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Philogelos (Greek Φιλόγελως) is the oldest known collection of jokes.

The collection is written in Greek, and the language used indicates that it may have been written in the 4th century CE, according to William Berg, an American classics professor. It is attributed to Hierokles and Philagrios, about whom little is known. Because the celebration of a thousand years of Rome is mentioned in joke 62, the collection perhaps dates from after that event in 248 CE. 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 2nd century BCE, Plautus twice has a character mentioning books of jokes.

The collection contains 265 jokes categorised into subjects such as teachers and scholars, and eggheads and fools.

The collection has been published as a multimedia online e-book, Philogelos: The Laugh Addict, in which Jim Bowen tells the jokes in William Berg's translations.

Full text of the "The Jests of Hierocles and Philagrius"



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Dr. John Rathhone Oliver





One hundred twenty- five copies were printed This copy is number














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Jests of Hierocles and Philagrius

The Pedants .

From the PInlogelos

The Men of Abdera

The Men of Stdonia

The Witty Fellows

The Men of Cuma

The Discontented People

The Awkward Ones

The Timid Ones .

The Misers

The Starvelings

About Drunkards

About Those with Bad Breath

Woman Haters

Miscellaneous . Appendix .


«5 «7 47 50 56 60

64 73 77 77 84

85 88






WHEN Homer sings of the un- quenchable laughter in which the gods indulged at their banquet upon Mount Olympus, one is naturally curious to learn the cause of their merriment. It comes with a sense of disappointment to find that it was the uncouth antics of the lamed and deformed Hephaestus that pleased the deities at their meal. It is said that Homer's gods and goddesses reflect the ideas and customs of his time, and if so, this is, then, an early instance of the employment of what was destined later to be the court fool.

It would be interesting to trace the de- velopment of the idea which finds the sight of physical deformity humorous ; it evident- ly belongs to the childhood of the race, judging from those who see in children the expression of the various stages through which mankind has passed in its growth in civilization. The child, before it begins to reflect, can see something amusing in a hunch-back or cross-eyed person, whereas in later years pity and compassion take the place of the unconscious cruelty caused by laughter at physical defects. A nation's state of civilization and morals may be in- ferred to a certain extent by what it con- siders humorous. It is no wonder, there- fore, that a people who revelled in the bloody exhibitions of the amphitheatre could find the sight of physical mutilation or painful suffering sufficiently amusing to preserve such anecdotes in their collections of facetiae. To the modem mind there is nothing to laugh at in the section of this work dealing with the unfortunate people of Abdera or the eunuchs, or the rup- tured.

Next to the deformed person as a means of exciting laughter, may be placed the wittol, the natural fool who blunders through life because of his taking every- thing literally, who never seems to gain any knowledge by experience and who ap- parently never uses his reason. The stories about wittols are to be found in nearly every language and form what might be called folk-humour. These stories tend to group themselves about some one class or individual in the community, or are attrib- uted to the inhabitants of certain localities. The class that is most held up to ridicule is the book-learned who through much de- votion to study of the abstract become im- practical in matters connected with daily life. The Panshatantra says, "They who seek wisdom only from books, without a knowledge of the ways of the world, are but learned fools, and reap the world's con- tempt."

The Greek jests about the wittols or pedants have long passed under the name of Hierocles, an Alexandrian philosopher of the Pjrthagorean school, who flourished in the fifth century, a.d. That these jests are old there can be no doubt what- ever; that they were originated or collected by Hierocles is more than doubtful. Some we know are much older, and in the works where found are attributed to still more ancient times. It has been suggested that there is a possibility of their origin going back to the early Egyptians. That the Egyptians had an idea of the humorous is shown by some of the grotesque delinea- tions at Thebes which have been pointed out by Wilkinson in his work on Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians j and quoted by Wright in his History of Cari- cature, We may still hope that some time a papyrus roll belonging to an Egyptian Joe Miller may be unearthed which will tell us something about the beginnings of humour. These jests were attributed to Hierodes because several were appended to the manuscript of his Commentary on the Golden Words of Pythagoras. Twenty- eight only are thus found together with those in the fragments of his other works, edited with Latin translations in 1709 by John Needham. A larger collection was published in 1869 by Alfred Eberhard of Berlin under the title Philogelos, Hieroclis et Philagrii Facetia and included stories of the people of Abdera, Sidonia, Cumae, etc. For his edition, Eberhard drew upon the labours of Boissonade and Pontanus and also upon three manuscripts of the fifteenth century. The reader will observe from the repetition of several of the stories that Eberhard combined his sources into this one booL Although the elements contained in this collection are of evident antiquity, the texts of the stories date from the ninth century. The edition of Eberhard has been used for this translation. The stories are not all concerned with wittols, but it was thought better to present the whole book rather than to make a selection. Had the translator consulted his own tastes many of the facetiae would have been left in the decent obscurity of the original Greek.

These stories seem to have come into the popular facetiae of Europe through the churchmen of the Middle Ages and, having long circulated orally, passed into literature. In them are found the indirect originals of the blunders and bulls that are ascribed to the Irishman or the Scotchman who has nowadays taken the place of the pedant.

In reading them in the original or in this translation, many seem to have a very mod- em flavour, and causes one to wonder what it is that gives them their perennial freshness, especially when transferred to other peoples and decked out with modem dressing and local colouring. It is the old inherent tendency to laugh at other people's mistakes and awkwardness, looking at them from an assumed position of superiority. Some one before Sidney Smith said that humour resulted from the juxtaposition of incongruous ideas, and although there are many incongruous ideas in these pre-Hiber- nian bulls yet this definition does not sufli- ciently explain their ability to still amuse.

In 1803 Sidney Smith, in a review of Edgeworth's Essay on Irish Bulls^ says,

A bull is an apparent incongruity, and a real incongruity of ideas, suddenly discovered. And if this account of bulls be just, they are (at might have been supposed) the very reverse of wit; for as wit discovers real relations, that are not apparent, bulls admit apparent relations that are not real. The pleasure arising from wit proceeds from our surprise at suddenly discover- ing two things to be similar, in which we sus- pected no similarity. The pleasure arising from bulls proceeds from our discovering two things to be dissimilar, in which a resemblance might have been suspected. • . It is clear that a bull cannot depend upon mere incongruity alone ; for if a man were to say that he would ride to London upon a cocked hat, or that he would cut his throat with a pound of pickled salmon, this, though completely incongruous, would not be to make bulls, but to talk nonsense. The stronger the apparent connection, and the more complete the real disconnection of the ideas, the greater the surprise and the better the bull. The less apparent, and the more complete the reladont established by wit, the higher gratification does it afford.


How far these Greek facetiae agree with this definition is left to the reader to judge.

So far as can be learned this is the first complete translation into English of the Philogelos. A few jests were translated in 1 741 and published in the Gentleman's Magazine for that year. These have been attributed by Lowndes to Dr. Samuel Johnson, and are to be found in an appendix to this work. They form an interesting John- son item which many bibliographers have overlooked. Doctor Johnson was a contrib- utor to the magazine at that time and if they were not translated by him, they well might have been, judging from their pon- derous and involved style which takes the real point out of the joke. W. A. Clouston published twenty-nine of these stories in The Book of Noodles in 1888 but they were freely rendered and in several there are mistakes that would lead one to be- lieve that he borrowed them irom some other translation. A long time since, two or three were printed in a handbook of an cient literature as spedmens of classic wit* These were evidently derived from Hark- ness's Elementary Greek Reader published about forty years ago. This exhausts the list of translations so far as the writer has been able to trace.

The text of many of these facetiae is very corrupt, as will be seen from several of Eberhard's comments in the notes, and replete with post-classical and transliterated Latin words; at times the lexicon failed completely and the meanings had to be derived from the Latin notes and emenda- tions suggested by previous editors of the text.

Acknowledgment is here made to Pro- fessor Harold N. Fowler, ph.d., of the College for Women, Western Reserve Uni- versity, and Professor Barker Newhall, PH.D., of Kenyon College, who kindly al- lowed the first drafts of the translation to be read to them and who made valuable suggestions in the rendering of obscure pas- sages.

This volume is the first of a series of books dealing with the wittols of various countries, a collection which has never be- fore been brought together and which it is hoped will prove acceptable to the mem- bers of the Rowf ant Club.

