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Roman Salute and the American Pledge

PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2005 5:13 pm
by Anonymous
Thought I would just share this article..Interesting though some of it is obvious hogwash..

It is a myth that the straight-arm salute is an old Roman salute adopted by Mussolini. According to Dr. Martin Winkler in "The Roman Salute on Film" of the American Philological Association, the salute is not in any Roman art or text. The salute occurs in these films: the American "Ben-Hur" (1907), the Italian "Nerone" (1908), "Spartaco" (1914), and "Cabiria" (1914).

In imitation of such films, self-styled Italian "Consul" Gabriele D 'Annunzio borrowed the salute as a propaganda tool for his political ambitions upon his occupation of Fiume in 1919. Earlier, D'Annunzio had worked with Giovanni Pastrone in his colossal epic Cabiria (1914). Mussolini worked with D'Annunzio.

Even so, evidence shows that the National Socialist German Workers' Party officially adopted the salute before Mussolini did, not vice versa.

Dr. Winkler didn't know about the original U.S. flag salute (1892) that inspired the films.

Francis Bellamy was a national socialist in the U.S. and created the pledge of allegiance to the flag using a straight-armed salute, the so-called "Roman" salute, in 1892.

The straight-armed salute in the USA's racist and segregated government schools, served as an example to Germany through WWI and for over three decades before Nazism and WWII. The National Socialist German Workers' Party was inspired by the films, by the pledge of allegiance, and by the older national socialism movement in the USA.

The National Socialist German Workers' Party was also inspired by German-Americans who were already national socialists in the U.S. and who joined the German-American Bund movement to support national socialists in Germany before WWII.

The salute began to change during WWII.

Francis Bellamy was inspired by his cousin and cohort Edward Bellamy, the author of the book “Looking Backward” (a bestseller written in 1887 by Edward Bellamy).

Both Bellamys wanted the government to take over all schools and create an “industrial army” of totalitarian socialism as described in the book.

Government-schools spread and they mandated segregation by law and taught racism as official policy and did so through WWII and beyond

PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2005 5:48 pm
by Primus Aurelius Timavus
It's true that the American pledge of allegiance did include a straight arm salute. When I was a boy, one of my teachers remarked that before the war he was taught to place his hand on his heart at the beginning of the pledge (where today it remains throughout) and then to extend the arm outward with the phrase "and to the Republic, for which it stands..."


PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 10:28 pm
by Anonymous
Cool,they need to bring it back...

PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2006 6:07 pm
by P. Scribonius Martialis
I'm not sure about some of that other stuff, but it is quite true that young Americans did say the pledge of allegiance with an outstretched arm. I'm not sure what exactly this proves. I believe it was done for a long time before anyone had even heard of the Nazis. See:


Omnes te saluto

PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2006 7:22 pm
by Aldus Marius
Salvete omnes...

As you might suppose, in researching for my reenactor gigs I've seen a lot of depictions of Roman soldiers raising their arms in the general direction of the Emperor or commander who is addressing them. There's even a name for the whole event: it's called an adlocutio.

But the only image I've ever seen of an individual Roman soldier saluting anyone is a relief showing a Centurion who is greeting someone on horseback--perhaps a visiting dignitary. He is touching the brow-peak of his helmet with his right hand; arm at an angle, fingers extended and joined...and, except for the point of contact on the helmet, it looks remarkably like the salute I learned in Air Force boot camp.

That was as much of a surprise to me as it was when we figured out about the open-toed and -heeled socks!

So...who's Rex Curry? I am very unwilling to take the authority of any one single person on this. (Don't anyone just take my word for it either.)

In fide,

My Original

PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2006 7:54 pm
by Aldus Marius
Avete iterum,

This is my original Roman-salute article, posted in the CollHist-->The Roman Salute? thread on 6 Jul 04. It's got even more info; apparently I were smarter back then... >({|;-)

Salvete, collegi...

This would've been a good one for the Collegium Militarium. I even briefly considered kidnapping it [g]. But I'll meet it where it is, hopefully with something useful in my marching-kit...

As a reenactor who used to be a drill sergeant, I've had my own reasons to wonder just what a Roman salute was supposed to look like. I have seen exactly two images of a Roman foot-soldier doing anything that might be called a salute. (Cavalry had their own salute, generally thought to be the extended-arm "Marcus Aurelius" gesture.) Both infantry images are reproduced in the Osprey Elite series book The Praetorian Guard by Dr. Boris Rankov (illus. Richard Hook).

The first is a photo from the Domitius Ahenobarbus altar in Rome. The detail shows two Late Republican-era soldiers in chainmail (lorica hamata), one striding away while the other one either salutes or adjusts his helmet. (The two movements are so alike that, even nowadays, an enlisted man who salutes something he wasn't supposed to will, upon realizing his mistake, pretend to fiddle with the bill of his cap.)

The 'saluting' soldier is shown in a frontal view with his head turned to his right. His right arm is elbow-out in a brocket [<] position. His right hand is raised to his helmet, palm straight downwards, fingers together and somewhat curved, thumb touching fingers (due to wear of the reliefs, it is hard to tell which finger specifically), and fingertips touching either his forehead or the browpeak of his helmet.

The other image is actually a painted reproduction by Mr. Hook. It shows a Trajanic Centurion in scale armor (lorica squamata) from the front, his right arm also out to the side and bent at the elbow to bring his fingertips up to his helmet. His thumb is not visible the way the hand is being held (palm inwards), suggesting that it is either aligned with the other fingers modern-style, or that if it is tucked under the palm, it is only very slightly so--a tucked-under thumb is normally pretty obvious under extended fingers.

The Centurion's fingers are much less curved than those of the Republican Legionary, hinting perhaps at some development towards straightness in the intervening few centuries. The contact point on the helmet is rather higher, too--instead of just touching the brow-peak, it has moved to where the embossed eyebrows would be on an Imperial Gallic est, about halfway between the brow-peak and the crest. Sources cited for this illustration are "a number of reliefs, including the funerary monument of Flavius Mikkalus recently unearthed in Turkey".

In short, what little guidance we have concerning the Roman infantry salute shows a gesture which is so like a modern salute, differing only in contact-point and some details of angulation, that it's almost a disappointment. I've seen these salutes on recruits who hadn't yet perfected the current American version. I've straightened enough fingers, tilted enough palms, and threatened to break many a tucked-under thumb. [feg]

And, sadly, I've realized that an accurate Roman salute would never sell in Hollywood or on a reenactor gig. It looks too much like a modern one. People would never believe it. They expect, even demand, to have the Mussolini monstrosity thrown up in their faces. You can explain the real thing all you like, they will cling to their fantasy: "We-l-l, I don't know..." or, in the case of one event sponsor: "Just do the movie one, just this once, OK?!?"

Hmmm...conflict between what-looks-like-was and what people would rather believe; this one's starting to sound like a Historicum topic after all...!! >({|;-)

In fide,