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Further Hellenistic Acrostics: Aratus and Others

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The author, after a short review of the research to date and the criteria with which to approach the topic, discusses a number of acrostics to be found in Aratus' Phaenomena, Callimachus' Hymns, and Apollonius Rhodius' Argonautica, all of them recently detected by himself. It turns out that Aratus was particularly fond of inserting syllabic 'gamma-type' acrostics, which should not always be taken as examples of mere art for art's sake since they may allude to, or are supported by, the immediate context. Special attention, nevertheless, is given to the interpretation of a 'regular' acrostic (EΠAΘE, Phaen. 220-4), in which the poet's empathy with nature is emphasised. The examples from Callimachus (h. 1.60-2; 5.116-9) and Apollonius Rhodius (1.180-4; 2.421-3; 3.1008-11; 4.1489-92) show that the interrelation between the acrostic and its context may have a ludic character when, for instance, the acrostic serves as a kind of humorous authorial comment. It is interesting to observe that the acrostics in Callimachus and Apollonius Rhodius seem to be mostly connected with important moments in narration.

The author also analyses, by way of comparison, a hitherto unnoticed Latin acrostic from Virgil's Ecl. 8.42-7: inanis (viz. Love).


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