C C* B.

Cleveland, August i, 1919.


The Jests of Hierocles and Philagrius

The Jests of Hierocles and Philagrius

The Pedants


A pedant ordered a silversmith to make a lamp and when the latter enquired how large he should make it, he replied, "Large enough for eight men."


A pedant whilst swimming almost choked to death. He made an oath that he would not go into the water again until he had first learned to swim well.


A certain person coming to a pedant who was a physician said, "Doctor, when I awake from sleep I have a dizziness for half an hour and then I recover." The physician replied, "Get up after the half hour."


Jests of Hierocles


A certain person asked a pedant, who had a horse for sale, if it had thrown once (i.e. shed its first teeth, or was ma- ture). When the latter answered that it had thrown twice, he asked, "How is that?" The pedant replied, "Once when he threw me and once when he threw my father."


A certain person meeting a pedant said, "Master Pedant, I dreamed I met you." "By the gods," he reph'ed, "I was so busy I did not notice it."


A pedant seeing his family physician ap- proaching, hid from him. Upon being ask- ed by one of his companions why he did this, he replied, "I have not been ill for such a long time that I am ashamed to meet him."


A physician gave orders to a pedant who had an operation oa his throat that he should not talk. He directed his servant to welcome visitors instead of himself. Then he said to each one, "You will not take this as an insult if my servant greets you instead of myself, for the doctor has forbidden me to talk."


A pedant desiring to capture a mouse that was gnawing his books used to sit in the dark holding a piece of meat in his mouth.


A pedant desiring to teach his ass to go without eating did not give him any pro- vender. When the ass died from hunger he exclaimed, "I have suffered a great loss, for when he had learned not to eat he died."


A pedant who had a horse for sale was asked if it were not timid. He replied, "No, by my father's salvation, for he has only stood in the stable."


Jests of Hierocles

II A pedant desiring to see how he Io(dced when asleep stood with closed eyes before his mirror.


A friend said to a pedant who was going on a journey, "I wish you to purchase for me two slave boys of fifteen years each." He replied, "If I do not find such, I shall buy for you one of thirty years."

Two pedants were complaining to each other because their fathers were living. One of them asked, "What do you wish ? Shall each one strangle his own father?" "By no means," replied the other, "lest we be call- ed parricides. But if you are willing, you shall slay my father, and I will kill yours."

A pedant having bought a house and looking out of the window asked the passers- by if the house were becoming to him.

15 A pedant dreamed that he had stepped on a nail and bound up his foot. A friend asking the reason and upon learning it, said, "We are justly called foob because we sleep with bare feet."

i6 A pedant was looking for his book for many days but could not find it. By chance as he was eating lettuces and turned a cer- tain comer he saw the book lying there. Later meeting a friend who was lamenting the loss of his girdle, he said, Do not wor- ry but buy some lettuces and eat them at the comer, when you turn it and go a little ways you will find it."

17 A friend who was going abroad wrote to

a pedant that he should buy certain books

for him. But he neglected the ccnmnission

and meeting the friend on his return, he

said, "The letter which you sent concerning

the books has not been received."


A certain person meeting a pedant said,

"The slave you sold me died." "By the


Jests of Hierocles

gods," replied the other, "he never did such a thing when he was with me."

19 A pedant seeing a flock of sparrows

perching in a tree, spread out his doak and

shook the tree as though the sparrows

would fall.


Two pedants after supper out of polite- ness escorted one another home in turn and so did not get any sleep.^


A pedant desiring to sleep and not hav- ing a pillow ordered his servant to place a jar under his head. When the servant said that it was hard, he commanded him to stufiE it with feathers.


A pedant meeting a certain friend said, I heard that you were dead." He replied, But you see me alive." The pedant an- swered, "I assure you that he who told me was much more worthy of belief than you."

^Se invicem domum comitantes, -Fovtasvs,



A pedant, entering the bath when it was first opened and finding no one within, said to his servant, "As far as I can see the bath does not wash I" '

A pedant was quarrelling with his father and said to him, "You wicked fellow, do you not understand how much injury you have done to me? If you had never been bom I should have inherited my grand- father's estate."


A pedant was on a voyage when a severe storm arose and his slaves were cry- ing out. "Do not weep," he said, "for I have given you all your liberty in my will."


A pedant Was seeking a spot where he

^I can not grasp the point of the joke; is it possible that there is here a reference to the story related by Diogenes Laerttus^ vi, 2, 47? "Dio- genes seeing a dirtily kept bath, asked, ^bere do people wash themselves, who wash here V "


Jests of Hierocles

might build a tomb for himself. When some one said that a certain situation was good, he replied, But the place is un- healthy."


A sick pedant bargained with a physician to give him a fee if he should cure him. When his wife found fault with him for drinking wine in a fever, he said, "Do you wish me to be cured so that I shall be obliged to give the physician a reward?"


A pedant's dog bit his thumb. He said,

"If he had laid hold of my cloak he would

have torn it."


One of twin brothers died and a pedant meeting the survivor asked him, "Did you die, or was it your brother?"


A pedant about to go on a voyage asked for his tablets in order that he might write his will. Seeing his slaves lamenting be-



cause of the danger, he said, Do not grieve, for I have freed you."

A pedant desiring to cross a river went on board the ferry-boat on his horse. Being asked why he did not dismount, he reph'ed, "I am in a hurry to get over."


A pedant who had been invited to a ban- quet did not eat and being asked by one of the guests, "Why do you not eat?" he re- plied, Lest I seem to be here for the sake of eating."


A pedant's h'ttle boy was playing ball when the ball fell into a well. Leaning over and seeing his reflection, he asked for the ball. Next he complained to his father that it was not returned. And he, leaning over the well and seeing his reflection, demanded the ball. "You who live down there," he said, "give the ball to the boy."

34 A pedant visiting a sick friend asked


Jests of Hierocles

about the disease. When the latter did not reply, he became angry. "I hope to be ill," he said, "and I shall not reply to you."

35 A pedant having purchased a stolen am- phora covered it with pitch in order that it might not be recognized.


A pedant used to ask the price of the clothing of the people he met. When his father heard of this from some friends and blamed him, he replied, "Father, you have been persuaded by slander and not by a man." When he said, "Such a one told me." "And did you," he answered, "give heed to that one who does not possess a cloak worth fifty drachmas?"

37 A pedant was selling a horse and when some one came and observed closely the condition of its teeth, he said, "Why do you examine his teeth? I wish that he might trot as well as he eats."



A pedant whose old father was very ill asked his friends to wear chaplets at the funeral. On the following day he was bet- ter and the friends being annoyed, he said, "I am ashamed that you are disappointed. To-morrow wear the chaplets for I shall bury him as he is." * .


Two pedants were walking together and one of them perceiving a black hen, said, "Brother, perhaps her cock is dead."


A pedant who had lost a small son by death seeing many people coming to the funeral on account of his position, said, "I am ashamed to bring forth such a little boy before such a large company."

A pedant having a house to sell carried about a stone from it to show as a sample.

  • Pudet me auctoretn fuisse ui pecunias eroga--

retis in coronas quibus non iam opus ^j/.-£ber-



Jests of Hierocles


Two pedants were out walking when one dropped behind a little to attend to an urgent matter. Finding written upon a mile-stone by the other, "Overtake me," he wrote, "And do you wait for me?"


A pedant hearing several people remark- ing that "Your beard is coming," went to the gate to meet it. A companion asking the reason and having learned it, said, **We are rightly called fools, for how do you know if it did not come through the other gate?"


A pedant who slept with his father used to stand up in his bed at night and eat the grapes that were hanging from above. On one occasion after he had arisen, his father who had hidden the lamp under a jar, displayed the light unexpectedly, and the pedant standing upright began to snore, pretending to be asleep.



Another person who was going away wrote to a pedant that he should buy him some books. But he regarded the request lightly and said to him on his return, "I did not receive your letter which you sent concerning the books."

45 A pedant visited his mother by night and

being beaten for this by his father, he said,

"It is only a short time since you were

with my mother and you suffered nothing

from me, and now you are angry at finding

me once with my mother."


An agent reported to a pedant that the river had taken away a place of his. And he making an outcry, rejJied, saying, "It is overpowering us."


