Ἐκεῖνοι μὲν οὖν σιωπῇ ἐδείπνουν, ὥσπερ τοῦτο ἐπιτεταγμένον αὐτοῖς ὑπὸ κρείττονός τινος. Φίλιππος δ’ ὁ γελωτοποιὸς κρούσας τὴν θύραν εἶπε τῷ ὑπακούσαντι εἰσαγγεῖλαι ὅστις τε εἴη καὶ δι’ ὅ τι κατάγεσθαι βούλοιτο, συνεσκευασμένος τε παρεῖναι ἔφη πάντα τὰ ἐπιτήδεια ὥστε δειπνεῖν τἀλλότρια, καὶ τὸν παῖδα δὲ ἔφη πάνυ πιέζεσθαι διά τε τὸ φέρειν μηδὲν καὶ διὰ τὸ ἀνάριστον εἶναι. ὁ οὖν Καλλίας ἀκούσας ταῦτα εἶπεν· “ἀλλὰ μέντοι, ὦ ἄνδρες, αἰσχρὸν στέγης γε φθονῆσαι· εἰσίτω οὖν.” καὶ ἅμα ἀπέβλεψεν εἰς τὸν Αὐτόλυκον, δῆλον ὅτι ἐπισκοπῶν τί ἐκείνῳ δόξειε τὸ σκῶμμα εἶναι. ὁ δὲ στὰς ἐπὶ τῷ ἀνδρῶνι ἔνθα τὸ δεῖπνον ἦν εἶπεν· “ὅτι μὲν γελωτοποιός εἰμι ἴστε πάντες· ἥκω δὲ προθύμως νομίσας γελοιότερον εἶναι τὸ ἄκλητον ἢ τὸ κεκλημένον ἐλθεῖν ἐπὶ τὸ δεῖπνον.” “κατακλίνου τοίνυν,” ἔφη ὁ Καλλίας· “καὶ γὰρ οἱ παρόντες σπουδῆς μέν, ὡς ὁρᾷς, μεστοί, γέλωτος δὲ ἴσως ἐνδεέστεροι.” δειπνούντων δὲ αὐτῶν ὁ Φίλιππος γελοῖόν τι εὐθὺς ἐπεχείρει λέγειν, ἵνα δὴ ἐπιτελοίη ὧνπερ ἕνεκα ἐκαλεῖτο ἑκάστοτε ἐπὶ τὰ δεῖπνα. ὡς δ’ οὐκ ἐκίνησε γέλωτα, τότε μὲν ἀχθεσθεὶς φανερὸς ἐγένετο. αὖθις δ’ ὀλίγον ὕστερον ἄλλο τι γελοῖον ἐβούλετο λέγειν. ὡς δὲ οὐδὲ τότε ἐγέλασαν ἐπ’ αὐτῷ, ἐν τῷ μεταξὺ παυσάμενος τοῦ δείπνου συγκαλυψάμενος κατέκειτο. καὶ ὁ Καλλίας, “τί τοῦτ’,” ἔφη, “ὦ Φίλιππε; ἀλλ’ ἢ ὀδύνη σε εἴληφε;” καὶ ὃς ἀναστενάξας εἶπε· “ναὶ μὰ Δί’,” ἔφη, “ὦ Καλλία, μεγάλη γε· ἐπεὶ γὰρ γέλως ἐξ ἀνθρώπων ἀπόλωλεν, ἔρρει τὰ ἐμὰ πράγματα. πρόσθεν μὲν γὰρ τούτου ἕνεκα ἐκαλούμην ἐπὶ τὰ δεῖπνα, ἵνα εὐφραίνοιντο οἱ συνόντες δι’ ἐμὲ γελῶντες· νῦν δὲ τίνος ἕνεκα καὶ καλεῖ μέ τις; οὔτε γὰρ ἔγωγε σπουδάσαι ἂν δυναίμην μᾶλλον ἤπερ ἀθάνατος γενέσθαι, οὔτε μὴν ὡς ἀντικληθησόμενος καλεῖ μέ τις, ἐπεὶ πάντες ἴσασιν ὅτι ἀρχὴν οὐδὲ νομίζεται εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν οἰκίαν δεῖπνον προσφέρεσθαι.” καὶ ἅμα λέγων ταῦτα ἀπεμύττετό τε καὶ τῇ φωνῇ σαφῶς κλαίειν ἐφαίνετο. πάντες μὲν οὖν παρεμυθοῦντό τε αὐτὸν ὡς αὖθις γελασόμενοι καὶ δειπνεῖν ἐκέλευον, Κριτόβουλος δὲ καὶ ἐξεκάγχασεν ἐπὶ τῷ οἰκτισμῷ αὐτοῦ. ὁ δ’ ὡς ᾔσθετο τοῦ γέλωτος, ἀνεκαλύψατό τε καὶ τῇ ψυχῇ παρακελευσάμενος θαρρεῖν, ὅτι ἔσονται συμβολαί, πάλιν ἐδείπνει.”
(Xenophon, Symp. 1.11-16)
The company, then, were feasting in silence, as though at the command of some greater authority, when Philip the comedian knocked at the door and told the porter to announce who he was and why he desired to be admitted; he declared that with regard to food he had come fully equipped with everything needed to dine at someone else’s expense, and that his servant was in great distress at having no loadto carry and at having had no lunch. Hearing this, Callias said, “Well, gentlemen, we can’t decently begrudge him at the least the shelter of our roof; so let him come in.” At the same time he cast a glance at Autolycus, obviously trying to make out what he had thought of the joke. But Philip, standing at the threshold of the men’s hall where the banquet was served, announced: “You all know that I am a comedian; and so I’ve come here in the firm belief that it’s funnier to come to your dinner uninvited than invited.” “Well, then,” said Callias, “take a seat; for the guests, though well fed, as you can see, on seriousness, are perhaps rather ill supplied with laughter.” No sooner were they engaged in their dinner than Philip tried making a joke, with a view to rendering the service that secured him a dinner engagement every time; but when he failed to get a laugh he was visibly annoyed. A little later he tried another joke; but when they would not laugh at it this time either, he stopped in the middle of his dinner, covered his head with his cloak, and stretched out on his couch. “What’s the matter, Philip?” Callias asked. “Are you in pain?” Philip replied with a groan, “Zeus yes, Callias, severe pain; for since laughter has perished from the world, my business is ruined. For in times past, the reason I got invitations to dinner was because I might arouse laughter among the guests and put them in a good mood; but why will anyone want to invite me now? For I could no more turn serious than I could become immortal; and certainly no one will invite me in hope of a return invitation, since every one knows it’s simply never been customary at my house even to send out for dinner.” As he said this, he wiped his nose, and to judge by the sound, he was evidently weeping. All tried to comfort him with the promise that they would laugh next time, and urged him to eat; and Critobulus actually burst into a guffaw at his display of self-pity. The moment Philip heard the laughter he uncovered his head, and exhorting his spirit to be of good courage—there will be contributions!*—he fell to eating again.
* Punning on symbolai, which can mean hostile encounters, agreed terms, and potluck contributions (in this case, jokes from him, laughter from the guests, food from the host).
(tr. Edgar Cardew Marchant & Otis Johnson Todd, revised by Jeffrey Henderson, with his note)