This reminded me that the ancient Greeks also used shoes to express contempt. In my novel, Night of the Furies, the young trio of archeological sleuths contemplate a 1st Century BC statue of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty:
It's difficult to tell whether Eros is trying to defend Aphrodite or encourage Pan. But there's little doubt of the goddess' intent, flashing the sole of her sandal.
Eros, the winged cherub, fluttered just over her shoulder, while standing beside her was the goat-god Pan, doing his best to seduce her.
Later in the novel the trio investigate the ancient Eleusinian Mysteries. Initiates to the annual religious rite--which included both women and slaves--joined together in a boisterous 14-mile procession from Athens to the seaside city of Eleusis.
At one point, crossing a bridge over the river Kephisos, "Men with heads covered to conceal their identity sat on the bridge and hurled ribald insults at distinguished persons in the procession" (H.W. Parke). Whether it was done to "forestall any ill luck" or was simply an opportunity for merriment, we have to ask ourselves: What ancient culture other than the Greeks would have allowed such freedoms to its citizens? How many cultures even allow them today?
We have much to thank the ancient Greeks for, just as the Iraqi people--despite legitimate complaints and terrible costs--have much to thank our soldiers for. According to the brother of the Iraqi reporter who "spontaneously" threw his shoes at President Bush, he had been planning his "protest" for nearly a year. There was a time, not too long ago in Iraq, when he wouldn't have been free to even imagine such a thing.