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VALERIUS FLACCUS’ LANIABOR-ACROSTIC (ARGONAUTICA 4.177-84)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 March 2017

Neil Adkin
Affiliation:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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Extract

‘Of course laniabor is not a name.’ Thus very recently Cristiano Castelletti in a discussion of this notorious acrostic, which he associates with Aratean ἄρρητον (Phaen. 2) and Virgilian MA VE PV (G. 1.429-33). If, however, laniabor is itself ‘not a name’, the aim of the present annotatiuncula is to argue that it is an etymological play on a ‘name’. Laniabor spans the description of Amycus’ cave, which is adorned with the dismembered limbs of his victims: Amycus himself will shortly suffer the same fate at Pollux’ hands. The name ‘Amycus’ was etymologized from ἀμύσσω (‘tear’; LSJ s.v. I), which exactly matches lanio (‘tear’; OLD s.v. 1a). Hence by a cutely etymological jeu onomastique ‘Tearer’ says ‘I'll be torn’.

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Shorter Notes
Copyright
Copyright © The Classical Association 2017 

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References

1 Castelletti, C., ‘Aratus and the Aratean tradition in Valerius’ Argonautica ’, in Augoustakis, A. (ed.), Flavian Poetry and its Greek Past (Leiden, 2014), 4972, at 58CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Castelletti's recent review (Gnomon 84 [2012], 367–9, at 369) of Murgatroyd, P., A Commentary on Book 4 of Valerius Flaccus’ Argonautica (Leiden and Boston, 2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar chides this commentator for resembling all his predecessors in failing to be aware of this acrostic, which was also discussed by Castelletti in ‘Riflessioni sugli acrostici di Valerio Flacco’, GIF 60 (2008), 219–34, at 221–4Google Scholar, where (221) Castelletti wrongly describes this acrostic as ‘l'unico di Valerio accettato da Hilberg’: laniabor was in fact dismissed as a ‘neckisches Spiel des Zufalls’ in Hilberg's canonical collection (‘Ist die Ilias Latina von einem Italicus verfasst oder einem Italicus gewidmet?’, WS 21 [1899], 264305, at 269)Google Scholar, though he did qualify it as ‘die merkwürdigste Stelle’ of all his ‘Zufallsakrosticha’.

2 Cf. Korn, M., Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 4.1-343: Ein Kommentar (Hildesheim, 1989), 138 Google Scholar, who on line 192 ([te] … tua silua ferat) comments: ‘Pollux denkt wohl daran, die Leiche des Amycus bzw. deren Teile (damit entspräche die Rache dem begangenen Frevel; vgl. bracchia 182, ossa 183, capitum 183) an einem oder mehreren Bäumen dieses Waldes aufzuhängen.’

3 Cf. Roscher, W.H., Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie (Leipzig, 1884–1890), 1.326 (s.v.)Google Scholar.

4 Madvig, J.N., Adversaria critica ad scriptores Graecos et Latinos (Copenhagen, 1873), 2.142-3Google Scholar.

5 For the preference of earlier editors for respicias, cf. the conspectus in Korn (n. 2), 134.

6 Cf. Adkin, N., ‘“Read the edge”: acrostics in Virgil's Sinon episode’, ACD 50 (2014), 45–72, at 49–52Google Scholar.

7 For nomen as an etymological hint, cf. O'Hara, J.J., True Names: Vergil and the Alexandrian Tradition of Etymological Wordplay (Ann Arbor, 1996), 75–9Google Scholar.

8 So Murgatroyd (n. 1), 113.

9 So Korn (n. 2), 135. A similarly subtextual wink would seem to be tipped by immediately antecedent aduerso sub uulnere (4.184), which likewise requires explanation by commentators (cf. e.g. Korn [n. 2], 135). Aduerso (‘facing’; OLD s.v. 1a) fits a ‘facing’ acrostic; sub (‘[denoting a position lower than or beneath something] under’; OLD s.v. A1a) fits its position ‘under’ an acrostic; uulnere (‘wound’; OLD s.v. 1a) fits acrostical lanio (‘wound savagely’; OLD s.v. 1a). Nomen itself in the next line (4.185) would seem to be anticipated by oddly periphrastic maerentem nomen amici exactly fifty lines earlier (4.136) at the start of the entire section: here amici is an exact homonym of Amyci, whose nomen is at issue in the acrostic. A similarly preparative function would seem to be served exactly halfway between nomen amici (136) and nec nomen (185) by the strikingly twofold nomen of line 161, where the second nomen is generally subjected to emendation or athetization. For such ‘long-distance’ clues to an acrostic, cf. Adkin (n. 6), 52–4, 59–62, 65–8.

10 Nomen was etymologized from nosco; cf. Maltby, R., A Lexicon of Ancient Latin Etymologies (Leeds, 1991), 413 Google Scholar (s.v. nomen).

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