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Seeing the light, Part II:
The reception of Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic in Greek and Latin literature1

Leah Kronenberg

Résumé

Part I of this study argued that Aratus’s decision to base his LEPTĒ acrostic, which occurs during a discussion of moonlight (Phaen. 783-87), on Homer’s LEUKĒ acrostic (Il. 24.1-5) was motivated by the connection in Homer between the adjective λευκός and various types of light from the sky, including the light of dawn, which appears shortly after the acrostic (Il. 24.12), and the light of the moon (Il. 23.455). In Part II, I argue that a study of the reception of Aratus’s acrostic in Greek and Latin poetry reveals that many ancient poets solved the “riddle” of how Aratus’s acrostic relates to Homer’s.

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  • 1 I would like to thank the editors and anonymous reviewers for their many excellent suggestions for (...)
  • 2 I borrow this useful term from Julia Hejduk.

1In Part I of this article, I argued that Aratus gives clues in his text that explain why he models his LEPTĒ acrostic (Phaen. 783–87), which appears in a discussion of the moon, on Homer’s LEUKĒ acrostic (Il. 24.1–5). These clues reveal that Aratus connected the LEUKĒ acrostic to astronomical light, whether of the dawn (as in opening of Iliad 24), the moon (as in Homer’s bay-horse/moon simile from Iliad 23.454–55), or even the “gleam” (αἴγλη) of Olympus (Od. 6.45). Aratus thus initiates a tradition in Greek and Roman literature of using acrostics to engage allusively with prior acrostics. I would now like to turn to the reception of Aratus’s interpretation of Homer’s acrostic by later poets. Indeed, the ultimate confirmation that Aratus could have drawn connections between the adjective λευκός and astronomical light in Homer is found in the later poets who signal in various ways their understanding of what Aratus has done. These later poets thus continue the “acrostic conversation”2 inaugurated by Aratus when he used his own acrostic passage to apply contextual meaning to the presumably accidental collocation of letters (LEUKĒ) at the start of Iliad 24.1-5.

2I have divided my discussion of the reception of Aratus’s acrostic into four main categories: 1) passages that focus on white, astronomical light 2) passages that focus on Homer’s moon simile in Iliad 23 to describe the spot on the bay horse’s head; 3) passages that play on the wider context of the LEUKĒ acrostic at the beginning of Iliad 24, namely Achilles’ sleepless night yearning for Patroclus; and 4) passages that play on the nymph Aegle and her connection to light and/or the poplar tree (another meaning of LEUKĒ). Some of the passages I examine defy fixed categorization by type-scene since often poets relish the opportunity to show their understanding of the many Homeric passages that connect to Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic, and the examples from Apollonius of Rhodes are particularly wide-ranging. What the passages all have in common, besides alluding to Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic, is a recognition of the connection between Homer’s LEUKĒ acrostic and light, and thus they help to make sense of Aratus’s decision to replace Homer’s LEUKĒ acrostic with one describing the slender light of the moon.

3While I try to explain my criteria for finding allusions to these acrostics meaningful in my discussion of each example, I will briefly outline the general markers I use for detecting allusions to Aratus’s interpretation of Homer’s acrostic: the use of λεπτός and λευκός, or closely related words, in conjunction with each other and in a passage that draws closely either on Aratus’ moon passage or one of the Homeric passages connected to the LEUKĒ acrostic, such as the opening of Iliad 24, or the bay-horse/moon simile, seems to be a strong sign of engagement with this strand of the acrostics tradition, especially if occurring in an author known for his interest in acrostics or other wordplay. A passage that makes those connections while also having an acrostic itself is a particularly strong contender for being a meaningfully allusive passage.

  • 3 Robinson 2019a and 2019b.
  • 4 Robinson 2019a. Robinson relates two anecdotes from Diogenes Laertius, one which attributes intenti (...)

4Even so, there will be judgment calls, and I acknowledge that not every instance of slender, white, light, for example, is of necessity an allusion to this acrostic tradition in the absence of other markers recalling particular language or phrasing from Homer and Aratus. Just as it is not always possible to judge whether an acrostic is accidental or intentional, so it is not always possible to have certainty about whether an allusion to an acrostic (or any other type of literary allusion) is intended by the poet or simply in the mind of the reader. Matthew Robinson’s recent set of articles on acrostics in Ovid and Virgil discusses the similar interpretive challenges confronting studies of allusions and acrostics and argues for a “reader response” approach to acrostics, in which acrostics are evaluated on a case-by-case basis for their “markedness” or the possible productive meaning they contribute to a text—an approach that I find useful.3 He also makes the point that the tradition of creating and finding meaning in acrostics dates back to antiquity, as does a parallel tradition of skepticism about the significance of acrostics and an inclination to attribute them to chance.4 Certainly, both attitudes towards acrostics are alive and well among modern scholars, though the proliferation in recent years of articles proposing new acrostics suggests that the ranks of the “believers” are growing. While I do not expect to convince extreme acrostics-skeptics of the existence of all of the acrostic allusions I detail below, I hope to convince those open to the possibility that Greek and Roman poets played these intertextual acrostic games of the plausibility of these examples and of the added meaning they give the texts.

5Of course, there is no better example of a reader foisting meaning and intentionality on an acrostic that likely had neither than Aratus’ reading of Homer—an interpretive situation that may well have been apparent to Aratus and/or his successors, depending on their own notions about how the Iliad was composed. Thus, uncertainty about intentionality was likely embedded early on in the allusive acrostic tradition. For sure, it appears that many poets reveled in making their acrostics quite a challenge to find and interpret, signposts notwithstanding, and such poets must have found meaning precisely in the uncertainty that such difficult-to-appreciate acrostics created in their readers. One of the most egregious examples of a difficult-to-detect acrostic is Virgil’s reversed, skipped line, syllabic, abbreviated-name acrostic in Georgics 1.429-433 (Ma-Ve-Pu), which I will discuss further below. And yet, this is also one of the acrostics that has earned widest (though by no means universal) approval from readers as a meaningful or intentional acrostic. Thus, obscurity and uncertainty are part of the game, and acrostics are frequently better symbolized by the hard-to-see and slender light of the moon than the bright light of the sun.

THE WHITE LIGHT OF DAWN AND THE MOON

6I will begin by looking at authors who pay homage to the LEUKĒ and LEPTĒ acrostics by noting the connection between λευκός (or albus, and related Latin words) and light from the sky in passages that depict the dawn or the moon (or both) and that also contain other clever references to the acrostic passages in Homer and Aratus.

Apollonius of Rhodes

7In Part I of this article, I discussed one way in which Apollonius of Rhodes may have interpreted the Homeric LEUKĒ acrostic, namely as referencing Leucadian Apollo, but there is another passage in Apollonius’s Argonautica that appears to acknowledge the connection Aratus drew between light in Homer and the LEUKĒ/LEPTĒ acrostics (2.669–76):

Ἦμος δ' οὔτ' ἄρ πω φάος ἄμβροτον οὔτ' ἔτι λίην
ὀρφναίη πέλεται, λεπτὸν δ' ἐπιδέδρομε νυκτί 670
φέγγος, ὅτ' ἀμφιλύκην μιν ἀνεγρόμενοι καλέουσιν,
τῆμος ἐρημαίης νήσου λιμέν' εἰσελάσαντες
Θυνιάδος καμάτῳ πολυπήμονι βαῖνον ἔραζε.
τοῖσι δὲ Λητοῦς υἱός, ἀνερχόμενος Λυκίηθεν
τῆλ' ἐπ' ἀπείρονα δῆμον Ὑπερβορέων ἀνθρώπων, 675
ἐξεφάνη·

When there is not yet divine light nor dark night, but a slender light has spread over the night, which men, waking up, call morning twilight, they, having rowed into the harbor of the deserted island Thynias, with woeful toil stepped onto the ground. And the son of Leto appeared, returning from Lycia far away to the countless people of the Hyperboreans.

  • 5 The only poem to use the word after Apollonius is the early third century C.E. Cynegetica, ascribed (...)
  • 6 Kidd 1997: 208 notes the similarities between these three passages but does not make any connection (...)

8Apollonius signals his engagement with Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic, and more specifically, Aratus’s interpretation of Homer’s LEUKĒ acrostic, by using the words λεπτόν (2.670) and ἀμφιλύκην (2.671) in quick succession. Indeed, before Apollonius, the only other instances of ἀμφιλύκη were the single appearances in Homer (Il. 7.433) and Aratus (Phaen. 747) discussed in Part I.5 Apollonius thus connects the word used by Aratus for his acrostic with a Homeric word that, both through its etymological connection to λευκός (Macr. Sat. 1.17.37–39) and through its meaning (“morning twilight”), helps to explain the appearance of LEUKĒ in Iliad 24, as a harbinger of the dawn about to appear to Achilles. In addition, Apollonius pays tribute to Aratus’s substitution, which I discussed in Part I, of λεπτή for Homer’s λευκή in Aratus’s phrase λεπτὴ...ἐπιδέδρομεν αἴγλη (Phaen. 80; cf. λευκὴ δ' ἐπιδέδρομεν αἴγλη, Hom, Od. 6.45) by creating his own version of the substitution: λεπτὸν δ' ἐπιδέδρομε … / φέγγος (670-71).6

  • 7 E.g., Macr. Sat. 1.17.36. See further Maltby 1991: 354, s.v. Lycia and Lycius. In fact, Macrobius’ (...)

9Apollonius plays further on words possibly derived from λευκός when he references Apollo’s departure from Lycia: Lycia and Apollo’s cult-title Lycian were connected by ancient etymologists either to λευκός and the light of the sun or to λύκος (“wolf”).7 Indeed, the sudden epiphany of Apollo seems to replace the appearance of dawn in Iliad 24 (though Apollo also shows up soon after dawn in Iliad 24.18). However, just when it appears that Apollonius has suppressed the importance of dawn to Aratus’s interpretation of Homer’s acrostic (or has alluded to it only through ἀμφιλύκη), Orpheus addresses the Argonauts as they stand in amazement at the epiphany of Apollo (2.686-88):

“Εἰ δ' ἄγε δὴ νῆσον μὲν Ἑωίου Ἀπόλλωνος
τήνδ' ἱερὴν κλείωμεν, ἐπεὶ πάντεσσι φαάνθη
ἠῷος μετιών.”

  • 8 Apollonius pairs his aition for the cult of Apollo Eoios with an aition for the cult of Apollo Aegl (...)

“Come, let us call this island the sacred island of Apollo of the Dawn, since, passing by us at dawn, he appeared to all.”8

  • 9 On the appearance of Apollo in this passage, Hunter 1986: 52 writes, “Apollo’s epiphany is at one l (...)

10Apollonius thus replicates in one passage many of the signals that Aratus included in his poem to connect the LEUKĒ and LEPTĒ acrostics to light from the sky, from the use of the rare word ἀμφιλύκη, to the transformation of the “white gleam” from Odyssey 6.45 into a “slender gleam,” to the “appearance” (φαάνθη; cf. the title Phaenomena, as well as the collocation of this verb with dawn in Phaen. 866 and Il. 24.12.-13) of the light of dawn, instantiated in Apollonius by Apollo of the Dawn.9

Ennius

  • 10 On Ennius’s interest in acrostics, see Cic. Div. 2.111, in which we learn that Ennius embedded the (...)

11Awareness of Aratus’s acrostic and its relationship to Homer’s appears in the Roman world as early as Ennius (Ann. fr. 84-89 Sk.):10

Interea sol albus recessit in infera noctis.
Exin candida se radiis dedit icta foras lux
et simul ex alto longe pulcerrima praepes
laeua uolauit auis. simul aureus exoritur sol
cedunt de caelo ter quattuor corpora sancta
auium, praepetibus sese pulcrisque locis dant.

Meanwhile, the white sun withdrew into the lowest reaches of the night. Then the white light having been struck by the rays shot forth; and, at the same time, from on high, the most propitious by far of swiftly flying birds flew on the left, and simultaneously the golden sun rose. Twelve holy bodies of birds move from the sky, and place themselves in auspicious and favorable locations.

  • 11 Albis 2001: 30. Albis 2001: 26-27 notes that Paul Merula first argued for an interpretation of the (...)
  • 12 O’Hara 1996: 77 similarly suggests that Virgil puns on the name Alba with clari in Aen. 8.48.

12Robert Albis 2001, without drawing any connection to acrostics in Aratus or Homer, makes a good case for interpreting Ennius’s controversial phrase sol albus as referring to the moon: he cites Iliad 23.455, in which the round marking on the horse is described as white and compared to the moon, and suggests that Ennius purposely calls the moon a “white sun” “as an emphatic way to associate the movement of these similar celestial bodies with the twin brothers.”11 Nicolas Meunier 2012: 103-8 supports Albis’ interpretation of sol albus in Ennius and further suggests that Ennius might be playfully referencing Homer’s and Aratus’s acrostics with his use of both “white” and “moon.” I agree with Meunier’s suggestion, but I would go even further: calling the moon a “white sun” does not just allude to the acrostics, but nicely combines the two places in Homer where λευκός is used of astronomical light, namely of the sun in Iliad 14.185 and of the moon in Iliad 23.455. Ennius follows his reference to the white moon with a description of the first light of the day: exin candida se radiis dedit icta foras lux (Ann. fr. 85 Sk.). The fact that this early morning light is also “white” (candida) could function as a bilingual pun if Ennius was aware of the derivation, found in Macrobius (1.17.37-39), of lux from λευκός and *λύκη.12 Ennius underscores the white light of early morning by contrasting it a few lines down with the sol…aureus (fr. 87 Sk.)golden now, and no longer white. Ennius, thus, could be alluding to Aratus’s interpretation of the LEUKĒ acrostic as connected to the white light of dawn at the beginning of Iliad 24 and to Aratus’s linking of Homer’s white-dawn acrostic with the moon.

