Jokes from the 19th Century

Posted by: Maria Atalanti

Published on: 13/10/2023

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So, how did our ancestors joke and laugh? This aspect of human nature also reflects the spirit of the time. During my exploration of 19th-century newspaper pages, I encountered some of these jokes. Of course, it should be noted that newspapers were read by the literate people of the era and those who had enough money to buy them, which, in reality, were very few. Therefore, the humor we will find below did not pertain to the masses of Cypriots but to the few and the elite. Especially the jokes that reference personalities from ancient Greece would not have been comprehensible to our illiterate compatriots.

I have chosen two different types of jokes to share with you. The first two were published in the “Salpix” newspaper, which was published in Limassol by S. Hourmouzios. It is, in my opinion, the most well-crafted newspaper in Cyprus and includes such topics. These jokes could be described as “intellectual,” with subtle humor that required knowledge of ancient Greek history to be understood.

The other two jokes were published in the “Evagoras” newspaper, which was published in Nicosia by Pericles Michaelides. They are aimed at a wider range of citizens but still maintain a subtle spirit and decent humor, even though the second one could be considered a bit mischievous for the standards of the time.

I hope you enjoy them, and if you don’t laugh, at least you’ll smile!

From SALPIX Newspaper, March 3, 1890:

A lawyer and a doctor were debating about the antiquity of their respective professions. Each claimed that their profession was older.

The lawyer, the disciple of *Lycurgus, said,

-“Mine began almost with the creation of the world. Cain killed his brother Abel; this act is covered by criminal law.”

-“Indeed,” replied **Asclepiades, “but mine is contemporary with the building of the world. Eve was created from one side of Adam’s body, and that was a medical procedure.”

The lawyer conceded defeat.


In another anecdote from the same newspaper, a Persian general wrote to the Spartan leader ***Lysander, saying,

-“If I enter Greece, I will set everything on fire and use iron.”

Lysander responded,



*Lycurgus, – ancient legislator

** Asclepios- God of medicine

*** Lysander – ancient general


From EVAGORAS Newspaper, November 1, 1890:

A German ruler had a dream where he saw three mice: one fat, one skinny, and one blind. He called a famous dream interpreter, from Bohemia, to explain the dream. The dream interpreter told him:

-“The fat mouse represents your prime minister, the skinny one your people, and the blind one your greatness.”


An irate lady called her servant and said,

-“Listen here, Maria. How do you dare to become pregnant in my house?”

-“And what’s it to you, madam? You are also.”

-“Hush, insolent woman! I’m in my own house, with my husband, your master.”

-“Well, so am I!”


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