Giovanni Judges Jokes

Giovanni Pontano, de Sermone 3.18:

Martial’s sayings are such that most of them have a lot of wit and no less of bile and bombast, and in their place they joke and delight, while now and then inciting a blush rather than a laugh. But there are others which aren’t just prurient or titillating, but even offer up petulance and jokes which are on the whole lacking in modesty. On so many occasions, he is so unacquainted with shame that he openly plays the clown, and seems not just to envy the sycophants, but even the parasites and the mimes.

Yet, he has embraced all these types so completely and is so much and so often among them that he wishes to seem to have taken the material for his play from other jokes of this sort. But since we seek a middle road in this matter and since extremity is to be avoided, we should look for other types of sayings and types of jokes which are entirely appropriate. And as in no small part the sayings of this Valerius are so little in keeping with our program, so too are many of Cicero’s to be rejected, especially since they are more appropriate to an orator trying to gain victory in a case than they are to that relaxation of the mind which we seek with honesty and dignity, and for which there is an innate appetite in all humans. And so, we ought not to skip over what and how Cicero thinks about these things.

Giovanni Pontano - Wikipedia

Eiusmodi sunt igitur Martialis dicta, ut pleraque multum habeant salis nec minus fellis atque ampullosi proque loco et iocentur et delectent, interdum ruborem inducant magis quam risum; alia vero quae non pruritum tantum exciant aut titillatum verum etiam petulantiam prae se ferant lususque parum omnino modestos. Persaepe autem verecundari ita nescit ut vel aperte scurretur, nec solum invidere sicophantis videatur ac parasitis verum etiam mimis. Adeo autem cuncta haec complexus est genera estque in iis ita frequens et multus ut aliis in eiusmodi iocis ludendi praeripuisse videri velit materiam. A nobis autem cum mediocritas parte in hac quaeratur defugianturque extrema, alia dictorum tum genera quaerenda sunt tum species quae facetorum sint omnino propria. Utque Valeri huius dicta, parte quidem non exigua, institutioni huic nostrae parum consentiunt, sic et Marci Ciceronis quaedem etiam explodenda, quippe quae oratori magis conveniant, ad victoriam causae comparandam, quam ad eam animorum relaxationem, quae a nobis cum honestate ac dignitate quaeritur, cuiusque insita est hominibus a natura appetitio. Itaque quid et quomodo Cicero de iis sentiat, a nobis praetereundum non est.

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