From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Philogelos (Ancient Greek: Φιλόγελως, "Love of Laughter") is the oldest existing collection of jokes. The collection is written in Ancient Greek, and the language used indicates that it may have been written in the fourth century AD, according to William Berg, an American classics professor.[1] It is attributed to Hierocles and Philagrius, about whom little is known.[2] Because the celebration of a thousand years of Rome is mentioned in joke 62, the collection perhaps dates from after that event in 248 AD.[3] Although it is the oldest existing collection of jokes, it is known that it was not the oldest collection, because Athenaeus wrote that Philip II of Macedon paid for a social club in Athens to write down its members' jokes, and at the beginning of the second century BC, Plautus twice has a character mentioning books of jokes.[2] The collection contains 265 jokes categorised into subjects such as teachers and scholars, and eggheads and fools.[4]

Modern day[edit]

In 2008, British TV personality and comedian Jim Bowen tested the material on a modern audience.[5] One of the jokes in Philogelos has been described as "an ancestor of Monty Python's famous Dead Parrot comedy sketch."[1] Comedian Jimmy Carr has said that some of the jokes are "strikingly similar" to modern ones.[6]

The National Museum of Language showcases a virtual exhibit, ‘‘Philogelos: The First Joke Book,” of cartoons created from translations of the Philogelos collection.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Dead Parrot sketch ancestor found". BBC News. BBC. 2008-11-13. Retrieved 2008-11-13.
  2. ^ a b Quinn, John T. (2001). "45 Jokes from The Laughter Lover". Diotima. Archived from the original on 2016-07-21. Retrieved 2008-11-13.
  3. ^ Jennings, Victoria (2001-06-05). "R.D. Dawe, Philogelos. München/Leipzig: K.G. Saur, 2000". Bryn Mawr Classical Review. Archived from the original on 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2008-11-13.
  4. ^ Laes, Christian (2005-09-18). "M. Andreassi, Le facezie del Philogelos. Barzellette antiche e umorismo moderno". Bryn Mawr Classical Review. Archived from the original on 2008-10-14. Retrieved 2008-11-13.
  5. ^ "What's the oldest surviving joke book in the world? « Stuart's World-Famous Compendopedia™". Archived from the original on 2016-04-22. Retrieved 2013-08-28.
  6. ^ "Dead Parrot sketch is 1,600 years old". 13 November 2008.
  7. ^ Thompson, Linda (2015-08-11). "The Philogelos: Cartoons from the World's Oldest Joke Book Exhibit". The National Museum of Language. Retrieved 2020-06-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

Further reading[edit]

  • The Philogelos or Laughter-Lover (London Studies in Classical Philology Series, 10) by Barry Baldwin 1983, ISBN 978-90-70265-45-8
  • Philogelos: Hieroclis et Philagrii facetiae by A. Eberhard (1869) Berlin: H. Ebeling & C. Plahn
  • Ἱεροκλέους και Φιλαγρίου (Hierokles kai Philagrios). G. Pachymeris declamationes XIII quarum XII ineditae, Hieroclis et Philagrii grammaticorum φιλόγελως longe maximam partem ineditus by Jean François Boissonade de Fontarabie (1848) Paris
  • Philogelos, Antike Witze, Greek and German by Kai Brodersen Wiesbaden: Marix 2016, ISBN 978-3-7374-1038-0

External links[edit]