Maxwell J. Fabiszewski
1§1 This inquiry suggests that Germanicus employs acrostics as sophisticated, didactic devices to develop his interest in catasterism, the placement of objects in the sky, and to complement his retelling of myth in his Latin Phaenomena. These acrostics may provide a better understanding of the poem, as they seem to combine technical interests with larger, programmatic concerns. I will evaluate (i) the appropriate background for both the text and acrostics in the ancient world; (ii) wordplay and acrostics in relation to the text itself; and, finally, (iii) what Germanicus’ wordplay reflects about his work and its program.
2. The Production of Germanicus’ Phaenomena
2§1 Let us address first the tradition of the Phaenomena and its production before examining acrostics and their roles in the work. For Germanicus, Aratus’ Phaenomena serves as a model or platform rather than an original for copy. With its shared genre and often-shared content, one might think Germanicus’ Phaenomena appears almost as a Latin paraphrase, but Germanicus’ interests in the didactic and astronomical genres, catasterism, and myth differ so significantly from Aratus’ that such an understanding is not acceptable. Germanicus is not simply trying to outdo his predecessor’s Greek work in Latin, he has his own ideas about how his poem functions. His verse and style, as will be shown, are sophisticated, as are his Latin and Augustan appropriation and development of myth. Germanicus is ingenious both where he adds new material to the story as well as where he corrects or engages directly with Aratus. Thus, Germanicus’ process of Latin translation is much more refined than converting words from one language to another, and his Phaenomena which we refer to as a “translation” does not conform to the modern definition of the word as an endeavor for linguistic and contextual equivalence.
2§2 Therefore, far from mere translation, Germanicus’ poem is multi-faceted. His Phaenomena is, among other things, didactic, which Monica Gale aptly describes as “a highly self-conscious genre.” Germanicus’ relationship to Aratus means that self-consciousness is double faceted in this work, both naturally as didactic material and through its analytical construction. Moreover, Germanicus involves a tradition of Latin literature that Aratus did not have at his disposal. Possanza uses the appropriate term, “graft,” in the context of the earliest Latin incorporations of the Greek poetic tradition. Germanicus, a poet writing 200 years later than the originators of Latin verse, then, “translates” his Greek predecessor through a lens of a Latin poetic tradition to create a unique, Augustan Phaenomena.
3. Constructing an Acrostic Tradition
3§1 One of these originators of Latin verse, Ennius, apparently incorporated an acrostic into one of his writings, “Q. ENNIUS FECIT.” This type of sphragis is reminiscent of the Alexandrian tradition of epigram acrostics, as well as the didactic poet Nicander’s different signatures upon each of his works. As far as I can tell, Germanicus has not left his signature of authorship in his Phaenomena, but Ennius’ alleged acrostic and Nicander’s two acrostics are still very important to our inquiry. First, they tell us that a Hellenistic didactic poet and a preceding Latin poet use acrostics in their verse. Gregor Damschen shows that acrostics were not only used in early Latin writing and then re-popularized in later Christian times, but that they were prominent throughout Latin literature. Damschen explores Latin acrostics in Ovid, noteworthy as a contemporary of Germanicus. Therefore, there appears to be an acrostic tradition up to which Germanicus’ acrostics can be held. Second, Nicander’s two signatures indicate possible variation in acrostic composition in the ancient world. So that we may contextualize and better discuss the acrostic findings that will be presented from Germanicus’ Phaenomena, let us examine briefly Nicander’s variation in acrostic form.
3§2 Let’s look briefly at the two signatory passages from Nicander’s works.
Ν ειμάμενος κασίεσσιν ἑκὰς περικυδέας ἀρχάς
Ἰ δμοσύνῃ νεότητα γέρας πόρεν ἡμερίοισι
Κ υδαίνων · δὴ γάρ ῥα πυρὸς ληΐστορ’ ἔνιπτον.
Ἄ φρονες · οὐ γὰρ τῆς γε κακοφραδίης ἀπόνηντο ·
Ν ωθεῖς γὰρ κάμνοντες ἀμορβεύοντο λεπάργωι
Δ ῶρα · πολύσκαρθμος δὲ κεκαυμένος αὐχένα δίψηι
Ῥ ώετο · γωλειοῖσι δ’ ἰδὼν ὁλκήρεα θῆρα
Ο ὐλοὸν ἐλλιτάνευε κακῆι ἐπαλαλκέμεν ἄτηι
Σ αίνων · αὐτὰρ ὃ Βρῖθος, ὃ δή ῥ’ ἀνεδέξατο νώτοις
Nicander Theriaca 345–353
Nicander’s acrostic above in the Theriaca is straightforward, but his acrostic below in the Alexipharmaca is not as clear.
σ ὺν δὲ καὶ ἀμπελόεις ἕλικας ἐνθρύπτεο νύμφαις,
Ἴ σως καὶ βατόεντα περὶ πτορθεῖα κολούσας.
Κ αί τε σὺ γυμνώσειας ἐυτρεφέος νέα τέρφη
καρύοιο λαχυφλοίοιο κάλυμμα,
Ν είαιραν τόθι σάρκα περὶ σκύλος αὖον ὀπαζει
Δ υσλεπέος καρύοιο τὸ Καστανὶς ἕτρεφεν αἶα.
Ῥ εῖα δὲ νάρθηκος νεάτην ἐξαίνυσο νηδὺν,
Ὅ ς τε Προμηθείοιο κλοπὴν ἀνεδέξατο φωρῆς ·
Σ ὺν δὲ καὶ ἑρπύλλοιο φιλοζώοιο πέτηλα,
Nicander Alexipharmaca 266–274
Levitan finds meaning in what he later calls the “near miss” since, as he notes, acrostics are not difficult to produce in a language “whose word order is much more fluid [than that of English],” the fact that νὺν δὲ καὶ (for “σὺν δὲ καὶ,” 266) could have easily made the acrostic easier to read doesn’t completely address the following problem: “If it is presumed that a poet has the means to do what he likes in his poem, what kind of acrostic is a distorted acrostic? What kind of pattern is a broken pattern? What kind of success is there in a near miss? What kind of game is it that obscures its own rules?” Before we may examine the value and meaning of the near miss acrostic, we must attempt to determine what exactly constitutes an acrostic in general. Nonetheless, this example shows that ancient wordplay can be, at times, complicated, but that perhaps complexity is part of the game.
