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"Robert Burton's ingenious treatise is a curiously wrought-out design. There are idle students and cavillers, who have advertised Burton as the creator of a peculiar anthologic maze, an amusing literary chaos, a farrago of quotations, a mere olla podrida of quaintness, a pot pourri of pleasant delites, a florilegium of elegant extracts, a tangled fardel of old-world flowers of thought, a faggot of odd fancies, quips, facetiae, loosely tied" --Anatomy of Bibliomania (1930) by Holbrook Jackson

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Facetiae is a collection of humorous and indecent tales by Renaissance humanist Poggio Bracciolini (1380–1459), first published in 1470. It features such stories as "Of a Fool, Who Thought His Wife Had Two Openings" and "Visio Francisci Philelphi," the earliest recorded version of Carvel's ring. The collection is available in several English translations.

The stories were written between 1438 and 1452, but not published until 1470 but was undoubtedly circulating privately before then. Caxton first printed it in English in 1484.

In 1450 an outbreak of the pest sent Poggio to his birthplace where he completed the compilation of the "Facetiæ". This is a collection of witty sayings, anecdotes, quidproquos, and insolence, mingled with obscenities and impertinent jesting with religious subjects.

The collection was not condemned by the Vatican because they were written in the purest Latin Poggio could command, legible by the clerical class and incomprehensible to the masses.

Its unsparing satires on the monastic orders and the secular clergy is remarkable and reminiscent of Gargantua and Pantagruel by Rabelais who was familiar with the Facetiae.

There is a public domain 1930 edition titled Facetia Erotica. From that volume:

"Unquestionably, however, Poggio, like his comrades of the “Bugiale,” delighted in broad humor and odorous jest. In his facetiae he portrays a material world of earthly desire, impiety and jocular cynicism. In this world, the women are all unfaithful and the men cuckolds; and the clergy and royalty are mercilessly ridiculed. The picture is undoubtedly exaggerated and unfair. But to a large extent it was the world which he and his comrades knew." --From the introduction to Facetia Erotica[1]


Printing history

Early editions of the Facetiae are rare, and they are not yet described in an organized fashion as is common for incunabula. It was, evidently, very popular: an 1894 bibliography lists twenty editions from the fifteenth century, and states that the oldest is printed by Georgius Lauer in Rome and is known as Hain 13179 (a quarto with 110 leaves). The second oldest is called Reichling 1919 (100 leaves). The 100-leaf edition, despite having been described elsewhere as the first printing, is now generally held to be later than the 110-leaf edition, which is traditionally thought to be the editio princeps; both were printed in Rome in 1471/1471. An edition from 1473–1476, Hain 13182, was printed somewhere in Poland. Christophorus Valdarfer in Venice likewise printed an edition (with 76 leaves) in 1470/1471, and Andreas Belfortis in Ferrara printed one dated 1471. According to Lotte Hellinga, the Venice edition by Valdarfer is probably older than Lauer's edition printed in Rome, and most likely served as its exemplar.


The collection is notable for its inclusion of scatological jokes and tales: six of the tales involved farting, six involving defecation. The last tale on farting involves a wife and her husband. The wife, observing a ram copulating with a sheep, asks how the ram chooses his mate, to which the husband answers that ram chooses the sheep that farts. He confirms to her that humans works the same way, after which she farts, and they have sex; she farts again, with the same result. When she farts a third time, the husband says, "I'm not making love to you again, even if you shit out your soul." (Fecal Matters in Early Modern Literature and Art: Studies in Scatology by Jeff Persels, Russell Ganim).

