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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: April ::
History of RINGS?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0291  Friday, 7 April 2006

[1] 	From: 	Alan Jones <
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 >
	Date: 	Wednesday, 5 Apr 2006 20:13:42 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0280 History of RINGS?

[2] 	From: 	John Briggs <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 5 Apr 2006 21:35:36 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0280 History of RINGS?

[3] 	From: 	Larry Weiss <
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 >
	Date: 	Wednesday, 05 Apr 2006 19:00:58 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0280 History of RINGS?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Alan Jones <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 5 Apr 2006 20:13:42 +0100
Subject: 17.0280 History of RINGS?
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0280 History of RINGS?

Joseph Egert <
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 >

 >Colin Cox writes:
 >
 >The engagement ring is of Roman origin. The wedding ring of
 >Egyptian. The ring symbolized eternal love and the placement on the
 >third finger was from the belief that a vein ran from there to the
 >heart.
 >
 >
 >Wasn't it the fourth finger? (See SHK 17.0073 for details.)

If the "first finger" is the one next to the thumb, the "ring finger" 
should be the third, next to the little finger; but people seem usually 
to say "fourth". Compare the finger notation of piano music, where 
nowadays 1 means thumb and so on to 5 for the little finger, but in my 
youth + was used for the thumb, and the little finger was 4.

Alan Jones

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John Briggs <
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 >
Date: 		Wednesday, 5 Apr 2006 21:35:36 +0100
Subject: 17.0280 History of RINGS?
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0280 History of RINGS?

Joseph Egert wrote:

 >Colin Cox writes:
 >
 >The engagement ring is of Roman origin. The wedding ring of
 >Egyptian. The ring symbolized eternal love and the placement on the
 >third finger was from the belief that a vein ran from there to the
 >heart.
 >
 >Wasn't it the fourth finger? (See SHK 17.0073 for details.)

That would be counting the thumb as the first finger. (See SHK 17.0101 
for details.)

John Briggs

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Wednesday, 05 Apr 2006 19:00:58 -0400
Subject: 17.0280 History of RINGS?
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0280 History of RINGS?

 >>The engagement ring is of Roman origin. The wedding ring of
 >>Egyptian. The ring symbolized eternal love and the placement on the
 >>third finger was from the belief that a vein ran from there to the
 >>heart.
 >
 >Wasn't it the fourth finger?

It all depends on what a finger is.  It is the fourth metacarpal, which 
(not counting the thumb) is the third finger.

As for the history, the quote is approximately correct.  More precisely, 
the first known exchange of finger rings as objects of love was in Egypt 
c.2800BC, but it is not clear that they were wedding rings as opposed to 
engagement rings, or that the distinction made sense in that culture. 
According to Plautus and Pliny the Elder, rings were given as betrothal 
gifts by Roman bridegrooms to symbolize the commitment. See O.Gad, 
Wedding Rings 19-20 (Stewart, Tabori & Chang 2004). But Roman betrothals 
were more formal than modern engagements and carried with them certain 
legal rights and obligations.

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