A pedant after a space of time came near his field and saw the cattle going out to pasture. Perceiving them bleating as is their custom, he asked the reason. The


Jests of Hierocles

steward jestingly said, "They arc welcom- ing you." The pedant replied, "Give them my kind regards, and because I have a vaca- tion do not drive them to pasture for three days."

A pedant was tying on somt new san- dals. When they squeaked he paused and said, "Do not squeak or you will injure

your two legs." *


A pedant beholding the moon asked his

father whether other cities also possessed



A pedant who was a money lender told

a sailor, one of his debtors, to furnish him

with a cinerary urn and also for his eight

year old boys two slave girls of the right

size with allowance for growth.*

^The sense is not cleair; Eberhard gives two readingis with the conclusion utrum verius sit diiudicabit qui intellexerit

^ There seems to be some confusion in the text of this anecdote, sentenHam non bene peripicio.



A pedant seeing in his field a deep well asked if the water were good. When the farmers answered that, It is good, for your ancestors drank from it." He replied, "And what long necks they must have had in order to drink from such depths."

A pedant having fallen into a pit called out continually to summon help. When no one answered, he said to himself, "I am a fool if I do not give all a beating when I get out in order that in the future they shall answer me and furnish me with a ladder."


A pedant was dining with his father when some large lettuces having many ten- der sprouts were placed before them. Said he, "You, father, eat the children, and I will eat the mother."

54 A pedant was writing to his father from

Athens and being vain because he had been


Jbsts of Hibrocles

educated, he added, I pray you to seek to be the defendant in a trial for your life in order that I may show you the public speaker."

55 A shrewd pedant being in great straits on account of expenses sold his books and writing to his father, he said, Congratulate me, for already my books support me."


A pedant and a bald headed man and a barber were travelling together and pitch- ing camp in a wild section they agreed that each one should stay awake four hours and guard their possessions. It fell to the barber to watch first. Desiring to play a trick, he shaved the head of the sleeping pedant, and his watch being finished, he woke up the latter. The pedant rubbing his head on awakening and finding himself bare, he said, What a worthless fellow is that barber, he has made a mistake and wakened the bald-headed man instead of myself."



57 A father advised a pedant who had a child horn to him of a slave woman to do away with the child. He replied, "First bury your own children before you advise me to destroy mine."


A pedant had entered a bath and the attendant poured some warm water over his feet. "You good-for-nothing," he ex- claimed, "do you pour warm water over a cold man?" (This means also, silly per- son, a cool knave).*

59 A pedant having heard from someone that he dined on a good, fat, gamey bird, went to the poulterer and said, "Kill for me a gamey bird."


A pedant having an estate many miles

  • Evidently the pedant thou^t that the tem-

perature of the water should be the same as that of the bather.


Jests of Hierocles

away in order to make it nearer he destroy- ed seven milestones.


A pedant who was a hedge schoolmas- ter having looked of a sudden towards the corner, cried, '^Dionysius is disorderly in the comer." When someone said that he had not come, he replied, **When he does



A pedant was at the annual games which every thousand years are held in Rome, and seeing an athlete who had been beaten giving vent to his grief, he spoke cheering words and said, "Do not grieve, you will win in the next thousand year contest."


A pedant went to walk with a guide who was blind in his right eye and when he had gone out into the vineyard and praised the grapes on the right side, "When we come back," he said, "those on the other side will please you also."



A pedant had purchased a pair of breeches and since they were very tight and he had difEcuIty in getting into them, he pulled all the hair off himself.^


A son of a pedant being sent to battle

by his father promised to return bringing the head of one of the foes. He replied, "Even though I see you coming without any head I shall be glad."

66 A pedant seeing in the river a ship filled with grain and drawing a great deal of water, said, "If the river should rise a little the boat would be sunk."

^Baissonade takes this in a different sense. The word translated "pulled the hair off hinor self may also be read "daubed with pitch.*' Liddell and Scott give '^o remove the hair by means of a pitch-plaster, a custom among women and effeminate men." Boissonade interprets it

  • ^bracas picabat opinatus scilicet se sic eas facere

lavesJ* There may be some hidden meaning here.


Jests of Hierocles

67 A pedant having returned from a trip abroad and meeting his father-in-law was asked by the latter how his school-fellow was getting on. He replied, "It is very well with him; he is in good spirits for he has buried his wife's father."


A pedant having written out a legal document about a certain matter read it in public. When his advocate said that he did an extraordinary thing in making known to his opponents the secret points of his case, he answered, "You scamp, am I saying anjrthing about the essentials?"


A pedant visited the parents of a school- fellow who had died. The father bewail- ing, said, "Child, thou hast distressed me," and the mother exclaimed, "Child, thou hast deprived me of the light of my eyes," the pedant remarked to his companions, "If these things have been done by him,



he should be cremated even if he were



A pedant went away to visit a sick

friend. When his wife said that "He is

already departed," (i.e. dead), he replied,

"If he comes back tell him that I called."

A pedant when he had received a pat- tern of length and breadth for a table cloth, bringing it into the house, looked at it and asked, "Which is length and which is



A pedant was a guest at a wedding feast, when the time came for withdrawing he said, "I pray you may be fortunate and that you may always do these things,"

73 The same person said that the mauso-

^The text of this anecdote is evidently cor- rupt, I have adopted the suggestion of Eberhard

    • quid sit dxpatrrvi cum Bousonadio ignoro;

videtur tamen genus quoddam amiculi vel lintei in mensa ponendi significari"


Jests of Hierocles

leum of Skrebonias was beautiful and very costly but was built in an unhealthy place.

74 A certain person meeting a pedant who

had a very thin horse, said, The horse is looking into the grave." The pedant re- plied, And so am I."

75 A pedant who was ill became hungry

and when four o'clock was not announced,

disbelieving his servants, he ordered the

sun-dial to be brought to him.


The priest upon giving the suppliant's olive branch to a pedant who was entering the temple of Serapis, said, "The god be propitious to you." He replied, "The god be propitious to my little pig for I do not need it."


A pedant had buried his son and meet- ing his teacher, he said, "Pray excuse it because my son did not go to school, he is dead."



A pedant had some valuable old paintings and was taking them from Corinth. Put- ting them in a ship he said to the owners of the boat, If you lose these I shall de- mand new ones of you."


An attendant handed to a pedant a cup

that was boiling over. The latter placed it

upon the table, "Thus let it remain," he

said, "until your teacher comes and may

find it boiling."


A pedant was on a voyage and the boat was in danger from the storm; his fellow- passengers were throwing away their be- longings in order that the boat might be lightened and he was exhorted to do the same. Having a bond of a hundred and fifty thousand drachams he expunged the fifty. "See," he said, "how much I have lightened the ship."


A pedant was on board a vessel when a


Jests of Hierocles

storm arising his fellow-passengers began to call out. "Why are you so penurious?" he asked. "I, by having paid ten Attic drachmas more, sail at the captain's risk."


Some one threw a pot of filth over a pedant who had climbed a wall during a battle. Crying out, he exclaimed, "Are you not willing to strike me clean?"


A pedant as a boat went ashore in the river Rhine crouched under the deck of the boat and thought he was shoving it upwards.*


The same said to the soldiers, "To-mor- row it is necessary to make a long march, therefore to-day sit down as many times as possible."

^Eberhard brackets the following which is found in the manuscript ^'not understanding tbat by pressing with bis feet he was shoving it downwards."



85 A pedant had moved into a new house

and wrote before the porch that had been

cleaned, "Whoever throws filth here loses

it." "


A father was about to strike a pedant who had lost a denarius. He said, "Do not be angry and I will pay for the dena- rius from my possessions."


A pedant taking the character of a gladi- ator was plajring before the house. Sud- denly some one announced to him that his father was close by, he threw aside his weapon and undid his leggings. But his father arriving and standing by him, he opened a book and began to read still having the helmet on.


A pedant when he was going up a steep

^^The joke is a trifle obscure; it probably means does so at his own risk," i.e. the owner of the house will not be responsible for any loss.


Jests of Hierocles

ascent on his way home was surprised and said, "When I came down here before it was a descent, how does it change so sud- denly and become an ascent?"


