Roman salute

The Roman salute (Italian: saluto romano) is a gesture in which the arm is fully extended, facing forward, with palm down and fingers touching. In some versions, the arm is raised upward at an angle; in others, it is held out parallel to the ground. In contemporary times, the former is widely considered a symbol of fascism that is commonly perceived to be based on a custom in ancient Rome.[1] However, no Roman text gives this description, and the Roman works of art that display salutational gestures bear little resemblance to the modern Roman salute.[1]

Beginning with Jacques-Louis David's painting The Oath of the Horatii (1784), an association of the gesture with Roman republican and imperial culture emerged. The gesture and its identification with Roman culture were further developed in other neoclassic artworks. This was further elaborated upon in popular culture during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in plays and films that portrayed the salute as an ancient Roman custom. These included a 1914 Italian film called Cabiria based upon a screenplay by the nationalist poet Gabriele d'Annunzio. In 1919, d'Annunzio adopted the cinematographically depicted salute as a neo-imperial ritual when he led the occupation of Fiume.

Through d'Annunzio's influence, the gesture soon became part of the rising Italian Fascist movement's symbolic repertoire. In 1923 the salute was gradually adopted by the Italian Fascist regime. It was then adopted and made compulsory within the Nazi Party in 1926, and gained nationwide prominence in the German state when the Nazis took power in 1933. It was also adopted by other fascist movements.

Since the end of World War II, displaying the Nazi variant of the salute has been a criminal offence in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. Legal restrictions on its use in Italy are more nuanced, and use there has generated controversy.[2] The gesture and its variations continue to be used in neo-fascist, neo-Nazi and Falangist contexts.

Early Roman sources and images

062 Conrad Cichorius, Die Reliefs der Traianssäule, Tafel LXII
Trajan's Column, Plate LXII. Onlookers raise their arms to acclaim the emperor

The modern gesture consists of stiffly extending the right arm frontally and raising it roughly 135 degrees from the body's vertical axis, with the palm of the hand facing down and the fingers stretched out and touching each other.[1] According to common perceptions, this salute was based on an ancient Roman custom.[1] However, this description is unknown in Roman literature and is never mentioned by ancient historians of Rome.[1] Not a single Roman work of art, be it sculpture, coinage, or painting, displays a salute of this kind.[1] The gesture of the raised right arm or hand in Roman and other ancient cultures that does exist in surviving literature and art generally had a significantly different function and is never identical with the modern straight-arm salute.[1]

The right hand (Lat. dextera, dextra; Gr. δεξιά - dexia) was commonly used in antiquity as a symbol of pledging trust, friendship or loyalty.[3] For example, Cicero reported that Octavian pledged an oath to Julius Caesar while outstretching his right hand: "Although that youth [the young Caesar Octavian] is powerful and has told Antony off nicely: yet, after all, we must wait to see the end." But what a speech! He swore his oath with the words: "so may I achieve the honours of my father!", and at the same time he stretched out his right hand in the direction of his statue.[4]

Sculptures commemorating military victories such as those on the Arch of Titus, the Arch of Constantine, or on the Column of Trajan are the best known examples of raised arms in art from this period.[5] However these monuments do not display a single clear image of the Roman salute.[5]

The images closest in appearance to a raised arm salute are scenes in Roman sculpture and coins which show an adlocutio, acclamatio, adventus, or profectio.[6] These are occasions when a high-ranking official, such as a general or the Emperor, addresses individuals or a group, often soldiers. Unlike modern custom, in which both the leader and the people he addresses raise their arms, most of these scenes show only the senior official raising his hand.[7] Occasionally it is a sign of greeting or benevolence, but usually it is used as an indication of power.[7] An opposite depiction is the salutatio of a diogmites, a military police officer, who raises his right arm to greet his commander during his adventus on a relief from 2nd-century Ephesus.[8]

An example of a salutational gesture of imperial power can be seen in the statue of Augustus of Prima Porta which follows certain guidelines set out by oratory scholars of his day.[9] In Rhetorica ad Herennium the anonymous author states that the orator "will control himself in the entire frame of his body and in the manly angle of his flanks, with the extension of the arm in the impassioned moments of speech, and by drawing in the arm in relaxed moods".[9] Quintilian states in his Institutio Oratoria: "Experts do not permit the hand to be raised above the level of the eyes or lowered beneath the breast; to such a degree is this true that it is considered a fault to direct the hand above the head or lower it to the lower part of the belly. It may be extended to the left within the limits of the shoulder, but beyond that it is not fitting."[9]

18th–19th centuries France

Le Serment du Jeu de paume
The Tennis Court Oath (1791), by J-L David
Jacques Louis David-Serment de l'armée fait à l'Empereur après la distribution des aigles, 5 décembre 1804
The Distribution of the Eagle Standards

Jacques-Louis David's painting The Oath of the Horatii (1784) provided the starting point for a gesture that progressed from oath-taking to what will become known as the Roman salute.[10][11] The painting shows the three sons of Horatius swear on their swords, held by their father, that they will defend Rome to the death.[12] It is based on a historical event described by Livy (Book I, sections 24-6) and elaborated by Dionysius in Roman Antiquities (Book III).[13] However, the moment depicted in David's painting is his own creation.[14] Neither Livy nor Dionysius mention any oath taking episode.[12] Dionysius, the more detailed source, reports that the father had left to his sons the decision to fight then raised his hands to the heavens to thank the gods.[14]

Dominating the center of The Oath of the Horatii is the brothers' father, facing left. He has both hands raised.[14] His left hand is holding three swords, while his right hand is empty, with fingers stretched but not touching.[14] The brother closest to the viewer is holding his arm almost horizontally.[14] The brother on the left is holding his arm slightly higher, while the third brother holds his hand higher still.[14] While the first brother extends his right arm, the other two are extending their left arms. The succession of arms raised progressively higher leads to a gesture closely approximating the style used by fascists in the 20th century in Italy, albeit with the "wrong" arms.[14]

