Athenaeus of Naucratis / Volume III: Books XII-XV
Book XIV, pp. 978-1062
2. But as, after the discussion by us of the new topics which arise, our liberal entertainer Laurentius is every day constantly introducing different kinds of music, and also jesters and buffoons, let us have a little talk about them. Although I am aware that Anacharsis the Scythian, when on one occasion jesters were introduced in his company, re- mained without moving a muscle of his countenance; but afterwards, when a monkey was brought in, he burst out laughing, and said, "Now this fellow is laughable by his nature, but man is only so through practice." And Euripides, in his Melanippe in Chains, has said- But many men, from the wish to raise a laugh, Practise sharp sayings; but those sorry jesters I hate who let loose their unbridled tongues Against the wise and good; nor do I class them As men at all, but only as jokes and playthings. Meantime they live at ease, and gather up Good store of wealth to keep within their houses. And Parmeniscus of Metapontum, as Semnus tells us in tie fifth book of his Delias, a man of the highest consideration both as to family and in. respect of his riches, having gone down to the cave of Trophonius, after he had come up again, was not able to laugh at all. And when he consulted the oracle on this subject, the Pythian priestess replied to him- You're asking me, you laughless man, About the power to laugh again; Your mother '11 give it you at home, If you with reverence to her come. So, on this, he hoped that when he returned to his country he *should be able to laugh again; but when he found that he could laugh no more now than he could before, he considered that he had been deceived; till, by some chance, he came to Delos; and as he was admiring everything he saw in the island, he came into the temple of Latona, expecting to see some very superb statue of the mother of Apollo; but when hie saw only a wooden shapeless figure, he unexpectedly burst out laughing. And then, comparing what had happened with the oracle of the god, and being cured of his infirmity, he honoured the goddess greatly. 3. 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: 3 R 2 .979 JESTERS.
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