cheap jokes of his are preserved by Macrobius (ii. 2), by Plutarch in his life of the orator, and Quintilian mentions a collection of them as having been made and published (vi. 3, 5) by Cicero's freedman Tiro. Another collection of them was made by C. Trebonius (Ad Fam. xv. 21, 1-3). Like books were made of Caesar's ἀποφθέγματα. (Cf. C. F. W. Müller's ed. of Cicero, iv. 3, 341; and for examples, the article describing Puns in this Dictionary.) Cato the Censor is said to have published a joke-book, but not, however, of his own sayings (Cat. Mai. 2). For satirical wit, see Satira.

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