The facetie, as a literary form, has an ancient lineage, while, if we regard it merely as a humorous tale or jocular anecdote, its history must be almost as old as the first laughs and smiles of prehistoric man. To go back no further, we may trace it in a direct line through Latin literature, to the Greek apopthegm. Facetiae, in the literary sense, are also to be found in Oriental literature, espeically the Persian and the Arabian.
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.