Tag Archive for 'Humour'

An anecdote on the perils of being “learned” in public; and some others

Another anecdote from the collection of E.H. Barker: 7. Professor Porson. We have seldom read a better story, to say the least of it, than the following. As to the facts of it, we can only say that the statement rests on the authority of the author of Lacon, whence it is extracted. Porson was […]

An anecdote from 1827

XXXIX. The Negro and the Fish. “A negro about to purchase a fish visited a shop, where several were exposed for sale; but suspecting that one, which he intended to buy, was not altogether as fresh as he could wish, he presumed either to dissipate or confirm his suspicions by applying it to his nose. […]

The encouragement of learning

Edward Gibbon, the author of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was a notoriously vain little man.  In the Walpoliana of Horace Walpole, a collection of anecdotes, I find this story: I was told a droll story concerning Mr. Gibbon, t’other day.  One of those booksellers in Paternoster Row, who publish things in numbers, went […]

Sometimes it can be a long day at the monastery

David Wilmshurst has sent me an amusing GIF of the (amicable) 13th century debate on christology between Latin and Syrian monks… ‘And how many natures, persons, hypostases, wills, energies and activities do you ascribe precisely to the Incarnate Christ? Think carefully before you answer …’ Click to enlarge.  

Freaky Fables: The Career of Richard the Lionheart – according to Handelsman!

Those of a bookish disposition have a tendency, in middle age, to go in search of the books that they read in their formative years.  I will not disclaim any such tendency.  Rather, I have just come across an item that I read when I was very much younger, which I thought that I might […]

Is this the best Santa Claus post this Christmas?

I’ve seen a few twitter posts about St. Nicholas punching Arius at the Council of Nicaea.  Now this (via Dyspepsia Generation):

Medieval poison ring found – get one now!

NEW!  For the Borgia in YOUR church … a poison ring! SMILE … as your opponents die writhing on the floor while you preach a sermon about peace and unity! END … those interminable conferences by poisoning your enemies during the communion service! INVITE … your foes round for dinner: “The drinks are on me!” […]

Life at the court of Lysimachus

Athenaeus has preserved a jest from the court of Lysimachus, one of Alexander’s generals: King Lysimachus, who was somewhat stingy, once put a wooden scorpion into the dress of a parasite, for the purpose of frightening him. “I will frighten you, sir,” he said; “give me … two hundred pounds!” — Athenaeus, book vi. p. 246. […]

The man who gave a few pence to the emperor Augustus

The story is in Macrobius, Saturnalia, book 2, chapter 4: [31] As he went down from his residence on the Palatine, a seedy-looking Greek used to offer him a complimentary epigram.  This the man did on many occasions without success, and Augustus, seeing him about to do it again, wrote a short epigram in Greek […]

Some sayings by Cicero from the ‘Saturnalia’ of Macrobius

I have been reading the Saturnalia of Macrobius, that curious store of Latin learning from the very end of the empire.  Book 2 contains a collection of witticisms.  Here are a few. [ 1] But I am surprised, continued Symmachus, that none of you have said anything of Cicero’s jests, for here, as in everything […]