Was it you who died, or your brother?

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This paper seeks to apply Christie Davies' target theory to the classical jokebook Philogelos and more specifically, its most common protagonist, the scholastikos, whose central flaw is stupidity caused by his inability to interact with material reality, similar to modern "dotty professor" jokes. This paper seeks to build a model of how scholastikos jokes work, how the stereotype is constructed and perpetuated, how this differs from other "stupid" stereotypes used elsewhere in the Philogelos (largely ethnic-based stereotypes), and possible social and cultural anxieties bound up in the character of the scholastikos. It will explore the relationship between ancient and modern targets in light of Christie Davies' target theory and extend this model of how humour functions to transhistorical case studies.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date22 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2019


  • Christie Davies
  • classical humor
  • jokebook
  • Philogelos
  • target theory

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