Now Anaxandrides, in his Old Man's Madness, says that it was Rhadamanthus and Palamedes who invented the fashion of jesters; and his words are these:— [p. 980]
And yet we labour much.Xenophon also, in his Banquet, mentions jesters; introducing Philip, of whom he speaks in the following manner: —“But Philip the jester, having knocked at the door, told the boy who answered, to tell the guests who he was, and that he was desirous to be admitted; and he said that he came provided with everything which could qualify him for supping at other people's expense. And he said, too, that his boy was in a good deal of distress because he had brought nothing, and because he had had no dinner.” And Hippolochus the Macedonian, in his epistle to Lynceus, mentions the jesters Mandrogenes and Strato the Athenian. And at Athens there was a great deal of this kind of cleverness. Accordingly, in the Heracleum at Diomea1 they assembled to the number of sixty, and they were always spoken of in the city as amounting to that number, in such expressions as—“The sixty said this,” and, “I am come from the sixty.” And among them were Callimedon, nicknamed the Crab, and Dinias, and also Mnasigeiton and Menæchmus, as Telephanes tells us in his treatise on the City. And their reputation for amusing qualities was so great, that Philip the Macedonian heard of it, and sent them a talent to engage them to write out their witticisms and send them to him. And the fact of this king having been a man who was very fond of jokes is testified to us by Demosthenes the orator in his Philippics. Demetrius Poliorcetes was a man very eager for anything which could make him laugh, as Phylarchus tells us in the sixth book of his History. And he it was who said, “that the palace of Lysimachus was in no respect different from a comic theatre; for that there was no one there bigger than a dissyllable”2 (meaning to laugh at Bithys and Paris, who had more influence than anybody with Lysimachus, and at some others of his friends;) “but that his friends were [p. 981] Peucesteses, and Menelauses, and Oxythemises.” But when Lysimachus heard this, he said,—“I, however, never saw a prostitute on the stage in a tragedy;” referring to Lamia the female flute-player. And when this was reported to Demetrius, he rejoined,—“But the prostitute who is with me, lives in a more modest manner than the Penelope who is with him.”
But Palamedes first, and Rhadamanthus,
Sought those who bring no other contribution,
But say amusing things.