Lucretius

  • 13 In a forthcoming article, I make a fuller case for the intentional nature of this Lucretian acrosti (...)

13Lucretius makes an even more specific allusion to Aratus’s use of Homer’s LEUKĒ acrostic through an acrostic of his own (LUCE, “with light” or “shine,” 5.712-715) that occurs during a discussion of how the moon shines (5.710-16):13

inde minutatim retro quasi condere lumen 710
debet item, quanto propius iam solis ad ignem
Labitur ex alia signorum parte per orbem;
Ut faciunt, lunam qui fingunt esse pilai
Consimilem cursusque viam sub sole tenere.
Est etiam quare proprio cum lumine possit 715
volvier et varias splendoris reddere formas.

Then, she must gradually hide her light behind, as it were, in the same way, the closer she glides now to the fire of the sun from the other side through the ring of constellations, as they have it who suppose that the moon is similar to a ball and holds the path of her course beneath the sun. There is also the theory that she may revolve with her own light and put forth different phases of brightness.

  • 14 Macrobius’ discussion of the derivation of λύκη (“first morning light) from λευκός (“white”) in Sat (...)
  • 15 I would note, however, that Lucretius uses the adjective luciferam to refer to the moon in 5.726, a (...)
  • 16 The equation of Ino with Leucothea and Matuta is mentioned many times in ancient sources. E.g., Hom (...)

14Lucretius alludes to Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic in his decision to place his acrostic amid a discussion of moonlight. In addition, his use of LUCE, with its etymological connection to LEUKĒ (and its nearly identical pronunciation), makes clear his understanding of the Homeric source of the LEPTĒ acrostic and the connection between that acrostic and astronomical light.14 While Lucretius does not mention dawn or early morning light in this passage—material that would not fit the context of his moon discussion15—his discussion of the moon is preceded by a discussion of dawn, which begins with a reference to dawn as Matuta (5.656-67): tempore item certo roseam Matuta per oras / aetheris auroram differt et lumina pandit (“likewise, at a certain time, Matuta spreads rosy dawn through the regions of the sky and diffuses her light”). Lucretius calls the light of dawn “rosy,” perhaps, as Monica Gale 2009: 156 suggests, in reference to Homer’s “rosy-fingered dawn.” But Lucretius may reference the white light of dawn of Homer’s LEUKĒ acrostic in the choice of the name Matuta, who elsewhere is equated with the goddess Ino, also known as Leucothea.16

Virgil

  • 17 Virgil’s Ma-Ve-Pu acrostic was first discovered by E. L. Brown 1963: 96-114. Further contributions (...)
  • 18 As far as I know, Somerville 2010: 208 is the only scholar to see any subtle references to Homer’s (...)

15I would now like to turn to the most famous and recognized response to Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic, namely Virgil’s name acrostic, Ma-Ve-Pu (i.e., Publius Vergilius Maro), in G. 1.429-433, lines which correspond closely in content to the discussion of the moon in the passage containing Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic. Virgil’s acrostic response to Aratus in this passage has been well covered in the secondary literature and, I think, convincingly demonstrated to be intentional despite the obscure features of Virgil’s wordplay, as a backwards, skipped line, syllabic acrostic.17 But does Virgil also signal acknowledgment of the Homeric LEUKĒ acrostic18 and, more importantly, does he acknowledge the connection between that acrostic and the light of dawn? I believe he does. In fact, he bookends the Georgics acrostic passage with subtle references to Homer’s dawn. He begins (1.424-26):

Si uero solem ad rapidum lunasque sequentis
ordine respicies, numquam te crastina fallet
hora,
neque insidiis noctis capiere serenae.

But if indeed you will pay attention to the swift sun and the moons that follow in order, never will tomorrow’s hour catch you unawares, nor will you be deceived by the treachery of a clear night.

  • 19 E.g., Aen. 4.118-19, 8.170, 10.244, 12.76-77 (of Aurora).
  • 20 There could also be a play on the similar sounds of Aurora and hora. For puns on Aurora and similar (...)

16Virgil’s phrase numquam te crastina fallet / hora (425-26) is very close in diction, meaning, and line placement to Homer’s description of the appearance of dawn in Iliad 24.12-13: οὐδέ μιν ἠὼς / φαινομένη λήθεσκεν. Crastinus in Virgil is elsewhere only used of the first light of day or of Aurora herself.19 Thus, the phrase crastina … hora, especially when juxtaposed to noctis…serenae, would naturally bring to mind the dawn.20 In addition, the verb fallere can be used as a synonym of λάνθανω to mean “escape the notice of” (as opposed to “deceive”) (OLD, s.v. fallo 6).

17Virgil rounds out his acrostic passage with a reference to the vows paid by sailors “to Glaucus, Panopea, and Melicertes, son of Ino” (Glauco et Panopeae et Inoo Melicertae, 1.437). As Gellius (NA 13.27.1-2) tells us, Virgil nearly translates here a line of Parthenius but makes one change: instead of describing Melicertes as εἰναλίῳ (“of the sea”), Virgil inserts Inoo (“son of Ino”). This change is significant for my argument because of the connection I mentioned previously between Dawn (Mater Matuta), Ino, and Leucothea: with this substitution of Ino, Virgil manages to end his passage with a subtle reference both to the color white and to the dawn.

  • 21 On the overlap between pallidus and albus, see Mankin 1995: 149; André 1949: 28.
  • 22 As Thomas 1988: 1.142 notes, this line overlays Aratean material with Homeric language—a perfect co (...)
  • 23 Virgil underscores this unusual epithet (pallida) of Dawn in the Georgics by omitting it in the sub (...)

18Just in case the alert reader has still missed the subtle evocation of the white dawn in his moon passage, when Virgil next turns to a description of the signs that the sun gives, he describes Dawn as “pale” (1.446-47): aut ubi pallida surget / Tithoni croceum linquens Aurora cubile (“or when pale Dawn, leaving the golden couch of Tithonus, will rise…”).21 Virgil’s language in his Georgics description of dawn recalls Homeric descriptions of Ἠώς but with an important change, summed up by Michael Putnam 1979: 66: “Virgil has … changed the emphasis from Tithonus’ glory to the contrast between his colorful chamber and her pallor at departure.”22 In fact, Lee Fratantuono 2013: 309, in his study of Aurora in the Aeneid, calls this line “the grim, sole occasion where the poet describes the dawn as pale.”23 Virgil, thus, gives yet another indication the association between λευκός and astronomical light in Homer inspired Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic, and Virgil’s own.

19There is another appearance of early morning light in the Georgics (3.324-26) that may pay tribute to the LEUKĒ and LEPTĒ acrostics, as well as the LUCE acrostic of Lucretius:

Luciferi primo cum sidere frigida rura
carpamus, dum mane nouum, dum gramina canent,
et ros in tenera pecori gratissimus herba.

Let us seize the cool fields when Lucifer first appears, while the morning is new, while the grass is white, and the dew on the tender blade most pleasing to the cattle.

  • 24 Primo could also be a cue word for the reader to look at the “first” letters of the lines. On the u (...)
  • 25 On tener as an aesthetic equivalent of λεπτός, see Klooster 2013: 348 (with references).
  • 26 While Aratus does not use μήνη of the moon, he does frequently use the similar-sounding word μείς, (...)

20These lines form a LuCE acrostic, which is reinforced by the line-initial Luciferi, the word used of the moon shortly after Lucretius’ LUCE acrostic passage (5.726).24 Virgil twice focuses on the early morning hour in these lines, and there may be a reference to LEPTĒ in the adjective tener,25 and LEUKĒ in the verb canent. Finally, mane nouum may contain a bilingual pun, meaning both “new morning,” which connects to Homer’s LEUKĒ acrostic, and “new moon,” if mane can suggest μήνη (“moon”), which connects to Aratus’s discussion of the new moon in the LEPTĒ acrostic passage.26

Ovid

21Ovid responds to Aratus’s interpretation of Homer’s acrostic in a typically over-determined fashion. In Book 15 of the Metamorphoses, in his treatise on the principle of constant change in the universe, Pythagoras describes how the night and day continually change into one another (15.186-98):

Cernis et emensas in lucem tendere noctes,
et iubar hoc nitidum nigrae succedere nocti;
nec color est idem caelo, cum lassa quiete
cuncta iacent media cumque albo Lucifer exit
clarus equo rursusque alius, cum praevia lucis 190
tradendum Phoebo Pallantias inficit orbem.
ipse dei clipeus, terra cum tollitur ima,
mane rubet, terraque rubet cum conditur ima,
candidus in summo est, melior natura quod illic
aetheris est terraeque procul contagia fugit. 195
nec par aut eadem nocturnae forma Dianae
esse potest umquam semperque hodierna sequente,
si crescit, minor est, maior, si contrahit orbem.”

You see how the nights, having been passed, stretch into day, and this shining splendor succeeds the black night; nor does the sky have the same color, when everything lies exhausted in the middle of the night and when bright Lucifer comes out on his white horse, and again another, when Dawn, herald of the light, stains the world about to be handed over to Phoebus. The shield itself of the god in the morning blushes red when it is raised from the lowest earth, and it blushes red again when it is buried in the lowest earth; it is shining white at its height, because the nature of the heavens is better there and at a distance flees the contagion of the earth. Nor is the shape of nocturnal Diana ever able to be equal or the same, and always, if she is waxing, she is less than on the following day, or greater, if she is waning.”

22Damschen 2004: 102-6 discovered a five-letter acrostic in lines 194-98 (CANES, “you are white”) and nicely connects it to the five-letter acrostics in Homer and Aratus. Indeed, through the acrostic CANES, which encompasses Pythagoras’ discussion of the moon, Ovid is able to allude simultaneously to LEUKĒ and LEPTĒ by applying the white color of Homer’s acrostic to the topic (the moon) of Aratus’s acrostic. Yet, Damschen does not consider the possibility that Ovid is also revealing his deeper understanding of the connection between Homer’s and Aratus’s acrostics. I argue that once again, we have a poet who demonstrates his understanding of how Aratus connected Homer’s LEUKĒ acrostic to light. Ovid outdoes Aratus, however, by not just noting the use of λευκός for the sun and the moon (and, by dint of the LEUKĒ acrostic, the dawn) in Homer, but by filling in the rest of the colors of the day and night in the lines leading up to the acrostic (Met. 15.186-93).

  • 27 For the useful term “gamma-acrostic,” see Morgan 1993.
  • 28 E.g., Fast. 5.374: … et niveos Luna levarit equos (“…and the Moon unyoked her white horses”).
  • 29 Ovid’s mention of the moon’s forma (196) could correspond to Aratus’s description of the “shapes” t (...)

23The three types of light that Ovid denotes as “white” are the light of the morning star (albo Lucifer…clarus equo, 189-90), the light of the sun at its peak (candidus, 194), and, by implication, the light of the moon through the acrostic CANES, which forms almost a gamma-acrostic with the related word candidus.27 Indeed, since the acrostic begins with the line describing the sun at its peak, it should really apply to both the sun and the moon—a fact that Damschen leaves out but that nicely ties Ovid’s acrostic into the use of λευκός once for the moon and once for the sun in Homer. In fact, but for the acrostic, an explicit color-term is noticeably absent from the moon in this passage: while elsewhere Ovid is happy to describe the moon as white,28 and while the acrostic in these lines may imply as much, Ovid actually has Pythagoras suddenly change from describing the color of astronomical light to describing the shape of the moon. In doing so, Ovid parallels the emphasis that Aratus placed on the slender shape of his moon and at the same time alludes to the color-based source of the LEPTĒ acrostic through CANES.29

  • 30 Cf. also Lucifer albus in Tr. 3.5.56.
  • 31 For a similar suggestion of a play on Pallas and pallentia in Verg. Aen. 10.822, see Fontaine 2016: (...)
  • 32 See also Ov. Tr. 3.5.55; Fast. 3.877; Fast. 5.548-49; Met. 4.629-30; Met.11.295-96. Lucifer also fr (...)
  • 33 Ovid also emphasizes the importance of lux in this passage with the initial signposting phrase cern (...)

