The history of the anecdote starts about 3900-3600 BC (by age of Sumerian clay murals, found by archaeologists, which says: "Since time immemorial, has not happened to the young wife did not spoil the air, being in the arms of her husband"). Around the same time archeologists discovered the Egyptian humor like: "How to entertain a bored pharaoh? Send a boat with the girls in costumes from the fishermen's nets on the Nile, and then Pharaoh will necessarily go “fishing”".
The word "anecdote" is of Greek origin. Be sure, the Greeks used it in all! From Greeks anecdotes have adopted the Romans (the examples are in works by Diodorus of Sicilia and by Cicero). The term has gained importance due to its usual thanks to Byzantine historian Procopius of Caesarea. He wrote the book named "The Secret History" in 550 AD, which describes the imperial court. The Greek word translated as "non-public", and in the understanding of the ancients meant the rumors and gossip. The modern meaning of the word "anecdote" took much, much later. The earliest found is a collection of anecdotes related to the V century (the author is philologist of Alexandria Hierocles).
The feature of the first jokes as a comic genre is an exemplariness, tied to outstanding individuals, which also performed an enlightening role. However, over time it has ceased to be a requirement, most importantly was humor. Until the XIX century in the Russian Empire action-packed funny stories was called anecdotes: their main character manifests his rare talent and ingenuity in the guise of a fool or a simpleton.
Encyclopedia of 1835 defines an anecdote as "... a brief story of any accident, remarkable for its unusualness, novelty or surprise". The main features are joke brevity, ease of perception and an unexpected fun denouement. In addition, new jokes are now inventions, and their coincidence with historical figures and events are more accidents, and not the rule.
So, losing the rules one by one anecdote survives till nowadays, separating into a host of genres. We know household humor, professional humor, "English humor", "black humor", social humor, political humor. There also jokes about minorities, the army, leisure and travel, and much more!
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