History round-up

Thanks to resident historian, JM Heinrichs III, Esq.

Because yearning minds need to know.

Alas, no beer (soju actually) until Friday, so this will have to suffice until then…

  1. I find it hard to believe that the middle finger was offensive (more than, say, the index finger) solely because it was a phallic substitute when the phallus itself or a clenched fist would be more emphatic. Also, in Greece and Rome large phalli were often displayed with favourable religious or prophylactic purposes.
    My theory is that the middle finger was the digitus impudicus from its use cleaning the arse before the invention of toilet paper. (The Romans by the early empire used a sponge on a stick, much as modern Persians do, but the memory would linger, I reckon.)

    • In ancient Greek, the term for displaying the middle finger was καταπύγων, or “along the buttocks”, which can be compared with the modern colloquialisms “sit on it!” and the very similar “up your arse!”, which are often accompanied with the gesturing finger.

  1. February 7th, 2012

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