24But what of Homer’s LEUKĒ ἠώς or “white light of dawn”? While it is true that Ovid uses the color “white” for Lucifer instead of for Aurora (here called Pallantias),30 perhaps he is simply adding precision (as well as etymological play on λευκός/Lucifer and albus) to a tradition in which the white light of the early day is sometimes specifically attached to the morning star and sometimes more vaguely to dawn. Indeed, pseudo-Lactantius’ comment on Statius’ descriptions of the pale light of dawn (Theb. 2.333-34) nicely specifies that the source of the white light of dawn is the morning star (primo enim aurora cum luciferi candore pallescit…, “for at first dawn is pale with the brilliance of the morning star”). Ovid does not say exactly what the color of dawn is, but only that it is “again another color” (rursusque alius) and prepares the way for the red color of Phoebus in the morning (190-93). But maybe the name Ovid chooses for Aurora, namely Pallantias, plays on the epithet attached to Aurora shortly after Virgil’s own intervention in the moon-acrostic tradition, namely pallida (G. 1.446).31 Finally, Ovid’s description of dawn as the “herald of the light” (praevia lucis) furthers the confusion or conflation between the white light of the morning star and of dawn: elsewhere in Ovid, Lucifer is described in a similar manner as the “herald of dawn” (praevia Aurorae, Ov. Her. 18.112).32 Perhaps by attaching praevia lucis to the dawn in his own contribution to the moon-acrostic tradition, Ovid is even signaling that he recognizes the importance of dawn as a forerunner of not only of light, but of the LEUKĒ/LEPTĒ/LUCE acrostic tradition.33

Valerius Flaccus

  • 34 See Castelletti 2008; 2012; 2014.

25Valerius Flaccus, an author adept at acrostics,34 also shows himself a subtle reader of Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic and, in a brief description of early dawn, reveals his understanding of its connection to Homer’s LEUKĒ acrostic (3.257-58):

  • 35 In lines so heavily focused on the tradition of acrostics, it might be worth noting that Colborn 20 (...)

ecce levi primo iam spargere35 lumine portus
orta dies notaeque (nefas) albescere turres.

Behold, the day having risen now scatters the port with the first slender light, and the known towers (the horror!) begin to grow white.

  • 36 Cf. Weichert 1812: 50-51, who compares Valerius Flaccus’s levi primo…lumine to the λεπτὸν φέγγος of (...)

26In these two lines, Valerius Flaccus may point to a connection between the LEUKĒ acrostic and dawn by emphasizing the color white in the first morning light (albescere). But Valerius Flaccus does not just reference the LEUKĒ acrostic: I would argue that the adjective levi (“slight”) constitutes Valerius’ translation of λεπτός and that its application to the first light of day is an homage to Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic.36

HOMER’S BAY HORSE AND THE MOON

27In Part I, I argued that Aratus likely noticed that Homer uses the adjective λευκός once in conjunction with the moon, in a simile that also contains another key color of the moon from Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic passage, namely “red” (cf. ἐρευθής, Phaen. 784). Thus, in addition to signaling appreciation of Aratus’s interpretation of Homer’s acrostic by calling attention to the white light of the dawn or moon, poets may call attention to Aratus’s interpretation of Homer more specifically by alluding to this simile, which describes the white round spot on a bay horse’s head and prominently contrasts its white and red colors (Il. 23.454-55):

ὃς τὸ μὲν ἄλλο τόσον φοῖνιξ ἦν, ἐν δὲ μετώπῳ
λευκὸν σῆμα τέτυκτο περίτροχον ἠΰτε μήνη.

In the rest of his body he was red, but on the middle of his forehead was a white mark round like the moon.

Apollonius of Rhodes

28Apollonius of Rhodes finds yet another way to signal appreciation of the Homeric inspiration for Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic, this time by describing the monster Talos in language reminiscent of Homer’s bay horse (4.1645-48):

ἀλλ' ἤτοι τὸ μὲν ἄλλο δέμας καὶ γυῖα τέτυκτο
χάλκεος ἠδ' ἄρρηκτος, ὑπαὶ δέ οἱ ἔσκε τένοντος
σύριγξ αἱματόεσσα κατὰ σφυρόν· ἀμφ' ἄρα τήνγε
λεπτὸς ὑμὴν ζωῆς ἔχε πείρατα καὶ θανάτοιο.

In the rest of his body and limbs he was wrought of bronze and unbreakable, but there was a blood-red vein beneath the tendon by his ankle; around this a thin membrane made the difference between life and death.

  • 37 While I referenced previously in Part I Cusset’s 2002: 192 theory that Aratus may have playfully co (...)

29The contrast between the blood-red color of the vein and the bronze body of the giant recalls the similar contrast between the white spot on the horse and its red body. In comparing this passage to the Homeric horse passage, Hunter 2015: 300 adds that “δέμας is there [Il. 23.454] a weakly attested variant for τόσον, cf. 1.731-2, Ap. Soph. 164.29 Bekker.” Thus, Apollonius seems to be showing his interest in Homeric scholarship in his substitution of δέμας for τόσον. Apollonius makes clear the complex purpose of his allusion when he follows it with a word that could allude to Aratus’s own play on his name (ἄρρηκτος, 4.1646; cf. ἄρρητον in Phaen. 2),37 along with a reference to Aratus’s acrostic (λεπτός, 4.1648).

Moschus

30Moschus, the second century B.C.E. author of the Europa, combines references to Homer’s moon simile, Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic, and Apollonius’s Talos description in his own description of Zeus as a bull, whose horns are compared to a crescent moon (Eur. 84-88):

τοῦ δή τοι τὸ μὲν ἄλλο δέμας ξανθόχροον ἔσκε,
κύκλος δ' ἀργύφεος μέσσῳ μάρμαιρε μετώπῳ, 85
σσε δ' ὑπογλαύσσεσκε καὶ ἵμερον ἀστράπτεσκεν.
σά τ' ἐπ' ἀλλήλοισι κέρα ἀνέτελλε καρήνου
ντυγος ἡμιτόμου κεραῆς ἅτε κύκλα σελήνης.

The other part of his body was gold in color, but a silver-white circle gleamed on the center of his forehead, and his eyes glanced from beneath and flashed forth desire. His horns, equal to one another, rose from his head like the circle of the horned moon, its rim cut in half.

  • 38 Moschus’s choice of word for “white” in this passage (ἀργύφεος) is relatively rare and may allude t (...)
  • 39 Leonidas of Tarentum’s epigram on Homer (Anth. Pal. 9.24.1) also uses κύκλα σελήνης.
  • 40 Moschus may have also been inspired to refer to the Talos passage in his Europa due to Talos’ mytho (...)
  • 41 Perhaps Moschus alludes not just to Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic in his reference to the crescent moon, (...)

31As Homer did with his bay horse, Moschus focuses on the contrast in color between the silver-white (ἀργύφεος) spot on the bull’s head and his golden body.38 While Moschus does not explicitly compare this circle to the moon as Homer does, he implicitly does so by using the term κύκλος to describe it—the same term applied to the moon in line 88, and the same term used by Aratus of the full moon in Phaenomena 796.39 Moschus signals his appreciation of Apollonius’s use of this Homeric simile in his Talos passage by exactly repeating Apollonius’s phrase τὸ μὲν ἄλλο δέμας (cf. Argon. 4.1645).40 He further shows his understanding of the connection of both Homer’s simile and Apollonius’s Talos description to Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic by including a moon simile that prominently mentions the horns of the moon as a comparison to the horns of the bull and thus picks up on Aratus’s prominent references to the horns of the moon in his LEPTĒ passage and its surrounding lines (cf. Phaen. 778, 780, 785, 788, 790, 794, 800).41

  • 42 See Matthews 1996: 333-34 (building on West 1966). I would also note that Lucretius compares the sh (...)

32In addition, Moschus may pay homage to the Homeric-Aratean acrostic tradition in this passage with an acrostic of his own, namely KOIA (85-88), a word that Herodian glosses as ἡ σφαῖρα (“ball, globe, sphere”) in his explanation of its use in Antimachus (1.302.7 Lentz). Both σφαῖρα and κύκλος can be used of the shape of stars or planets or groups of stars or planets. While κοία is a rare word, and may in fact refer to round stones in the Antimachus passage,42 I would still suggest that Moschus may be creating a quasi-gamma acrostic by initiating the KOIA acrostic with the word κύκλος in line 85, a word that is also repeated in the last line of the acrostic (88) and is a synonym of κοία. If this is an intentional acrostic, then Moschus seems to be intentionally choosing the other adjective that Homer uses to describe the moon-like mark on his horse’s forehead as the inspiration for his acrostic—i.e., not λευκός, but περίτροχος (“round”).

Horace

33Horace’s Odes 4.2 ends with a description of two contrasting sacrifices to Augustus. This description is laden with metapoetic meaning and also shows a keen understanding of Aratus’s use of Homer’s moon simile as inspiration for his LEPTĒ acrostic (4.2.53-60):

te decem tauri totidemque vaccae,
me tener solvet vitulus, relicta
matre qui largis iuvenescit herbis 55
in mea vota,
fronte curvatos imitatus ignis
tertium lunae referentis ortum,
qua notam duxit, niveus videri,
cetera fulvus. 60

Ten bulls and so many cows will discharge your vow; me, a tender calf will discharge, who, having left behind its mother, grows to maturity amid abundant grass in accordance with my vows, having imitated on its brow the curved fire of the moon bringing on its third rising; where it has a marking, it appears white; in the rest it is tawny.

  • 43 E.g., Davis 1991: 142-43; Harrison 1995: 125-27; Thomas 2011: 120-21.
  • 44 Klooster 2013: 350. For the acrostic, see Thomas 2011: 104, who records John Henderson’s unpublishe (...)

34As several scholars have recognized, Horace’s contrast between the ten bulls and cows of Iullus Antonius and his one tender calf makes a symbolic point about the epic quality of Iullus’ poetry and the Callimachean quality of Horace’s.43 In addition, Klooster 2013 has recently made clear that Horace’s slender poetry is also Aratean by teasing out the allusions to Moschus, Europa 84-88 and Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic in this densely metapoetic conclusion to Horace Odes 4.2. She first notes that Horace’s use of tener in 4.2.54 could connote the Greek stylistic term λεπτός (4.2.54) (Klooster 2013: 348). She then argues that Horace describes the vitulus (=μόσχος in Greek) with language that evokes Moschus’ description of the bull’s head in the Europa (84-88) (Klooster 2013: 348-49). However, she notes that the detail regarding the third rising of the moon in Horace does not correspond to anything in Moschus and so concludes that it is a reference to the passage of Aratus’s Phaenomena that contains the LEPTĒ acrostic and the description of the horns of the moon at its third rising (Klooster 2013: 349). She also suggests that the niveus (“white”) color of the marking on the calf in 4.2.59 could refer to the LEUKĒ acrostic in Homer; that the infinitive videri could evoke the title of the Phaenomena (Greek φαίνεσθαι); and that the “red” (fulvus) color of the rest of the calf could bring to mind the red of Aratus’s moon in Phaenomena 784 (Klooster 2013: 350). Finally, she notes the wordplay with which Horace begins Ode 4.2, which contains a partial acrostic (P-I-N-N) and an anagram (pinnis...daturus, 4.2.3), both of which play on the name Pindar and on the pinnis (“wings”) of Icarus.44

  • 45 Putnam 2016: 120-21 notes the importance of Homer’s bay horse as a model for Horace’s vitulus and s (...)

35 I agree completely with Klooster’s important connection of this passage in Horace with the descriptions in Moschus and Aratus. However, Klooster leaves out the crucial model passage that inspired both Moschus and Aratus, namely the description in Iliad 23.454-55 of the bay horse.45 I will repeat the three key passages below to make clear that Horace is not just referring to Moschus but in fact is referring back to his (and Aratus’s) model:

1) Homer Iliad 23.454-55

ὃς τὸ μὲν ἄλλο τόσον φοῖνιξ ἦν, ἐν δὲ μετώπῳ
λευκὸν σῆμα τέτυκτο περίτροχον ἠΰτε μήνη.

2) Moschus Europa 84-85

τοῦ δή τοι τὸ μὲν ἄλλο δέμας ξανθόχροον ἔσκε,
κύκλος δ' ἀργύφεος μέσσῳ μάρμαιρε μετώπῳ

3) Horace Odes 4.2.59-60

qua notam duxit, niveus videri
cetera fulvus

  • 46 The metapoetic meaning of this passage is reinforced by the use of the word imitatus in 4.2.57, whi (...)

36While all three versions share many similarities, as the emboldened words make clear, Horace retains a significant word from the Homeric original that is missing from Moschus, namely σῆμα (Il. 23.455), which Horace translates with notam (4.2.59), the second word in the line just as σῆμα is. In fact, he retains in a sense the entire Homeric phrase λευκὸν σῆμα, but changes the syntax (notam…niveus). With this repetition, Horace is not simply alluding to the LEUKĒ acrostic: by placing the reference to the Homeric moon simile immediately after his reference to Aratus’s acrostic (tertium lunae referentis ortum, 4.2.58), Horace is alluding to the connection that Aratus made between the Homeric acrostic, the Homeric description of the moon, and his own acrostic. Since the verb ducere can mean to “derive, obtain from a source” (OLD, s.v. duco 27), Horace’s phrasing here, qua notam duxit (“where it has a mark,” 4.2.59), could even form a metapoetic question, “[from] where did he [Aratus] derive his symbol?” Horace provides the answer in this stanza (4.2.57-60) by explicitly linking the λεπτή moon of Aratus to the LEUKĒ acrostic by way of the white moon-shaped mark on the horse in Iliad 23.454-55.46

ACHILLES’ AND ARATUS’S ΑΓΡΥΠΝΙΑ

37Another group of passages that pay tribute to Aratus’s use of Homer’s LEUKĒ acrostic do so by drawing on the wider context of the acrostic, namely Achilles’ sleepless night in which he yearns for Patroclus and waits for the light of dawn so that he can be reunited with him (or at least his tomb).