3§3 For this inquiry, then, a preliminary list of requirements for acrostics, which takes into account the acrostics that precede Germanicus and their various components, will help clarify wordplay and its authenticity. Upon the precedent of Hellenistic (especially Aratean) and Latin (particularly Vergilian) acrostics, an acrostic must (i) fit with the context of the work in which it appears, (ii) have “reference to the embedding lines or to the idea developed in or underlying the poem as a whole,” and, finally, (iii) have defensible precedent. Perhaps the first two of these criteria are rather self-explanatory, since the idea that acrostics, like any other textual point of interest, must be held up against the immediate and larger text that creates them is understandable and straightforward. Indeed, all the acrostics that are put forward in this inquiry are contextually grounded. However, the idea of acrostic precedent merits some explanation and further discussion.
3§4 Precedent is an important criterion for the assessment of acrostics and their validity because if an acrostic can be connected to a widely accepted or verified precedent, then the possibility of that acrostic being authentic is reasonably increased. There are different ways an acrostic can be seen as “connected” to an example of wordplay preceding it. The first, and perhaps the most ideal, would be if the same acrostic were reproduced. Recently, Robert Colborn has made a fantastic discovery of exactly this type. As he argues, Manilius takes an accidental acrostic SPARSU from Germanicus and reproduces it in his own text to give it further meaning. This particular example is important to this inquiry because thus far no scholar (including Colborn as his concern lies elsewhere) has suggested the possibility that Germanicus produced any authentic acrostics himself. Perhaps Manilius’ interaction with Germanicus’ unintended acrostic supports the idea that Germanicus does indeed have intentional acrostics. The next example of precedent is form or type, for example, a gamma acrostic that follows the structural tradition of Aratus’ famous gamma acrostic, ΛΕΠΤΗ. Lastly, precedent can be determined by content. For example, the emulation of a passage that holds an acrostic could legitimize the authenticity of an acrostic in the emulating passage. Throughout this inquiry, then, I will frame my acrostic findings in reference to these criteria and the precedential acrostics that constitute them.
4. Acrostic Definition: Myth in the Margins
4§1 Acrostics explain and help provide a better understanding of what Germanicus’ individual program is in his Phaenomena. Germanicus differs from Aratus in establishing an interest in “greater fusion of astronomy and mythology” with a “more suggestive, emotive diction to animate the anthropomorphic and theriomorphic constellations so that the reader will visualize them not as static formations but as living beings.” Catasterism, then, is a central theme to Germanicus’ poem, not one implied, but clearly spelled out.
4§2 The subject of Germanicus’ first catasterism, the Bears, or Helice and Cynosura, is a strong example of the importance the process holds for the work. Germanicus creates his own version of this myth, including and eschewing parts of the story from previous authors as well as adding his own developments. Germanicus seems to respond to Aratus’ treatment of the Bears in his Phaenomena (Aratus Phaenomena 26–44) as well as Callimachus’ myth in his Hymn to Zeus (Hymns 1.27–54). Germanicus follows Aratus in catasterizing the Bears (which Callimachus does not do) and making them his first catasterism, but, then, in order to focus on the Bears’ role, Germanicus does not include their helpers, the Curetes (as Aratus Phaenomena 35, and Callimachus Hymns 1.51). Germanicus instead retains Zeus’ mother’s, Rhea’s, assistants, the Corybantes (Callimachus Hymns 1.45), but, at the same time, he deflates Rhea’s role which is so prominent in Callimachus. Germanicus’ largest addition is yet to come, but the Bears’ catasterism is already centralized and justified.
hinc Iovis altrices Helice Cynosuraque fulgent
Germanicus Phaenomena 39
Because they were the nurses of Jupiter, Helice and Cynosura shine in the sky.
Trans. Gain 1976
As a result [of their guardianship] Jupiter’s nurses, Helice and Cynosura shine.
Trans. Possanza 2004, sic.
Both Gain and Possanza identify a causal relationship between the care of Jupiter’s nurses and their catasterism in their translations. This is accurate since Germanicus stresses the vulnerability of the infant Jupiter and thus “casts Helice and Cynosura as heroines” who deserve this reward. One overlooked detail relating to this depiction must be noted. Germanicus describes the cries that must be hidden from Jupiter’s father as vagitus pueri (Germanicus Phaenomena 37). Vergil, with whom it is clear Germanicus interacts, uses a form of the word vagitus only once in all of his writings, to describe the sounds of the infants who have met early deaths in the underworld (Aeneid VI 426). Richard F. Thomas has diligently shown the different ways in which Vergil references and interacts with other authors’ texts. One such example is noteworthy for our purposes in exploring the reference of vagitus. Thomas shows in what he calls “an apparently casual reference … far from casual” that “an awareness of the actual context [of the referenced passage] … allows the reader to appreciate the connection Virgil is making.” Germanicus’ reference in vagitus functions in the same way. Jupiter’s cries are likened to the cries of infants who are literally, in the Aeneid, “snatched from the breast,” (ab ubere raptos, Vergil Aeneid VI 428), just as Jupiter would be if his father heard his cries. Yet, the infants in this context are already dead, and thus the reference dramatizes Jupiter’s situation, which, in turn, heightens the importance and heroism of Helice and Cynosura.
4§3 One hundred lines later, Helice reappears, redefined in the right hand margin no longer as altrix, but mater. Let’s explore the following acrostic, or telestich, in fact, and its implications for the story of Helice and Germanicus’ interest in catasterism.
Virginis at placidae praestanti lumine signat
stella umeros. Helicen ignis non clarior ambit,
quique micat cauda quique armum fulget ad ipsuM
quique priora tenet vestigia quique secundA
clunibus hirsutis et qui sua sidera reddiT,
namque alii, quibus expletur cervixque caputquE,
vatibus ignoti priscis sine honore feruntuR.
Qua media est Helice, subiectum respice cancrum;
Germanicus Phaenomena 140–147
A star of outstanding brightness marks the shoulders of the gentle Maiden. No brighter star surrounds Helice: the one that shines in her tail is no brighter, nor is the one which gleams in her shoulder, the one in her forefeet or the one in her hind-feet, nor the one that gives itself to her shaggy buttocks. (145) The other stars, which complete her at the head and neck were unknown to the poets of old and travel on unhonoured.