Latin Table of Contents

English Table of Contents from the Edward Storer translation[2], 148 stories

  • I: Old Wine 33
  • II: How a Friar's Breeches became Sacred Relics 33
  • III: The Sleepy Confessor 36
  • IV: Worst of All 37
  • V: The Worst Men in the World 37
  • VI: Francesco Sachetti 37
  • VII: The Old Woman's Prayer 38
  • VIII: The Peace of the Monastery 39
  • IX: An Excommunicated Peasant eaten by the Priests 40
  • X: Of a Curate who buried a Little Dog 41
  • XI: Of a Countryman who wished to marry a young Girl 43
  • XII: Of a Doctor who betrayed the wife of a Tailor who was ill 43
  • XIII: Of a hermit who had many Women 44
  • XIV: Messer Nicholas 46
  • XV: The Choristers 47
  • XVI: Kings and Asses 47
  • XVII: The Unrepentant Smith 48
  • XVIII: Of Lorenzo de' Medici 48
  • XIX: Of An Englishman 49
  • XX: Jettison 49
  • XXI: Of Lorenzo de' Medici 50
  • XXII: Of Lorenzo de' Medici 50
  • XXIII: Of a Priest who did not know when Palm Sunday fell 51
  • XXIV: Of Some Peasants who bought a Crucifix 53
  • XXV: Of Messer Paolo Marchese 54
  • XXVI: The Host's Fee 54
  • XXVII: Pirrinicilo the Gascon 55
  • XXVIII: Of Roderigo Carrasio 56
  • XXIX: Big Fish and Little Fish 57
  • XXX: Of Jacopo Sannazzaro 57
  • XXXI: Of Francesco Elio 58
  • XXXII: Of Roberto da Lecce 59
  • XXXIII: The Fair Penitent 60
  • XXXIV: Of a Man who made his Wife believe him to be Dead 61
  • XXXV: Saying of a Cook to the Illustrious Duke of Milan 63
  • XXXVI: A Request of the same Cook to the same Prince 64
  • XXXVII: Of Giovanni Visconti 65
  • XXXVIII: Of King Ludovic of France 66
  • XXXIX: Tosetto of Padua 68
  • XL: Of Messer Marco of Lodi 68
  • XLI: Two Knights of Castille 69
  • XLII: Of a Man who asked Pardon of his Sick Wife 70
  • XLIII: A Woman's Answer 71
  • XLIV: Of the King of Tunis 72
  • XLV: The Wife's Confession 72
  • XLVI: Story of a man who sent Letters to his Wife and his Creditor 74
  • XLVII: A Priest's Awkward Question 75
  • XLVIII: Of some Ambassadors sent from Perugia to Pope Urban 76
  • XLIX: Foolish Saying of some Florentine Ambassadors 78
  • L: Of a Drinker 78
  • LI: Of a woman who in order to cover her head Exposed Herself 79
  • LII: Bernabò, Duke of Milan 80
  • LIII: Of One who wanted to spend 1000 Florins to be Famous 80
  • LIV: Facetia of the Celebrated Dante 81
  • LV: Answer given by a Woman to a Man who asked if his Wife could have a Twelve-months' Child 82
  • LVI: Dispute between a Florentine and a Venetian 83
  • LVII: Antonio Lusco's Story 84
  • LVIII: Of a Young Woman Separated from her Husband 2
  • LIX: Contest between Two Men about their Crest 85
  • LX: Story of a Tutor 86
  • LXI: Of a Woman who insisted on calling her Husband Lousy 87
  • LXII: Of a Man who sought for his Wife Drowned in a Stream 88
  • LXIII: Elegant Reply of Dante, Florentine Poet 89
  • LXIV: Pleasant Answer of the same Poet 90
  • LXV: The Story of Francesco Filelfo 91
  • LXVI: The Story of a Mountebank told by the Cardinal of Bordeaux 92
  • LXVII: The Husband's Revenge 94
  • LXVIII: Messer Franco's Cat 95
  • LXIX: Of a Doctor who Cured the Mad 95
  • LXX: Of a Mad Woman 98
  • LXXI: Of A Woman who stood on the Banks of the Po 100
  • LXXII: The Abbot of Settimo 100
  • LXXIII: Saying of Lorenzo, Roman Priest 101
  • LXXIV: Of a Prodigy 101
