laejoh writes "Monty Python's 'Dead Parrot sketch' — which featured John Cleese — is some 1,600 years old. A classic scholar has proved the point, by unearthing a Greek version of the world-famous piece. A comedy duo called Hierocles and Philagrius told the original version, only rather than a parrot they used a slave. It concerns a man who complains to his friend that he was sold a slave who dies in his service. His companion replies: 'When he was with me, he never did any such thing!' The joke was discovered in a collection of 265 jokes called Philogelos: The Laugh Addict, which dates from the fourth century AD. Hierocles had gone to meet his maker, and Philagrius had certainly ceased to be, long before John Cleese and Michael Palin reinvented the yarn in 1969."
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