Two Centurions Go Into a Bar . . . Researchers Uncover 1700-Year-Old Roman Book of Jokes

180px-forum_lp_coverA funny thing happened to researchers on their way to the Roman forum, they found a 1700-Year-Old Rome joke book. While found in Roman, Philogelos (or Laughter Lover) is written in greek and contains 265 jokes. The greatest academic contribution is final proof that there has not been a new joke told in two centuries.

The book dates back to the third century and includes such standards as ‘the absentminded professor’ and ‘the charlatan prophet’.

One joke from 248AD is an athlete who is upset about losing a contest in the “Millennium Games.” A spectator assures the athlete: “Never mind, You can always try again at the next Millennium Games.”

In one joke that is still being told in countless different variations: a patient tells a doctor “whenever I get up after a sleep, I feel dizzy for half an hour, then I’m all right.” The doctor replies” ‘Then wait half an hour before getting up.'”

Then there are those ageless dead slave jokes: “A man buys a slave, who dies soon after. When he complains, the slave seller replies, “Well, he didn’t die when I owned him.”

Of course, some comedians continue to defend their original material with violence if necessary. Comedian Lee Hurst was recently charged with smashing a cellphone over concern that people were stealing his jokes, here. He told the court “This happens from time to time and there is nothing that you can do about it. Even if it’s just for their own personal use, they could lend it to a friend or have it stolen and it could end up on YouTube. I’m talking on behalf of comedians in general.”

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11 thoughts on “Two Centurions Go Into a Bar . . . Researchers Uncover 1700-Year-Old Roman Book of Jokes”

  1. Excuse me: “Letters from Heaven”

    I’m halfway through an imperial pint of Left Hand’s Oak Aged Imperial Stout, perhaps the finest Imperial stouts I’ve ever had. Although Old Rasputin will always be my favorite.

  2. Buddha,

    It just struck me that Canadian Bacon payed homage to that scene (I’m being generous).

    My two favorite comedies involving the Roman empire are both classics, “The Golden Ass” and Gore Vidal’s “Live From Golgotha.” Which ties with Twain’s Letter’s from Heaven for most wittily blasphemous book I’ve ever read.

  3. A centurion, Soothsayer, and a Gaul walk into a bar. The bartender looks up and asks “Is this some kinda joke”?

    Hear the one about the Plebeian that jumped off mountain and yelled “XLII”?

    How many Spartans does it take to sharpen a Hoplite Sword?

    Who cares!

  4. If humor at the expense of the Empire is good enough for the classical humorists as well as the modern masters of Monty Python and Mel Brooks, it’s good enough for me. Although the good humor I see here in the regulars and semi-regulars is coloring my comedic perceptions. The scene from “Life of Brian” where the centurion is correcting the Latin grammar of Brian’s graffiti makes me think of mespo now. 😀

  5. Dang. Two millenia-old groaners and cradlekickers. There really IS nothing new under the sun.

  6. This guy walks into the senate with a frog growing out of his head, Cato says “That’s the ugliest wart I’ve ever seen.” The Frog says “I Know, I woke up this morning and there it was growing out of my butt.”

  7. Only 2 centuries of no new jokes told?

    Did you hear the one about the current Florida Senator who thought…

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