You will discover the Crab lying below the middle of Helice.
Trans. Gain 1976
The telestich MATER can be easily spotted and it fits our preliminary requirements for an authentic acrostic. MATER (Germanicus Phaenomena 142–146), placed directly in between Helicen in line 141 and Helice in line 147, defines Helice as a mother, which is accurate since, as Germanicus has explained, she takes care of Jupiter in place of his mother (Germanicus Phaenomena 31–47). Therefore, the telestich fits into the work as a whole and fits the character embedded in the line that precedes it. Bing notes that Aratus uses the verb σκοπέω, meaning “to be watchful, behold, or contemplate,” near two of his acrostics (Aratus Phaenomena 778, 799). Feeney and Nelis note that Vergil continues this tradition in an acrostic from the Georgics with respicies (Vergil Georgics 1.423), which “may be thought to point out that the acrostic looks backwards.” Germanicus uses the imperative of respicio to signal “look back at the preceding telestich,” rather than “look backwards as you read the following acrostic ahead of you.” I assert, then, that the telestich MATER is certainly an intentional type of acrostic that furthers the acrostic tradition that revolves around the phenomenon of reading text as signs just as one reads the stars.
4§4 Helice is more profound as MATER while Cynosura remains altrix because Helice is important to redefining not only her own myth but others as well. With only one star having been described as excellent (praestanti, Germanicus Phaenomena 140), the stars of 142–146 hold no prominence: vatibus ignoti priscis, sine honore feruntur (Germanicus Phaenomena 146). So why does this line of unexceptional stars compose a remarkable telestich from the last letters of 142–146 that spells the Latin word mater? Germanicus is showing that he can skillfully “translate” Aratus and retain Aratus’ description of these stars as nameless (Aratus Phaenomena 145–146) and, at the same time, subvert Aratus’ understanding. The acrostic contradicts the nameless and unhonored nature of the stars, since the fact that these stars make up and decorate Helice gives them some distinction after all, and the greater Helice is, the greater they will be. Helice then, is not only an altrix to the infant Zeus, but also the begetter of these unhonored stars’ identities. The telestich MATER, then, comments on the poem to conflate these two roles and promote Helice from altrix to mater. The ingeniousness behind this acrostic commentary is that the acrostic is inextricable from the comment itself. MATER, then, is a nice example of Germanicus outdoing his predecessor and shows Germanicus does not leave any part of Helice unhonored, because even when he directly translates Aratus, he can subvert and outdo Aratus’ understanding of myth in his margins. Thus, Helice is more than just a nurse of Zeus, but, through her heroism, she is promoted to motherhood in the telestich created by Germanicus. This telestich, then, directly furthers Germanicus’ program of catasterism as it expands and cements one of his characters in the margins of his text as a new constellation of her own.
5. Introductory Wordplay: Address and Authorship
5§1 Germanicus’ interest in wordplay begins before MATER, and even before the myth of the Bears, in the beginning of his poem. Possanza comments on Germanicus’ proem that he “embarks upon the creation of a Phaenomena for Roman readers of the Augustan age.” Let us compare the opening lines of Aratus’ Phaenomena and Germanicus’ Phaenomena and investigate this claim.
Ἐκ Διὸς ἀρχώμεσθα, τὸν οὐδέποτ’ ἄνδρες ἐῶμεν
ἄρρητον. μεσταὶ δὲ Διὸς πᾶσαι μὲν ἀγυιαί,
πᾶσαι δ’ ἀνθρώπων ἀγοπαί, μεστὴ δὲ θάλασσα
καὶ λιμένες· πάντη δὲ Διὸς κεχρήμεθα πάντες.
τοῦ γὰρ καὶ γένος εἰμέν· ὁ δ’ ἤπιος ἀνθρώποισι
Aratus Phaenomena 1–6
Ab Iove principium magno deduxit Aratus,
carminis at nobis, genitor, tu maximus auctor,
te veneror, tibi sacra fero doctique laboris
primitias. probat ipse deum rectorque satorque.
QUantum Etenim Possent Anni Certissima Signa,
qua Sol ardentem Cancrum rapidissius ambit
Germanicus Phaenomena 1–6
The proems have been diligently considered by Possanza, who argues that Augustus, possessing numen, but not deified, is the dedicatee for two reasons: (i) that Jupiter rules the sky while the emperor, Augustus, rules the land and sea, and (ii) that the emphasis on peace points to Augustus since he restored it to the world. Possanza thoroughly explains that the references to the emperor-dedicatee do not fit Tiberius, but, in fact, only make sense if Augustus is the dedicatee. Further evidence also supports the interpretation that Augustus is indeed the dedicatee.
5§2 Germanicus’ proem has brought the proem of Vergil’s Georgics (which invokes Octavian as a future leader) to fruition in portraying Octavian as Divus Augustus. “Germanicus’ proem contains only two phrases that can be regarded as close rendering of the Greek.” Ab Iove (Germanicus Phaenomena 1) is clearly a direct translation of Ἐκ Διὸς (Aratus Phaenomena 1), and this is the only place within the proem that Germanicus translates Aratus directly. Anni certissima signa (Germanicus Phaenomena 5) is not a simple second instance following μάλιστα τετυγμένα σημαίνοιεν / … ὡράων (Aratus Phaenomena 12–13), as Possanza suggests. The translation is more complex, as Germanicus is following the passage below from Vergil’s Georgics, well attested both for its engagement with Aratus and for its acrostic with Vergil’s name (MA-VE-PU).
Si uero solem ad rapidum lunasque sequentis
ordine respicies, numquam te crastina fallet
hora, neque insidiis noctis capiere serenae.
luna reuertentis cum primum colligit ignis,
si nigrum obscuro comprenderit aëra cornu,
MAximus agricolis pelagoque parabitur imber;
at si uirgineum suffuderit ore ruborem,
VEntus erit: uento semper rubet aurea Phoebe.
sin ortu quarto (namque is certissimus auctor)
PUra neque obtunsis per caelum cornibus ibit,
totus et ille dies et qui nascentur ab illo
exactum ad mensem pluuia uentisque carebunt,
uotaque seruati soluent in litore nautae
Glauco et Panopeae et Inoo Melicertae.