Art historian Albert Boime provides the following analysis:

The brothers stretch out their arms in a salute that has since become associated with tyranny. The "Hail Caesar" of antiquity (although at the time of the Horatii a Caesar had yet to be born) was transformed into the "Heil Hitler" of the modern period. The fraternal intimacy brought about by the Horatii's dedication to absolute principles of victory or death ... is closely related to the establishment of the fraternal order ... In the total commitment or blind obedience of a single, exclusive group lies the potentiality of the authoritarian state.[11]

After the French Revolution of 1789, David was commissioned to depict the formation of the revolutionary government in a similar style. In the Tennis Court Oath (1792) the National Assembly are all depicted with their arms outstretched, united in an upward gesture comparable to that of the Horatii, as they swear to create a new constitution.[15] The painting was never finished, but an immense drawing was exhibited in 1791 alongside the Oath of the Horatii.[11] As in the Oath of the Horatii, David conveys the unity of minds and bodies in the service of the patriotic ideal.[11] But in this drawing, he takes the subject further, uniting the people beyond just family ties and across different classes, religions, and philosophical opinions.[11]

Ave Caesar Morituri te Salutant (Gérôme) 01
Ave Caesar Morituri te Salutant, by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1859)

After the republican government was replaced by Napoleon's imperial régime, David further deployed the gesture in The Distribution of the Eagle Standards (1810).[16] But unlike his previous paintings representing republican ideals, in Eagle Standards the oath of allegiance is pledged to a central authority figure, and in imperial fashion.[16] Boime sees the series of oath pictures as "the coding of key developments in the history of the Revolution and its culmination in Napoleonic authoritarianism".[17]

The imperial oath is seen in other paintings, such as Jean-Léon Gérôme's Ave Caesar! Morituri te salutant (Hail, Caesar, those who are about to die salute you) of 1859.[18] In this painting, the gladiators are all raising their right or left arms, holding tridents and other weapons.[18] Their salutation is a well-known Latin phrase quoted in Suetonius, De Vita Caesarum ("The Life of the Caesars", or "The Twelve Caesars").[19] Despite becoming widely popularised in later times, the phrase is unknown in Roman history aside from this isolated use, and it is questionable whether it was ever a customary salute, as is often believed.[20] It was more likely to be an isolated appeal by desperate captives and criminals condemned to die.[21]

19th–20th centuries United States

Students pledging allegiance to the American flag with the Bellamy salute
Children performing the Bellamy salute to the flag of the United States

On October 12, 1892, the Bellamy salute was demonstrated as the hand gesture to accompany the Pledge of Allegiance in the United States. The inventor of the saluting gesture was James B. Upham, junior partner and editor of The Youth's Companion.[22] Bellamy recalled Upham, upon reading the pledge, came into the posture of the salute, snapped his heels together, and said "Now up there is the flag; I come to salute; as I say 'I pledge allegiance to my flag,' I stretch out my right hand and keep it raised while I say the stirring words that follow."[22] There exists evidence suggesting that the gesture had been used previous to Upham in the secret rituals of the Knights of Labor.[23]

Because of the similarity between the Bellamy salute and the Nazi salute that emerged in Germany in the 1920s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted the hand-over-the-heart gesture as the salute to be rendered by civilians during the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem in the United States, instead of the Bellamy salute.[24] This was done when Congress officially adopted the Flag Code on June 22, 1942.[25] There was initially some resistance to dropping the Bellamy salute, for example from the Daughters of the American Revolution.[26]

Early 20th century in theatre and film

The gesture, already established in the United States through the Bellamy salute, has been traced to the Broadway production of the play Ben-Hur.[27] The play, based on Lew Wallace's book Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, opened on Broadway in November 1899 and proved to be a great success.[28] Photographs show several scenes using the gesture, including one of Ben-Hur greeting a seated sheik and another of a small crowd so greeting Ben-Hur in his chariot.[29] Neither Wallace's novel nor text for the theatrical production mentions a raised arm salute.[29] The salute was evidently added in keeping with the exaggerated style of acting in 19th century theater, which in turn influenced acting in the silent cinema.[30]

The salute frequently occurs in early 20th century films set in antiquity, such as the American Ben-Hur (1907) and the Italian Nerone (1908), although such films do not yet standardize it or make it exclusively Roman.[31] In Spartaco (1914), even the slave Spartacus uses it.[31] Later examples appear in Ben-Hur (1925) and in Cecil B. DeMille's Sign of the Cross (1932) and Cleopatra (1934), although the execution of the gesture is still variable.[31]

Of special note is the use in Giovanni Pastrone's colossal epic Cabiria (1914).[32] The screenplay was attributed to Italian nationalist Gabriele d'Annunzio, who was known as the "poet-warrior".[33] Inspired by the Italo-Turkish War, in which Italy conquered the North African Ottoman province of Tripolitania, Pastrone perused a politically volatile issue.[34] The film highlights Italy's Roman past and the "monstrous" nature of Carthaginian society, which is contrasted with the "nobility" of Roman society.[35] Cabiria was one of several films of the period that "helped resuscitate a distant history that legitimized Italy's past and inspired its dreams" and which "delivered the spirit for conquest that seemed to arrive from the distant past", thereby presaging the "political rituals of fascism", "thanks ... to its prime supporter and apostle, Gabriele d'Annunzio."[36]

