1,600-year-old Roman joke book reveals classic gags

March 15th, 2009 - 3:11 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Mar 15 (ANI): A book of jokes has emerged which casts the Romans in a new and less serious-minded light.

Classics professor Mary Beard has brought to light a volume more than 1,600 years old, which she says shows the Romans not to be the “pompous, bridge-building toga wearers” they”re often believed as, but rather a race ready to laugh at themselves.

The tome, written in Greek, Philogelos, or The Laughter Lover, dates to the third or fourth century AD.

It contains some 260 jokes which Beard said are “very similar” to the contemporary jokes.

“They”re also poking fun at certain types of foreigners people from Abdera, a city in Thrace, were very, very stupid, almost as stupid as [they thought] eggheads [were],” The Guardian quoted Beard, as saying.

Professor Beard, who came across it while researching humour in the ancient world for a book on the subject, said most of the jokes were categorised into various themes including ”the absentminded professor” and ”the charlatan prophet”.

There is also an ancient version of the Monty Python dead parrot sketch. (ANI)

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