Sol quoque et exoriens et cum se condet in undas
signa dabit; solem certissima signa sequentur,
et quae mane refert et quae surgentibus astris.
Vergil Georgics 1.424–440
Germanicus takes Vergil’s certissima signa (Vergil Georgics 1.439), which “follow the sun” in the Georgics, and playfully reverses this order by textually placing Sol directly after his certissima signa (Germanicus Phaenomena 5). The first reason why Germanicus can do this is that he is writing a Phaenomena that literally is making things brighter. The second reason lies in a return to discussing dedication.
5§3 There is, as my emphasis of the text aims to show, more to see in these certissima signa. Whereas Vergil has inscribed his own name in an acrostic, Germanicus instead alludes to his addressee in an acronym. Line 5 spells out the acronym “QU-E P-A-C-S.” Germanicus displays his learnedness by revealing the root of pax, pacis in his acronym, and, consequently, more than “locates,” but literally roots “both the activity and the description of what is observed [in this poem] in the context of Augustan peace.” But what about “QU-E”? If we identify genitor and auctor as Augustus (Germanicus Phaenomena 2) and rectorque satorque as Jupiter (4), and we note that Iove is only magno (1) whereas Augustus as auctor is maximus (2), then it is not absurd to suggest that QUE PACS signifies that not only does the rector and sator of the gods approve this work, but so does the peace (and implicitly Augustus as the bringer of that peace) which allows the work to exist at all. “Jupiter himself approves the supreme position of Augustus on earth; the Augustan peace fosters agriculture and seafaring as well as the writing of astronomical poetry by a poet who is himself a member of the imperial family; and the peaceful world order established by Augustus, who possesses divine majesty (numen), will continue under his son Tiberius (nato 16).” Therefore, the reversal of signs and sun suggests Augustus’ numen shines over these signs like the sun.
5§4 There are two further textual points that cannot be ignored. I find much significance in the polyptoton of tu … / te … tibi (Germanicus Phaenomena 2–3). Polyptoton normally occurs with two different forms of one word, but here Germanicus provides three, stylistically conflating polyptoton with tricolon. Germanicus’ interesting verb choice of veneror that directly precedes tibi begs a suggestion that veNEROr TIbi stands out as a possible gloss to Tiberius Nero (Germanicus Phaenomena 2). Having shown that roots are important in this opening, I see principium (Germanicus Phaenomena 1) as an allusion to the stem of princeps (princip-), and, thus, an allusion to the principate as a whole. These two allusions support the idea that Germanicus dedicates the poem to Augustus, but simultaneously invokes the future of his rule in his line.
5§5 This examination of the opening of Germanicus’ Phaenomena shows Germanicus to be a sophisticated and complex poet who lays out his program of the Romanization and conflation of astral subject from the start of his work. It is both through this programmatic control as well as one final textual note of importance that Germanicus assumes authorship. Germanicus makes a bold statement by replacing Aratus’ famous pun on his name, ἄρρητον, with carminis, i.e. carminis … nobis, his own poem. Vergil replaced Aratus’ ἐῶμεν / ἄρρητον (APh. 1-2) with terram / vertere (Georgics 1.1–2), hiding and conflating both Aratus’ name and his own. Aratus, / carminis (Germanicus Phaenomena 1–2) occupies the same line position as Vergil’s terram / vertere (Georgics 1.1–2), and, just as Vergil engages with Hesiod through Aratus with terram / vertere, Germanicus is engaging with Aratus through Vergil. Germanicus does not hide Aratus’ name as Vergil, but straightforwardly creates a strong juxtaposition with carminis at nobis (Germanicus Phaenomena 2). The first five lines of the Georgics display enjambment, as do Germanicus’ (including QUE PACS as the enjambment of line 5), if we see carminis (Germanicus Phaenomena 2) as a “fake” enjambment (it is directly followed by at which plays to this witticism) that plays on the fact that this is not the song of Aratus whose name used to be where carminis sits, but it is instead Germanicus’ own song. Germanicus, then, assumes authorial power in this carefully constructed, Roman introduction. With the invocation of two predecessors (Aratus and Vergil) who have found the need to inscribe their names in their works, it is, perhaps, more significant that Germanicus does not leave his direct signature. He is present implicitly, both through his control over the work and as the next in line to assume the throne after Tiberius.
6. Acrostic Aesthetics
6§1 It has been shown in the preceding sections that Germanicus is familiar with an acrostic tradition that precedes him and that he is successful in creating an acrostic that furthers his specific interest in combining mythology and astrology. Let us turn to a less discussed passage, which seems to yield an interesting, but probably more controversial acrostic.
Celsior ad boream qui vergit circulus altos
et peragit tractus vicinis haud procul ursis,
per geminos currit medios, vestigia tangit
aurigae plantamque terit Perseida laevam,
Transversae Andromedae latera utraque persecat actus
Et totam abs umero dextram; summa ungula pulsu
acris equi ferit orbis iter. tunc candidus ora
Cygnus habet iuxta, cubito lucet super ipsum
Nixa genu facies et primis ignibus anguis.
Effugit at virgo; totus leo, totus in ipso
cancer. ab adversis omnem secat ille leonem
Germanicus Phaenomena 459–469
TE-acris-CNE (463–468) is the acrostic, and I propose that this acrostic is a Latin transliteration of the Greek τέχνη. The transliteration of the Greek τέχνη to the Latin TECNE predates the possibility of TECHNE in the second century BC; however, the antiquated form, TECNE, would have continued to be used. It is not a perfect acrostic like MATER, but seems to be rather a near miss acrostic like ἼΚ-καστηνοῦ-ΝΔῬὍΣ (Nicander’s imperfect signature from his Alexipharmaca as discussed above). A few complexities of the passage must be examined to meet the preliminary requirements for an acrostic.
6§2 For Nicander’s signature, Levitan commented that an emendation would make the signature easier to read, yet it would not have made it a perfect acrostic. We have a similar, but more interesting, situation with this acrostic. If we take the first two words of line 464 (et totam) and 465 (acris equi) and flip them to read totam et and equi acris, both lines still scan perfectly, and a new acrostic appears that spells TECNE (464–468). But what would prompt us to think that these words should be switched? I believe that the first word of our near miss acrostic, transversae, which implies turning around, seems to prove that the split acrostic is intentional and that one ought to see that the first two words of the next two lines can be flipped. So why split the acrostic in the first place? Why show that the acrostic could have been perfect, but not make it so? A few more questions must be addressed to prove that the acrostic serves its purpose as a near miss acrostic.