Variations on the salute occur throughout Cabiria on the part of Romans and Africans.[37] Scipio uses the gesture once.[37] Fulvius Axilla, the story's fictitious hero, twice employs it as a farewell greeting to his hosts.[37] The Numidian king Massinissa, guest of the Carthaginian Hasdrubal, raises his right hand and is so greeted in return, once by the strongman Maciste.[37] Princess Sophonisba and King Syphax mutually greet each other by raising their hands and declining their bodies.[37] The diversity of the gesture and the variety of nationalities who use it in Cabria is seen as further evidence that the salute is a modern invention, used in the film to highlight the exotic nature of antiquity.[37]

Adoption during the 20th century


Hitlermusso2 edit
Benito Mussolini and Hitler, Mussolini giving the Roman salute, 25 October 1936

D'Annunzio, who had written the subtitles for the silent movie epic Cabiria, appropriated the salute when he occupied Fiume in 1919.[38] D'Annunzio has been described as the John the Baptist of Italian Fascism,[39] as virtually the entire ritual of Fascism was invented by D'Annunzio during his occupation of Fiume and his leadership of the "Italian Regency of Carnaro".[40] Besides the Roman salute, these included the balcony address, the cries of "Eia, eia, eia! Alalà!", the dramatic and rhetorical dialogues with the crowd, and the use of religious symbols in new secular settings.[39]

Like other neo-Imperial rituals utilized by D'Annunzio, the salute became part of the Italian fascist movement's symbolic repertoire.[38] On January 31, 1923, the Ministry of Education instituted a ritual honoring the flag in schools using the Roman salute.[38] In 1925, as Mussolini began his fascitization of the state, the salute was gradually adopted by the regime, and by December 1, 1925 all state civil administrators were required to use it.[38]

Achille Starace, the Italian Fascist Party secretary, pushed for measures to make the use of the Roman salute generally compulsory, denouncing hand shaking as bourgeois. He further extolled the salute as "more hygienic, more aesthetic, and shorter." He also suggested that the Roman salute did not imply the necessity of taking off the hat unless one was indoors. By 1932, the salute was adopted as the substitute for the handshake.[38] On August 19, 1933 the military was ordered to use the salute whenever an unarmed detachment of soldiers was called on to render military honors for the King or Mussolini.[41]

The symbolic value of the gesture grew, and it was felt that the proper salute "had the effect of showing the fascist man's decisive spirit, which was close to that of ancient Rome".[42] The salute was seen to demonstrate the fascist's "decisive spirit, firmness, seriousness, and acknowledgment and acceptance of the regime's hierarchical structure".[43] It was further felt that the correct physical gesture brought forth a change in character.[44] A joke claimed, however, that the Fascist salute used one hand because Italians were tired of raising both hands to surrender during World War I.[45]

The bourgeois gesture was supposed to disappear from the view of Italians and not contaminate their daily life. In 1938, the party abolished handshaking in films and theater, and on November 21, 1938 the Ministry of Popular Culture issued orders banning the publishing of photographs showing people shaking hands. Even official photographs of visiting dignitaries were retouched to remove the image of their handshaking.[44]


In Germany, the salute, sporadically used by the Nazi Party (NSDAP) since 1923, was made compulsory within the movement in 1926.[46] Called the Hitler salute (Hitlergruß), it functioned both as an expression of commitment within the party and as a demonstrative statement to the outside world.[47] Yet in spite of this demand for the outward display of obedience, the drive to gain acceptance did not go unchallenged, even within the movement.[47] Early objections focused on its resemblance to the Roman salute employed by Fascist Italy, and hence on it not being Germanic.[47] In response, efforts were made to establish its pedigree and invent a proper tradition after the fact.[47]

The compulsory use of the Hitler salute for all public employees followed a directive issued by Reich Minister of the Interior Wilhelm Frick on July 13, 1933, one day before the ban on all non-Nazi parties.[48] The Wehrmacht refused to adopt the Hitler salute and was able for a time to maintain its own customs.[49] The military were required to use the Hitler salute only while singing the Horst Wessel Lied and German national anthem, and in non-military encounters such as greeting members of the civilian government.[49] Only after the July 20 Plot in 1944 were the military forces of the Third Reich ordered to replace the standard military salute with the Hitler salute.[50]


Estonian League of Freedom Fighters - Vaps Movement - Roman salute 1
Estonian Vaps Movement, 1933

Similar forms of salutes were adopted by various groups. Its use in France dates back to 1925, when the Jeunesses Patriotes (Patriotic Youth), a movement led by Pierre Taittinger, would give the fascist salute at meetings while shouting "Dictatorship!".[51] Marcel Bucard's Mouvement Franciste, founded in September 1933, adopted the salute as well as donning blue shirts and blue berets.[52] François Coty's Solidarité Française used the salute as well, though its leaders denied the movement was fascist.[53] By 1937, rivalry amongst French right wing parties sometimes caused confusion over salutes.[54] The Parti Populaire Français, generally regarded as the most pro-Nazi of France's collaborationist parties, adopted a variant of the salute that distinguished itself from others by slightly bending the hand and holding it at face level.[55]

In the early 1930s, the salute was used by members of the Estonian nationalist right wing Vaps Movement,[56] as well as the Brazilian Integralist Action, who used to salute by raising one arm. The Brazilian form of the Salute was called "Anauê" – a word used as a salutation and as a cry by the Brazilian indigenous Tupi people, meaning "you are my brother".[57]

Salute in the Greek Parliament, 1938

In Greece in 1936, when Ioannis Metaxas and his 4th of August Regime took power, an almost identical salute was adopted – first by the National Youth Organization and later by the government as well as common people – and used even while fighting against Italy and Germany in WW2.

