Ring Fingers and the Etymology of ‘Anatomy’ – Gellius, 10.9

“We understand that the ancient Greeks wore rings on the finger closest to the pinky on the left hand. They say that the Romans, too, for the most part wore their rings. Apion, in his books on Egypt, says that the reason for this is that, when the Egyptians had cut and opened human bodies (such is their habit in Egypt; the Greeks call this practice ‘anatomy’ or ‘cutting up’) they found a certain slender nerve which ran from that one finger, which I mentioned, all the way to the human heart. Therefore, it did not seem unreasonable that that finger most of all should receive such an honor, since it seems to be joined and linked with that chiefmost organ, the heart.”

Veteres Graecos anulum habuisse in digito accipimus sinistrae manus, qui minimo est proximus. Romanos quoque homines aiunt sic plerumque anulis usitatos. II. Causam esse huius rei Apion in libris Aegyptiacis hanc dicit, quod insectis apertisque humanis corporibus, ut mos in Aegypto fuit, quas Graeci anatomas appellant, repertum est nervum quendam tenuissimum ab eo uno digito, de quo diximus, ad cor hominis pergere ac pervenire; propterea non inscitum visum esse eum potissimum digitum tali honore decorandum, qui continens et quasi conexus esse cum principatu cordis videretur.

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