The Boots of Maximinus (Plus Some Disparaging Remarks on Tall People)

Erasmus, Adagia 1.1.21:

The boots of Maximinus is said commonly of those who are both coarse and rather tall. Julius Capitolinus relates this adage in his life of the emperor Maximinus, saying, ‘For since Maximinus was eight feet tall (nearly eight and a half), some people placed his shoes – that is, his military boots – in a grove which lies between Aquileia and Aritia (some read Arzia here, but others prefer Anagnia and Aritia), because it is agreed that it was in its track and measure greater than the foot of any human. From this fact the adage the boots of Maximinus is commonly drawn when talking about tall and bumbling people.’ So says Julius.

The proverb will therefore be more correctly employed if it be spoken with hatred or contempt, because that Maximinus (from whom the proverb is agreed to stem) was the most hateful both to the senate and the people of Rome, certainly because he was a native of Thrace, and of a lowly extraction, and finally because he was a man of barbarous and wild manners. Indeed, even now, it is common for people of outstanding height to hear poorly, as though they are careless and lazy.”

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Caliga Maximini (XXI)

Caliga Maximini vulgo dictitatum est in homines insulsos et immodicae proceritatis. Id adagii refert Julius Capitolinus in vita Maximini imperatoris Nam cum esset, inquiens, Maximinus pedum, ut diximus, octo et prope semis, calciamentum ejus, id est campagium regium, quidam in luco qui est inter Aquileiam et Aritiam, (Arziam legunt quidam, alii malunt inter Anagniam et Aritiam) posuerunt, quod constat pede majus fuisse hominis vestigio atque mensura. Unde etiam vulgo tractum est, cum de longis atque ineptis hominibus diceretur : Caliga Maximini. Hactenus Julius. Ergo proverbium rectius usurpabitur, si cum odio contemptuve dicatur, propterea quod is Maximinus (unde natum esse constat) invisissimus esset pariter et populo Romano et senatui, quippe Thrax natione, deinde sordido genere, postremo moribus barbaris ac feris. Quinetiam nunc homines insignitae proceritatis vulgo male audiunt, tanquam socordes atque inertes.

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