The Greek apopthegm and its Roman successor had a different character from the Florentine facetia, but the difference is one rather of matter than form. The ribald, licentious note is not so common in the classic facetaie, and the historical anecdotes treating of kings, princes, and persons of high estate were mostly reverent and often adulatory. Satire and disrespect appeared in the humorous tales of Poggio and his peers. The apopthegm was, as a rule, a brief narrative, as often as not enclosing a moral lesson in an historical anecdote. Or else it was the saying of some wise or great man.
Janet Levarie Smarr is Professor of Theatre and Italian Studies at the University of California, San Diego.