When did applause first appear?

I’ve been wondering about applause, or hand clapping meaning approval, usually for a performance. Is it known when it first appeared? It seems instinctive and universal, so would say a Cro-Magnon man or woman (or Neanderthal for that matter) have applauded the group’s hunter/storyteller when he recounted his story of the great mammoth hunt?

Or were the Greeks, Romans, or Chinese (or other, more modern people) the first known people to applaud?

I don’t know if the Greeks or Chinese applauded, but the Romans certainly did. Often in the plays of Plautus, a 3d century BC Roman playwright, a character would turn to the audience and say, Spectatores, plaudite, you can applaud now, guys.

Wikipedia has an entry on the history of applause.

I had the feeling the Romans were involved. Thanks for the link! :slight_smile:

I seem to remember reading (back in high school Latin class) that it was initially (in Greek theatre) a way of indicating displeasure - i.e. clap your hands so the actors couldn’t be heard and would eventually leave the stage - the author was railing against the new custom of applauding to congratulate the actors. That said, I am unable to come up with a cite of any sort, so take it from whence it comes…


It goes back to the cro-magnon period.
The first time Grog tripped and spilled his entire plate of wolly mammoth spare ribs on the cave floor.