Francoist demonstration in Salamanca
Francoist demonstration in Salamanca, Spain

In Spain, on April 27, 1937, General Francisco Franco formally approved the salute in a decree which made it the official salutation to be used by all except the military, who would continue to use the traditional military salutes.[58] This was repealed in September 1945.[59] When the Franco regime restored "Marcha Real" as the Spanish national anthem in 1942 and established new lyrics for it, the first stanza referred to the fascist salute: "Alzad los brazos, hijos del pueblo español" ("Raise your arms, sons of the Spanish people"). These lyrics remained part of the Spanish national anthem until 1978.[60]

After a meeting with Mussolini, in December 1937, Yugoslav Prime Minister Milan Stojadinović and chairman of Yugoslav Radical Union adopted a version of the salute as he took to styling himself as Vođa (Leader).[61][62]

On January 4, 1939, the salute by raising one arm was adopted in Romania under a statute promulgating the National Renaissance Front.[63] In Slovakia, the Hlinka Guard's Na stráž! (On guard!) consisted of a half-hearted compromise between a friendly wave and a salute with a straight raised arm.[64]

Post World War II


Fascist symbols are banned by the postwar Italian Constitution.[65] Specifically, the constitution forbids the reconstitution of the fascist party.[66] According to the Scelba Law, passed June 20, 1952, such a reconstitution occurs when five or more people support undemocratic goals.[66] On June 25, 1993 the Mancino law extended the prohibition to all forms of racial, ethnic, and religious discrimination.[66] Public demonstrations, meetings, and publications of such a kind are banned.[66] Sanctions include being barred from sporting events, and suspension of drivers licenses and passports.[66] These laws, however, are difficult to enforce and seldom used.[66]

The salute has been used many times by prominent individuals as well as groups of people since the war. Famed poet Ezra Pound used the salute in praise of his adopted country of Italy when he returned in 1958 after being released from an insane asylum in America.[67] The salute was on display in the 1968 funeral for Mussolini's youngest daughter, Anna Maria Mussolini Negri.[68] When the Italian Social Movement had its greatest electoral gains since the Second World War in June, 1971, crowds at the party headquarters cheered and gave the outstretched arm salute.[69] On July 29, 1983, on the 100th anniversary of Mussolini's birth, thousands of black-shirted supporters chanted "Duce! Duce!" with their arms raised in the fascist salute on a march from his native village of Predappio in Romagna to the cemetery where he was buried.[70] On the eve of Silvio Berlusconi's election victory in 1994, young supporters of Gianfranco Fini made the fascist salute while chanting "Duce! Duce!"[71]

In 2005, Italian footballer Paolo Di Canio created controversy by twice using the gesture to salute S.S. Lazio fans, first in a match against archrivals A.S. Roma and then against A.S. Livorno Calcio (a club inclined to leftist politics).[72] Di Canio received a one match game ban after the second event and was fined 7,000 Euros, after which he was quoted as saying "I will always salute as I did because it gives me a sense of belonging to my people [...] I saluted my people with what for me is a sign of belonging to a group that holds true values, values of civility against the standardisation that this society imposes upon us."[73] His salute featured on unofficial merchandise sold outside Stadio Olimpico after the ban.[72] Di Canio has also expressed admiration for Mussolini.[74][75]

In June, 2009, Michela Vittoria Brambilla, an Italian politician and businesswoman commonly described as a possible successor to Silvio Berlusconi for leadership of the Italian right, was caught in a controversy over her alleged use of the Roman salute, with calls for her to step down.[76] She denied the accusation, stating "I've never either done or thought of doing any gesture that is an apology of fascism, something toward which I've never showed any indulgence, let alone sympathy. And why should I have made a public display of such a despicable gesture shortly after I've been made a minister?"[76] A video of the event was posted on the Web site of the newspaper La Repubblica that showed Brambilla extending her right arm upward in what appears to be a fascist salute.[76] Brambilla said she was just greeting the crowd.[76]


Use of the salute and accompanying phrases has been forbidden by law in Germany since the end of World War II. Section 86a of the German Penal Code provides for punishment of up to three years in prison for anyone using the salute, unless it is used for artistic, scientific, or educational purposes.[77]


The Greek nationalist party Golden Dawn uses the Roman salute unofficially. Golden Dawn is accused by its opponents of being neo-Nazi, but the party denies this and claims that the salute is ancient Greek or Roman, and that it is used as a tribute to Ioannis Metaxas and his 4th of August Regime which led Greece against the foreign occupation forces in WWII.[78][79][80][81][82][83][84]

The Levant

The salute employed by certain groups and their supporters, like Hezbollah, Fatah,[85] pro-Assad NDF[86][87] and Assad supporters,[88] the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, and the Kataeb Party.,[89] have often been confused with the Roman/Nazi salute, even though in many cases the salute is performed by a closed fist rather than the Roman/Nazi extended palm. Opposition fighters in Syria have also been filmed and documenting using it, or a variance thereof, on multiple occasions.[90] From its use, a connection between Nazism and these groups is often alleged. Often these allegations are raised at the expense of the opposing groups, pro-Assad sympathizers alleging Nazi sympathies of the Opposition and vice versa.[90] However, the oath of allegiance by the Lebanese army, and the salute to the flag uses the Roman salute - possibly influenced by Vichy France shortly before independence was officially gained in 1944 - still continues to be used by the state today.[91]

South Africa

The Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging, a neo-Nazi political party and paramilitary force known for its advocacy of an all-white Afrikaner Volkstaat,[92][93] has utilized Nazi-style uniforms, flags, insignia, and salutes at meetings and public rallies.[94] Hundreds of supporters in 2010 delivered straight-arm salutes outside the funeral for its founder and former leader Eugène Terre'Blanche, who was murdered by two black farm workers over an alleged wage dispute.[95][96]

Red Hand of Ulster Salute

The Red Hand of Ulster Salute is a modified version of the Roman Salute in which the hand is raised vertically to symbolise the Red Hand of Ulster. It is used by some Rangers F.C. fans to show an affinity with the Loyalist cause. Its similarity to the Nazi salute has caused offence and the football club and its supporters' association have asked fans not to use it. [97] [98]

Popular culture

Stanford band members doing the Roman salute to the marching band of rival USC.

