The "clown" character develops out of the zanni "rustic fool" characters of the early modern Commedia dell'arte, which were themselves directly based on the "rustic fool" characters of ancient Greek and Roman theatre. Rustic buffoon characters in Classical Greek theater were known as sklêro-paiktês (from paizein "to play like a child") or deikeliktas, besides other generic terms for "rustic" or "peasant". In Roman theater, a term for clown was fossor, literally "digger; labourer".
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