Funny Ancient History Jokes

Will and Guy are convinced that humour, laughter and jokes have been
with us since the beginning of human life on earth, and we would like to
share some jokes with you that have an historical background.


Funny Ancient History Jokes


Humour in Antiquity

It's easy to imagine that joke books are a modern phenomenon. Not so!

Philogelos, or 'The Laughter Lover', a book of wisecracks, was probably
compiled in the fourth or fifth century AD. Written in Greek, it contains
around 260 short jokes. Nobody knows who originally put it together or
why.  A Roman stand-up's aide memoire? Or maybe a Roman Will and Guy?

Roman Jokes from
The Laughter Lover

A wealthy man buys a slave, who dies
shortly afterwards, so he complains to the slave's former owner, "Hey!
That slave you sold me. He died."
"Goodness me," he replies. "He never
did that when I owned him."

A man meets an acquaintance and says,
"It's funny. I was told you were dead." The acquaintance replies, "Well,
you can see I'm still alive." But the first man argues, "You must be dead
because the chap who told me you were dead is much more reliable than

Tell Your Fortune?
A man who had just returned from
travelling abroad consulted an incompetent astrologer about his family.
"How are they?" he asked.
"They're all fine," the astrologer replied,
"especially your father.
"But he's been dead for 10 years!" exclaimed
the man.
"You obviously don't know who your father is then," retorted
the astrologer.

The Perfect Guest
A boffin was invited to a dinner
party but wouldn't eat anything.
"Why aren't you eating?" asked a
fellow guest.
"I didn't want anyone thinking I'd only come for the

Funny History Jokes

Six Further Examples from The Laughter
Lover - [Philgelos]

  • An intellectual, falling sick, had promised to pay the doctor if he
    recovered. When his wife nagged at him for drinking wine while he had a
    fever, he said, 'Do you want me to get healthy and be forced to pay the
  • An intellectual caught sight of a deep well on his country-estate, and
    asked if the water was any good. The farmhands assured him that it was
    good, and that his own parents used to drink from that well. The
    intellectual expressed his amazement: 'How long were their necks, if they
    could drink from something so deep!'
  • An intellectual came to check in on a friend who was seriously ill.
    When the man's wife said that he had "departed", the intellectual replied:
    'When he arrives back, will you tell him that I stopped by?'
  • A glutton betrothed his daughter to another glutton. Asked what he was
    giving her as a dowry, he replied: 'A house whose windows face the
    Funny History Jokes
  • While a misogynist was paying his last respects to his wife, someone
    asked him: 'Who has gone to rest? He replied: 'Me, now that I'm alone.'
  • A barber, an absent minded professor and a bald man go on a long
    journey together and have to camp out overnight so they decide to take it
    in turns to watch the luggage. The barber volunteers for the first watch
    while the other two sleep but soon gets bored so he decides to pass the
    time by shaving the professor's head. When his shift is up he wakes the
    professor who pats his head and exclaims, 'God, that barber is a real
    idiot, he's woken up baldy instead of me.'
    See more barber

Ancient Humour Durability

Not all the Laughter-lover jokes stand the test of time, some involve
a scholastikos (absent-minded professor or boffin) who uses his great
intellect to reach the wrong conclusion, eg a boffin went for a dip and
almost drowned. He swore he'd never go near water again until he'd
learned to swim.

Others mock different nationalities, rather like 'Irish ' gags, eg, A
farmer from Kyme was in the market, selling honey. The customer, after
tasting it, complimented him on how good it was. "Damn right it's good,'
replied the farmer. 'I wouldn't be selling it if that mouse hadn't gone
and died in it!"

Our Top Ten Hilarious,
Funny, Witty and Short Jokes from History

The Philgelos or "Laughter-lover" is probably the oldest
compilation of jokes in existence; it contains some 265 jokes. It is
said that the famous Monty Python Parrot sketch has its origins in a
joke told in the Philogelos.

  1. Why were the early days of
    history called the dark ages?  Because there were so many knights.
  2. It appears that shortest war on record was between Zanzibar and Britain
    in 1896.  Zanzibar [now part of Tanzania] surrendered after 38 minutes.
  3. What kind of lighting did Noah use for the ark?  Floodlights and Ark
  4. Which English King invented the fireplace?  Alfred the Grate.
  5. How was the Roman Empire cut in half?  With a pair of Caesars.
  6. I'm desperately trying to establish why kamikaze pilots wore helmets.
  7. Last words from a general in the American Civil War, 'Nonsense.They
    couldn't hit an elephant at this dist...............'
  8. Asked by the court barber how he wanted his hair cut, the king replied,
    'In silence.' [From the Philogelos]
  9. What's the difference between Joan of Arc and a canoe?  One is Maid of
    Orleans and the other is made of wood. [The Victorians enjoyed jokes like
    this one]
  10. Wishing to teach his donkey not to eat, a pedant did not offer him any
    food. When the donkey died of hunger, he said, 'I've had a great loss.
    Just when he had learned not to eat, he died.' - Dated to the *Philogelos
    4th Century CE]

One that almost got away:
Why did Henry VIII have so many
wives? He liked to chop and change.

See more history jokes.

Please send us your funny ancient history jokes.