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Roman Humor >({|;-)

PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2003 2:23 am
by Aldus Marius
Avete Romani...

I would like to start here a thread of Roman humor. Entries can be jokes by or featuring Romans; historical accuracy is not an issue. An example would be the hoary old saga of how Roman roads got to be the width they are.

To start off, I will tell a story-joke:

A Roman walks into a bar and tells the man at the counter, "I'll have a martinus, please."

The bartender says, "Don't you mean 'martini'??"

The guy in the toga responds, "Sir, when I want two or more of them I'll let you know!"

** Marius bows, and hopes shyly that someone else will now volunteer to be embarrassed **

In amicitia,

Another one

PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2003 5:19 am
by Aldus Marius
Never walk a Roman across a gravel driveway. Chances are he won't make it to the other side until he's sorted all the pebbles by color and size, and made them into mosaic-work.

Laughing at himself every day is...

PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2003 12:07 am
by Tarquinius Dionysius

The Hoary Old Saga

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2003 2:59 am
by Aldus Marius
Avete iterum...

Alright, since no one else has posted it, I herewith present to you the Hoary Old Saga of how come Roman roads are that particular width. (I was sure someone else would've posted this by now; this isn't just Marius' humor column!) >({|;-)

The sender, a university librarian, got this from somebody else; she has this to say about it:

This is a tad frivolous and I have no idea how factual, but a piece of our Roman heritage that I had never considered beyond the Roman roads themselves. Might be fun to share with students.
Best regards,

(Of course, Listmembers and collegae know that the Romans did not use war-chariots, and that Irishmen and Chinese built the railroads. That said, enjoy!)

>> How MilSpec Lives Forever
>> The US Standard railroad gauge (distance between the
>> rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd
>> number. Why was that gauge used? Because that's the
>> way they built them in England, and the US railroads were
>> built by English expatriates.
>> Why did the English people build them like that? Because
>> the first rail lines were built by the same people who built
>> the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.
>> Why did they use that gauge then? Because the people
>> who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that
>> they used for building wagons, which used that wheel
>> spacing.
>> Okay! Why did the wagons use that odd wheel spacing?
>> Well, if they tried to use any other spacing the wagons
>> would break on some of the old, long distance roads,
>> because that's the spacing of the old wheel ruts.
>> So who built these old rutted roads? The first long
>> distance roads in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for
>> the benefit of their Legions. The roads have been used
>> ever since. And the ruts? The initial ruts, which everyone
>> else had to match for fear of destroying their wagons,
>> were first made by Roman war chariots. Since the
>> chariots were made for or by Imperial Rome, they were
>> all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.
>> Thus, we have the answer to the original questions. The
>> United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches
>> derives from the original specification (Military Spec) for
>> an Imperial Roman army war chariot. Thus, MilSpecs and
>> bureaucracies live forever.
>> So, the next time you are handed a specification and
>> wonder what horse's ass came up with it, you may be
>> exactly right. Because the Imperial Roman chariots were
>> made to be just wide enough to accommodate the
>> back-ends of two war horses.

Maureen Burns, Senior Curator
Visual Resources Collection
University of California, Irvine

And there you have it.

Mulus Marianus--

PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2003 1:45 pm
by Tiberius Dionysius Draco

everybody knows Caesars famous words:'Veni, vidi, vici' (I came, I saw, I conquered).

Less valiant successors of Caesar, however, were often accused of uttering: 'Veni, vidi, cucurri.' (he came, he saw, he ran).


Tiberius Dionysius Draco

Veni, Vidi...

PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2003 12:59 am
by Aldus Marius
And bolder ones were in the habit of roaring, "Veni, Vidi, nates calce concidi" (I came, I saw, I kicked @$$)! >({|:-D

Okay, some of you may have seen this next one back on the Topica List. (I believe I submitted it...). If you did, bear with me; we've gotten lots of newbies since then, and one or two of them might enjoy it.

This was the first thing I ever posted to an Internet newsgroup. ('Twas back in July of '95.) The group was alt.test; I was in college in the San Francisco bay area; and, as I have Roman reenactor gear, I did at least flirt with making this actually happen. Enjoy...

Testing...unum, duo, tres...

There have recently been numerous sightings of Roman Legionaries in and around the Bay Area. They have been encountered on AC Transit buses, BART trains, local college campuses, and, in one unfortunate incident, on the High Street Bridge going into Alameda. (The soldier in question, one Horatius, was holding the bridge against all comers.)

