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i. Hand (A)

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A symbol of fortitude in Egypt, of fidelity in Rome. Two hands symbolise concord; and a hand laid on the head of a person indicates the right of property. Thus if a person laid claim to a slave, he laid his hand upon him in the presence of the prætor. (Aulus Gellius, xx. 19.) By a closed hand Zeno represented dialectics, and by an open hand eloquence.

⁂ Previous to the twelfth century the Supreme Being was represented by a hand extended from the clouds; sometimes the hand is open, with rays issuing from the fingers, but generally it is in the act of benediction, i.e. with two fingers raised.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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