Apollonius of Rhodes

  • 47 The beginning of Iliad 24 has engendered controversy since antiquity due to the erotic undertones o (...)

38Once again, Apollonius of Rhodes provides a model of such engagement in his depiction of Medea’s sleepless night in Book 3. Gabriel Laguna-Mariscal and Manuel Sanz-Morales 2005 argue that Apollonius of Rhodes draws clear connections with Achilles’ sleepless night at the beginning of Iliad 24 in his depiction of Medea’s night in Argonautica 3.744-60. Their main concern is to show that Apollonius of Rhodes might have interpreted Achilles’ feelings for Patroclus as erotic based on his use of the passage to depict Medea, and they do not consider whether Apollonius is making any comment on Aratus’s use of the acrostic drawn from this passage.47 But I would argue that Aratus and the LEUKĒ acrostic are very much on Apollonius’s mind as he crafts this episode. He gives the episode an Aratean framework by introducing the night with astronomical references, particularly to the Bear, referred to as Ἑλίκην (3.745), and Orion, the stars which sailors look for from their ships on the ocean (3.744-46). Aratus similarly notes the importance of these stars to sailors (Phaen. 37-41; Phaen. 323-25, 730-31) and is also the first to use the name Ἑλίκη for the Great Bear (Kidd 1997: 188).

39 Like Achilles’, Medea’s sleepless night ends with the longed-for appearance of dawn (3.819-24):

ἐέλδετο δ' αἶψα φανῆναι
ἠῶ τελλομένην
, ἵνα οἱ θελκτήρια δοίη 820
φάρμακα συνθεσίῃσι καὶ ἀντήσειεν ἐς ὠπήν.
πυκνὰ δ' ἀνὰ κληῖδας ἑῶν λύεσκε θυράων,
αἴγλην σκεπτομένη· τῇ δ' ἀσπάσιον βάλε φέγγος
Ἠριγενής

She was hoping that the rising dawn would quickly appear, so that she might give him the enchanting drugs according to her agreement and meet him face to face. Frequently she loosened the bolts from her doors to watch for the gleam of light. And Dawn cast a welcome light on her…

  • 48 On the programmatic importance of sight in the Phaenomena, as well as a list of the appearances of (...)

40Medea’s hopeful watching for dawn conflates the two passages from the Iliad which Aratus seems to have taken note of for their links between dawn and his Phaenomena, as discussed in Part I, namely Iliad 9.240 (ἀρᾶται δὲ τάχιστα φανήμεναι Ἠῶ δῖαν·) and Iliad 24.12-13 (οὐδέ μιν ἠὼς / φαινομένη λήθεσκεν). The context, of dawn appearing after a sleepless night of longing for a beloved, fits Iliad 24’s appearance of dawn, while the expression of desire for it to appear quickly and the use of the infinitive recall Iliad 9.240. The phrase αἴγλην σκεπτομένη (Argon. 3.823) adds to the Aratean connection: not only are both of these words utilized in the lines leading up to the LEPTĒ acrostic (Σκέπτεο… / … αἴγλῃ, 778-79), but αἴγλη is also one of the key bridge words connecting the LEUKĒ and LEPTĒ acrostics in Homer and Aratus, as I have noted, due to Aratus’ near-repetition of Odyssey 6.45 in Phaen. 80 but with the replacement of λευκὴ…αἴγλη by λεπτὴ… αἴγλη. In addition, forms of σκέπτομαι are extremely frequent in the Phaenomena, while σκεπτομένη in 3.823 is the sole appearance of any form of the verb in Apollonius of Rhodes.48

41 Following his description of Medea’s sleepless night, Apollonius also alludes to the two times in the Iliad in which Homer describes astronomical light with the word λευκός, namely the scene in which Hera dresses herself for her seduction of Zeus, and particularly throws a veil over herself that is “white, like the sun” (Il. 14.184-85), and the now familiar scene in which a bay horse has a spot on its head that is “white and round like the moon” (Il. 23.454-55). These passages are subtly woven together in the opening and closing of Medea’s dressing scene, which follows the appearance of Dawn (3.828-29 and 834-35):

Ἡ δ' ἐπεὶ οὖν τὰ πρῶτα φαεινομένην ἴδεν ἠῶ
παρθενική, ξανθὰς μὲν ἀνήψατο χερσὶν ἐθείρας…
ἀμβροσίῳ δ' ἐφύπερθε καρήατι βάλλε καλύπτρην
ἀργυφέην·

As soon as the maiden saw dawn appear, she gathered her golden hair in her hands…
And above her divine head she threw a silver-white veil.

42Apollonius begins the passage with a reiteration of the appearance of Dawn and uses the same words that Homer used to describe the appearance of dawn shortly after the LEUKĒ acrostic (ἠὼς / φαινομένη, Il. 24.12-13). He then moves on to a description of Medea’s perfuming and robing herself, a scene based on Hera’s own scene of robing in preparation for the seduction of Zeus (Il. 14.170-86). Particularly similar to Medea’s dressing scene is the description of Hera’s veiling herself—the description that contains the crucial simile comparing the whiteness of the veil to the sun (Il. 14.184-85):

κρηδέμνῳ δ' ἐφύπερθε καλύψατο δῖα θεάων
καλῷ νηγατέῳ· λευκὸν δ' ἦν ἠέλιος ὥς·

The most excellent of goddesses threw over herself a beautiful, newly made veil; it was white like the sun.

43Apollonius recalls Homer’s phrasing by placing ἐφύπερθε in the same metrical position as Homer—the only time in either author that this word appears in this metrical position. Hunter 1989: 187 suggests that “the model for Medea’s veiling is three Homeric verses used for Calypso and Circe (Od. 5.230-2, 10.543-5).” I agree that these verses are also evoked and would add that they prominently utilize the adjective λεπτός, as discussed in Part I. By alluding to Hera’s, Calypso’s, and Circe’s veils, Apollonius manages to allude to the key adjectives λευκός and λεπτός, while suppressing direct mention of either one.

  • 49 When Moschus wants to evoke the contrast between the red and white of Homer’s horse in his descript (...)

44One difference between Apollonius’s description of Medea’s hair and veil and Homer’s description of Hera’s is that Apollonius presents a color contrast between the red-gold hair (ξανθὰς) of Medea and the silver-white veil (ἀργυφέην). Hera’s hair is simply “shining” (φαεινούς, 14.176). While this detail may seem trivial, Apollonius’s specification of the color of Medea’s hair could evoke the color contrast between the red horse and the white spot on its head (Il. 23.454-55), the other instance in the Iliad in which Homer uses λευκός to describe astronomical light.49

  • 50 On the problems of dating the Aetia and its relative chronology to the Argonautica, see Hunter 1989 (...)
  • 51 As discussed in Part I, Leonidas of Tarentum (Anth. Pal. 9.24) compares Homer to the sun, which out (...)
  • 52 In this context, perhaps the simile comparing Medea to Artemis in the lines following the carriage (...)

45Medea’s dressing scene in Book 3 is followed by a carriage ride with her maids along a “broad path” (εὐρεῖαν κατ' ἀμαξιτόν, 3.874) and the lifting up of their “fine robes as far as their white knees” (χιτῶνας / λεπταλέους λευκῆς ἐπιγουνίδος ἄχρις, 874-75)—verses that “irresistibly call to mind the proem to Callimachus’s Aitia” (Hunter 1989: 193).50 Of course, these verses also bring together the two acrostics that exemplify the poetics of Homer the “sun poet” and Aratus the “moon poet.”51 Thus, in Book 3, Apollonius manages to connect Achilles’ sleepless night to the LEUKĒ acrostic by referencing all the instances in which light is associated with the color white in Homer and so subtly reveals why Aratus himself applied Homer’s acrostic to the light of the moon and how his doing so exemplifies the Aratean quality of λεπτότης.52

Catullus (and Callimachus and Lucretius)

46Like Apollonius, Catullus in Poem 50 draws a connection between Achilles’ sleepless night in Book 24, Homer’s LEUKĒ acrostic, and Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic. After recounting a wonderful day of writing poetry together with Licinius, Catullus expresses his torment upon parting from his friend (50.7-13):

atque illinc abii tuo lepore
incensus, Licini, facetiisque,
ut nec me miserum cibus iuvaret,
nec somnus tegeret quiete ocellos, 10
sed toto, indomitus furore, lecto
versarer cupiens videre lucem,
ut tecum loquerer, simulque ut essem.

And I departed from there inflamed by your charm, Licinius, and your wit, so that neither food could aid miserable me, nor sleep cover my eyes with rest, but wild with madness, I tossed about on the whole bed, desiring to see the light, so that I could speak with you and be with you.

  • 53 Ellis 1889: 173. Ellis compares indomitus furore in 50.11 to ὕπνος / …πανδαμάτωρ in Il. 24.4-5. See (...)

47It has long been recognized that the beginning of Iliad 24 is one of the subtexts for these lines and that Catullus is modeling his relationship with Licinius on that between Achilles and Patroclus. For example, Robinson Ellis compares Catullus 50.11-12 to Iliad 24.3-6 and 24.9, when Achilles tosses and turns all night thinking of Patroclus.53 On 50.9-10, Ellis 1889: 173 cites as a model Thetis’s concerned words to Achilles about his grief for Patroclus preventing him from sleeping or eating (Il. 24.128-30), but in fact, the beginning of Iliad 24 is also a suitable comparison for these lines since Book 24 begins by contrasting the rest of the troops’ concern with food and sleep to Achilles’ constant lamenting (24.2-3). While the connection of Poem 50 to Book 24 has been recognized, the Aratean implications of that connection for Catullus have not been explored.

  • 54 Cf. Thomas 1979/1999: 39-41.
  • 55 On the relationship between lepos/lepor/lepidus and λεπτότης/λεπτός, see Krostenko 2001: 246-59 (an (...)

48 If Apollonius of Rhodes connected Medea’s erotic sleeplessness both to Achilles’ sleeplessness and Aratus’s artistry through allusions to the LEUKĒ and LEPTĒ acrostics, Catullus even more clearly connects an eroticized rendition of Achilles’ sleepless night with the tradition of poetic sleeplessness as a symbol of Aratean artistry. After all, it is the lepor and facetia of Licinius that inflame Catullus with desire and keep him awake at night.54 Lepor in particular associates Licinius with the Aratean (and Callimachean) quality of λεπτότης (“fineness, subtlety”).55 Richard Thomas 1979/1999: 37-38 argues that Callimachus is the innovator who first applied the erotic motif of sleeplessness, prevalent in Greek New Comedy, to poetic artistry in his epigram hailing the “slender utterances, token of Aratus’s sleeplessness” (χαίρετε λεπταί / ῥήσιες, Ἀρήτου σύμβολον ἀγρυπνίης, 27.3-4 Pf.). But is it possible that it is not just Greek New Comedy (or Aratus’s nocturnal stargazing) that has influenced Callimachus’s application of sleeplessness to Aratus in this epigram? While Hesiod is the first word of this epigram, if one of Callimachus’s goals in this epigram is to hail the LEPTĒ acrostic as a symbol of Aratus’s artistry, then perhaps Homer too has a subtle presence here. In other words, through the mention of λεπταί and ἀγρυπνίης, perhaps Callimachus is pointing to the context of the LEUKĒ acrostic—the most famous of all sleepless nights, that of Achilles at the beginning of Book 24. But whether or not Callimachus unites references to Achilles’ sleepless night with Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic and thus merges the traditions of erotic and poetic sleeplessness, Catullus certainly does so in Poem 50.

  • 56 Cf. Il. 24.14-16. The dawn is again associated with his journey around the tomb of Patroclus in Il. (...)

49 Catullus does not just allude to Aratus’s λεπτότης by the use of lepor in conjunction with allusions to the beginning of Iliad 24; he also more specifically plays on the name Aratus and pays homage to Aratus’s interpretation of Homer’s LEUKĒ acrostic. He does this most clearly in line 12: versarer, cupiens videre lucem. As Ellis 1889: 173 notes, this line picks up on Iliad 9.240 (ἀρᾶται δὲ τάχιστα φανήμεναι Ἠῶ δῖαν), an allusion that Wilhelm Kroll 1959: 90 notes as well. John Finamore 1984: 15 is not convinced by Kroll’s comparison of Catullus 50.12 to Iliad 9.240 because “it is not clear why Catullus would want to drag in either Odysseus’ speech to Achilles or Hector’s desire to see the dawn.” Yet, the parallel makes perfect sense if interpreted as a playful reference to Aratus and his interpretation of the LEUKĒ acrostic. Indeed, I have already discussed in Part I Cusset’s theory that Aratus himself alludes to this line in another acrostic passage (Phaen. 866-70; FAMA in 867-70), in which he repeats Homer’s unusual infinitive φανήμεναι in conjunction with dawn (ἠῶθι, Phaen. 866) and uses a word that, like ἀρᾶται, is suggestive of his name (ἄρραντοι, Phaen. 868). In addition, since dawn also appears next to φαινομένη in Iliad 24.12-13, Catullus may be alluding not just to Hector’s desire for the dawn to appear in Iliad 9.240 but to Achilles’ desire for the dawn to appear in the beginning of Iliad 24. After all, dawn signals his opportunity to be reunited (in a sense) with his beloved Patroclus by dragging Hector’s body around Patroclus’s tomb.56 If Catullus is thinking of the appearance of the dawn in Iliad 24, then it is significant that the word for dawn that Catullus uses is lucem: with this word, which, as I noted previously, sounds close to LEUKĒ and is etymologically related to it, Catullus could also be signaling his understanding of Aratus’s interpretation of Homer’s LEUKĒ acrostic, as reflecting the white light of dawn.

