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‘They are also fond of laughing (mirth, fun), and therefore disposed to pleasantry or facetiousness; for pleasantry is wantonness schooled by good breeding’. From the description of εὐτραπελία given in Eth. Nic. II 7, 1108 a 23, and IV 14, ab init., it results that it is ‘easy, well-bred (τοῦ πεπαιδευμένου, τοιαῦτα λέγειν καὶ ἀκούειν οἷα τῷ ἐπιεικεῖ καὶ ἐλευθερίῳ ἁρμόττει) pleasantry in conversation, of which it is the ‘agreeable mean’, lying between βωμολοχία, ‘buffoonery’ the excess, and ἀγροικία, ‘rusticity, boorishness’, the inability to see or give or take a joke. It is a social virtue (one of three), and one of the accomplishments of a gentleman. It forms part of the relaxation of life, ἀναπαύσεως ἐν τῷ βίῳ, which includes διαγωγῆς μετὰ παιδιᾶς, all the lighter occupations of which amusement or relaxation is the object and accompaniment, opposed to the serious business of life, and corresponds exactly to the French passe-temps; (on διαγωγή, which may include even literary pursuits, or studies, anything in fact that is not business, compare σχολή, and is so in some sense opposed to παιδιά, which is therefore inserted here to qualify it, see Bonitz ad Metaph. A 1, 981 b 18). 1128 a 10, οἱ δ᾽ ἐμμελῶς παίζοντες εὐτράπελοι προσαγορεύονται, οἷον εὔτροποι (from their versatility). The two terms are exactly represented by Cicero's facetus and facetiae. Wit, sales, takes two forms, dicacitas and facetiae; the first, raillery, pungent and personal, σκῶμμα, σκώπτειν; the second, easy and agreeable, giving grace and liveliness to conversation or writing. Utetur utroque; sed altero in narrando aliquid venuste, altero in iaciendo mittendoque ridiculo, et seq., Orat. XXVI 87. Compare de Orat. II 54. 219, where the distinction is somewhat different, or at all events expressed by different terms. de Off. I 30. 104, genus iocandi elegans, urbanum, ingeniosum, facetum, et passim. Cowper's John Gilpin furnishes a good specimen of εὐτραπελία: Now Gilpin had a pleasant wit, and loved a timely joke. ‘Such then is the character of the young’.
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