A pedant whilst voyaging asked the helmsman what hour it was. Upon his re- pljring that he did not know, he asked how long a time he had steered the boat. He answered three years. "How is it," he asked, "that I having bought a house six months before, when the sun comes into the court yard guess at the hour, but you are not able to reckon from the boat hav- ing steered it for such a long time?"


A pedant, a sophist, who was considered worthy to write epitaphs of the dead, wrote an epitaph of one still living who called upon him regarding this thing. He said, "Since you do not choose when you shall die, do you wish me to write off-hand in order to be put to shame?"



A pedant had invited his school-fellows to a banquet when they praised the pig's head and considered it worthy. The next day he arranged a banquet at his house, and going to the cook-shop, he said, Give me another head of this pig, for the one yesterday pleased us very much."


A pedant asked his father, "How much does a five-cup flask hold?"

93 A pedant learning of some one about a

ladder that it had twenty steps going up,

asked if it had as many going down.

94 Several people were talking about indi- gestion, a pedant said he never suffered from indigestion. Being asked if he never re- gurgitated bitter or nauseous stuff, he re- plied, "I do this every day."

95 A son was bom to a pedant. Being ask- ed by someone what name would be given


Jests of Hierocles

him, he replied, He shall have my name, and I shall get along somehow."


There were two cowardly pedants, one hid himself in a well and the other in a clump of reeds. When the soldiers let down a helmet to draw up water, one think- ing a soldier was coming took to entreaties. When the soldiers said that if he had kept quiet he would have been overlooked, the one hidden in the reeds calling out, said, "Then pass me by for I am keeping silent."

97 A pedant whose wife had died bought a

coffin and was haggling about the price. When the dealer swore that he would not sell it for less than five thousand drachmas, he said, "Since you have made an oath; take the five thousand drachmas, but for good measure throw in a little coffin, in or- der that if it should be required for my child, it may be ready."


A companion meeting a pedant said, "I



congratulate you because a son is bom to you." And he answered, "Let your friends do the same to you."

99 A certain person said to a pedant, "Lend me a cloak as far as the field." He re- plied, "I have one as far as the ankle, but I do not possess one as far as the field." ^^


A pedant was riding in a carriage drawn by mules when the animals becoming ex- hausted were not able to go further. The driver unhitched them to rest them a little, whereupon being freed they ran away. The pedant said to the driver, "You good- for-nothing, you see that the mules ran, but the carriage is the reason why they were not able to run before."


A pedant seeing twin brothers was astonished at their likeness and said, "This

    • Mechris . de tempore tntellegii alter, alter

de longitudire 3im'. - Eberhard.


Jests of Hierocles

one is not so much like to that one as that one is to this."


A certain person said to a pedant, "Friend, three days ago I saw you in a dream." "It is false," he replied, "for I was on a vacation in the country."

103 A pedant was talking with two compan- ions. One of them said that it was not just to slaughter a sheep, for it produced milk and wool abundantly; the other said that it was not fitting to kill a cow which produced milk and could be used for plow- ing; the pedant said neither was it right to kill a young porker which furnished liver, and bacon, and kidneys.


From The Philogelos


A miser in writing his will appointed himself the heir.**


A miser being asked by a certain person why he ate nothing but olives, replied, "In order that I may have the outside instead of meat, the inside in place of fire-wood, and when I eat them by wiping my head with a sponge I do not lack a bath."


A braggart deceived his female associates on the ground that he was well born and wealthy. When he was dining at the neighbour's expense he suddenly saw his friend, turning he shouted, Send to me a cloak adorned with gold pins."*'

^'This is evidently from Lucilius-Anth Graec» xi, 171.



Jests of Hierocles 107

In like manner another person, a perfect boaster, poor in goods, happened to be sick when his female associate coming unex- pectedly saw him lying upon a mat. Being a^amed he blamed the physicians, saying, The good and learned physicians of the city ordered me to lie upon a mat."


A braggart seeing his servant in the market place having lately come from the field, he said, What are the sheep doing?" He replied, "One is lying down to sleep, and one is standing up." ^^

^ I have followed Boissonade in the transla- tion, the word ^jSAarto/Movnot found in Liddell and Soott Mitte meutn mihi pallium illud aureis omatutn /^^u/i/. - Boissonade.

^^Quod videtur sigmficare 'altera iacet, aU iera staif duas enitn otnnino habuit oves iacta- tor, " Eberhard. The question was evidently put to impress the bystanders with his pretended wealth; the servant discloses that he owns only two sheep.



A fool having heard that in Hades judgments are rendered without favour, and having a law suit, he went and hanged himself.


The Men of Abdera


In Abdera the city is divided into two parts, those who dwell in the east and those in the west. On an occasion enemies attacked the city unexpectedly and every- one was in an uproar. Those who lived in the eastern part said to the others, "We are not disturbed, for the enemies will en- ter at the western gates."


In Abdera an ass entered the g3minasium

unseen and upset the olive oil. The dtizens

assembling sent for all the asses in the city.

Having brought them into one place, as a

warning they flogged the ass before them



A citiasen of Abdera desired to hang him- self when the rope broke and he struck


Jests of Hierocles and Philaorius

his head. After he had obtained a plaster from a physician and applied it to the wound he went and hanged himself again.

A man of Abdera seeing a eunuch with a rupture coming out of the bath, said, "He is sifted out, I mean by the attend- ant." "


A man of Abdera seeing a eunuch asked him how many children he had. Upon his saying that lacking manly parts he was not able to beget children, in answer he re- plied, "At least you must have many



A man of Adbera beholding a eunuch talking with a woman asked if she were his wife. The eunuch replied that he was

^'^ The translator does not get the point of this joke: Eberhard offers no emendation, he says, "ego manum abstineo, cum sententia tottus kit' toriolae mifd non ligueat, an habet Abderita hermosum fro wopa^vn;?"


Jests of Hierocles

not able to have a wife. 'Terhaps she is your daughter?" he persisted.

ii6 A luckless eunuch of Abdera became ruptured.^*


A man of Abdera was sleeping with a ruptured person and in th^ night having risen to attend to a matter and on his returning, it being dark, he stepped invol- untarily on the rupture. When the rup- tured man cried out, he said, "Why do you sleep head downwards?" ^^


A citizen of Abdera whilst out walking saw a ruptured person making water and

^^Non intetlego fragmenti qui sit iocus, -Eberharix

^7 Sed neque illud KaraKi^iaXa bene perspicio neque illud irpos (avrby dvairrdis num sensu obscoeno intellegendum ut supra n.45? turn Praestaret irpoi avrov. KaraK&lHiXa autem ita videtur explicare posse ut significet Abderiiam pede caput herniosi se teiigisse puiare.^EBEtL-




remarked, "He would not finish making water till evening." ^®


A man of Abdera seeing a ruptured per- son coming out of the bath and staggering, said to him, "Why have you filled yourself up so greedily, when you have hardly strength to carry anything?" (sc. wine).^®


A dtizen of Abdera having heard that

onions and turnips cause wind and being

on a voyage when there was a great sea,

having filled a sack he hung it from the

stem of the boat.


A citiascn of Abdera seeing a runner

    • Credebat homo stolidus kerniae praegrand'

em tumorem esse ^fesicam, quae prae humoris saccati abundantia turgebat eratque prominen-


^®The speaker is playing on the two words

    • fiU" and "carry" the latter being applied to

carrjring a load of wine. Compare our expres- sion, "well loaded."


Jests of Hierocles

stretched out upon a cross, said, "By the gods, he no longer runs, but flies."


A man of Abdera was selling a dish with- out handles (ears). Being asked why it had no ears, he reified, "Lest hearing that it was to be sold it might run away."

123 A citizen of Abdera according to custom cremated his father who had died, running to his home to his mother who was ill, he exclaimed, "There is some wood remaining. If you wish and are able you may burn

yourself with it"


A man of Abdera dreamed that he was selling a porker and demanded a hundred denarii for it. Some one offered fifty but he was not willing to take that sum, then he awoke. Closing his eyes again and stretching out his hand, he said, "Give me the fifty."


A little sparrow belonging to a dtizen



of Abdera died. After some time on be- holding an ostrich, he said, If my sparrow had lived, it would already have been as

large." ^


A citizen of Abdera having gone to Rhodes smelled at the walls because of the name (rose) of the place.


A man of Abdera owed a young ass to a certain person and because he did not possess one, he begged that he might furnish two mules (half asses) in its place.