  • 57 Katz 2008: 110 and n3 also mentions and gives bibliography on the connection drawn between arator a (...)

50As one further clue that Catullus is cleverly alluding to Aratus here, he begins line 12 with his own pun on the name of Aratus: while he alludes to the meaning of Homer’s ἀρᾶται from Il. 9.240 with cupiens, he captures the play on Aratus’s name in the same line initial position as ἀρᾶται with the verb versarer. Verso can be used of plowing the land (OLD verso 2) and so is a synonym in Latin of arare, whose perfect passive participle is aratus. As further confirmation that such nameplay could be intentional, I would cite Joshua Katz’s 2008 discovery of similar nameplay on Aratus in Georgics 1.1-2 through the connections between vertere, arare, and Aratus.57 Thus, in a line that roughly translates a Homeric line in which Aratus may have playfully seen his name, Catullus initiates a tradition (in Latin) of playing on verso/verto, arare, and Aratus.

  • 58 E.g., in Poem 64, on which, see Skinner 1976; Giesecke 2000: 10-30; Morisi 2002; Gale 2007: 69-70; (...)

51There is one more poet whom Catullus is likely in dialogue with in Poem 50, namely Lucretius. Since both Lucretius and Catullus were connected to Gaius Memmius, and there are demonstrated connections between their poetry in other places in Catullus’s corpus,58 it is tempting to think that in Poem 50, Catullus is also paying tribute to Lucretius’s interpretation of Aratus and Homer and perhaps announcing to his readers that he has in fact seen Lucretius’s LUCE (cf. videre lucem, 50.12), much as Callimachus hailed Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic in Epigram 27. But there is another relevant passage of Lucretius that Catullus may be paying homage to: not just the LUCE acrostic, but Lucretius’s own tribute to Callimachus’s homage to Aratus’s sleeplessness (1.140-45):

sed tua me virtus tamen et sperata voluptas 140
suavis amicitiae quemvis efferre laborem
suadet
et inducit noctes vigilare serenas
quaerentem dictis quibus et quo carmine demum
clara tuae possim praepandere lumina menti,
res quibus occultas penitus convisere possis. 145

But, nevertheless, your virtue and the hoped for pleasure of your delightful friendship persuade me to undergo any labor and induce me to stay awake through peaceful nights seeking in what words and with what poetry I may finally extend brilliant lights before your mind, with which you may see deeply hidden things.

  • 59 See R. D. Brown 1982: 83; Gale 1994: 107n41; Gee 2013: 65.

52Many scholars having suggested that Lucretius’s description of his poetic ἀγρυπνία alludes to Callimachus’s description of Aratus’s ἀγρυπνία in Epigram 27 Pf.59 In addition, John Henkel 2011: 181-82 has recently noted that Lucretius alludes in the same passage to Leonidas’s praise of Aratus’s toil (Anth. Pal. 9.25.5: αἰνείσθω δὲ καμὼν ἔργον μέγα....) in his own willingness “to undergo any labor” (quamvis efferre labor, Lucr. 1.141). Both of these epigrams evoke Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic, and Lucretius may do so, as well, in these lines. Indeed, Lucretius’s description of his nights as serenas provides another possible connection with Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic: As Emma Gee 2013: 191 notes, Lucretius’s phrase noctes…serenas picks up on Cicero’s phrase nocte serena in his Aratea 104, and this phrase in turn translates Aratus’s καθαρῇ…νυκτί (Phaen. 323). The word καθαρή is significant as the other descriptor of the moon, besides λεπτή, in Phaenomena 783. Since Lucretius has also recently requested that Venus grant the quality of leporem to his verses (1.28) and now places his poetic ἀγρυπνία on a night that is καθαρή, it seems likely that he is linking his own poetic ἀγρυπνία to Aratus’s, which had become linked by poets like Callimachus and Leonidas of Tarentum to his LEPTĒ acrostic.

  • 60 E.g., Ov. Tr. 5.4.25-26. Cicero’s Epicurean spokesman, L. Manlius Torquatus, begins his discussion (...)
  • 61 E.g., Epicurus RS 27-28; Sent. Vat. 23, 28, 34, 39, 52, 66, 78; Diog. Laert. 10.120; Cic. Fin. 1.65 (...)

53 I would also suggest that Lucretius’s ἀγρυπνία may evoke not just Aratus’s poetic ἀγρυπνία, but the Homeric context of the inspiration for the LEPTĒ acrostic, namely Achilles’ ἀγρυπνία. Lucretius does this by presenting subtle parallels between his relationship to Memmius and Achilles’ to Patroclus. Indeed, Romans frequently used famous mythical friends like Orestes and Pylades or Achilles and Patroclus as models for ideal friendship,60 and the Epicureans in general placed great emphasis on friendship.61

54Lucretius’s description of his friendship with Memmius adheres to the language of ideal friendship found in Manlius Torquatus’s exposition of Epicurean friendship in De Finibus 1.68: quocirca eodem modo sapiens erit affectus erga amicum, quo in se ipsum, quosque labores propter suam voluptatem susciperet, eosdem suscipiet propter amici voluptatem (“therefore, the wise man will feel towards his friend in the same way as he feels towards himself, and he will undertake the same labors on behalf of the pleasure of his friend as he will undertake on behalf of his own pleasure.”) Thus, while some have doubted the closeness of Lucretius and Memmius, Lucretius’s rhetoric, at least at face value, places Memmius in the position of an ideal friend.

  • 62 Might Memmiadae in 1.26 bring to mind Μενοιτιάδαο (i.e. Patroclus, son of Menoitius) in Il. 24.16? (...)
  • 63 Perhaps in addition to taking on the role of the sleepless Achilles from the beginning of Book 24 i (...)

55But is Memmius Patroclus to Lucretius’s Achilles? Granted, there are no explicit connections, but if Achilles’ sleepless night at the beginning of Iliad 24 is kept in mind, then it is perhaps relevant that Achilles is kept awake remembering the manly virtue and strength of Patroclus (Πατρόκλου ποθέων ἀνδροτῆτά τε καὶ μένος ἠΰ, Il. 24.6), qualities that might be recalled in Lucretius’s reference to Memmius’ virtus (1.140). In addition, Lucretius refers to Memmius in 1.42 with a periphrasis that loosely etymologizes the name Patroclus (“the glory of the father”), namely Memmi clara propago (“the glorious descendant of Memmius”).62 Regardless of whether Lucretius intended his friendship with Memmius to explicitly recall that of Patroclus and Achilles, the combination of ideal friendship, sleeplessness, and poetic ambition evoked in these lines calls to mind the nexus of those themes exemplified by Aratus’s use of the beginning of Iliad 24 for his LEPTĒ acrostic and parallels Catullus’ own linking of those themes in Poem 50.63

Valerius Flaccus

56Valerius Flaccus provides a final example of a passage that draws upon Achilles’ sleepless night and connects it to Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic. Once again, Medea’s sleepless night is the setting (Argon. 7.21-22):

tum iactata toro <to>tumque experta cubile
ecce videt tenui candescere limen Eoo.

Then, having tossed on the couch and tried all parts of the bed, behold, she sees the threshold grow white with the slender light of the morning star.

  • 64 For examples of how the language of remembering or recalling can serve as a trope for literary memo (...)
  • 65 See Perutelli 1997: 171, who compares both Homer’s and Apollonius of Rhodes’s ἀμφιλύκη passages (Il (...)

57Valerius Flaccus alludes to Achilles’ sleepless night by way of Medea’s night in Apollonius’s Argonautica 3 and Catullus’s night in Poem 50 (cf. 7.21 tum iactata toro <to>tumque experta cubile and Cat. 50.11-12 sed toto indomitus furore lecto / versarer). Indeed, Valerius Flaccus seems to wink knowingly at the reader who recognizes the many models for Medea’s sleepless night when he introduces this description with Medea’s reference to herself as pervigil usque (“constantly sleepless,” 7.9) and her question, “why, mad, again and again do I recall your [face]” (quos ego cur iterum demens iterumque recordor, 7.12).64 Just as his models do, Valerius Flaccus follows his description of the sleepless night with a reference to early morning light in a line that alludes to both the LEUKĒ and LEPTĒ acrostics: ecce videt tenui (cf. LEPTĒ) candescere (cf. LEUKĒ) limen Eoo (212).65

AEGLE AND THE POPLAR TREE

58The last type of passage that invokes Aratus’ LEPTĒ acrostic and its use of Homer’s LEUKĒ acrostic involves Aratus’ possible allusion to Aegle and the Hesperides (and/or Heliades) in the lines leading up to his LEPTĒ acrostic and their connection with (black) poplar trees, which in turn might evoke the LEUKĒ ( = white poplar) acrostic. As discussed in Part I, even this aspect of Aratus’ interpretation of Homer’s acrostic has connections to light since Aegle serves double duty as the name of one the Hesperides (and sometimes one of the Heliades, too), as well as the “gleam” (αἴγλη) that was “white” (in Homer, Od. 6.45) and “slender” (Phaen. 80) in Aratus. In addition, in myth, the Hesperides and Heliades all have connections to astronomical light, and even the bicolor leaf of the white poplar has been taken to symbolize the rising and the setting of the sun (Isid. Etym. 17.7.45).

Apollonius of Rhodes

59In Book 4 of the Argonautica, Apollonius utilizes the Hesperides to capture this aspect of Aratus’ engagement with Homer’s acrostic. In particular, Apollonius’s specification of their names lends them a distinctly Aratean hue: the most prominent of the Hesperides in Apollonius’s scene is named Αἴγλη, while her sisters have the similarly significant names Ἑσπέρη, suggestive of their ancestor Hesperus, the evening-star, and Ἐρυθηίς, suggestive of the color red. As noted in Part I, these names recall some of the key words leading up to and in the LEPTĒ acrostic (ἕσπερος αἴγλῃ in Phaen. 779 and ἐρευθής in parallel line-ending position in Phaen. 784). Apollonius also focuses on their transformation into trees, including Hespere’s transformation into a black poplar tree (αἴγειρος, 4.1427), just as the Heliades had transformed earlier in the book (4.604). Apollonius underscores the connections of his poplar trees to the Homeric acrostic by referencing not just the black poplar tree, but the white poplar tree, as well: soon after the appearance of the Hesperides, Apollonius describes the setting for Lynceus’s tomb (4.1476-77):

καί οἱ ὑπὸ βλωθρὴν ἀχερωίδα σῆμα τέτυκται
τυτθὸν ἁλὸς προπάροιθεν.

And for him a tomb was constructed beneath a tall white poplar tree a little before the sea.

  • 66 Hunter 2015: 279 notes that “the meaning of this epithet of trees was disputed in antiquity, but ‘t (...)
  • 67 The white poplar is also associated with Heracles’ conquering of death and return from the underwor (...)

60Apollonius calls attention to his white poplar tree by using not the usual word λεύκη, with its more obvious connection to the acrostic, but instead the rare Homeric term ἀχερωίς, as well as the rare Homeric adjective βλωθρή.66 Pausanias (5.14.2) explains the name ἀχερωίς by noting that Heracles discovered the white poplar on the banks of the Acheron in the Underworld, and Hunter 2015: 280 adds that its use for a warrior cut down on the battle field in Homer makes it “a very appropriate grave-marker.” Perhaps Apollonius’s and Homer’s association of the white poplar with the death of a young warrior suggests that Apollonius is providing yet another contextual reading of the LEUKĒ acrostic, as betokening the death of the young warrior Patroclus.67 In order to ensure that the reader makes the connection between ἀχερωίς, λεύκη, and the LEUKĒ acrostic, Apollonius repeats almost exactly the phrase Homer uses to describe the white spot on the bay horse’s head in Iliad 23 but substitutes ἀχερωίδα for λευκὸν (λευκὸν σῆμα τέτυκτο, 23.455; cf. ἀχερωίδα σῆμα τέτυκται, 4.1476).

61Finally, to help his readers pick up on the Aratean relevance, and not just the Homeric allusions, Apollonius follows the description of the tomb with a moon-simile characterizing Lynceus, who suddenly thinks he sees Heracles in the distance (4.1479-80):

...ὥς τίς τε νέῳ ἐνὶ ἤματι μήνην
ἢ ἴδεν ἢ ἐδόκησεν ἐπαχλύουσαν ἰδέσθαι·

…just as someone sees or thinks he sees the dim moon at the beginning of the month.

