The world is in a state of upheaval at the moment, and we’re all looking for things to make us feel less anxious. Maybe Classics can help.
Today’s interview is with Michael Scott
Is there a source from the ancient world that you find yourself coming back to when you want to feel better?
The Philogelos – ‘Laughter Love’ – a compendium of ancient jokes!
When did you first come across this text?
In 2012 – when I was a research Fellow at Cambridge.
Can you tell me a bit about this compendium and its context?
It’s the oldest existing collection of jokes – written in the 3rd or 4th century CE (in ancient Greek). 265 jokes categorised into different sections depending on the subject.
#263. Someone needled a jokester: “I had your wife, without paying a dime.” He replied: “It’s my duty as a husband to couple with such a monstrosity. What made you do it?”
What is it about this collection that appeals to you most?
We spend so much time thinking about the serious and important things the Greeks did – it’s good to see them ‘in their down time’, having fun, and telling jokes (even if some of them aren’t particularly funny anymore).
And finally… what do you do, outside of Classics, to cheer yourself up?
I am a massive fan of backgammon, board games, movies (old and new ones) and long walks.
Michael Scott is Professor of Classics at the University of Warwick.
“I am interested both in ancient Greece (and particularly its religious activities) and also in the ancient Silk Roads. My most recent book is on the development of connections across the ancient silk roads from the Mediterranean to China (Ancient Worlds). I am also passionate about communicating the ancient world to the wider public – through TV, books, lectures and social media. Check out my regular live Facebook Q&A via my page www.facebook.com/profmichaelscott or my website: www.michaelscottweb.com.”