Bertoldo was summoned by Alboin, king of the Longobards, so that he could question him. This is an excerpt of their exchange.
*my translation from Le sottilissime astuzie di Bertoldo (1606) by Giulio Cesare Croce.
King: Who are you? When were you born? And where do you come from?
Bertoldo: I am a man. I was born when my mother made me. I come from a village in this world.
King: What is the fastest thing there is?
King: What is the best wine there is?
Bertoldo: That which is drunk in other people’s homes.
King: What is that sea that is never full?
Bertoldo: The greed of the miserly man.
King: What is the worse trait for a young person to have?
King: What is the worse trait for an old person to have?
King: What is the worse trait for a trader to have?
King: Which cat licks your face but scratches your back?
Bertoldo: The whore.
King: What is the biggest fire in a house?
Bertoldo: The servant’s loose tongue.
King: Who is the most insane man there is?
Bertoldo: The one who thinks he’s the wisest?
King: Which illnesses are incurable?
Bertoldo: Madness, cancer, and debts.
King: Who is the son who burns his mother’s tongue?
Bertoldo: The oil lamp’s wick.
King: How would you bring me water in a strainer without spilling it?
Bertoldo: I would wait for the weather to turn it into ice, and then I would bring it to you.
King: What are those things that man looks for but doesn’t want to find?
Bertoldo: Flees in his shirt, broken heels, and the ugly truth.
King: How would you catch a hare without a dog?
Bertoldo: I would wait for the hare to be cooked, and then I would catch it.
King: Well then, ask me all you wish and I will give you all that you ask.
Bertoldo: He who does not possess something cannot give it to others.
King: Can’t I give you all that you desire?
Bertoldo: I am in search of happiness, and you don’t have it, so you cannot give it to me.
King: Am I not happy sitting on this high throne as I do?
Bertoldo: He who sits highest is at greater risk of falling.
King: Look at how many sires and barons are around me to obey and honour me.
Bertoldo: Ants too gather around fruit to gnaw its peel.