^^The joke lies in the fact that the word sparrow" fomui part of the word ostrich."


The Men of Sidonia


A Sidonian prefect was riding in a char- iot drawn by mules when the animals be- ing exhausted were not able to proceed further. The driver unhitched them in order to rest them a little by pasturing. However, being free they ran away, and the prefect said to the driver, "You see, worthless one, that the mules ran away, but the chariot stands still not being able

to run."


A Sidonian orator was talking with two companions, one of them said that it was not right to slaughter sheep because they furnished milk and wool, the other said that it was not right to kill cows which provided milk and plowed, the orator said it was not fitting to kill young porkers


Jests of Hierocles and Philaorius

which furnished liver and bacon and kid- neys.


A Sidonian sophist at the first opening of the bath went to wash and finding no one within, says to his own servants, "As far as I can see it doesn't wash."

131 A Sidonian having an estate many miles away and wishing to bring it nearer, over- threw seven mile-stones.


A Sidonian manager was walking with a companion when he dropped behind a little to attend to a matter of importance and having stopped for some time his fellow traveller left him after writing on the mile- stone, "Make haste and overtake me." When he read it he wrote above, "And do

you wait for me."


A certain person said to a Sidonian fisherman, "Your fishing-pot holds crabs.



Jests of Hierocles

And he being very angry, replied, "Your breast has a cancer (crab)."

134 A Sidonian centurian said to the soldiers,

"To-day sit down a great deal, for to-mor- row you must march a great deal."

135 Some one said to a Sidonian wax chan- dler, "You, sir, have things to bum." He growing angry, replied, "You, sir, have

boils (coals)."


A grammarian of Sidonia asked his

teacher, "How much does a five-cup flask

hold?" He answered, "Did you say wine

or oil?"


A certain person said to a cook of Sido- nia, "Lend me a knife as far as Smyrna." He replied, "I haven't a knife that will reach that far."


A centurian from Sidonia seeing an ox driver leading his wagon through the mar-



ket place ordered him to be beaten. But he said, I am a Roman, and it is not law- ful to strike me because of the law." The centurian ordered the oxen to be beaten.

139 A Sidonian physician was to receive a

legacy of a thousand drachmas from one of his patients for burying him after his death. When he was buried he attended the funeral and found fault that he had left him a small legacy. Some time after, the son of the departed falling ill sum- moned him for an examination and to con- tend with the disease. The physician said, '*Ii you should leave five thousand drachmas for a legacy, I will attend you as I did your father.'



The Witty Fellows


A witty fellow, seeing a dull professor of grammar teaching, approached him and asked why he didn't teach the lute. When the latter answered, "I do not understand," he replied, "How can you teach grammar if you do not understand ?" *^


A witty helmsman, asked what was raising the wind, replied, "Bean soup and onions."


A physician who was a rogue was treat- ing a witty fellow for sore eyes. Under the guise of borrowing he stole a lamp. One day he asked the patient, "How arc your eyes?" The wit replied, "Since you borrowed the lamp, I do not see."

2^ A similar story is related by Stobaeus, Flor^ ir, 70. "Diogenes Cymcus hanc de se narrat his- torilam epistola pseudonytna sexia," - Boissonade.


Jests of Hierocles and Philaorius

143 A certain person said to a witty physician,

"I have many boils (coals)." The latter

replied, "If you had a boiler you would not

lack for boiling water."


A witty fellow perceiving a lazy runner said, "I know what this my master needs." Being asked by the director of the games, "What is it?" he answered, "He needs a horse, for otherwise he is not able to over- take his opponents."

145 A witty tradesman finding a sergeant

with his wife, said, "I found what I did

not seek."


A shrewd fellow having stolen a young pig was fleeing. When he was overtaken, he placed the pig on the ground and giving it a thwack, said, "Root there, and not among my possessions."

147 A witty fellow beholding a screeching


Jests of Hierocles

and tuneless harp player greeted him, say- ing, "Hail Mr. CocL" Being asked why he hailed him thus, he replied, "Because when you crow everyone wakes up." **

148 A witty fellow being asked by a chatter- ing barber, "How shall I cut it?" replied,

"In silence." "


A witty fellow whilst in the bath was insulted by someone and he brought for- ward the attendants as witnesses. The de- fendant objecting that they were not worthy of credence, he said, "If one were insulted in the wooden horse, he would bring as witnesses Menelaus, and Odyssus^ and Dio- medes; but the insult taking place in the bath, of necessity the attendants know the

matter better."


A witty fellow, when two persons de-

^^ Diogenes Laerftus, vi, 3, 48, has a similar Btoty.

2* This story is told by PluUrcfa, Arch. 2.



sired a scraper from him outside the bath, by one unknown to him and by the second who was an acquaintance but a thief, re- plied, "Knowing you, I shall not give it, and not knowing you I shall not give it/'


A witty fellow seeing a brothel-keeper hiring a black inmate, asked, "How much wages do you pay (to) the night?"


Two shrewd fellows were complaining to one another with regard to putting their fathers out of the way. One said to the other, "In order that we may not be called parricides by any, you kill my father, and I will do away with yours, and we shall escape an evil report."

153 A shrewd fellow whilst wrestling fell in the mud and in order that he might not seem to be clumsy, he got up entirely cov- ered with mud and stood conceitedly through the whole contest.


The Men of Cumac

IS4 In Cumas whilst they were paying the

last rites to a distinguished person, a cer- tain one arriving asked the spectators, "Who is the departed?" One of the Cu- maeans having turned about^ pointed saying, "He who is lying upon the bier."

155 A certain person meeting a Cumsean

who had a horse for sale, asked if the horse had thrown once (its first teeth). When he replied that it had thrown twice, he said, "How do you know?" He answer- ed, "Once he threw me down and once my



A citia^en of Cumas having a house for sale carried about as a sample a stone that had fallen from it.


Jests of Hierocles and Philagrius

IS7 A citizen of Cumae who had a horse for sale was asked if it were not timid. He answered, "No, by my deliverance, for he has only stood in the stable."


A citizen of Cumae having bought some stolen garments, in order that they might not be recognized, daubed them with pitch.

1 59 A Cumaean having made a large thresh- ing floor, stood opposite his wife and asked if she saw him. When she replied she scarcely saw him, he replied, "But at the proper season I shall make a threshing floor so large that neither I may see you, nor you may see me."


A Cumaean visiting a friend called him by name in front of the house. A compan- ion saying, "Call out louder in order that he may hear," forgetting the name which he knew he' shouted, "Louder."


Jests of Hierocles

i6i A Cumasan, plotting against the home of a money-lender and desiring to steal the largest booty, he picked out the paper that weighed the most.


When the Cumasans were fortifying their city one of the citizens named Lollianus fortified two sections at his own charges. When the enemies made an attack the Cu- maeans growing angry cried out as with one voice that no one should guard the wall of Lollianus but he alone.


The Cimiaeans were expecting from a long journey an eminent friend of theirs and desired to honour him by providing clean water in the bath. Having only one swimming-bath, and filling this with warm water they placed a perforated grating in the middle of it in order that the half of the water might be kept clean for their expected friend.



A Cumsean was in swimming when it began to rain and in order not to get wet he went down into the deep water.


A Cumaean purchasing some windows

asked if it were possible to look at the



A citizen of Cumse seated upon his ass

rode alongside an orchard. Seeing a

branch of a fig-tree hanging above full of

ripe figs he laid hold of the branch. His

ass going on he was left hanging. Being

asked by the gardener what he was doing

hanging there, he said, "I have fallen off

my ass."


A Cumaean seeing a sheep with feet bound together and being sheared, said, I am thankful to my master that he has never tied me up and sheared me."


A Cumaean whose father was away from


Jests of Hierocles

home fell under a heavy indictment and was sentenced to death. As he went aw;ay he exhorted everyone not to tell his father else he would beat him to death.


The same person answered when some one said, **You have cheated me," "Shall I go back where I came from if I cheated you?"


A certain person asked a Cumaean where Drakontides the rhetorician lived. "I am alone," he replied, "but if you desire, guard the shop, and I will go along and show you."


The father of a Cumaean living in Alex- andria having died, he took the body to the embalmers. After awhile he went to take it away. But other bodies had been receiv- ed and being asked what mark his father's body had by which he might be recognized, he replied, "He had a bad cough."



