Monday, August 04, 2008

World's Oldest Jokes

I love it when two of my passions come together to meet. Dr. Kim Paffenroth wed zombies and religion for me (two great tastes that taste weird together). Now someone has done the same for ancient history and humor. It's not the first time, but it's good. Below is a selection from the top ten.

1. Something which has never occurred since time immemorial: a young woman did not fart in her husband's lap (1900 BC – 1600 BC Sumerian Proverb Collection 1.12-1.13)

3. Three ox drivers from Adab were thirsty: one owned the ox, the other owned the cow and the other owned the wagon's load. The owner of the ox refused to get water because he feared his ox would be eaten by a lion; the owner of the cow refused because he thought his cow might wander off into the desert; the owner of the wagon refused because he feared his load would be stolen. So they all went. In their absence the ox made love to the cow which gave birth to a calf which ate the wagon's load. Problem: Who owns the calf?! (1200 BC)

8. Augustus was touring his Empire and noticed a man in the crowd who bore a striking resemblance to himself. Intrigued he asked: "Was your mother at one time in service at the Palace?" "No your Highness," he replied, "but my father was." (Credited to the Emperor Augustus 63 BC – 14 AD)

10. Asked by the court barber how he wanted his hair cut, the king replied: "In silence." (Collected in the Philogelos or "Laughter-Lover" the oldest extant jest book and compiled in the 4th/5th Century AD)
My favorite - which didn't make the cut - is the one found in Codex Exoniensis (as reported by the Torygraph). It runs thus:
“What hangs at a man’s thigh and wants to poke the hole that it’s often poked before?’ Answer: A key.”

I'll bet +Leofric laughed his lappets off at that one.


David Fischler said...

Looking for zombie fiction on Amazon, I came across the name of Kim Paffenroth for the first time this past weekend. I'm looking forward to delving into his novels.

Chris said...

Don't forget Gospel of the Living Dead. Since it's a theological piece, you can count it as continuing ed! David Wellington's Monster Island is an excellent read, and is available for free electronic reading.