A large number of films made after World War II made the Roman salute a visual stereotype of a proto-fascist ancient Roman society.[99] In the 1951 film Quo Vadis, Nero's repeated use of the salute at mass rallies explicitly presents the Roman Empire as a Fascist military state.[100] The movie provided other filmmakers of the time a model,[99] with notable examples including Ben-Hur,[101] Spartacus,[102] Cleopatra,[103] and Caligula. Not until Gladiator did the Roman epic return to the cinema.[104] In this movie, the salute is notably absent in most scenes, for example when Commodus enters Rome or when the Senate salutes the Emperor by head-bowing.[104]

Variations on the salute also appear in neo-fascist contexts. For example, The Christian Falangist Party, founded in 1985, uses a "pectoral salute", in which the right arm, bent at the elbow, is extended from the heart, palm down.[105] This gesture was used in François Truffaut's 1966 film Fahrenheit 451.[106] The film portrays a futuristic totalitarian society modeled after the fascist state, including black uniforms, book burnings, and thought control.[106] In the Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror", the salute begins with the right fist being placed over the heart, as in a pectoral salute, and then the arm is stretched out (usually up) before the body, open palm down, as in a traditional Roman salute.[107] In the episode, Captain Kirk and members of his crew are transported to a parallel universe in which the United Federation of Planets has been replaced by an empire characterized by sadistic violence and torture, genocide, and unquestioning obedience to authority.[107] A modified Roman salute is commonly used in the British-American series Rome.[108] Here the salute avoids similarity to the Fascist salute, as the series seeks not to depict these Romans as stereotypical conquerors.[108] Therefore, the salute is not the familiar straight arm salute but rather resembles a pectoral salute, with the right hand is placed over the heart and then extended to the front of the body.[108]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Winkler (2009), p. 2
  2. ^ Since the historicity of the salute has never been properly questioned, performing it is prosecutable only when "meant to exalt exponents, principles, events and methods" of the extinct National Fascist Party.
  3. ^ K.E. Georges, Ausführliches lateinisch-deutsches Handwörterbuch, Leipzig, Hahn'sche Verlags-buchhandlung Lateinisch-deutscher theil. 1879–80. 2 v.--Deutsch-lateinischer theil 1882 2 v (reprint Berlin 2007), s.v. "dexter"; cf. Lewis-Short s.v. "dextera"; cf. LSJ s.v. "δεξιά".
  4. ^ It is unknown if Octavian's specific oath salute was a pre-existing Roman custom or if he modified a similar pledging gesture for his contio, but Cicero clearly disapproved of Octavian's performance, exclaiming: "I don't want to be saved by such a man"; cf. Cic. Att. Quamquam enim †postea† in praesentia belle iste puer retundit Antonium, tamen exitum exspectare debemus. at quae contio! nam est missa mihi. iurat "ita sibi parentis honores consequi liceat" et simul dextram intendit ad statuam. μηδὲ σωθείην ὐπό γε τοιούτου! [Nec servatoribus istis!]
  5. ^ a b Winkler (2009), pp. 17
  6. ^ Winkler (2009), p. 20
  7. ^ a b Winkler (2009), pp. 20–21
  8. ^ Probably as an acclamatio; note palm is perpendicular to the ground and thumb is sticking up cf. Graham Sumner, Roman military clothing: 100 BC – AD 200, Oxford 2002, p. 47, pl. G3 (Diogmitoi [sic! correct plural: diogmitai]).
  9. ^ a b c Moon, Warren G. (1995). Polykleitos, the Doryphoros, and tradition. Wisconsin studies in classics (illustrated ed.). Univ of Wisconsin Press. pp. 271–272. ISBN 978-0-299-14310-7.
  10. ^ Winkler (2009), p. 55 The raised arm, first stretched out as a symbol of righteous fervor-as the Horatii evince it-and later as a symbol of political allegiance and religious-political unity between a people and its leader, becomes an important part of the iconography of new societies. In addition to its specific contemporary use the gesture comes to express, in a fashion that appears timeless and even mystical, an appeal to a higher being and to a heroic ancient past that had served as a model for most of Western civilization for centuries, although often in ways not supported by historical fact. David’s Oath of the Horatii provided the starting point for an arresting gesture that progressed from oath-taking to what will become known as the Roman salute.
  11. ^ a b c d e Boime, Albert (1987). Art in an age of revolution, 1750–1800. Social history of modern art. Volume 1. University of Chicago Press. pp. 400–401. ISBN 978-0-226-06334-8.
  12. ^ a b Roth, Michael (1994). "Facing the Patriarch in Early Davidian Painting". Rediscovering history: culture, politics, and the psyche. Stanford University Press. p. 308. ISBN 978-0-8047-2313-8.
  13. ^ Marvin, Roberta Montemorra; Downing A. Thomas (2006). "Roman Republicanism and Operatic Heroines". Operatic migrations: transforming works and crossing boundaries (illustrated ed.). Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 102–103. ISBN 978-0-7546-5098-0.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Winkler (2009), p. 44
  15. ^ Parker (1990), p. 87
  16. ^ a b Winkler (2009), p. 51
  17. ^ Boime, Albert (1993). Art in an age of Bonapartism, 1800–1815. Social history of modern art. 2 (reprint, illustrated ed.). University of Chicago Press. p. 46.
  18. ^ a b Winkler (2009), p. 40
  19. ^ Suetonius, De Vita Caesarum: Divus Claudius, 21.6
  20. ^ Baker, Alan (2000). The gladiator: the secret history of Rome's warrior slaves. Ebury Press. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-09-187880-1.
  21. ^ Kyle, Donald (2001). Spectacles of death in ancient Rome. Routledge. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-415-24842-6.
  22. ^ a b Miller, Margarette S. (1976). Twenty Three Words: A Biography of Francis Bellamy: Author of the Pledge of Allegiance. Natl Bellamy Award. ISBN 978-0-686-15626-0.
  23. ^ Stefan Arvidsson (June 6, 2017). "Heart in a heartless world". Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  24. ^ Bishop, Ronald (2007). "A Case of First Impression". Taking on the Pledge of Allegiance: the news media and Michael Newdow's Constitutional challenge. SUNY Press. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-7914-7181-4.
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  • Allert, Tilman; Translated by Jefferson Chase (April 2009). The Hitler Salute: On the Meaning of a Gesture (Picador ed.). Picador. ISBN 978-0-312-42830-3.
  • Falasca-Zamponi, Simonetta (2000). Fascist spectacle: the aesthetics of power in Mussolini's Italy. Studies on the history of society and culture. 28 (illustrated ed.). University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-22677-7.
  • Kershaw, Ian (2001). The "Hitler myth": Image and reality in the Third Reich (2, reissue ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-280206-4.
  • Ledeen, Michael Arthur (2001). D'Annunzio: the first duce (2, illustrated ed.). Transaction Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7658-0742-7.
  • Parker, Noel (1990). Portrayals of revolution: images, debates, and patterns of thought on the French Revolution (illustrated ed.). SIU Press. ISBN 978-0-8093-1684-7.
  • Soucy, Robert (1997). French Fascism: The Second Wave, 1933–1939 (illustrated ed.). Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-07043-9.
  • Winkler, Martin M. (2009). The Roman Salute: Cinema, History, Ideology. Columbus: Ohio State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8142-0864-9.