A Cumaean beholding a pugilist having many wounds asked whence he got them. Upon the latter answering, "From the cestus (also ant)," he said, "Why do you sleep upon the ground?"

173 A man of Cumse was offering some honey

for sale. When a certain person coming

and tasting it said that it was not good, he

replied, "If a mouse had not fallen into it,

I would not sell it."

174 A physician gave up a sick Cumaean in

despair, and he getting well, shunned the

physician. Being asked the reason, he said,

"He told me I was going to die, and I am

ashamed to be alive."

17s A physician of Cumae having brought a

sick person from tertian fever to semiter-

tian, demanded half his fee.

175 b A pedant coming to a physician of


Jests of Hierocles

Cumas said, Sir, when I wake up from sleep, for half an hour wake up."


A Cumasan physidan gave an enema to a

person who was desperately ill and later

came to inspect the excrement. When

they showed it and said that he died, the

physician with an oath answered thus, "If

he had not been relieved he would have



A physician of Cumse was operating on one who was suffering intense pain and crying out, so he employed a duller lancet.


Two Cumasans bought two dishes of dried figs. Each of the men secretly ate up the figs from the other's dish and not from his own. When they had finished their business each one turning to his own prop- erty found it empty. Taking hold of one another they went to the judge and the judge hearing the/case ordered them to ex-



change excrements and to pay one another



In Cumae a demagogue was denoimced in assembly. "Fellow citizens," he said, "these who have told lies about me are professional slanderers. Let it be decided by you against them. If I have done any such things, let the theatre fall upon me alone while you are seated in judgment."


A Cumaean archon caused the following proclamation to be announced: "Let the overseers immediately after the sacrifice carry their own hides to the priests Let the counsellors enter the council hall and not take council together. Let the cooks throw their own bones over the wall, and the shoemakers must not have small shoe- lasts.


A company of Cumaeans were being sent away by vote and knowing many from other cities left behind, blaming the road, they


Jests of Hierocles

said, Would we not be fools if we should not also come in the future?"

182 A Cumasan was operating on a wounded head and having placed the sufferer on his back he poured water into his mouth in order that he might see through the cut when it flowed out.


The Discontented People


A certain person coming to a peevish physician said, "Master, I am not able to recline, nor to stand, nor to sit down." And the physidan replied, "There is nothing left for you but to be hung up."


One said to a cross-grained physician, "What shall I do because blood and gall come down?" And the latter replied to him, "Even if your bowels should be thrown out, I should not be galled."


A peevish one-eyed physician asked a sick man, "How are you?" He replied, "As you see me." The physician said, "If you are as I see, then half of you is dead."


A physician coming to a peevish person


Jests of Hibrocles

and having examined him, said, "You have a bad fever." And he replying, said, "If you are able to have a better fever, there is the bed, lie upon it and have your fever/'


A cross-grained astrologer was predict- ing that a child would be sick but told the mother that it would be a long time in the future, and demanded his pay. When she said, "I will come to-morrow and give it," he replied, "Wherefore ? If he should die during the night I should lose my fee."


A cross-grained fellow had a jar of honey for sale and being asked by someone how much he would sell it for, he overturned the jar, saying, "You may pour out my heart's blood like this before I tell you."

189 A physician visiting a peevish patient or- dered him to eat a small piece of bread with a sparrow. The patient asked, "How am I able to enter the coop in order to eat the crumbs with the §parrow?"



A peevish person was playing dice when a certain shiftless one sitting down spread himself out. Becoming angry he asked him, "Of what trade are you, and why are you idle?" When he answered that "I am a tailor but I have no work/' tearing his cloak and giving it to him, he said, "Take it, get busy, and keep quiet."


A certain person asked a cross-grained fellow, "Where do you live?" And he re- plied, "I am just coming from there."


A certain person meeting a peevish sea captain, said, "I saw your entrance (also caul) into Rhodes." He replied, "And I saw your liver in Sicily."

193 A person called on a cross-grained fellow

who said, "I am not at home." The visitor

laughingly said, "You are fibbing, for I hear

your voice." "You good-for-nothing," he

replied, "if my servant said it you would


Jests of Hierocles

have believed him, am I not more worthy of

belief than he?*'


A peevish individual was going down stairs when he tripped and fell headlong. The head-servant asking, "Who is there within?" he replied, "I am making a noise in my own house, what is that to you ?"

19s Some one said to a crabbed coimsellor,

"I would like to see and speak with you a little (also small in stature)." But he re- plied, "And I am willing to see you blind and lame."


The Awkward Ones


An awkward grammarian was asked,

"What ought one to say, two or twain?"

And he stretching out his hand showed

two fingers.


An unskilled grammarian was asked,

  • 'What was Priam's mother called?" Be-

ing at a loss he replied, "We call her lady

out of respect."


An awkward barber used to put plaster on those whom he wounded. When one blamed him, he said, "You ungrateful fel- low, you are foolishly vexed, for being shaved at the price of one denarius, you have taken four denarii worth of plaster."

199 An awkward apprentice, having trim-


Jests of Hierocles

med the nails of a person badly and having caused a whitlow, on account of which he was driven away by the one who was deprived of nails, shouted back, Master, why did you not send me away to have learnt?"


An awkward apprentice being command- ed by the overseer to trim the nails of his mistress shed tears. Being asked the reason, he said, "I am afraid and I weep, I nught injure you and cause a whitlow, and the overseer will beat me."


A certain person returning from a trip abroad came to an unskilled soothsayer and asked about his household. He replied, "They are all well including your father." Upon his saying, "My father has been dead these ten years past," the sage answered, "You do not know the truth about your father."


An unskilled soothsayer was casting a



horoscope for a child about to be born, he said, *'He will be a rhetor, then a captain, then a general." The child having died, the mother in demanding back her fee, said, "He whom you said would be a rhetor and captain and general has died." He replied, "By my memory, if he had lived he would have been all those."


A certain person coming to an unskilled diviner asked if his enemy had returned from a journey. He said that he had not come. As he learned several days later that he was at home, he said, "Nothing is more shameless than he."

204 An unskilled soothsayer speaking at length to a certain person, said, "It was not possible for you as concerning descend- ants to beget offspring." Upon his reply- ing, "I have seven children," he said, "Then devote your attention to them."

205 An awkward diviner fell into the hands


Jests of Hibroclbs

of enemies and said, "I am a soothsayer/' When they were about to join in battle with their adversaries, he said, You will con- quer the enemy, if they do not steal the hair on the back part of your head in the battle array." **

2* The text be corrupt, I have made the best I could out of it. "Miki senUnHa non Uguet'* - Eberhaid.


The Timid Ones


A timid fellow was asked, Which boat is the safer, the long boat (the man-of-war), or the round boat (merchant vessel) ?" He replied, "The ship hauled up on land."**


A timid huntsman was continually being pursued by a bear at night in his sleep. Having purchased some dogs he had them sleep with him.


Some one said to a faint-hearted boxer, "With whom are you to fight?" And he pointing to his adversary, said, "With my master here."

^'^ "The same (i.e. Anacharns the Sc3rtfaian), when asked what ships were the safest? replied,

  • Those in dock.*" Diog, Laert,, i, S, 104.


Jests of Hibroclbs

209 A cowardly pugilist was being continu- ally pounded by his adversary, he cried out, "I beg of you, not all at once."


A timid pugilist having purchased an estate asked the people of the place if it did not have ants {also the cestus).


Two timid fellows were sleeping to- gether when a thief entering in and having dragged off the coverlet stole it. One of them becoming aware of it said to the other, "Get up and overtake the person who has stolen the coverlet" The latter replied, "Let him go, when he returns to take the bolster, the two of us will capture him."


A father commanded his son who was a timid fellow to go to a neighbor and bor- row an ax. He said, "He will not give it." His father still waiting, he answered, "I am your neighbor and do not possess an ax.



A timid fellow was owed a denarius by another, and meeting him he demanded the piece of money. Upon his replying, Stretch out your hand and open my breeches pocket and take the denarius/' the other said, "Pass on, you do not owe me anything from that quarter."


Another fellow on account of cowardice wrote upon his forehead, "This is a vital place." Being struck continually he said to the one who struck him, "Can't you read, and do you kill me?"

