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AND LEFT IN ROMAN

LITERATURE

BY

ANTHONY PELZER WAGENER

A DISSERTATION

SUBMITTED TO THE BOARD OF UNIVERSITY STUDIES OF THE JOHNS
HOPKINS UNIVERSITY IN CONFORMITY WITH THE REQUIRE-

MENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

1910

BALTIMORE

J. H. FURST COMPANY

1912

Claes 202 2

Johns vestine Muverity

POPULAR ASSOCIATIONS OF RIGHT AND

LEFT IN ROMAN LITERATURE

INTRODUCTION

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Popular associations with right and left are primitive and universal.

At all events, we may safely conclude that the distinction between the right and the left first arose in connection with the hands; and from the earliest period we find men using one hand in preference to the other. Indeed, it is an established fact that human beings are naturally righthanded. 1

This being the case, the right hand was the one naturally employed for any action requiring skill, accuracy, or strength. In contrast with the left, therefore, it came to be regarded as the reliable member. “This distinction appears to be coeval with the earliest use of language. As the right was the hand used by the majority of people, it was the regular one to use; therefore anything done by it was done in the regular and correct way. Hence the result was most likely to be favorable.

Then by a simple step the right hand itself began to be identified with the favorable, and therefore the lucky. From the hand the transference of the association to the right in general was quite easy.

The development in the case of the left proceeded upon lines exactly parallel to those followed by the right, although tending in the opposite direction. Thus the idea of weakness, uncertainty, and unreliability was ordinarily, attached to the

1 Sir Daniel Wilson, Left-Handedness (1891). Wilson, l. C., p. 76.

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