External links


In ancient Rome the Latin word adlocutio means an address given by a general, usually the emperor, to his massed army and legions, and a general form of Roman salute from the army to their leader. Many researches of adlocutio focus on the art of statuary and coinage aspects. It is often portrayed in sculpture, either simply as a single, life-size contraposto figure of the general with his arm outstretched, or a relief scene of the general on a podium addressing the army. Such relief scenes also frequently appear on imperial coinage. The adlocutio is one of the most widely represented formulas of Roman art. The convention is regularly shown in individual figures like the famous Augustus of Prima Porta or can be put into a narrative context as seen in the Aurelian panel. Gestures and body languages are crucial for the study of adlocutio as in ancient time, as addressing to thousands of soldiers was less penetrable in voice sounds compared to body languages and gestures which were more powerful, infectious of raising the army's enthusiasm. Characteristic of the formula is the outstretched hand of speech as well as the contrapposto pose with the weight clearly shifted to one leg. Much information about adlocutio can be interpreted by these sculptures.

Bellamy salute

The Bellamy salute is a palm-out salute described by Francis Bellamy, the author of the American Pledge of Allegiance, as the gesture which was to accompany the pledge. During the period when it was used with the Pledge of Allegiance, it was sometimes known as the "flag salute". Both the Pledge and its salute originated in 1892. Later, during the 1920s and 1930s, Italian fascists and Nazis adopted a salute which was very similar, and which was derived from the Roman salute, a gesture that was popularly (albeit erroneously) believed to have been used in ancient Rome. This resulted in controversy over the use of the Bellamy salute in the United States. It was officially replaced by the hand-over-heart salute when Congress amended the Flag Code on December 22, 1942.

Bolivian Socialist Falange

The Bolivian Socialist Falange (Spanish: Falange Socialista Boliviana) is a Bolivian political party established in 1937. Despite its leftist-sounding name, it was a far-right party drawing inspiration from fascism. It was the country's second-largest party between approximately 1954 and 1974. After that, its followers have tended to gravitate toward the government endorsed military candidacy of General Juan Pereda (1978) and, especially, toward the ADN party of former dictator Hugo Banzer. Its current status is unclear.

Casa del Fascio (Bolzano)

The former Casa del Fascio in Bolzano (also Casa Littoria) was built between 1939 and 1942 in a rationalist style on a project by the architects Guido Pelizzari, Francesco Rossi and Luis Plattner, as the seat of the Italian Fascist Party and its collateral organisations, in Piazza del Tribunale (Gerichtsplatz; formerly Piazza Arnaldo Mussolini). Since the end of World War II it has housed the State Financial Offices and other state bodies operating in the South Tyrol.

The convex-shaped building relates to the opposite Justice Palace, built between 1939 and 1956 to a concave design by Paolo Rossi de Paoli and Michele Busiri Vici. The former Casa del Fascio bears a monumental bas-relief designed and sculptured by Hans Piffrader, placed above a large balcony, with Benito Mussolini on horseback in the centre and in the act of the Roman salute and telling the story of the "triumph of Fascism", a work commissioned by the Fascist Party itself. It consists of 57 panels of variable width, 2.75 metres high, placed in two superimposed rows, for a linear development of 36 metres, an area of 198 square metres and a total weight of about 95 tonnes. These dimensions probably make it the most impressive bas-relief made during fascism and still exposed to the public.

