A Conversation for The Gladiators of Rome

Thumbs up or Thumbs down

Post 1


Some years ago I read that the thumbs up gesture smiley - ok was actually a gesture to dispatch the bested opponent in gladiatorial games and was thus a "bad symbol". The signal to spare the opponent was in fact the thumbs down gesture. How did these gestures get changed to their modern values of thumbs up good, thumbs down bad? It seems all the old gladiator movies from the mid-twentieth century had it backwards from the historical facts.

Thumbs up or Thumbs down

Post 2


There is an entry on this alone. The most likely is...

The emperor would give an open or closed hand
The palm was flat, it meant life,
The palm was closed as a fist, it meant death

If a gladiator killed an opponent before permission, the gladiator would be put on trial for murder.

Others were
Thumb clenched by the fist meant death
Thumb to the neck to indicate the death stroke

The thumb up or down appears not to have been used

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Thumbs up or Thumbs down

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