62The reference to the new moon brings to mind the context of Aratus’ LEPTĒ acrostic, and Apollonius more specifically points to it by using the present participle ἐπαχλύουσαν (“dim”). The dim moon alludes to the slender moon of the LEPTĒ acrostic by way of an allusion to Phaenomena 893-906, where, as Hunter 2015: 281 points out in comparing the passage to Argonautica 4.1480, “forms of ἀχλύς appear three times.” This passage from the Phaenomena recalls the earlier LEPTĒ acrostic passage by including forms of λεπτός twice (894, 906), including in the line-initial phrase λεπτὸν ἐπαχλύων (“slightly dim,” 906). On this verb, Kidd 1997: 485 comments, “the only other instance of the present participle is in A.R. 4.1480,” and “the astronomical context makes it likely that a deliberate echo of A[ratus] is intended.” The difficult phrase νέῳ ἐνὶ ἤματι (1477) may also be relevant as a pointer not just to the LEPTĒ acrostic, but to the LEUKĒ acrostic, as well. As Hunter 2015: 280 notes on the phrase, “the apparent difficulty of Ap.’s expression has led some to see a reference here to the morning, when the outline of the moon is often still visible, but ‘new day’ would be a very surprising way of expressing that.” Perhaps Apollonius’ difficult expression is meant to reference both the new day or dawn of the LEUKĒ acrostic and the new month or moon of the LEPTĒ acrostic. The Aratean underpinnings of this simile and its possible evocation of the acrostics in Aratus and Homer could also have metapoetic meaning. After all, it is not just Heracles or the moon that is dim, difficult to see, and possibly not even there; the lack of surety about how to interpret what ones sees also characterizes the reading and interpretation of acrostics.

Theocritus

63Theocritus is another contemporary who appears to allude to Aratus’s use of Homer’s LEUKĒ acrostic qua poplar tree. In Idyll 7, Theocritus combines an Aratus-inspired acrostic with a reference to a poplar tree (7.135-37):

πολλαὶ δ' ἄμμιν ὕπερθε κατὰ κρατὸς δονέοντο
αἴγειροι πτελέαι τε· τὸ δ' ἐγγύθεν ἱερὸν ὕδωρ
Νυμφᾶν ἐξ ἄντροιο κατειβόμενον κελάρυζε.

Many black poplars and elms rustled above our heads; the sacred water flowing down from the cave of the Nymphs gushed nearby.

  • 68 See Gow 1952: 2.119. On Aratus’ Hymn to Pan, see Di Gregorio 2016: 103-109.
  • 69 For a review of the evidence regarding the identification of Theocritus’s Aratus with the author of (...)
  • 70 Pendergraft 1986; Sens 1994; Sens 1997: 31-32, 35, 82, 91-92. See also Kidd 1997: 39-41. For the pr (...)

64James Clauss 2003 detected an acrostic in these lines (PAN), which he interprets as a play on the name of the god Pan. However, it could also be a playful reference to Aratus: the PAN acrostic could allude both to Aratus’s PASA acrostic (Phaen. 803-806) and to his Hymn to Pan. While this hymn is known only by title, some have suggested that Aratus’s hymn could lie behind the address to Pan in Idyll 7.103, shortly after the beginning of Simichidas’s song about the love of Aratus for Philinus.68 Most scholars today are skeptical of the suggestion in the scholia to Theocritus that Theocritus’s Aratus, who appears also as the dedicatee of Idyll 6, is to be identified with the author of the Phaenomena. However, the increasing recognition of Theocritus’ engagement with Aratus’s poetry could support the once common assumption that they are the same figure.69 Mary Pendergraft and Alexander Sens have both convincingly demonstrated the influence of Aratus on Idyll 22,70 and I would argue that Theocritus’s PAN acrostic in a song about Aratus constitutes further evidence both of Aratus’s influence on Theocritus and his identification with the figure of Aratus in Theocritus’s poetry.

65 Theocritus clearly wants to bring his readers’ attention to the collocation of “black poplars and elms” since these same trees are repeated near the start of Idyll 7 (7.8). I posit that their significance lies in the allusion to Aratus and specifically to his allusions to the names of the Hesperides that precede his LEPTĒ acrostic and that help to tie his acrostic to Homer’s LEUKĒ acrostic by way of poplar trees and the word for “gleam” (αἴγλη) / the nymph Aegle. After all, the black poplar and elm are precisely the trees that the other two Hesperides, Hespere and Erytheis, turn into in the Argonautica (Aegle herself becomes a willow): Ἑσπέρη αἴγειρος, πτελέη δ' Ἐρυθηὶς ἔγεντο … (“Hespere became a black poplar and Erytheis an elm,” 4.1427).

  • 71 E.g., Hunter 1999: 194.
  • 72 Commentators tend to favor “nightingale” for Theocritus and “frog” for Aratus (e.g., Hunter 1999: 1 (...)

66 Another possible echo of Aratus appears two lines down from the PAN acrostic, when Theocritus describes the singing of a nightingale (or frog?) with the unusual word ὀλολυγών (Id. 7.139-140): ἁ δ' ὀλολυγών / τηλόθεν ἐν πυκιναῖσι βάτων τρύζεσκεν ἀκάνθαις (“the nightingale from afar murmured in the thick thorns of the brambles”). As commentators note, this line likely points to Aratus’ own use of ὀλολυγών in conjunction with the same verb (Phaen. 948): ἢ τρύζει ὀρθρινὸν ἐρημαίη ὀλολυγών· “the solitary frog (or nightingale?) in the morning murmurs.”71 There is debate among both ancient and modern commentators about the meaning of ὀλολυγών, which etymologically refers to a creature that makes some sort of crying noise (cf. ὀλολύζω) and is used elsewhere for both frogs and birds.72 However, the indeterminacy of the creature and the controversial meaning of the word in Aratus is precisely what makes it a useful word for Theocritus to use to make allusions to Aratus. Finally, an Aratean atmosphere for the Idyll may also be created by the prominent reference to the constellations of the Kids and Orion at the beginning of Lycidas’s song (7.53-54). Thus, I would argue that in Theocritus’ most intensely metaliterary Idyll, he pays homage to Aratus, among other poets, as an important contemporary influence on his own poetry.

Virgil

67In Eclogue 6, Virgil also includes an homage to Aratus’s acrostic, and specifically to Aratus’s use of Aegle and the Hesperides to reference the LEUKĒ acrostic. The poem begins with a close imitation of Callimachus’ Aetia prologue (Ecl. 6.3-5) and a declaration of Tityrus’s adherence to the ideal of λεπτότης in the phrases deductum….carmen (“fine-spun song,” 6) and tenui…harundine (“slender reed,” 8). This evocation of λεπτότης (and thus Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic) is then followed by the introduction of Silenus and the Naiad Aegle, along with further allusions to Aratus’s acrostic (6.20-24):

addit se sociam timidisque supervenit Aegle
Aegle Naiadum pulcherrima, iamque videnti
sanguineis frontem moris et tempora pingit.
ille dolum ridens ‘quo vincula nectitis?’ inquit;
‘solvite me, pueri; satis est potuisse videri.

Aegle adds herself as an ally and joins the timid ones, Aegle the most beautiful of the Naiads, and now as he watches, she paints his brow and temples with blood-red mulberries. He, laughing at the trick, says “why do you bind together chains? Release me, boys. It is enough that you were seen to be able.”

  • 73 Virgil might also utilize some signposting words: videnti (6.21), directing the reader “to see” the (...)
  • 74 The Eclogue also closes with Vesper (Evening-Star, 86), the grandfather of the Hesperides, who migh (...)
  • 75 In a forthcoming article, I argue that Catullus was the inspiration for Virgil’s conflation of the (...)

68Adkin 2012: 425n15 has noted a double acrostic in Ecl. 6.14-24 (LAESIS, “for those who have been hurt,” which can be read both as an upwards and downwards acrostic) and suggests a connection between the name Aegle and the use of αἴγλη in Aratus Phaenomena 779. There are in fact more connections to Aratus’ acrostic: pingit in 6.22 picks up on ἐπιγράφει in Phaenomena 779; the painting of the brow with red mulberries suggests the red/white contrast initiated by Homer’s moon/horse simile and continuing into Aratus’s discussion of the colors of the moon; and videri could point to the title of Aratus’s work.73 While Virgil does not specify that this Aegle is one of the Hesperides (or Heliades), she certainly could bring both to mind, especially as both groups of nymphs are mentioned in Silenus’ song (61-63),74 along with the metamorphosis of the Heliades into alder trees (63). Virgil’s substitution of the alder for the expected poplar tree forces the reader to contemplate the change and think of the poplar tree (and perhaps the LEUKĒ acrostic).75

69 Virgil has one other allusion to Aratus’ acrostic in conjunction with a poplar tree, this time in the Georgics, in the simile comparing Orpheus’s grief over the death of Eurydice to a nightingale mourning for her lost young beneath the shade of a poplar tree (4.511-16):

Qualis populea maerens philomela sub umbrA
amissos queritur fetus, quos durus aratoR
observans nido implumis detraxit; at illA
flet noctem, ramoque sedens miserabile carmen
integrat, et maestis late loca questibus impleT.
nulla Venus, non ulli animum flexere hymenaeI.

Just as a nightingale grieving underneath the shade of a poplar tree mourns for her lost offspring, which a harsh plowman, observing, dragged down unfledged from the nest; but she cries throughout the night, and sitting on a branch renews her mournful song, and fills the places far and wide with sad laments. No passion, no wedding songs turned his mind.

  • 76 While Virgil supports Theocritus’ interpretation of ὀλολυγών as “nightingale” in this passage, he h (...)
  • 77 On the use of acrostics and telestics to mark the beginning, middle, and end of poems, see Robinson (...)

70Virgil’s simile alludes to Aratus and acrostics (and, by default, his most famous acrostic, LEPTĒ) by creating a telestic of the name of Aratus, ARATI, interrupted only by the word carmen in 4.514, which nicely suggests the phrase “song of Aratus” (carmen Arati). To reinforce the play on Aratus’ name in the telestic, Virgil includes the noun arator, which, as I noted previously, Virgil had also used in Eclogue 3 to play on Aratus’ name (3.42), as well as the signposting word observans. The reference to the poplar tree points to the Homeric inspiration for Aratus’ LEPTĒ acrostic, while the conjunction of the poplar tree and nightingale points to Theocritus’ engagement with the same.76 Just as Virgil had inserted a strong allusion to Aratus’ trademark acrostic towards the end of the first book of the Georgics with his own name acrostic (Ma-Ve-Pu), so, towards the end of the Georgics, he includes a name telestic, this time giving the honor to Aratus himself.77

CONCLUSION

  • 78 I borrow this useful term from Robinson 2019b, which in turn draws the concept from Damschen 2004: (...)
  • 79 Robinson 2019b provides a metapoetic reading of this acrostic and also notes earlier discussions of (...)

71Critics have acknowledged the deep influence of Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic on later Greek and Latin literature but have not fully appreciated the complex intertextual responses by later poets to Aratus’ acrostic or the ways in which their allusive responses to the LEPTĒ acrostic were modeled on Aratus’ own complex engagement with Homer’s LEUKĒ acrostic. Studying this tradition of “acrostic intertextuality”78 reveals the acrostic to be as freighted with metapoetic symbolism as a device like ekphrasis and just as capable of revealing programmatic concerns or creating literary affiliations between poets. Perhaps that is why Virgil’s most direct evocation of the LEPTĒ acrostic occurs during an intensely metapoetic, ekphrastic moment, namely the description of Aeneas’s shield: Aeneid 8.664-668 contains an acrostic spelling LEPTE itself, an example I have left out of my study since it is missing any clear attempt to link Aratus’ acrostic to its Homeric source.79 I hope this study has shown, however, that the vast majority of passages that allude to the LEPTĒ acrostic also leave subtle clues that the successors to Aratus have solved the great acrostic “riddle” about how his acrostic relates to Homer’s—sometimes by proposing multiple solutions. Certainly not all of the poets who were inspired to pay homage to Aratus’s acrostic present the LEUKĒ acrostic as connected to light, and I noted in Part I that Dionysius Periegetes provides his own twist on Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic by connecting LEUKĒ to the Island of Leukē. But the vast majority of tributes to Aratus’s acrostic involve passages that connect it in some way to the passages in Homer in which λευκός is used of light. Indeed, these later poets seem to revel in revealing the fact that they, too, have seen the light in Homer that inspired Aratus’s journey from LEUKĒ to LEPTĒ. After all, if Homer was the “sun” among poets, then it is fitting that his acrostic connects him to light and the dawn – the birth of the day, as Homer signals the birth of Greek literature.

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Notes

1 I would like to thank the editors and anonymous reviewers for their many excellent suggestions for improvement. I am also grateful to Julia Hejduk for her helpful comments, and to her and Matthew Robinson and for sharing their forthcoming and in-progress acrostics studies with me.

2 I borrow this useful term from Julia Hejduk.

3 Robinson 2019a and 2019b.

4 Robinson 2019a. Robinson relates two anecdotes from Diogenes Laertius, one which attributes intentional acrostics to the 6th/5th century B.C.E. philosopher Epicharmus (Diog. Laert. 8.78), and one which relates the skepticism of the 4th century B.C.E. philosopher Heraclides Ponticus about an acrostic, which he attributes to chance (Diog. Laert. 5.93).

5 The only poem to use the word after Apollonius is the early third century C.E. Cynegetica, ascribed to Oppian (1.135). On Apollonius’s interest in Homeric hapax and dis legomena, see Kyriakou 1995; Rengakos 2008: 252-53. On Apollonius as a Homeric scholar in general, see Rengakos 2008.

6 Kidd 1997: 208 notes the similarities between these three passages but does not make any connections to the LEUKĒ/LEPTĒ acrostics.