In 2017, like the Bolzano Victory Monument, the Piffrader frieze was also subjected, on the initiative of the South Tyrolean Provincial Administration, to an intervention of historicization and recontextualization, on an artistic project by Arnold Holzknecht and Michele Bernardi and under the supervision of a historical commission, with the affixing of an illuminated inscription bearing a quotation from the philosopher Hannah Arendt in three languages (Italian, German, Ladin) — "No one has the right to obey" — as opposed to the fascist dogma of Believe, obey, combat (Credere, obbedire, combattere) still present on the bas-relief.

An infopoint has been installed on the square itself, with explanatory texts in four languages, explaining the history of the building, Piffrader's work, the more general urban context and the quotation by Hannah Arendt.

Jazz hands

Jazz hands in performance dance is the extension of a performer's hands with palms toward the audience and fingers splayed (this position is also referred to as webbing). It is commonly associated with especially exuberant types of performance such as musicals, cheerleading, show choir, revue, and especially jazz dance shows. In cheerleading, the position with arms outstretched and fingers wiggling up and down is sometimes referred to as spirit fingers or jazz fingers. Depending on the performance venue, both gestures can be associated with campiness.Probably the biggest proponent of jazz hands was Bob Fosse, who incorporated them in nearly all of his Broadway and film musical choreography. The best example of this is the opening musical number of Pippin, "Magic to Do", in which still illuminated jazz hands are the first thing the audience sees.

Legião Portuguesa (Estado Novo)

The Portuguese Legion (Portuguese: Legião Portuguesa) was a Portuguese paramilitary state organization founded in 1936 during the Portuguese President of the Council´s António de Oliveira Salazar's right-wing regime, the Estado Novo. It was dissolved in 1974.

Its stated objectives were to "defend the spiritual heritage [of Portugal]" and to "fight the communist threat and anarchism".

The Portuguese Legion was under the control of the Ministry of the Interior and War, and was responsible for coordinating civil defense in Portuguese territory, including in the Portuguese Empire. It was deeply involved in multiple collaborations with PIDE, the political police. They used the Roman salute and also used to shout the name of Salazar in their parades.

Mocidade Portuguesa

The Mocidade Portuguesa (Portuguese pronunciation: [musiˈðað(ɨ) puɾtuˈɣezɐ], English: Portuguese Youth) was a Portuguese youth organization founded in 1936 (dissolved in 1974) during the Portuguese President of the Council´s António de Oliveira Salazar's far-right-wing regime, the Estado Novo. Membership was compulsory between the ages of 7 and 14, and voluntary until the age of 25.

Mouvement Franciste

The Francist Movement (French: Mouvement Franciste, MF) was a French Fascist and Antisemitic league created by Marcel Bucard in September 1933; it edited the newspaper Le Francisme. Mouvement Franciste reached of membership of 10,000, and was financed by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Its members were deemed the francistes or Chemises bleues (Blueshirts), and gave the Roman salute (a paramilitary character which was mirrored in France by François Coty's Solidarité Française).

The Mouvement took part in the violent Paris rallies of 6 February 1934, during which the entire far right (from Action Française to Croix-de-Feu) protested the implications of the Stavisky Affair and possibly attempted to topple the Édouard Daladier government. It incorporated the Solidarité Française after Coty's death later in the same year.

All the 6 February participant movements were outlawed in 1936, when Léon Blum's Popular Front government passed new legislation on the matter. After a failed attempt in 1938, the Movement was refounded as a Party (Parti Franciste) in 1941, after France was overrun by Nazi Germany.

Together with Jacques Doriot's Parti Populaire Français, Marcel Déat's Rassemblement National Populaire and Pierre Clémenti's French National-Collectivist Party, the francistes were the main collaborators of the Nazi occupiers and Vichy France. The Parti Franciste did not survive the end of World War II, and was considered treasonous.


Namaste (, Devanagari: नमस्ते,

Hindi pronunciation: [nəməsteː] (listen)), sometimes spoken as Namaskar and Namaskaram, is a customary Hindu greeting. In the contemporary era, it is found on the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and among the Hindu diaspora worldwide. It is used both for greeting and leave-taking. Namaste is usually spoken with a slight bow and hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, thumbs close to the chest. This gesture is called Añjali Mudrā or Pranamasana.In Hinduism, it means "I bow to the divine in you". Namaste may also be spoken without the gesture or the namaste gesture performed wordlessly.

Nationalist Liberation Alliance

The Nationalist Liberation Alliance (Spanish: Alianza Libertadora Nacionalista, ALN), originally known as the Argentine Civic Legion (Legión Cívica Argentina, LCA) from 1931 to 1937, the Alliance of Nationalist Youth (Alianza de la Juventud Nacionalista, AJN) from 1937 to 1943, and then using its final name from 1943 to 1955, was a Nacionalista and fascist movement.The movement was heavily influenced by fascism, with its members utilizing the Roman salute, wearing fascist-style uniforms, and marching in military formation. The movement's declaration of principles in 1931 attacked Marxism and democracy and declared support for the creation of a corporatist state like that of Fascist Italy. It cooperated with the Argentine Fascist Party, particularly in the Córdoba region of Argentina. In Córdoba in 1935, the local militia allied with the Argentine Fascist Party and Argentine Nationalist Action to form the Frente de Fuerzas Fascistas de Córdoba, which was replaced by the National Fascist Union in 1936. In 1936, its leader General Juan Bautista Molina reorganized the militia to be based upon the organization of the Nazi Party. General Molina wanted an Argentina based on Nazi lines, presenting himself as an Argentine Hitler, and having close relations with Nazi Germany.The movement called for "hierarchy and order" in society, various xenophobic and anti-Semitic themes, and the demand for "social justice" and "revolutionary" land reform to destroy the "oligarchy" in Argentina. Juan Bautista Molina wanted the creation of an Argentina based on Nazi lines, presenting himself as an Argentine Hitler, and having close relations with Nazi Germany.It was violently anti-Semitic, with its journal Combate issuing a "commandment" to its members: "War against the Jew. Hatred towards the Jew. Death to the Jew."

