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And Theophrastus, in his treatise on Comedy, tells us that the Tirynthians, being people addicted to amusement, and utterly useless for all serious business, betook themselves once to the oracle at Delphi in hopes to be relieved from some calamity or other. And that the God answered them, “That if they sacrificed a bull to Neptune and threw it into the sea without once laughing, the evil would cease.” And they, fearing lest they should make a blunder in obeying the oracle, forbade any of the boys to be present at the sacrifice; however, one boy, hearing of what was going to be done, mingled with the crowd, and then when they hooted him and drove him away, “Why,” said he, “are you afraid lest I should spoil your sacrifice?” and when they laughed at this question of his, they perceived that the god meant to show them by a fact that an inveterate custom cannot be remedied. And Sosicrates, in the first book of his History of Crete, says that the Phæstians have a certain peculiarity, for that they seem to practise saying ridiculous things from their earliest childhood; on which account it has often happened to them to say very reasonable and witty things because of their early habituation: and therefore all the Cretans attribute to them preeminence in the accomplishment of raising a laugh.
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