Physicians say, that the thumbs are the master fingers of the hand, and that their Latin etymology is derived from pollere. The Greeks called them Anticheir, as who should say, another hand. And it seems that the Latins also sometimes take it in this sense for the whole hand;
Sed nec vocibus excitata blandis,It was at Rome a signification of favor to depress and turn in the thumbs:
Molli pollice nec rogata, surgit.
Fautor utroque tuum laudabit pollice ludum:and of disfavor to elevate and thrust them outward:
Converso pollice vulgi,The Romans exempted from war all such were maimed in the thumbs, as having no more sufficient strength to hold their weapons. Augustus confiscated the strength of a Roman knight, who had maliciously cut off the thumbs of two young children he had, to excuse them from going into the armies: and before him, the senate, in the time of the Italic war, had condemned Caius Vatienus to perpetual imprisonment, and confiscated all his goods, for having purposely cut off the thumb of his left hand, to exempt himself from that expedition. Some one, I have forgotten who, having won a naval battle, cut off the thumbs of all his vanquished enemies, to render them incapable of fighting and of handling the oar. The Athenians also caused the thumbs of the Aeginatans to be cut off, to deprive them of the superiority in the art of navigation.
Quemlibet occidunt populariter.
In Lacedaemon, pedagogues chastised their scholars by biting their thumb.
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