6§3 First, is this erudition at its finest? Wordplay, perhaps, for wordplay’s sake? Aratus has ΛΕΠΤΗ, so what does Germanicus have in TE(-)CNE? Since, as he says before this passage, he plans to discuss the movements of the planets as well as the constellations (Germanicus Phaenomena 444–445), a topic away from which Aratus shies (Aratus Phaenomena 460–461), is Germanicus trying to outdo Aratus by being comprehensive where Aratus was not? I do not think so.
‘Didactic poetry’ does not have to be comprehensive to be ‘didactic’. It gives us examples, exemplary signs, from which we will be able to take our starting-point. The handbook [i.e. of all knowledge], on the other hand, seeks to offer us a complete techne; in using the handbook, we give up active participation in the acquisition (or confirmation) of knowledge and entrust ourselves to the guidance of an expert.
This excerpt raises a question important to our investigation of this passage: Can Germanicus assume techne, i.e. completion, in this passage and, if so, is this damaging to his larger program? Hunter notes that Nicander “promises completeness (Theriaca 837),” but “that promise is unfulfilled.” Germanicus, in fact, cannot assume a model of techne because it would betray his own reliance upon interpretation to compose his work. Therefore, TECNE is actually a rejection of techne.
6§4 This brings me back to my original claim that the near miss acrostic holds more meaning in its near-miss status. Germanicus shows his reader that while he could make the perfect acronym of TECNE, he does not, because he should not. The near-miss acrostic has an almost aposiopesis-like tone, as the boldness of the Horse seems to step on this meta-text and prevent it from being too bold. Then again, the topic of the section in which this near miss acrostic appears is that a series of constellations are intersected and cut by the path of a sphere. TECNE is cut by Germanicus’ carmen. Aratus’ ΛΕΠΤΗ certainly set a precedent for the aesthetic acrostic and the perfect gamma acrostic, and Germanicus seems to have ingeniously achieved ΛΕΠΤΗ without any mention of the word or allusion to the acrostic whatsoever. Now, perhaps, we should ask, is TE-acris-CNE an acrostic at all? I would argue yes because it is a series of letters in that create a message that enhances an appreciation of the text and reinforces its program.
7. “Augustly” Acrostic?
7§1 Thus far, we have seen how acrostics and wordplay shape Germanicus’ Phaenomena as an individual, Augustan, and sophisticated work. Germanicus seems to be extremely conscious of the acrostic and poetic traditions that precede him and capable of engaging with them. Acrostics and wordplay are certainly important to Germanicus’ didactic programme and assumption of authorship. With this knowledge, we will now examine the acrostics and further hermeneutics of Germanicus’ rendition of Dikê known as the Virgo-Iustitia myth (Germanicus Phaenomena 96–139).
Virginis inde subest facies, cui plena sinistra
fulget spica manu maturisque ardet aristis.
quam te, diva, vocem? tangunt mortalia si te
carmina nec surdam praebes venerantibus aurem,
exosa heu mortale genus, medio mihi cursu
Stabunt quadrupedes et flexis laetus habenis
Teque tuumque canam terris venerabile numen.
Aurea pacati regeres cum saecula mundi,
Iustitia inviolata malis, placidissima virgO,
Sive illa Astraei genus es, quem fama parenteM
Tradidit astrorum, seu vera intercidit aevO
Ortus fama tui, mediis te laeta ferebaS
Sublimis populis nec dedignata subirE
Tecta hominum et puros sine crimine, diva, penatiS
Iura dabas cultuque novo rude vulgus in omnem
formabas vitae sinceris artibus usum.
Germanicus Phaenomena 96–111
In Aratus the myth of Dikê is an account of Justice’s origin on Earth. As Possanza notes, “There is in Roman literature no fully developed mythological tradition attached to the personified figure of Iustitia, apart from her role of an alienated goddess who abandons mankind.” Therefore, Germanicus has the perfect opportunity to blend mythology and astronomy by developing a myth of Iustitia and conflating it with the constellation Virgo.
7§2 Excerpted above are the first sixteen lines of the larger Dikê myth which precede a list of the things men did not do in this aurea … saecula (Germanicus Phaenomena 103). Germanicus frames this passage as highly allusive from its first line with subest facies (Germanicus Phaenomena 96), which can be understood as a metatextual commentary on how images will rise from “underneath” the text. The section is extremely well balanced. Virginis (Germanicus Phaenomena 96) begins the first section of eight lines and then Iustitia (104) begins the next section of eight in the same, primary position. The balance between first, second, and third person verbs creates an authorial voice for Germanicus. This constant shifting of verb tenses makes the passage vivid and balances the expanse of space the passage opens up. We must return again to subest facies (96). An image is rising up in the sky, but this image comes to the reader from within the text the poet sings on land (canam terris, Germanicus Phaenomena 102). The conflation of land and sky flows over into subject as the poet reminisces about when the constellation used to live on earth. In this section verse mirrors universe and the verse-constellations that mirror the firmament are acrostics.
7§3 The first acrostic seems to be a gamma acrostic, STA, (the imperative of stare) emerging from stabunt (Germanicus Phaenomena 101). The next letter in the margin is I, which begins Iustitia (104), a vocative that should be counted as its own entity. STA seems to actually address Iustitia, and so the poet, in his margins where his authority can emerge without reservation, tells his subject to pause just as he does (100–102) so that he may tell her story. The acrostic does not seem to end here, but continues down the right hand margin. The first, person, present, singular, indicative, active and first principle part of stare, STO, appears. This echo of stabunt (101) and STA continues playfully with STI, which does not match any form of stare exactly, but perhaps can be considered a contracted version of the perfect steti, trimmed to three letter, ST(ET)I, to match its two predecessors. This acrostic echoing ends at formabas (111), which is a significant play on words for two reasons. First, forma, the noun related to the verb, can mean concrete form, or image in the sense of facies, which is a synonym. Second, forma can mean a grammatical form as well as frame.
