The Origin of the Middle Finger Gesture
We've all done it, some more than others I'll admit. Everyone on the planet, no matter where they are from, understands what it means. Apparently, even frogs do it. The Middle Finger. While staring down the barrel of one of these just the other day, I had to stop and ponder the timeless questions, "Where did the Middle Finger come from?", "How did it come into existence and why"?
And so, I decided to write an article about my findings.
According to anthropologists, this gesture has been around for more than 2000 years. In ancient Greece, the first written record of this gesture tells a tale of a playwright Aristophanes who made a crude joke by mixing up the middle finger with his penis. Aristophanes was very popular back in his day and so from then on, in popular Greece culture the middle finger salute was known as a nasty phallic insult, and was not taken lightly.
Apparently the Romans adopted this gesture from the Greeks along with everything else, in fact, the Roman emperor Caligula, who was known for perversely shocking his citizens, used to make them kiss his middle finger instead of his hand! One of his subjects, Cassius, who was quite often belittled for being too effeminate, was so fed up with the insult that he assassinated Caligula over it.
In Latin, the middle finger was the "digitus impudicus", (and I'm most certainly going to use that phrase the next time someone gives me the salute)..The phrase means "shameless or indecent finger".
During the Middle Ages the gesture was still around of course, (else how would it be in use today?), but was regarded as so offensive the church forbid its use, and so had to remain 'underground' and was used only by unscrupulous characters.
It is believed that this gesture made it's way to America by way of Italian Immigrants, and it's popularity increased with the rise of photography and automobiles. Makes sense right? In both scenarios you can't be heard...but you (and your salute) can be seen...