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Athenaeus of Naucratis / Volume III: Books XII-XV

Book XIV,   pp. 978-1062

Page 979

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 

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