H. Rearden on August 08, 2008, 06:14:30 pm
I didn't know that the middle finger gesture was used in the days of the acient Greeks. ;)

                                                           $

enemyofthestate on August 08, 2008, 09:18:40 pm
Possibly.  The gesture can be dated pretty reliably as far back as a play written by Aristophanes in the 5th Century BC, about 600 year after the destruction of Troy.  The Ancient Romans, who really might have descended from the refugees of Troy's destruction, called it the "digitus impudicus" or "digitus infamus" indicating it as a well established insult by the 1st Century AD.

None of that proves the gesture is really 3000 years old but it does make it a reasonable possibility and certainly establishes that it predates that Battle of Agincourt.

I always knew that Catholic education would come in handy :-)

Lun-Sei on November 28, 2008, 04:02:55 am
Actually, if you read Dante Alighieri's "Inferno", there's a scene in which one of the damned soul gives the finger to God. Only, it isn't the finger. Back in those medieval days, they had a different gesture, which consisted of the closed fist with the thumb passing between the forefinger and the middle finger, and which represented a vagina (just like the modern "middle finger" gesture represents a penis).
So in those medieval days, the symbolism was different. As such, I think there are very dim possibilities that the middle finger gesture would be used by Odysseus.

Not that it matters for this comic - I thought Odysseus'gesture in that panel was an appropriate, and not intrusive, modernization of the story.

wdg3rd on November 28, 2008, 09:24:23 am
I could be wrong (I often am, well always if you ask La Esposa) but I think just about every way you can gesture with the human hand has been considered encouraging or obscene or insulting or congratulatory or profane (even satanic) or just a stupid hand motion, by one or another western culture.  (I haven't researched eastern culture hand use except at massage parlors, but that's another show).
« Last Edit: November 28, 2008, 09:26:01 am by wdg3rd »
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot