The origin of this gesture is speculative, and quite possibly thousands of years old. It is identified as the digitus impudicus ("impudent finger") in Ancient Roman writings and reference is made to using the finger in the Ancient Greek comedy The Clouds by Aristophanes. It was defined there as a gesture intended to insult another. The widespread usage of the finger in many cultures is likely due to the geographical influence of the Roman Empire and Greco-Roman civilization. Another possible origin of this gesture can be found in the first-century Mediterranean world, where extending the digitus impudicus was one of many methods used to divert the ever present threat of the evil eye.