"fart jokes, sex jokes, and in at least one case a farting sex joke."
September 30, 2020 8:35 AM   Subscribe

Poggio Bracciolini, was an Italian scholar known to bibliophiles as a rediscoverer and popularizer of Latin manuscripts formerly hidden away in monastic libraries, a process recounted and claimed to have "sparked the modern age" in the Pulitzer prize-winning book The Swerve. However, in 1470 he also wrote the Facetiae, the first joke book ever printed (original Latin version, 1870's English translation). And some of those jokes were dirty. [NB: ancient jokes not all funny or appropriate to modern ears]
posted by jessamyn (29 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
Some fine jokes here!
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 9:15 AM on September 30, 2020 [2 favorites]


I like the one where the kid wants people to smell his butt.
posted by saturday_morning at 9:21 AM on September 30, 2020 [10 favorites]


"Yo mama" burns have a long and noble tradition, I see.
posted by briank at 9:32 AM on September 30, 2020 [5 favorites]


Several persons were conversing in Florence, and each was wishing for something that would make him happy; such is always the case. One would have liked to be the Pope, another a king, a third something else, when a talkative child, who happened to be there, said, “I wish I were a melon.” “And for what reason?” they asked. “Because everyone would smell my bottom.” It was usual for those who want to buy a melon to apply their noses underneath.

It's funnier when you explain it.
posted by The Tensor at 9:34 AM on September 30, 2020 [16 favorites]


NAY THOU
posted by jquinby at 9:47 AM on September 30, 2020 [3 favorites]


It's funny because it's true:

One of our fellow citizens, a very witty man, was labouring under a painful and lengthy illness, was attended by a Friar who came to comfort him, and, among other words of solace, told him that God thus especially chastens those he loves, and inflicts his visitations upon them. “No wonder then,” retorted the sick man, “that God has so few friends; if that is the way he favours them, he ought to have still less.”

posted by chavenet at 10:03 AM on September 30, 2020 [4 favorites]


Stephen Greenblatt is a fine Shakespearean scholar, and a nice guy to boot, but medievalist scholars have not been kind to The Swerve
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:18 AM on September 30, 2020 [4 favorites]


Some of these seem to have an embedded thats_the_joke.jpg
posted by Going To Maine at 10:29 AM on September 30, 2020 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: There was a numerous company, who could not help bursting out into a fit of laughter.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:48 AM on September 30, 2020 [5 favorites]


I was once asking how I could avoid feeling cold in bed. “Only do,” said one of the by-standers, “what a friend of mine [did] when a student. He was in the constant habit of clearing his bowels after supper; but he occasionally refrained, asserting that the matter thus retained kept up, during the heat of the night, the heat of his body.” A remedy against the cold which has fallen into disuse.

Online question boards suggest it has fallen back into use.
posted by little onion at 10:54 AM on September 30, 2020 [1 favorite]


Poggio previously. I bet he was a fun guy to drink with.
posted by Paragon at 11:10 AM on September 30, 2020


No matter how cold, how wet or how warm it was, I have never ever regretted getting up in the middle of the night to take a pee. I have regretted not getting up.

But, I think "...clearing his bowels..." refers to shitting or farting. I have always regretted shitting my bed.
posted by AugustWest at 11:14 AM on September 30, 2020 [1 favorite]


Interesting and not at all surprising that so many jokes are about the faithfulness of women to their husbands. I like the one under CXXII in the attached google book view, "a woman’s humorous answer to a man’s enquiry whether his wife could be confined at the end of a twelve-month", at least there’s some female solidarity in there!
posted by bitteschoen at 11:24 AM on September 30, 2020


I think "...clearing his bowels..." refers to shitting or farting.

I agree Poggio's bystander meant shitting. Googling only found me modern results about peeing. (If you Google about poop you get the dangers of fecal impaction.) But in spirit & physics I find the method to be pretty much the same.
posted by little onion at 11:30 AM on September 30, 2020


During the war which the Florentines were waging against Pope Gregory, the Perugians, who had seceded from the pontifical party, sent Ambassadors to Florence to ask for assistance. One of them, a Doctor, began a long speech, and by way of exordium, said: "Give us of your oil." Another, a jolly fellow who hated circumlocutions, interrupted him.

"What about that oil?" he exclaimed. "You ask for oil when it is soldiers we want. Do you forget we came here to ask for arms and not for oil?"

"But those are the very words of scripture," replied the Doctor.

"Most judicious indeed," was the retort. "We are the foes of the Church and you invoke the assistance of Holy Writ."