  • LXXV: The Exhortation of a Cardinal 102
  • LXXVI: Of a Preacher who preferred Virgins to Married Women 103
  • LXXVII: Poor Cocchino 104
  • LXXVIII: Witty Answer on the Few Friends of God 104
  • LXXIX: Of a Friar of St Anthony, a Peasant, and a Wolf 105
  • LXXX: Marvellous Compensation between Penitent and Confessor 106
  • LXXXI: Of one who Spoke Ill of the Life of Cardinal Angelotto 107
  • LXXXII: How a daughter Excused her Sterility to her Father 108
  • LXXXIII: Of a Friar who had a Child by an Abbess 109
  • LXXXIV: Of a Man who declared that the Archbishop of Cologne was a Quadruped 110
  • LXXXV: Of a Man who Vowed a Candle 111
  • LXXXVI: Another Jest of a Man who made a Vow to St Ciriac 112
  • LXXXVII: Of a widow who desired a Husband of advanced Age 113
  • LXXXVIII: The Jealous Husband 114
  • LXXXIX: Pleasant Tale 114
  • XC: Facetious Answer applicable to Bishops 115
  • XCI: How a Hospital was Cleared of its Inmates 115
  • XCII: The Priest�s Mistake 116
  • XCIII: Of a Young Woman made Fun of by her Old Husband 117
  • XCIV: The Beautiful Scholar 118
  • XCV: Galba�s Cloak 118
  • XCVI: The Cabbage and the Cauldron 119
  • XCVII: The Blind Man and the Virgin 119
  • XCVIII: Of Finetto 120
  • XCIX: Of the Numerous Doctors in Ferrara 121
  • C: Two Young Men 123
  • CI: A complaint to Facino Cane 124
  • CII: The Jest told by a Friar on Easter Day 125
  • CIII: Of Ottaviano Dagnano 126
  • CIV: How to be Remembered 126
  • CV: Of a woman who Deceived her Husband 127
  • CVI: Of a Gambler who was sent to Prison 129
  • CVII: Of a father who was Reproved by his Drunken Son 129
  • CVIII: Happy Answer of a Woman to a Young Man in Love 130
  • CIX: Dante and King Robert of Naples 131
  • CX: Of Bardella of Mantua 134
  • CXI: The Timorous Duellists 135
  • CXII: Second Thoughts 135
  • CXIII: The King of the Canaries 136
  • CXIV: Facetia of an Ignoramus 140
  • CXV: A Biting Answer 141
  • CXVI: Of an English Dyer who had an Adventure with his Wife 142
  • CXVII: The Merchant of Ascoli 143
  • CXVIII: The Ass and the Noble�s Servant 147
  • CXIX: Newly Married 148
  • CXX: The Hanging Man 148
  • CXXI: Of Alessandro Mola, Courteous Gentleman 150
  • CXXII: Remark of Lattanzio Benucci 150
  • CXXIII: The Pimp 151
  • CXXIV: The Principle of Tragedy 151
  • CXXV: The Meaning of Venice 152
  • CXXVI: Of Alfonso de' Pazzi 153
  • CXXVII: Of Messer Paolo dell' Ottonaio 154
  • CXXVIII: The Senate and the Roman People 156
  • CXXIX: Letters 156
  • CXXX: Good Answer to Messer N——— 157
  • CXXXI: Under the Protection of St Margeret 158
  • CXXXII: San Marino and Venice 159
  • CXXXIII: Of Raphael of Urbino 159
  • CXXXIV: A Madman in Church 160
  • CXXXV: Of a Florentine who bought a Horse 161
  • CXXXVI: Of a Venetian who went to Treviso and had a Stone thrown at his Back by his Servants 161
  • CXXXVII: Facetia of Ridolfo, Signor di Camerino 162
  • CXXXVII: The Gentleman and his Miller 163
  • CXXXIX: The Notary's Will 164
  • CXL: Merchant's Good Faith 164
  • CXLI: Husbands and Wives 165
  • CXXLII: The Safest Ship 166
  • CXLIII: Facetia of Some Thieves 167
  • CXLIV: Recalling Solomon 168
  • CXLV: A Woman's Answer 169
  • CXLVI: A Good Master for Thieves 169
  • CXLVII: The Wise Parent 170
  • CXLVIII: The Doctor of Law

See also

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