7 E.g., Macr. Sat. 1.17.36. See further Maltby 1991: 354, s.v. Lycia and Lycius. In fact, Macrobius’ discussion of ἀμφιλύκη is motivated by an interest in the etymology of Apollo Lycius. Macrobius even includes the theory that “wolf” (λύκος) is derived from “first light” (λύκη) because wolves attack the herd at first light (Sat. 1.17.41). See also Hunter 1986: 55: “I suggest, therefore, that ἀμφιλύκη has a peculiar appropriateness as a time for seeing Apollo, and that Apollonius has helped us to see this by making the god travel Λυκίηθεν.” Danielewicz 2005: 332 notes an acrostic LUKE in Ap. Rhod. Argon. 4.1489-92, which he argues picks up on the reference in these lines to Φοίβοιο Λυκωρείοιο (“Lycoreian Phoebus,” 4.1490). However, the acrostic could also point to Apollo Lycius and constitute yet another reference to the LEUKĒ acrostic. It is also perhaps significant from an acrostic perspective that in Callim. Aet. 1.22 Pf., it is Lycian (Λύκιος) Apollo who prescribes the ideal of the “slender Muse” (Μοῦσαν...λεπταλέην).

8 Apollonius pairs his aition for the cult of Apollo Eoios with an aition for the cult of Apollo Aegletes (“the Gleamer”) in Book 4 (1694–1730), a pairing that itself reflects two of the key instances in which light is associated with λευκός in Homer (namely in the association of the acrostic with dawn in Il. 24.1–5 and in the description of the “gleam” in Od. 6.45), and which Aratus transforms into light that is λεπτός.

9 On the appearance of Apollo in this passage, Hunter 1986: 52 writes, “Apollo’s epiphany is at one level a poetic version of sunrise….Apollonius has made the equation of Apollo and the sun absolutely clear by stressing the god’s golden hair and his brilliant eyes into which none of the heroes could look directly.”

10 On Ennius’s interest in acrostics, see Cic. Div. 2.111, in which we learn that Ennius embedded the acrostic Q. ENNIUS FECIT in his text. On Ennius’s possibly intentional use of the acronym MARS in Ann. 156 Sk., see Hendry 1994.

11 Albis 2001: 30. Albis 2001: 26-27 notes that Paul Merula first argued for an interpretation of the sol albus as the moon in 1595, but that scholars have generally rejected it and prefer to interpret the sol albus as the sun (E. H. Warmington, J. Vahlen, O. Skutsch) or the morning star (H. D. Jocelyn). Even if sol albus does not mean “moon,” Ennius’s use of albus and candida to describe astronomical light could still allude to Homer’s use of λευκός for the sun (Il. 14.185) and moon (Il. 23.455), as well as to the connection between the LEUKĒ acrostic and dawn. Ennius uses albus iubar of the morning star in Ann. fr. 571 Sk.

12 O’Hara 1996: 77 similarly suggests that Virgil puns on the name Alba with clari in Aen. 8.48.

13 In a forthcoming article, I make a fuller case for the intentional nature of this Lucretian acrostic and explore how Lucretius uses it to explicate his poetical relationship to poets such as Homer and Aratus, and his philosophical relationship to Epicurus.

14 Macrobius’ discussion of the derivation of λύκη (“first morning light) from λευκός (“white”) in Sat. 1.17.37-39 includes the theory that the Romans derived lux from λύκη. In addition to uniting Homer’s and Aratus’s acrostics through his LUCE acrostic, Lucretius may also pay homage to the first Latin poet who signaled his appreciation of Aratus’s interpretation of Homer’s acrostic, namely Ennius: Lucretius begins his discussion of the moon with a reminiscence of Ennius’s sol albus passage (cf. Lucr. 5.705: luna potest solis radiis percussa nitere and Enn. Ann. fr. 85 Sk.: exin candida se radiis dedit icta foras lux).

15 I would note, however, that Lucretius uses the adjective luciferam to refer to the moon in 5.726, a word which would call to mind Lucifer (the morning star) and dawn.

16 The equation of Ino with Leucothea and Matuta is mentioned many times in ancient sources. E.g., Hom. Od. 5.333-34; Cic. Nat. D. 3.48.3; Tusc. 1.12.28; Ov. Fast. 6.545; Hyg. Fab. 2.5, 125.17, 224.5; Serv. ad G. 1.437; Serv. ad Aen. 5.241.

17 Virgil’s Ma-Ve-Pu acrostic was first discovered by E. L. Brown 1963: 96-114. Further contributions on this passage include Haslam 1992; Feeney and Nelis 2005; Katz 2008; Grishin 2009: 32-35; Somerville 2010; Danielewicz 2013 (with notes for further bibliography).

18 As far as I know, Somerville 2010: 208 is the only scholar to see any subtle references to Homer’s LEUKĒ acrostic in the Georgics passage: he points to Virgil’s use of nigrum in 1.428 and notes that “black” “corresponds to nothing in Aratus’s original and is probably intended to refer, on the principle of reversal, to the Greek word of the opposite meaning.” However, Somerville 2010: 202 does not see any possible connection between Homer’s acrostic and the context of the Iliad 24 passage and so does not consider whether Aratus and Virgil themselves drew a connection.

19 E.g., Aen. 4.118-19, 8.170, 10.244, 12.76-77 (of Aurora).

20 There could also be a play on the similar sounds of Aurora and hora. For puns on Aurora and similar sounding words in Ovid, see Ahl 1985: 178-79, 203-8. Noctis…serenae could point to Aratus’s use of καθαρή to describe the crescent moon in his acrostic passage (783). As Gee 2013: 191 notes, Cicero’s phrase nocte serena in Aratea 104 translates Aratus’s καθαρῇ…νυκτὶ (Phaen. 323). I will return to this point later when I discuss Lucretius’s phrase noctes…serenas in Lucr. 1.142.

21 On the overlap between pallidus and albus, see Mankin 1995: 149; André 1949: 28.

22 As Thomas 1988: 1.142 notes, this line overlays Aratean material with Homeric language—a perfect combination to highlight Aratus’s use of Homer’s LEUKĒ acrostic.

23 Virgil underscores this unusual epithet (pallida) of Dawn in the Georgics by omitting it in the subsequent repetitions or near-repetitions of these lines in the Aeneid (4.584-85; 9.459-60).

24 Primo could also be a cue word for the reader to look at the “first” letters of the lines. On the use of primus and related words as acrostic signposts in inscriptions, see Zarker 1966: 146.

25 On tener as an aesthetic equivalent of λεπτός, see Klooster 2013: 348 (with references).

26 While Aratus does not use μήνη of the moon, he does frequently use the similar-sounding word μείς, μηνός for “month” (which can also mean “moon”). Right before his acrostic, Aratus uses the phrase μηνὸς ἐφεσταότος (“the month that has started,” 782), which Kidd 1997: 445 explains as meaning “that the new moon’s appearance can serve as a guide to the weather for the whole month.”

27 For the useful term “gamma-acrostic,” see Morgan 1993.

28 E.g., Fast. 5.374: … et niveos Luna levarit equos (“…and the Moon unyoked her white horses”).

29 Ovid’s mention of the moon’s forma (196) could correspond to Aratus’s description of the “shapes” that “horn the moon” (μορφαὶ κερόωσι σελήνην, 780). Ovid may allude to more than just Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic: there are two other acrostics in close proximity to LEPTĒ in Aratus (PASA, “all, whole” in Phaen. 803-806; see Levitan 1979: 57-58; and Me-Sē, “middle,” in Phaen. 807-808; see Haslam 1992: 201). Perhaps Ovid alludes to these further acrostics by beginning the line containing albo Lucifer with the phrase cuncta iacent media (189). In a passage so laden with acrostic allusions, it may also be relevant to note that Robinson 2019b posits the existence of the acrostic NITIDO (“I make bright, polish”) in Ov. Met. 533-39 (cf. nitidum in the passage above, 15.187).

30 Cf. also Lucifer albus in Tr. 3.5.56.

31 For a similar suggestion of a play on Pallas and pallentia in Verg. Aen. 10.822, see Fontaine 2016: 134.

32 See also Ov. Tr. 3.5.55; Fast. 3.877; Fast. 5.548-49; Met. 4.629-30; Met.11.295-96. Lucifer also frequently heralds the day or dawn in other authors: Cf. Cic. Alcyones fr. 1 (though in Cic. Arat. 33.66, Aurora is the herald of the sun); Verg. Ecl. 8.17; Verg. Aen. 2.801-802; Sen. Oed. 506. In Homer, it is usually the morning star that heralds the day (e.g. Il. 23.226; Od. 13.93-94), though dawn also announces the light to the gods (Il. 2.48-49). In Greek, the same word φωσφόρος can describe the dawn (e.g., Eur. Ion 1157-58: ἥ τε φωσφόρος / Ἕως) or, as a substantive, the morning star (see LSJ s.v. φώςφορος, ον). In addition, Homer describes the morning star as ἑωςφόρος (“bringer of dawn”). The close relationship of the dawn and morning star is also reflected in mythology: the morning star is the son of dawn (e.g. Hes. Theog. 381; Hyg. Poet. astr. 2.42).

33 Ovid also emphasizes the importance of lux in this passage with the initial signposting phrase cernis…lucem (cf. Aratus’s initial σκέπτεο...σελήνην, 778).

34 See Castelletti 2008; 2012; 2014.

35 In lines so heavily focused on the tradition of acrostics, it might be worth noting that Colborn 2013 has recently made some interesting suggestions about Manilius’ intentional use of the acrostic SPARSU (1.813-18) and particularly his reference to Germanicus’ (presumed accidental) acrostic SPARSU (Arat. 118-23). Maybe Valerius Flaccus also acknowledges these acrostics with the verb spargere? Certainly, “scatter” is a useful word to point to the way letters are scattered or spread out in acrostic passages. Is it perhaps relevant that the “original” acrostics may have been written on the scattered leaves of the Sibyl? See Katz 2013: 7-8.

36 Cf. Weichert 1812: 50-51, who compares Valerius Flaccus’s levi primo…lumine to the λεπτὸν φέγγος of Apollonius of Rhodes 2.670-71 (the passage with αμφιλύκη that I discussed earlier). Recall that Macrobius 1.17.37-39 had defined *λύκη as prima lux, and then quotes the Homeric line with ἀμφιλύκη—a line that Valerius Flaccus may also have had in mind with his phrase primo…lumine. It is interesting to note that Valerius Flaccus studiously avoids a mention of Dawn herself but refers to her only by periphrases such as primo…lumine or orta dies. However, perhaps he conceals a bilingual reference to Dawn (as a Greek accusative) in an acrostic formed from these two lines, namely Ē-Ō (cf. ἠῶ in Ap. Rhod. Argon. 3.820 and 828, discussed later). If so, primo could function as a signpost of the acrostic by pointing the reader to the first letters of the lines. I owe this suggestion to Julia Hejduk.

37 While I referenced previously in Part I Cusset’s 2002: 192 theory that Aratus may have playfully connected his name to ἀρᾶται in Il. 9.240 (ἀρᾶται δὲ τάχιστα φανήμεναι Ἠῶ δῖαν), by far the more famous instance of nameplay in the Phaenomena is the use of ἄρρητον in Phaen. 2. First noticed by Levitan 1979: 68n18, this instance of nameplay was independently commented on by Kidd 1981: 355, Hopkinson 1988: 139, and Bing 1990: 281-85. Further bibliography on Aratus’s nameplay can be found in Prioux 2005: 313-14n12, to which could be added Katz 2008; Castelletti 2012; Nelis 2016. For references to this nameplay in the Aratus-epigrams of Callimachus and Leonidas of Tarentum, which, like the lines of Apollonius above, also reference the LEPTĒ acrostic, See Bing 1990; 1993. Cf. Call. Epigr. 27.4: …Ἀρήτου σύμβολον ἀγρυπνίης (“…the token of the sleeplessness of Aratus”); Leonidas Anth. Pal. 9.25.1: Γράμμα τόδ' Ἀρήτοιο δαήμονος (“this is the book of the learned Aratus”). I would also add that, while the text of Ap. Rhod. Argon. 4.1648 is disputed, if the emendation of Fränkel 1961, which I have printed, is correct, then another play on Aratus’s name might be found in ἄρα τήνγε.

38 Moschus’s choice of word for “white” in this passage (ἀργύφεος) is relatively rare and may allude to Homer’s use of this word, in conjunction with λεπτός, to describe the robes of Calypso and Circe (Od. 5.230–32 and Od. 10.543–45, respectively). In Part I, I suggested these passages contribute to the links between the LEUKĒ and LEPTĒ acrostics by pointing to the Homeric use of both of these terms for aesthetic descriptions of clothing. I am grateful to one of my anonymous readers for pointing out this connection in Moschus’ passage.

39 Leonidas of Tarentum’s epigram on Homer (Anth. Pal. 9.24.1) also uses κύκλα σελήνης.

40 Moschus may have also been inspired to refer to the Talos passage in his Europa due to Talos’ mythological connection to Europa: shortly before his Talos description, Apollonius notes that Cronos gave Talos to Europa as a guard of Crete (4.1643).

41 Perhaps Moschus alludes not just to Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic in his reference to the crescent moon, but also to the PASA and Me-Sē acrostics discussed previously in my discussion of Ovid. Haslam 1992: 201 has shown that the Me-Sē acrostic may be joined together with the LEPTĒ and PASA acrostics to describe the phases of the moon throughout the month: crescent, half, and full. Maybe Moschus’ rather torturous description of the two horns of the bull (88) can be partially explained as an attempt to incorporate references to all of these acrostics and phases of the moon: ἄντυγος ἡμιτόμου (reference to half moon?), κεραῆς (reference to crescent moon?), ἅτε κύκλα σελήνης (reference to full moon?).