7§4 This long acrostic of forms takes root in the verb stabunt (Germanicus Phaenomena 101), which begins the poet’s offer to stop and tell Iustitia’s story. This acrostic seems to echo forms of the verb ‘to stay/pause/stop’ until formabas (111), which, in allusive fashion, does four things: (i) it literally frames the introduction of this story from stabunt to it, signaled as a frame, (ii) its definition as grammatical form alludes to the echo of stabunt, (iii) it underlines the fact that, as Iustitia is ‘formabas-ing usum’ (so to say) (111), Germanicus is playing with the idea of tangible and intangible form since his textual constellations of acrostics are tangible as text but represent that which is intangible in the sky, (iv) and, lastly, it recalls its synonym facies in the first line (96) of the passage which closes out the entire passage as allusive.
7§5 But how does this suggestion of wordplay much up against the criteria discussed previously? It has already been shown how the acrostic STA (I) STO STI relates well to the passage and the work as a whole, but the matter of precedent must be addressed. Appropriately, this acrostic has Aratean echoes. The gamma form of the first part of the acrostic echoes Aratus’ ΛΕΠΤΗ acrostic, yet it is another Aratean acrostic whose affinity is most significant for STA (I) STO STI.
πάντη γὰρ καθαρῇ κε μάλ’ εὔδια τεκμήραιο
ΠΑΝΤΑ δ’ ἐρευθομένῃ δοκέειν ἀνέμοιο κελεύθους
Αλλοθι δ’ αλλο μελαινομένῃ δοκέειν ὑετοῖο.
805Σήματα δ’ οὐ μάλα πᾶσιν ἐπ’ ἤμασι πάντα τέτυκται
Αλλ’ ὁσα μὲν τριτάτη τε τεταρταίῃ τε πελονται,
Aratus Phaenomena 802–806
Levitan notes that the Π—ΑΝΤΑ|ΠΑΣΑ acrostic reflects “down the left-hand margin … its grammatical variants,” a process Germanicus seems to emulate and take one step farther. Germanicus’ invocation of Iustitia is supplemented by the acrostic STA (I) STO STI that helps to undo the Aratean precedence of Dikê’s remoteness. Germanicus, then, stresses the presence of Iustitia in the beginning of this myth, and this qualifies him to sing her story since it conflates his relative closeness, which this acrostic supports, with his familiarity.
7§6 Now we should turn to the telestich O MOS ES. This translates directly to “Oh, you are mos.” First, a few notes on the form should be made, and, then, an inquiry into the significance, context, and translation of mos. The formulation of the six letters is unique in multiple ways. While we see MOS as the second word in the telestich part of a combined two-word acrostic-telestich in Vergil (ALMAE MOS), this acrostic technically has three separate parts. This is the first attested acrostic of which I am aware in classical literature before Germanicus that formulates an entire sentence. Including Robert Colborn’s SPARSU comparison, this is technically the second example of shared vocabulary in an acrostic, but the first simulation of an intended acrostic. Thus, this acrostic is significant in the way it meets the requirement of acrostic precedent while at the same time exults its own ingeniousness.
7§7 The importance of this acrostic is put forth by its form alone, but its meaning and implications may hold even more significance. The quintessentially Roman word mos raises interesting questions in the context of the dedicatee, Augustus; the subject of the passage in which its acrostic appears, Iustitia; and, lastly, the program of the work, catasterism and the fusion of mythology and astrology. In order to better understand both the authenticity and implications of O MOS ES, let us examine mos with these questions in mind.
7§8 The role of Augustus as a protector of mos is clear from his Res Gestae Divi Augusti.
[consulibus M(arco) V]in[icio et Q(uinto) Lucretio] et postea P(ublio) Lentulo et Cn(aeo) L[entulo et terti]um [Paullo Fabio Maximo] e[t Q(uinto) Tuberone senatu populoq]u[e Romano consentientibus] Ut c[urator legum et morum summa potestate solus crearer, nullum magistratum contra morem maiorum delatum recepi
Augustus Res Gestae Divi Augusti 6.1
In the consulship of Marcus Vinucius and Quintus Lucretius, and after that of Publius and Genaus Lentulus, and thirdly of Paullus Fabius Maximus and Quintus Tubero, when both the senate and the people of Rome were in agreement that I alone should be appointed supervisor of both laws and customs possessing the greatest authority.
Trans. Cooley 2009
Cooley notes that while Augustus here claims to have turned the offer down three times, others note that he accepted or fulfilled the duties in different ways. “This discrepancy may have risen from the fact that although Augustus states he rejected the office, he did in fact accomplish what was required of him by virtue of his tribunician power instead… Certainly, contemporary poets writing after the events related here give the impression that Augustus had effectively taken steps to regulate morals at Rome through his legislation.” Two points important for this inquiry should be drawn from this excerpt of text and Cooley’s research: that mos and lex are presented together, and that Augustus is a protector, promoter, and creator of both mos and lex. Cooley gives an example of Augustus’ development and creation of mos when she discusses how he first calls other generals’ soldiers his own troops. Augustus “can successfully represent himself both as guardian of tradition and as bold innovator. This balancing act emerges most clearly in his claim to be reintroducing exemplary ancestral practices through his new laws.” These laws “promoted the ideal of restoring tradition Roman morality and religious practices,” which mos certainly encompasses.
7§8 Therefore, mos is something which Augustus both honors as having been passed down to him but also develops himself, especially through the creation of laws with his tribunician power. The connection between mos and lex seems to suggest a connection between mos and Iustitia through Augustus, since, like mos, Augustus inherits the iura (Germanicus Phaenomena 110), a synonym for leges, that Iustitia lays down for men. Augustus achieves worldwide peace for Rome both by defending mos and leges/iura but also by re-instilling these Roman institutions into society. Augustus, then, appears to play the role of a second Iustitia. While Germanicus does not directly compare Augustus and Iustitia it is almost certain that a reader would have been meant to hold Augustus in mind during this passage. The acrostic O MOS ES confirms this.
7§9 What is known of the relationship between Iustitia and the principate is worth mentioning. The clipeus virtutis, or shield of virtue, presented to Augustus is a shield clementiae / iustitiae pietatis erga / deos patriamque. “Coins were minted for emperors that either depicted a personification of justice, Iustitia, or simply included the Latin word as an inscription.” The earliest example of this type of coin seems to be AD 22-23. “a dupondius of Tiberius … includ[ing] the inscription IUSTITIA below the head of Livia on the obverse.” It seems that the principate, starting with Augustus, was seen as responsible for the order and law that Iustitia brings in Germanicus’ Virgo-Iustitia myth. By the time of Tiberius this is a sense of order that had become expected, and thus a minting of such a coin as Livia-Iustitia would further an Augustan sense of peace. Perhaps the most significant connection between Augustus and Iustitia can be found in Ovid.
