The meaning of hand gestures may vary widely from culture to culture. In the modern West, approval is popularly expressed by the “thumbs up” sign, and disapproval by the downward turn of the thumb. These hand gestures even seem to be universal, at least in the modern era. But perhaps it was not always so. The humanist Angelo Poliziano’s Miscellanies contains a passage in chapter 42 of his book that raises some doubts, at least to my mind. Philology may shed some light on the subject.