Local reaction has been mixed. The Christian Right is in an uproar, due to the Romans' pagan beliefs and alleged involvement in the infamous Calvary Incident. However, the Legionaries (known colloquially as "Marius' Mules" for their carrying capacity) have become quite popular with local roadworkers and survey teams. Apparently they are hiring themselves out as engineers, carpenters, laborers, freelance security, Latin tutors and Western Civ study-buddies. At least one of them is rumored to have hit the lecture circuit.

More on this as it develops...

(Anybody for attempting a follow-up...?) >({|8-)

In amicitia,


PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2003 1:26 am
by Aldus Marius
Hey, amici, Guess What!!! --We're in Doonesbury!!!!

...Well, okay, someone/thing Romanish is in Doonesbury. Beginning today, this Pulitzer Prize-winning American editorial cartoon (which Marius has loved since he was in his 'teens) is following the adventures of the notorious Ambassador Duke, who apparently is the CIA's choice for postwar American administrator of Iraq. Ol' Duke has his own ideas about the position; he's dressed in a tunica laticlava and toga, and insists that his aides address him as "Ave Proconsul"...!!!

I'm sure there's an online version of the strip somewhere. (looks) Ah! --there is: anyone who does not get it in their newspaper can read it on the Web.

Have a good read!!


PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2003 2:03 am
by Aldus Marius
Just thought of something...

If a Roman spends the night at your house, don't be ashamed to have him sleep on the couch. Not only will he not mind, but from his perspective it may be the only proper bed in the place!


Cantus Temporicus

PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2003 2:11 am
by Aldus Marius
Sung to the tune of "I Think We're Alone Now" by Tiffany.

"I Think We're In Rome Now"

Built a machine,
Thought we'd get into some time-travel
But once we hit the scene,
All the circuitry started to unravel
Hit the brakes as hard as we can...
Find ourselves in unfamiliar lands...
Where were we going now? Where are we? When??
Then somebody said "Ave" and I turned to my best friend,
That's when I said:

I think we're in Rome now
There's a lot of Legionaries running around
I think we're in Rome now
People wearin' togas 'stead of evening gowns
I think we're in Rome now
Let's head to the Forum, find what's going down!

[instrumental part repeating lines 1-6]
Cruisin' the Provinces, lookin' for fights,
And Latin lessons 'round the dinner-table every night!
I learned to say:


A reception for any rotten fruit will be held at a later date to be announced... >({|;-)


PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2003 12:28 am
by Aldus Marius
Erratum: The second verse should go like this (I told you my memory was roast beef hash):

Runnin' just as fast as we can...
Plowin' into some bar-bar-i-ans...
Cruisin' the Provinces, lookin' for fights,
And Latin lessons 'round the dinner table every night!
I learned to say:


This, of course, will make the instrumental interlude shorter.

Thank'ee for listening!

How to Ditch a Nosy Sales Clerk

PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2003 12:16 am
by Aldus Marius
How to Ditch a Nosy Sales Clerk:

Don't you hate it when you go into a shop and one of the clerks starts following you around...? All you want to do is browse, but she's tailing you like you're wearing a stolen licence plate?

We are Romans. We don't have to put up with it. And I have devised a very simple way for you to regain your personal space--without hurting the sales clerk's feelings.

Watch this:

Salesperson: Is there something I can help you find?

You: Quomodo...? (that's 'Say what?' for the merely street-Latinate among us--like me)

Salesperson: [has to suddenly shift mental gears due to the abrupt arising of a Language Barrier. Decides she doesn't want to deal with you any more than necessary, as she doesn't understand what you just said and isn't skilled enough to fake it.] Uh...I'll be at the front counter if you need any help, sir...

Cute, huh?

I don't know how well this would work in Europe, especially in a Romance country; but in the US it's been effective every time!

In amicitia,

PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2003 10:51 pm
by Marcus Pomponius Lupus

These are from

Q: How many Vestal Virgins does it take to light an oil-lamp?
A: Six. Two to supervise, two to light, two to watch and learn.

Q: How many Pompeians does it take to light an oil-lamp?
A: None, the results could be explosive!

Q: How many philosophers does it take to light an oil-lamp?
A: Hmmm... now that's an interesting question, isn't it ?

Q: How many gladiators does it take to light an oil-lamp?
A: None. Gladiators aren't afraid of the dark.

Q: How many Stoics does it take to light an oil-lamp?
A: None. 'I'll just sit in the dark.'