Principe nec nostro deus est moderatior ullus :
Iustitia vires temperat ille suas.
nuper eam Caesar facto de marmore templo
iampridem posuit mentis in aede suae.
Epistulae ex Ponto 3.6.23–26
And no god is milder than our Prince, for Justice tempers his strength. Her Caesar but recently installed in a marble temple; long ago he enshrined her in his heart.
Trans. Wheeler 1924
Augustus dedicated the temple to which Ovid alludes to Iustitia on January 8, AD 13. Lastly, Iustitia sometimes has the title Augusta in inscriptions. This evidence all suggests a connection between the emperor so responsible for preserving customs and customary laws and Iustitia.
7§10 Germanicus’ acrostics seem to compliment each other. PACS from the opening of the work finds an echo in MOS, which can easily be related to STA (I) STI STO since it is formed while Germanicus has drawn his reigns and his quadrupes stabunt (so to say) (Germanicus Phaenomena 101). The melody of Germanicus’ carmen is undeniably Roman, and acrostics seem to set the score. That O MOS ES relates to the passage that forms things (formabas, Germanicus Phaenomena 111), an invocation of Augustus that echoes throughout the work, and the setting of Roman peace in which the work and those echoes resonate is clear, but how does this acrostic complement Germanicus’ larger interest in catasterism? Acrostics are the constellations of this poem, so when Germanicus situates mos in the sky, he seems to be alluding to the merge of Augustus and Jupiter to share rule over the universe once Augustus has been apotheosized. Thus far mos has seemed to represent custom, law, and even religious practice, but what does the astral natura (a synonym for mos) that Germanicus attributes to the word mean? I believe that this is Germanicus’ appropriation of an essentially Greek myth into his Roman poem. Iustitia is not a forced or lame equivalent of Dikê, she is Roman, and she is MOS. Thus, the acrostic directly adresses Virgo-Iustitia. After all, it is the “o” in virgo (Germanicus Phaenomena 104) that begins the acrostic. The heavens are becoming/will become Roman, and it is Iustitia who watches over them, a Roman MOS which Augustus will indeed continue and protect in the afterlife as well.
8. Acrostic Authority in Review
8§1 Scholarship and tradition show that acrostics were certainly a sophisticated form of poetic expression in the ancient world, and, while there may be no rules for a game made to bend rules, the importance of intertextuality and precedent to Roman authors nevertheless makes this a somewhat traceable process. This inquiry has shown that Germanicus derives authority from his uses of wordplay and acrostics, and that he is a sophisticated author who is familiar with the Hellenistic and Vergilian traditions that precede him. By uncovering previously unseen and significant facets of Germanicus’ Phaenomena, this inquiry undeniably exhibits Germanicus’ poetic talents in a new light. Acrostics and wordplay have a wide range of uses for Germanicus; they showcase his doctrina, further his interest in catasterism, and brand his poem as his own Phaenomena and one distinctly Roman. Acrostics are often met with skepticism, perhaps because the field of wordplay is by nature so allusive that a list of criteria is difficult to create or synthesize. Nevertheless, it is possible, as this inquiry has shown, to construct some sort of basis of criteria for authenticity that can focus and assist the examination of wordplay. I include other scholars’ comments on different individual requirements of acrostics, yet my approach, albeit partly synthetic, is, perhaps, somewhat novel in its extent and consistency. The different forms of wordplay, including acrostics, in this paper certainly merit attention and discussion as each one’s authenticity is interrogated. Therefore, as other scholars of acrostics and wordplay have said before me, I hope that the new discoveries and heretofore unnoted points made in this inquiry further the idea that wordplay, especially acrostic wordplay, was an incredibly critical and important part of poetic composition and that Germanicus is a significant poet in this tradition.
 See Possnza 2004:172–186.
 “The translator may refer to the translation process itself and stimulate in the reader an awareness of the course text, thereby creating a new level of meaning that exists between the two texts.” Possanza 2004:107.
 “For these translators [of Greek into Latin from 240 BC – AD 17] the source text is not an isolated linguistic artifact but part of a complex system of texts whose nature is not static but dynamic.” Brackets are mine. Possanza 2004:1–2.
 Gale 2005:113. On self-consciousness, see also Volk 2002:6–24.
 “Rome’s first poets … grafted the Latin language onto the stock of Greek poetry and thus put Latin poetry on a course of development that would continue to draw life from Greek roots.” Possanza 2004:1–2.
 “We know that many ancient poets used poetic acrostics. In De Divinatione 2.111, Cicero tells us that Ennius … used an ἀκροστιχίς to spell out Q. ENNIVS FECIT in one of his works, which one unfortunately not specified.” Hendry 1994:108.
 See Garulli 2013:246–278.
 For a discussion of Nicander’s acrostic signatures see Levitan 1979:59–60.
 Damschen 2004:95, 111.
 The Greek is as it appears in Lobel 1928:114, except I have changed all sigmas that end words from σ to ς and flipped the order in which the passages appear.
 Levitan 1979:59–60.
 Haslam’s qualification for an Aratean acrostic. Haslam 1992:200–201.
 Hunter 2008:234.
 I owe great thanks to Robert Colborn and Gregor Damschen for their stress of this criterion.
 Colborn 2013:450–452.
 “Hilberg, who discovered the sequence, recognized it as a mere coincidence, and there are two good reasons why it cannot have been deliberate. First, there is nothing in the adjacent passage to which it corresponds either in sense or etymologically. The position of the acrostic, secondly, is too inopportune to be genuine. For while spargo and its cognates are occasionally used to describe the arrangement of stars, the SPARSV sequence falls in a part of the poem to which a notion of scattering bears no relevance: the Aratean tale of the ages of man. While a narrative passage is a suitable location for an acrostic of general and obvious significance to a poem (as with Nicander Theriaca 345–353 ΝΙΚΑΝΔΡΟΣ, housed within a narrative), sparsu cannot claim such an honor. It makes best sense, therefore, to treat it as simply a product of chance.” It should be noted that Colborn also claims in the passage preceding the previous excerpt that there are no genuine acrostics in Germanicus’ Phaenomena, though he suggests why he thinks this may be. Colborn 2013:450.