The man's drollery set everyone laughing. The Doctor's useless flow of words was cut short, and business at once proceeded with.


Gallagher's early stuff wasn't nearly as accessible as smashing the watermelons would prove to be.
posted by Naberius at 11:32 AM on September 30, 2020 [3 favorites]


This is fun to read. I have to wonder if some of this comedy was funny mostly because it was unheard of— or simply shocking—to read statements like these in a printed, or formal, book form? Along the lines of 20th century "shock jocks" pushing the FCC boundaries of profanity/good taste, etc?

Makes me wonder what informal, day to day conversational comedy was like. Or even what kind of jokes were told aloud... in other words, jokes not in printed/formal book form.
posted by SoberHighland at 11:48 AM on September 30, 2020 [2 favorites]


NAY THOU

Everything old eventually becomes new again. I'm fond of the fact that the earliest "I did your mom" joke I know of is actually in Shakespeare, but now I'm going to need to dig into this to see if there are earlier examples.
posted by mhoye at 11:59 AM on September 30, 2020


Q: How many house servants does it take to change the infant's soiled nappy?

A: Forsooth, the nappy first has to want to change, through hours of repentance and prayer.
posted by not_on_display at 12:23 PM on September 30, 2020 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile, can I also interest you good mefites with this really dapper gentleman from the 14th century?

Dost thou even hoist?

Relatedly, the illuminated manuscripts seem to have a theme. Then again, picking penises from a tree was also a thing.

And when it came to theological debates, things could get really... uh, wet?

(also, thank you Jessamyn)
posted by Pyrogenesis at 12:34 PM on September 30, 2020 [2 favorites]


I have to wonder if some of this comedy was funny mostly because it was unheard of— or simply shocking—to read statements like these in a printed, or formal, book form? Eh, there's a lot of dirty drawings in medieval manuscripts, and Chaucer writing jokes about poop, farts, butts, dongs, and hoo-hahs nearly 100 years before Poggio (although they were manuscripts, not printed books).
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:51 PM on September 30, 2020


Everything old eventually becomes new again. I'm fond of the fact that the earliest "I did your mom" joke I know of is actually in Shakespeare, but now I'm going to need to dig into this to see if there are earlier examples.

I think this is the one you're referring to — I had to go find it because I love it so much
DEMETRIUS: Villain, what hast thou done?

AARON: That which thou canst not undo.

CHIRON: Thou hast undone our mother.

AARON: Villain, I have done thy mother.
posted by saturday_morning at 12:55 PM on September 30, 2020 [8 favorites]


NB: the Latin version linked is Vol I and the English is Vol II. The first is plaintext and the latter is scanned, with both EN & LA.
posted by Sterros at 3:45 PM on September 30, 2020 [1 favorite]


I feel like I am back in 4th grade—I am laughing and pretending to understand, because these jokes are way older and cooler than me, but I don't get most of them.
posted by not_on_display at 4:48 PM on September 30, 2020 [2 favorites]


(although the "did" in "I did your mom" is shorthand for "did it with" or "did it to", the "done" in Titus is more along the lines of "completed" or "fulfilled" -- the end result is basically the same)
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:49 PM on September 30, 2020 [1 favorite]


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posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:10 PM on September 30, 2020


“No wonder then,” retorted the sick man, “that God has so few friends; if that is the way he favours them, he ought to have still less.”
I'm surprised that a joke like this, which is critical of God's mysterious ways, didn't land its author in hot waters. Mocking clergy is one thing, but doubting God? Or perhaps this was OK because it did not involve doctrine? Poggio Bracciolini worked for seven popes, so we can suppose that he had a good handle on what was permissible and what was not. One of the jokes is "The worst men in the world live in Rome, and worse than the others are the priests, and the worst of the priests they make cardinals, and the worst of all the cardinals is made pope."
posted by elgilito at 1:29 AM on October 1, 2020 [1 favorite]


I have to wonder if some of this comedy was funny mostly because it was unheard of— or simply shocking—to read statements like these in a printed, or formal, book form? Along the lines of 20th century "shock jocks" pushing the FCC boundaries of profanity/good taste, etc?

Chaucer was mentioned above, but you can find similar humor as far back as the earliest Old English manuscripts, as well.
posted by eviemath at 5:32 AM on October 1, 2020


We are amused.
posted by hypnogogue at 7:20 AM on October 1, 2020


sex-positive wife:
Broads and their clothes, amirite? I have to buy you $100 worth of dresses just to get some.
"why do you not, by frequent repetition, bring the cost down to a farthing?"
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:58 AM on October 1, 2020


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