Friday, December 22, 2006

My alarm clock didn't go off this morning...

Wind-Up, Spring-Driven Alarmingly Retro Alarm Clock
Alert: all'arme and face the day!
(Image from Wikipedia)

... so, of course, I'm less alarmed than usual.

I've sometimes wondered why the clocks that wake us up in the morning before our bodies and heads are really up to getting up are called "alarm" clocks.

What's the alarm?

It's not as if we're in mortal danger, but even if we were, would we want some loudly ringing bell calling attention to our location? That'd be as foolish as the fellow in a very old joke from the fourth or fifth century, as told by that laughter-lover "Philogelos":
"There were these two cowardly eggheads. One hid in a well, the other in a bed of rushes. When the soldiers who were after them let down a helmet to get some water, the one in the well thought a soldier had come down to get him, started to beg for mercy and so was detected. The soldiers said that they would leave him alone if he would only shut up. Hearing this, the other egghead hidden in the rushes called out, 'Hey, leave me alone as well; I'm not saying anything!'"
This joke can be found on page 96 in Barry Baldwin's edition of Philogelos's jokebook: The Philogelos or Laughter-Lover (London Studies in Classical Philology Series, 10 (J. C. Gieben, 1983)). Other samples can be found online at Diotima, or at James J. O'Donnell's website, or at Phil Harland's Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean, which is where (hat tip) I found reproduced the one from Baldwin above.

But back to alarm clocks. Perhaps they're aptly named, after all, for the really bad news each day is so dreadful that it probably deserves an alarm.



At 7:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's another example that can be added to the list. YUDU has published a new digital version of Philogelos (complete with video of the jokes being performed).

At 8:32 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Mr. Woods. I appreciate the heads up -- especially from a man who understands the importance of linking in earnest.

Jeffery Hodges

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