215 A cowardly pugilist being continually

struck by his adversary, cried out, "I beg

of you, not all at the same time."


The Misers


A miserly fellow having entered a ful- ler's shop and not being willing to make

water, he died.


An envious fellow who had a house for rent, seeing the inhabitants happy, banished them from his house.


An envious fellow seeing his neighbor fighting with a wild beast, said to the guide, "I wager on the bear." *•

^^'The text is hopelessly corrupt. I can not understand why the guide should be standing idly by if the bear were overcoming his oppo- nent **Corriget qui intellexeriU Locus amnio tur^ batus, nam etiam quae sequuntur narrationes 21^ et 218 non aguni de invidiosis sed ignavis" •^ Eberhard.


The Starvelings


A person wasted with hunger having

given his daughter in marriage to another

such man, and asking what he would give

her as a marriage portion, he said, I give

a house, the windows of which look into a



A trainer of boys wasted with hunger seeing a loaf of bread hung up, said, Will you enter the arena? do you bring tidings? or do I ascend to make you ready?"


A physician who was very hungry seeing a loaf of bread l3ang in a hole, applied a plaster to draw it out.


A physician examing a sick person who was wasted with hunger, ordered pulse for


Jests of Hierocles

him as a beverage, but if pulse could not be found, to make for him in like manner a gruel of groats and spelt (this also means "goat"). The hungry man said, "If I do not find a goat, I will eat two kids."


A hungry person seeing a loaf of bread in a niche over a door lintel, said, "Hurry» either lift me up or make that lower."


A hungry fellow going to a gardener gave him four denarii in order that he might eat as many figs as he wished. Look- ing down on him in contempt and sa3ang, "From the trees close at hand eat as many as you are able." Going to the largest fig trees and beginning at the top he devoured all. After some time the gardener having remembered him sought him out. When he saw him shaking the topmost boughs and eating, he became angry and said, "Come down, can you not eat from the boughs lower down?" He replied, "I shall eat those as I come down."



A starveling having entered a bake*shop offered to pay two denarii in order that he might eat his fUI of bread. Reckoning that one loaf was sufficient for him, and having taken the denarii, he began to munch. Be- ginning with the basket, he ate the half standing up. The bread-seller being aston- i^ed and sa3ang, "Sit down and eat thus," he replied, I wish to eat the loaves in the basket standing up, and those on the coun- ter sitting down."


A starveling actor of comedy asked the director for breakfast before his entering upon the stage. Being asked why he wished to breakfast beforehand, he replied. "In order that I may not swear a false oath when I say

By Artemis, I have breakfasted

Very pleasantly."


About Drunkards


A certain person sitting beside a tipsy

man drinking in a tavern, said, Your wife

is dead." Hearing that, he said to the

inn-keeper, "Therefore, waiter, mix some

dark wine."


A tipsy fellow being reproached by cer- tain persons that drinking so much he was not in his senses, but he not being able to see clearly, on account of the wine, replied, "Am I drunk, or you who have two faces?"


A luckless drunkard having acquired a vineyard, died before the time of vintage.


A drunkard opening a wine shop barred the door.*^

27 The meaning of this anecdote is not clear,


Jests of Hierocles and Philaorius

there are two emendations proposed, "bear" and beam/' Did he tie a bear in the vestibule as a sign or to prevent others from entering to pur- chase the wine which be wished to drink him- self? I have taken the word as %eam/' which he placed before the door to bar entrance.


About Those With Bad Breath


A person with a bad breath wishing to commit suicide and having wrapped up his head he opened his mouth wide.


A person with bad breath continually caressing his wife, said, "My lady, my Hera, my Aphrodite." And she turning away, said, "My 2^us, my Zeus" (an aspi- rate makes it read "stench").*®

233 A person with bad breath meeting an acquaintance, said, "Hail," the other re- plied, "Faugh !" Upon his asking, "What did I say?" the other answered, "You broke wind."

2^ The translation cannot convey the distinc- tion made by the aspirate, I haine endeavoured to indicate it in parenthesis.


Jests of Hierocles and Philagrius

234 A person with offensive breath asked

his wife, "Why do you hate me?" She

replied saying, "Because you love me."

A person with bad breath meeting a physician, said, "My master, look whether my tonsils have not fallen down." And the physician turning away, said, "Your tonsils have not gone down by any means, but your guts are coming up."


A person with offensive breath was fond- ling his child and hugging it to his breast he breathed on it. The child turning away, said, "I don't like it, daddy, it's bad." «»

237 A person with bad breath was cooking

a tripe pudding and blowing upon it a

great deal. When done he did not perceive

it, because he was stinking continually.

2^ There is a double meaning here evidently in the words used by the child, the word' for bad" may also be the infantine caca."


Jests of Hieroclbs


A person with bad breath going to a

fruit-seller's asked, "Sir, have you any dried

figs?" But he turning away, said, "I have

no dates either." «®


A young man who was a tragedian was beloved of two women, one with bad breath and the other with an evil smelling skin. One said to him, "Sir, give me kisses," the other, "Sir, give me embraces," he cried out, "Alas I what shall I do? I am divided between two evils!"


A person with offensive breath and one with foul smelling skin were sitting together in the theatre when a young man happened to come up between them and sat down.

s<^ There is evidently a double meaoiog for figs and dates that has been lost **Atque fortasse in V, ficus, aliquid latet turpitudinis." -BoisaojH' ADE. An epigram by Philippus (second centaiy A.D.?) and one by Marcus Arg^nteius in die Anthology of Planudes throws some lig|ht oo the word "fig."



Becoming aware of the bad odor and turn- ing to die one with the breath, he asked, 'Who broke wind?" Discovering the cause from his mouth, he turned to the other and spoke in his ear. Recognizing the bad smell of that one, he rose up and

took to flight.


A fool broke wind whilst sleeping with a deaf person who becoming aware of the evil smell, cried out, he said, "See how you hear; you were deceiving me."


A person with bad breath continually, looking up to heaven prayed a great deal. Zeus looking askance, said, "Do me one favour; you have gods down there too." "

243 A lick-dish having been invited to the vintage by a friend and eating immoderately of 'figs and grapes, fell asleep. Being

81 The meaning seems to be "direct your brea^ towards the gods you have down there."


Jests of Hieroclbs

urged by his belly, he thought he saw his friend sitting in a fig tree and calling him to eat figs. Climbing up he gladly relieved himself of his burden f rcHn the top of the tree. Violently he befouled the couch. When he woke up he recognized what he had done. Having washed the couch and again having eaten too freely, he fell asleep. Again he beheld in his sleep his friend sitting in the tree and urging him to climb up in the same manner. But looking up at him he said, You want to play a trick on me again that thinking I am easing myself from the top of the fig tree I shall besmirch the couch. On the contrary, I will by no means be cheated again ; first I shall relieve myself and thus climb up." Once more he violently befouled the couch.

244 A young man said to his wife who was voluptuous, **Wife, what ^all we do? Do we eat breakfast or devote ourselves to the rites of Aphrodite?" She said to him, As you please, we haven't a bite to eat."



A young man invited two lecherous old women to his house; he said to his house- hold servants, "Mix wine for one, and de- vote to Aphrodite the one who wishes it." They replied, "We don't drink."


Women Haters


A woman hater standing in the market place, said, "I o£Fer my wife for sale with- out reserve." When some people said, "For what reason?" he replied, "In order that she may be bereaved."

A woman hater whose wife having died

put on mourning at the funeral. When

some one asked, "Who has entered into

peace?" he answered, "I who am bereaved

of this woman."


A woman hater having fallen ill was in despair. When his wife said to him, "If you should suffer anything, I shall strangle myself," looking up at her, he answered, "Do me this favour whilst I am living."


Jests of Hibrocles and Philagrius

249 A woman hater had a talkative and abu- sive wife and when she died he carried her to burial upon a large shield. Some one seeing this and asking the reason, he re- plied, "She was warlike.'





A young man being asked whether he was ordered about by his wife or if she were obedient to him, he answered con- ceitedly, "In all things my wife fears me so much, that if I open my mouth she be- fouls herself."