 For thorough discussions of the ΛΕΠΤΗ acrostics as well as other Aratean acrostics see the following. Danielewicz 2005:321–322. For an impressive and expanded new examination, see Hanses 2014, Haslam 1992, Katz 2008:106–110, Levitan 1979:55–57, and Volk 2012 :226–227.
 Possanza 2004:116.
 Pendergraft explains that Aratus “alludes to a myth of catasterism in an ambiguous way” and only addresses catasterism explicitly once in the myth of Dikê (Aratus Phaenomena 96-136). Pendergraft 1990:103.
 Possanza 2004:126.
 Possanza 2004:121.
 Square brackets are mine. Thomas 1986:176.
 Latin text and translation of the Aeneid are from Fairclough 1916.
 A telestich is an acrostic formed by a combination of the last letters of different lines. Telestichs are attested in ancient literature just as acrostics are, occurring in Vergil and Ovid.
 Emphasis is mine.
 Bing 1990:281n1.
 Feeney and Nelis 2005:645–646, n8. Latin text of the Georgics is from Thomas 1988.
 Possanza 2004:105.
 For a good examination of this widely-referenced allusion see Bing 1990.
 Greek text of Aratus’ Phaenomena is from Kidd 1997.
 The emphasis of the text is mine. Latin text of Germanicus’ Phaenomena is from Gain 1976.
 Possanza 2004:106, 227–233.
 Possanza 2004:229, 232–233.
 Possanza 2004:230–231.
 Possanza 2004:113–114.
 Possanza 2004:107.
 MA-VE-PU signifies Vergil’s name backwards: Publius Vergilius Maro. Feeney and Nelis 2005:644–646. Volk 2012:230–231.
 Emphasis is mine.
 Possanza 2004:111.
 Possanza notes the comparison of these two adjectives. Possanza 2004:107.
 Possanza 2004:108–109.
 See n30 above.
 For the discovery of Vergil’s signature here and brilliant discussion of his ingenuity see Katz 2008b:105–123.
 Katz 2008b:122.
 “That is to say, three of them do, for the first by definition cannot.” Katz 2008b:115n1.
 For the allusion to a line of succession see Possanza 2004:108–109.
 Despite two brief comments in two footnotes (on 421 and 444–445), Possanza does not address lines 423–530 in his entire book, according to his Index of Passages. Possanza 2004:265–266.
 Emphasis is mine.
 Bonvicini 2012:64–65.
 Joshua Katz suggests the acrostic FORMICA from FRO-MI-AC (Vergil Aeneid IV 399–402). Katz 2008a:77–86. This requires that line 400 be skipped, RO be flipped to OR, and AC be flipped to CA. What is most interesting about FOR-MI-AC in relation to this inquiry is the importance of the visual from Dido’s point of view of the men working who look like ants from far away, which Katz contextualizes and notes. This visual component finds an echo in the importance of reading and visualization in Germanicus and Aratus (see Volk 2012:209–240). The difference between FRO-MI-AC and TECNE is that the latter shows a simple reversal of two words in two lines could have made a perfect acrostic, but he chooses not to flip them, whereas these must be flipped to understand Vergil’s acrostic. Germanicus once again makes his acrostic inextricable from his point. Germanicus overcomes the difficult challenge of showing something without showing it. The idea that Germanicus’ point cannot be shown without not being shown is almost nonsensical and this solidifies the authority and function of the acrostic.
 “This treatment [of the planets by Germanicus] is contained in the second part of his poem, of which fragments ii-vi are all that remain.” Aratus Phaenomena 105.
 Hunter 2008:174n63.
 To my knowledge, the most comprehensive treatment of Germanicus’ version of the myth is only in Italian: Bellandi et al. 2001:13–86. A comparative treatment between Aratus, Germanicus, and Cicero’s versions of the myth can be found in Possanza 2004:128–145. Lastly, for the textual tradition and other notes see Aratus Phaenomena 86-87.
 Emphasis is mine.
 Possanza 2004:162n42.
 Iustitia in Germanicus is, thus, as Bellandi et al. have said, “[un] mito arateo “tradotto” e profundamente riplasmato.” Bellandi et al. 2001:86.
 The concept of “verse and universe” is Gee’s but is also discussed thoroughly by Volk. Gee 2000:66–91. Volk 2012:225–235.
 The idea that “Iustitia” can have a function in relation to the acrostic finds precedent in Gregor Damschen’s understanding of the word Romae whose final letter E forms the fifth letter of the Vergilian “Akroteleuton” ALMAE MOS which he has proposed. Damschen suggests that the acrostic be read ALMAE (Romae) MOS. I suggest in a not dissimilar manner that Germanicus’ acrostic be read STA (Iustitia) STO STI. Damschen 2004:108n64.
 For an excellent example of just how compact the meaning of a single word can be, see Katz 2008b:105–123.
 The Greek is as it appears in Levitan 1979:57.
 Levitan 1979:58.
 Posited by Gregor Damschen. Damschen 2004:108n64.
 Latin text and translation of the Res Gestae Divi Augusti is from Cooley 2009.
 19 BC. Cooley 2010:130, 153.
 18 BC. Cooley 2010:130.
 11 BC. Cooley 2010:130.
 Cooley 2010:130–131.
 Cooley 2010:131.
 Cooley 2010:25.
 Cooley 2010:38.
 Mos est <institum pa> trium; id est memoria veterum pertinens maxime ad religiones <caerim> oniasque antiquorum. Lindsay 1913:146.
 Augustus Res Gestae Divi Augusti 266–267.
 Cooley 2010:148, 238n43.
 Cooley 2010:283n43.
 Latin text of Epistulae Ex Ponto is from Wheeler 1924.
 See n57 above.
 I owe much thanks to Robert Colborn and Gregor Damschen for encouraging me to take up this project with my acrostic findings and introducing me to the exciting corpus of acrostic scholarship. I give thanks also to M. Hanses for letting me see and reference his informative and forthcoming paper. Lastly, I thank Emma Gee for her helpful feedback and the Center for Hellenic Studies for their support and assistance.
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