Arms and A Mouse. Approaching acrostics in Ovid and Vergil
Materiali e Discussioni per l'Analisi dei Testi Classici
In this article I begin by comparing and contrasting our reading practice regarding acrostics with our practice regarding allusions and intertexts, looking in particular at the problematic notion of authorial intention; I suggest an approach that assumes that ancient learned readers were on the look-out for acrostics, just as they were for allusions, and that they would test them for significance (as we imagine they did for allusions). I then apply this approach to the beginning and end of the Aeneid, and the beginning of the Metamorphoses, exploring how our reading of these well-studied passages changes if we pay attention to the acrostics and telestics that this process unearths. I note among other things how the presence of ILUS, of ARMA and a man, and of a Horatian MUS and a Vergilian ERATO can enrich our reading of the text. I close with an old and particularly controversial acrostic in Eclogue 4 (CACATA) that presents a potential challenge to my approach.
Acrostics, Ovid, Virgil