42 See Matthews 1996: 333-34 (building on West 1966). I would also note that Lucretius compares the shape of the moon to a ball in his LUCE acrostic passage (lunam qui fingunt esse pilai / consimilem, 5.713-14).

43 E.g., Davis 1991: 142-43; Harrison 1995: 125-27; Thomas 2011: 120-21.

44 Klooster 2013: 350. For the acrostic, see Thomas 2011: 104, who records John Henderson’s unpublished idea that “the opening PINDARUM begins to generate an acrostic (PIN, of the type most famous at Arat. Phaen. 783-7 λεπτή | ΛΕΠΤΗ), but instead creates incomplete PINN-, an iconic image of what is going on in the lines, the crash of Icarus into the sea.” For the anagram, first discovered by Antoine Meillet in a note sent to Ferdinand Saussure in 1908, see Armstrong 1995: 229-30; Di Liddo 2004: 23n9. Does Horace perhaps tie his acrostic/anagram passage into his horn/moon passage with a bilingual pun on ceratis in 4.2.2? (i.e., playing on the similarity of cera, “wax,” and κέρας, “horn”).

45 Putnam 2016: 120-21 notes the importance of Homer’s bay horse as a model for Horace’s vitulus and suggests it lends Horace’s lyric poetry the nobility of epic.

46 The metapoetic meaning of this passage is reinforced by the use of the word imitatus in 4.2.57, which, as Thomas notes (2011: 121), harkens back to the use of aemulari (of imitating Pindar) in the first line of 4.2. I would add that referentis in 4.2.58 could also be metapoetic, underscoring that Horace is repeating or citing a famous literary image.

47 The beginning of Iliad 24 has engendered controversy since antiquity due to the erotic undertones of Achilles’ sleeplessness (ἀγρυπνία)—a topos in later erotic poetry. See Clarke 1978: 385-88; Laguna-Mariscal and Sanz-Morales 2005; Fantuzzi 2012: 211-15. On erotic and poetic ἀγρυπνία, see Thomas 1979/1999: 33-43.

48 On the programmatic importance of sight in the Phaenomena, as well as a list of the appearances of σκέπτομαι / σκοπέω and their compounds in Aratus, see Volk 2012: 216.

49 When Moschus wants to evoke the contrast between the red and white of Homer’s horse in his description of the bull in Europa 84-85, he uses the same color words as Apollonius in Medea’s dressing scene, namely ξανθόχροον and ἀργύφεος. Hunter 1989: 186 suggests that Aphrodite’s grooming scene in Argon. 3.45-50 is similarly based on Hera’s dressing scene in Il. 14.170-86; I would add that in the Aphrodite scene, a golden (χρυσείῃ, 46) comb is contrasted with Aphrodite’s white (λευκοῖσιν, 45) shoulders.

50 On the problems of dating the Aetia and its relative chronology to the Argonautica, see Hunter 1989: 7-8, 193; Köhnken 2008: 77-80; Hunter 2015: 21-25 (with notes for further bibliography). Hunter 1989: 7 concludes: “That Aitia I is earlier than Arg. seems all but certain.” There is vigorous debate over whether λεπτότης is associated more with Aratus or Callimachus. In the absence of fuller knowledge of their poems and their chronology, I remain agnostic on the issue. For a useful discussion of the scholarly debate on the metapoetic connotations of λεπτός, and whether the quality of λεπτότης is associated more with Aratus or Callimachus, see Volk 2010/2014: 205-8. She concludes, “λεπτότης is indeed a central concept of the Phaenomena’s poetics, though in a sense that has very little to do with the presumed aesthetics of Callimachus” (206). See also Luz 2010: 50-51; Porter 2011.

51 As discussed in Part I, Leonidas of Tarentum (Anth. Pal. 9.24) compares Homer to the sun, which outshines other stars and the moon just as Homer outshines other poets.

52 In this context, perhaps the simile comparing Medea to Artemis in the lines following the carriage ride (3.876-84) does not just bring to mind Artemis’ connection to Hecate, and traditional stages in a woman’s life, as suggested by Hunter 1989: 194, but also Artemis’ connection to the moon and, by extension, Aratus.

53 Ellis 1889: 173. Ellis compares indomitus furore in 50.11 to ὕπνος / …πανδαμάτωρ in Il. 24.4-5. See also Kroll 1959: 90; Scott 1969: 171; Finamore 1984: 15.

54 Cf. Thomas 1979/1999: 39-41.

55 On the relationship between lepos/lepor/lepidus and λεπτότης/λεπτός, see Krostenko 2001: 246-59 (and see 64n146 for the etymological connection between the words). See also Scarcia 1993: 976; Lyne 1995: 100; Cowan 2015: 739.

56 Cf. Il. 24.14-16. The dawn is again associated with his journey around the tomb of Patroclus in Il. 24.416-17. Thomas 1979/1999: 40 notes that Catullus’s desire for the dawn to arrive connects to the topos of the frustrated lover in New Comedy and epigram: “In particular, just as the successful lover prays for the postponement of dawn (A.P. 5.137, 172, 223, 283), so the unrequited lover, absent from the object of his desire (Catullus here cupiens videre lucem, 12), prays for its arrival (A.P. 12.72).”

57 Katz 2008: 110 and n3 also mentions and gives bibliography on the connection drawn between arator and Aratus in Ecl. 3.40-42 (most recently Prioux 2005). For a play on arator and Aratus in German. Arat. 13, see Kubiak 2009. For the suggestion that Aratus himself might play on his name and the verb “to plow” (ἀροῦν) in his use of a boustrophedon acrostic in Phaen. 6-8, see Castelletti 2012. Katz 2008: 113-14 also notes that vertere can mean “to translate”; while Catullus’s versari is not vertere, the connection between these verbs may be relevant given that versarer initiates a line that translates Homer (and comes before a poem that translates Sappho).

58 E.g., in Poem 64, on which, see Skinner 1976; Giesecke 2000: 10-30; Morisi 2002; Gale 2007: 69-70; Tamás 2016. While the exact chronology of Lucretius’s and Catullus’s works is unclear, Catullus is frequently thought to be the alluding poet, or at least to be aware of Lucretius’ work and in a poetic dialogue with him.

59 See R. D. Brown 1982: 83; Gale 1994: 107n41; Gee 2013: 65.

60 E.g., Ov. Tr. 5.4.25-26. Cicero’s Epicurean spokesman, L. Manlius Torquatus, begins his discussion of friendship in Fin. 1.65 with a reference to mythical friends like Theseus (friend to Pirithous) and Orestes (friend to Pylades). For a recent discussion of the Roman use of mythic paradigms, including Achilles and Patroclus, for ideal friendship, see Williams 2012: 148-55.

61 E.g., Epicurus RS 27-28; Sent. Vat. 23, 28, 34, 39, 52, 66, 78; Diog. Laert. 10.120; Cic. Fin. 1.65-70.

62 Might Memmiadae in 1.26 bring to mind Μενοιτιάδαο (i.e. Patroclus, son of Menoitius) in Il. 24.16? Cf. also inclute Memmi in 5.8: inclutus was recognized by ancient etymologists as being connected to the Greek κλυτός (see Maltby 1991: 299, s.v. inclutus; see also Gale 2001: 169), which in turn is related to Πάτροκλος. Gale 2001: 168 makes a similar argument for reading the phrases perenni fronde (Lucr. 1.118) and quae clara clueret (1.119) as “together suggest[ing] the name of Empedocles, literally ‘eternally renowned’.”

63 Perhaps in addition to taking on the role of the sleepless Achilles from the beginning of Book 24 in his description of his vigilatio, Lucretius also takes on the role of the dawn, so integral to Aratus’s use of Homer’s acrostic. Lucretius’s friendship for Memmius persuades him to “extend the bright light before your mind (clara tuae…praepandere lumina menti, 1.144)—precisely the activity of dawn later in his work (Matuta … lumina pandit, 5.656-67).

64 For examples of how the language of remembering or recalling can serve as a trope for literary memory or allusion, see Conte 1986: 57-63; Miller 1993; Hinds 1998: 3-5; Faber 2017; Nethercut 2018 (with further bibliography in their notes).

65 See Perutelli 1997: 171, who compares both Homer’s and Apollonius of Rhodes’s ἀμφιλύκη passages (Il. 7.433 and Argon. 2.669-71) to the description of early morning light here, and specifically compares λεπτόν from Ap. Rhod. Argon. 2.670 with tenuis in this passage from Valerius Flaccus.

66 Hunter 2015: 279 notes that “the meaning of this epithet of trees was disputed in antiquity, but ‘tall’ seems the likeliest sense here.” Homer uses ἀχερωίς in a simile comparing a falling warrior to felled trees (and in which βλωθρή describes the pine tree) in Il. 13.389-90 and 16.482-83. Aratus uses βλωθρή once of corn stalks (Phaen. 1089).

67 The white poplar is also associated with Heracles’ conquering of death and return from the underworld, as well as with his labors in both the underworld and upper world (Serv. ad Ecl. 7.61). Apollonius may hint at the Heraclean associations of the white poplar by following the description of the tomb with the sudden appearance of Heracles in the distance (4.1477-78).

68 See Gow 1952: 2.119. On Aratus’ Hymn to Pan, see Di Gregorio 2016: 103-109.

69 For a review of the evidence regarding the identification of Theocritus’s Aratus with the author of the Phaenomena, see Gow 1952: 2.118-19, who notes that the identification with the poet was “generally accepted until Wilamowitz pointed out the weakness of the evidence in its favour” (119). However, I follow Hubbard 1998: 27n26 in believing that arguments against the identification with the poet make too much of the Coan location of Idyll 7, which, after all, does not require that Theocritus’s Aratus be a native of Cos.

70 Pendergraft 1986; Sens 1994; Sens 1997: 31-32, 35, 82, 91-92. See also Kidd 1997: 39-41. For the probable influence of Aratus Phaen. 1 on Theoc. Id. 17.1, see Kidd 1997: 162-63 (with further bibliography in note).

71 E.g., Hunter 1999: 194.

72 Commentators tend to favor “nightingale” for Theocritus and “frog” for Aratus (e.g., Hunter 1999: 194; Kidd 1997: 501-2).

73 Virgil might also utilize some signposting words: videnti (6.21), directing the reader “to see” the acrostics, and nectitis (6.23). Cicero uses the verb conectitur to describe how acrostics are formed from letters joined together in Div. 2.111.

74 The Eclogue also closes with Vesper (Evening-Star, 86), the grandfather of the Hesperides, who might also bring Hespere to mind, just as sanguineis (22) could bring to mind the third of the Hesperides from Apollonius, namely Erytheis.

75 In a forthcoming article, I argue that Catullus was the inspiration for Virgil’s conflation of the alder and poplar tree and that Catullus alludes to Homer’s LEUKĒ acrostic qua poplar/alder tree in Poem 17.

76 While Virgil supports Theocritus’ interpretation of ὀλολυγών as “nightingale” in this passage, he had earlier in the Georgics interpreted Aratus’ ὀλολυγών (Phaen. 948) as “frog”—at least, that seems to be the implication of G. 1.374-87, which mentions ranae (“frogs”), but not nightingales, amidst an adaptation of Phaen. 942-87. Did Varro of Atax intentionally avoid entering the controversy involving Aratus’ ὀλολυγών by omitting Phaen. 946-53 from his translation (fr. 22 Bl.)? Some scholars instead posit a lacuna in Varro. See Hollis 2007:194. Cicero enters the fray by translating ὀλολυγών with acredula (Prog. fr. 4.5)—another (purposely?) obscure animal, though most likely a bird. See Pellacani 2015: 144-45 (with further bibliography in notes). Avienus nicely translates Aratus’ ὀλολυγών with similarly onomatopoetic ulula (“owl,” Av. 1703).

77 On the use of acrostics and telestics to mark the beginning, middle, and end of poems, see Robinson 2019a, who notes the previously discovered telestic OTIA in the sphragis of the Georgics (G. 4.562-565, on which, see Schmid 1983: 317-18, who discovered it, and Nelis 2010: 22), and also proposes a reverse telestic SAT in Aen. 12.950-952, as well as a telestic STO in Aen. 1.1-3.

78 I borrow this useful term from Robinson 2019b, which in turn draws the concept from Damschen 2004: 102-10.

79 Robinson 2019b provides a metapoetic reading of this acrostic and also notes earlier discussions of it by Adkin 2014 and Fusi 2016: 240-45. One possible evocation of the LEUKĒ acrostic could come in the first word of the line that initiates the LEPTE acrostic, namely lanigerosque (“wool-bearing,” 8.664), which might bring to mind the color white, or even in the previous line-ending word Lupercos (663), which could bring to mind λύκος (and the similar-sounding λευκός), but not in a way that meaningfully connects Aratus’s acrostic to Homer’s, as far as I can tell.

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Leah Kronenberg, « Seeing the light, Part II:
The reception of Aratus’s LEPTĒ acrostic in Greek and Latin literature
 », Dictynna [En ligne], 15 | 2018, mis en ligne le 14 janvier 2019, consulté le 24 janvier 2019. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/dictynna/1575

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