Nazi salute

The Nazi salute, Hitler salute (German: Hitlergruß, lit. 'Hitler Greeting', IPA: [ˈhɪtlɐˌɡʁuːs], also German: deutscher Gruß, lit. 'German Greeting'), or Sieg Heil salute, is a gesture that was used as a greeting in Nazi Germany. The salute is performed by extending the right arm from the neck into the air with a straightened hand. Usually, the person offering the salute would say "Heil Hitler!" (Hail Hitler!), "Heil, mein Führer!" (Hail, my leader!), or "Sieg Heil!" (Hail victory!). It was adopted in the 1930s by the Nazi Party to signal obedience to the party's leader, Adolf Hitler, and to glorify the German nation (and later the German war effort). The salute was mandatory for civilians but mostly optional for military personnel, who retained the traditional military salute until the failed assassination attempt on Hitler on 20 July 1944.

Use of this salute is illegal in modern Germany and Austria (Verbotsgesetz 1947), and is also considered a criminal offense in modern Poland, Slovakia, and Austria. In Canada, the Czech Republic, France, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and Russia, displaying the salute is not in itself a criminal offence, but constitutes illegal hate speech if used for propagating Nazi ideology.

Oath of the Horatii

Oath of the Horatii (French: Le Serment des Horaces), is a large painting by the French artist Jacques-Louis David painted in 1784 and now on display in the Louvre in Paris. The painting immediately became a huge success with critics and the public, and remains one of the best known paintings in the Neoclassical style.

It depicts a scene from a Roman legend about a seventh-century BC dispute between two warring cities, Rome and Alba Longa, and stresses the importance of patriotism and masculine self-sacrifice for one's country. Instead of the two cities sending their armies to war, they agree to choose three men from each city; the victor in that fight will be the victorious city. From Rome, three brothers from a Roman family, the Horatii, agree to end the war by fighting three brothers from a family of Alba Longa, the Curiatii. The three brothers, all of whom appear willing to sacrifice their lives for the good of Rome, are shown saluting their father who holds their swords out for them. Of the three Horatii brothers, only one shall survive the confrontation. However, it is the surviving brother who is able to kill the other three fighters from Alba Longa: he allows the three fighters to chase him, causing them to separate from each other, and then, in turn, kills each Curiatii brother. Aside from the three brothers depicted, David also represents, in the bottom right corner, a woman crying whilst sitting down. She is Camilla, a sister of the Horatii brothers, who is also betrothed to one of the Curiatii fighters, and thus she weeps in the realisation that, in any case, she will lose someone she loves.

The principal sources for the story behind David's Oath are the first book of Livy (sections 24–26) which was elaborated by Dionysius in book 3 of his Roman Antiquities. However, the moment depicted in David's painting is his own invention. The painting led to the popularization of the Roman salute.It grew to be considered a paragon of neoclassical art. The painting increased David's fame, allowing him to take on his own students.

Olympic symbols

The Olympic symbols are icons, flags, and symbols used by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to elevate the Olympic Games. Some—such as the flame, fanfare, and theme—are more commonly used during Olympic competition, but others, such as the flags, can be seen throughout the years. The Olympic flag was created under the guidance of Baron Coubertin in 1913 and was released in 1914. But it was first hoisted in 1920 in Antwerp, Belgium at the 1920 Summer Olympics in the main stadium. Five rings equal the Five continents of the world.

Patriotic People's Movement

Patriotic People's Movement (Finnish: Isänmaallinen kansanliike, IKL, Swedish: Fosterländska folkrörelsen) was a Finnish nationalist and anti-communist political party. IKL was the successor of the previously banned Lapuan liike. It existed from 1932 to 1944 and had an ideology similar to its predecessor, except that IKL participated in elections — with limited success.

Raised fist

The raised fist, or the clenched fist, is a symbol of solidarity and support. It is also used as a salute to express unity, strength, defiance, or resistance.


A salute is a gesture or other action used to display respect. Salutes are primarily associated with armed forces, but other organizations and civilians also use salutes.

Straja Țării

Straja Țării (Romanian - roughly, The Sentinel of the Motherland; also known as Străjeria - translatable as The Sentinel) was a youth organization in the Kingdom of Romania, created in 1935 by King Carol II to counter the growing influence the Iron Guard had over the youth of Romania. Its members were known as străjeri ("sentinels"), and used a form of the Roman salute as greeting.

Vaps Movement

Vaps Movement, (Estonian: Eesti Vabadussõjalaste Keskliit, later Eesti Vabadussõjalaste Liit, vabadussõjalased, or colloquially vapsid, a single member of this movement was called vaps) the Union of Participants in the Estonian War of Independence was founded as an Estonian association of veterans of the Estonian War of Independence (1918–1920). Later non-veterans were accepted as its supporter-members. The organisation was founded in 1929, emerged as a mass anti-communist and anti-parliamentary movement. The leaders of this association were Andres Larka (formal figurehead and presidential candidate) and Artur Sirk.

Zogist salute

The Zogist salute, or the nationalist Albanian salute, is a military salute of Albania since used by civilians in other countries. The salute is a gesture whereby the right hand is placed over the heart, with the palm facing downwards.

The salute is still popular with modern supporters of Zogu and Albanian monarchists in general, and the Albanian nationalists of the Balli Kombëtar. Under the post-war communist government of Enver Hoxha, the Zogist salute was used by dissidents as an anti-regime statement.

Friendly gestures
Gestures of respect
Celebratory gestures
Obscene gestures
Head motions
Other gestures

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