A mistress of a household had an ap- parent fool for a house servant and having perceived his parts, she felt a desire towards him. Having put a veil over her face in order that she might not be recognized she began to sport with him. And he during the play grew familiar with her. Laughing as was his custom, he said to the master of the house, "Master, master, I was familiar with the dancing girl, and the mistress was in her clothes."


Jests of Hierocles and Philagrius

252 An unlucky eunuch became ruptured.

253 A pedant having heard that a raven lived two hundred years, having bought a young raven he kept it to try.


A pedant was voyaging in a storm and

each of his fellow-passengers laying hold

of some object to save himself, he grasped

one of the anchors.


A pedant having buried his son and meet- ing his teacher, said, "Has the boy come? The latter replied, "No." "Therefore, teach those who are left, he has died."


A pedant who was a teacher of wrestling heard that a scholar was ill, and next that he had a fever. Later having heard from the father that he had died, he said, "Prof- fering excuses in this way, you do not suffer the children to learn."


Jbsts of Hieroclbs

A pedant bought a piece of meat and taking it up he carried it home. A kite breaking in snatched it out of his hand. He said, "May I become as you if I do not do as much as someone else.


A starveling lieutenant ordered his seat to be placed beside a bake-shop.

A witty fellow being away from home and having become ruptured, was asked upon his return what he had brought. He replied, "For you nothing, but for my thighs a little cushion."


A witty fellow seeing a physician anoint- ing a young woman of mature years, said, "In healing her eyesight do not destroy the



A certain person was reviling a witty fellow that, "I had your wife as a free



gift/' He replied, "I have to endure this

evil; what is the need of your having it."


A witty fellow was giving judgment for

a leader when the latter nodded in a doze,

he shouted, "I call out." He asked, "For

what purpose?" The former replied, "To

wake you up."


A pedant having a jar of choice wine sealed it up, but his servant bored a hole underneath and drew off the wine. He was astonished because the wine diminished whilst the seals remained whole. A friend said, "Look whether it was not drawn off from below." "You stupid fellow," he re- plied, "it is not the bottom which is gone but the upper part."


A pedant meeting a physician by the house hid himself. Being asked the reason by some one, he said, "I have the good fortune in not being ill, and I am ashamed to come into the sight of the physician.'



% •




The following article from The Gentle* mans Magazine for September, 1741, has been attributed to Dr. Samuel Johnson who was a contributor at that time. The reader will observe that the pompous style has taken the point out of the jokes.


Mr. Urban, As Variety is one of the chief Excellencies of your Collection, you will perhaps not deny a Plaoe to a few Stories, in favour of which, if you should be censured for inserting any Thing of so little Importance, you may allege, that they have been thought worthy to be preserved for many Ages ; that they were ascribed to no meaner an Author than Hierocles; that they may contribute to inform your Readers of the Taste, the Amusements, or at least, what is often the Object of Curiosity, the Follies of former Times, and may be properly inculcated to those whose continual Application to Studies of


Jests of Hierocles

more Labour than Use, has hindered them from b^ng acquainted wilii more neoessary Parta of Knowledge, and expose themselves to Contempt and Ridicule, by their Ignorance of ooomion Life.

It will appear from the following Tales that Pedants have been ridicul'd in every Age, and that the Method of introdudqg a Story of any ridiculous Mistake, was to impute it to a stupid Philosopher.

I know not whether it is neoessary to remark that I have in translating these ludicrous Narra- tives made use of the same Liberty that Addison commends in a Version of Theopkrastus, for surely this piece is below Criticism, and no Prep- aration needs to be made for the Defence of that which will never be attacked.

The Pedants

A Pedant having been almost drowned in an Attempt to swim, made an Oath that he would never enter the Water again till he waa a com- plete Master of the Art

Another hearing that one of his Friends was sick, paid him a visit, but found him so weak, that when he asked him, kov; he didy he could make no Answer; the Philosopher repeated the Question^ and was at last so much provoked at the sick Man's Silence, that before he left the Room he cried out in the Heat of his Resentment,



/ hope I shall be sick in a little Time, and have an Opportunity of treating you in the same manner.

Another being nauch molested by a Mouse in his Apartment, used to sit at his Hole with Meat in his Mouth, in hopes by that method to lure him out

Another formed a Design of teaching his Horse to live cheap, and for that Purpose kept him in the Stable without Meat, but one Morning found him dead, and going to his' Friends, told them that he had lost his Horse; they observing in him an Air of uncommon Dejection, told him that he mdght repair the Damage by procuring another; ah! say^ he, but the Loss is greater than you imagine, for this Horse had just learned to live without eating.

A Phii'Iosopher having an Inclinadon to sell his House, was desired by the Person that proposed to buy it, to shew it him. Sir, says he, You may spare yourself the Trouble of walking so far, for I always carry this Stone in my Pocket as a Specimen,

Another stood before a Looking Glass with his Eyes shut, to see how handsome he was when he was asleep.

Another dreamed that he struck his foot against a Nail, and therefore laid on a Plaister, and comiplaining to a Brother Philosopher of his


Jests of Hieroclbs

Hurt, was advised to take Warning, and to go to bed for the future with his Shoes on.

Another having purchased a new House planted himself at the Window, and seeing a Neighbour in the Street, Do not I look very hand- some, says he, in my new House?

Another having a Cask of Wine sealed it up at the Top, but his Servant boring a Hole at die Bottom, stole the greatest Part of it away; some- time after having called ,a Friened to taste his Wine, he found the Vessel almost empty, and ex- pressing his Admiration that the Liquor should be lost and the Seal Whole, was advised to ex- amine whether the Bottom was not bored. You fool, says he, the Wine at the Bottom is safe enough; you see that it is the upper Part of the Cask that has been robbed.

Another, observing how Apples were shaken by the Wind from the Tree, goes to another Tree where Sparrows were perched, and laying a Sheet under it, begins to shake with all his Strength, in hopes of catching them.

Another walking in his Grounds, till he was very thirsty enquired for Water, and being told that he had good Water in his own Well which his Ancestors used to drink, he went therefore to it, and looking down, The fFater, says he, may be good, but my Ancestors must have had



very long Necks, if they were able to get at iu Another meeting after a long Absence with an Acquaintanoe, told him, that he was surprised to see him, for he had heard he was dead, but, says the other, you find the Report false, 'Tis hard to determine, he replied, for the Man that told me was one whose fVord I woud [/fV] sooner take than yours.

Another having heard that a crow would live two hundred years, procured a young on« to try. Anodier being in a violent Tempest, observed the rest of the Passengers providing Pieces of Wood to swim upon, and going to look for some- thing for himself, took hold of the Anchor, for he was determined, he told them, not to go to the Bottom without one Struggle for Ids life.

Another meeting with a Man that had just buried a twin Brother, enquired of him, whether it was he or his Brother that was lately buried.

Another, being to go with his whole Family to Sea, was very busy in making his Will, and observing his Servants in some Anxiety about their Danger, cried out to them, do not be cou' cemed Boys, for I have given you all your Free-' dom if we should happen to be drowned.

Another being to cross a River in a Boat, came into it on Horseback, for, says he, I am in too great haste to think of going in a Boat on Foot


Jests of Hibroclbs

Another had a little Boy dead, and seeing a great Number of his Friends come together to the Funeral, told them, that he must make an Apology for bringing out such a little Child to so large a Company.

The Son of Another Pedant going to the War, told his Father, that he would engage to bring him the Head of one of the Enemies. ChiH said he, / shall be glad to see thee come home safe and well, though thou shouldest bring back neither the Enemies Head nor thy own.

Another having received a Letter from his Friend, with a Request that he would buy him some Books, neglected the Affair, and^ by way of Excuse, said when he met his Friend, I am sorry, that I never received the Letter which you wrote to me about the Books.

Another being oo a Journey in Company with a Barber and a bafld Man, it was agreed that each should watch in his Turn while the other two slept: The Barber, whose Turn happened to be first, shaved the Philosopher while he was asleep, and at the Expiration of his Hme waked him, the Sage fell to scratching his Head, and finding no Hair, abused the Barber for not call- ing the Philosopher in his Turn^ for do you not know, says he, that I, who am tiie bald Man, was to have been called up last


Prepared for publication and privately printed for The Rowfant Club, on Old

Stratford paper, by The Arthur H Clark Company

Cleveland, mcmxx

Further reading

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