Q: How many pessimists does it take to light an oil-lamp?
A: None, it's a waste of time because the new one will burn down soon enough anyway.

Q: How many optimists does it take to light an oil-lamp?
A: None, the sun will be rising soon and it will be a bright new day!!

Q: How many late republican senators does it take to light an oil lamp?
A: Twenty-three, but they all have to strike together.

Q: How many duoviri does it take to light an oil-lamp?
A: Two of course.

Q: How many road-building Roman Legionaries does it take to light an oil-lamp?
A: Five, one to light the lamp and four to lean on their shovels and watch the first one.

Q: How many scholars does it take to light an oil-lamp?
A: None. That's what scribes are for.

Q: How many actors does it take to light an oil-lamp?
A: Only one. They don't like to share the lamp-light.

Q: How many poets does it take to light an oil-lamp?
A: A myriad of lyre-plucking singers stretching from the shining shores of Troy to Romulus's fair city.

Q: How many drummers does it take to light an oil-lamp?
A: One. Two. A one-two-three-four!

Q: Do you know how many lyre-players it takes to light an oil-lamp?
A: No, but hum a few bars and I'll fake it.

Q: How many Ostian magistrates does it take to light an oil-lamp?
A: Fifty, one to light the lamp and 49 to carry out a fact finding mission to Rome to see how they light oil-lamps there.


PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2003 3:08 am
by Aldus Marius
LOL, especially the last one!! >({|:-D

Umm...but wouldn't you also need a few to hold the inquisition if it turns out that Ostia is not lighting Her lamps a la Romaine? (wink)

Latin Rhythm

PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2003 12:41 am
by Aldus Marius
Avete, amici iocosi!

Picture a Roman--we'll call him Aurelius--contemplating a modern-day music store. (You already know Aurelius; he's the fellow who had the run-in with that bartender come martini time.) Well, now he goes into the music store. No sooner have his eyes adjusted to the light than he spots a whole...back...wall labelled 'Latin Favorites'. His eyebrows shoot up; he sprouts a grin; his interest level rises precipitously! Heedless of the possibility of tripping over his toga, he jams on back there at double quick-time and starts grabbing albums...

...they're all in Spanish!!!!

I predict that our Roman friend will soon be at the forefront of yet another truth-in-advertising movement...

In amicitia,

PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2003 11:47 am
by Horatius Piscinus

Poor Aurelius might feel better after doing a web search for "Latin" and coming upon all the Latino dating services.

Poor Aurelius

PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2003 8:42 pm
by Aldus Marius
That'd be about like the time I was demonstrating how to do a Web search... I searched for "Roman", failed to specify that that was a whole-string search, and got a few tens of thousands of results for "romance". Could the Latino one be any more embarrassing?!


Roamin' Charges

PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2003 8:45 pm
by Aldus Marius
Avete iterum...

I wonder if I can get free cellphone service.

Well, some companies assess Roman charges...
...while others promise "No charges while Roman." (They do, they do! I heard it me ipsum on the Radio.)

And since I'm Roman all the time... Worth a shot??

At the Gas Station

PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2003 1:46 am
by Aldus Marius
Spotted this one this afternoon on a commercial van...


What do you think...a misspelled plumber, or the Best Birdwatcher in Town? >({|:-)

In...all the right places,

PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2003 1:36 pm
by Gnaeus Dionysius Draco
Hilarious mi Mari! Keep them coming!! ;)



PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2004 4:36 am
by Aldus Marius

A couple of old-but-new ones, fished out of the Topica archives...(Old by date, but new, perhaps, to many of you):

Heh heh...

> Could anyone tell me why "Hibernia" (Ireland) was called that way?
> As far as I know, it would mean "Winterland".

Yup, that's what it meant, alright. Think about it from the poor
Legionary's point of view. There you are, already banished to the
furthest, rockiest corner (Cambria/Wales) of the coldest, mistiest,
most barely-inhabitable Island (Britannia) in the Known World...and
your enthusiastic Commander, Vespasianus or Agricola, proposes a
swim to an even more northerly, remote, and (to the sun-washed
Mediterranean mindset) inhospitable place, one circled 'round by one
of the more tempestuous Oceans at that? ...And you in nothing but a
wool tunic and sandals??

[through chattering teeth]
"....B-b-but Sir--it's a-always W-WINTER th-th-there!!!"

'Nuf said. >({|;-)

[tucks back into his nice warm den...]