Unsolved Mysteries

Most texts and materials on this site have to do with the Latin language, including its perception in popular culture: movies, tattoos, inscriptions, engravings, bits of ancient philosophy, online Latin resources and company names. There is also information about learning Latin and Greek: textbooks, dictionaries, DVDs and software that can be used in a homeschooling environment.


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An acrostic in Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica

 
Tuesday, April 1, 2008, 14:26 - Latin Language, Unsolved Mysteries and Myths, Poetry, Literature, Music
Posted by Administrator
Haec ubi non ulla iuvenes formidine moti
accipiunt (dulce et dura sic pergere mente), 175
terga sequi properosque iubet coniungere gressus.
litore in extremo spelunca apparuit ingens
arboribus super et dorso contecta minanti,
non quae dona deum, non quae trahat aetheris ignem,
infelix domus et sonitu tremebunda profundi. 180
at varii pro rupe metus: hinc trunca rotatis
bracchia rapta viris strictoque immortua caestu
ossaque taetra situ <et> capitum maestissimus ordo
per piceas, quibus adverso sub vulnere nulla
iam facies nec nomen erat; media ipsius arma 185
sacra metu[que] magnique aris imposta parentis.


Val. Fl. 4

The acrostic reads LANIABO. However, in older editions line 184 used be rendered as "respicias." So, we would have had LANIABOR, which is a lot more interesting. Did the acrostic contain a self-fulfilling prophesy about the transmission of the text?

Of arms and the man I sing - a trifle of numerology

 
The number of books in Homer's "Iliad": 24.
The number of books in Homer's "Odyssey": 24

The number of words in the opening passage of Virgil's Aeneid, the poem justly believed to incorporate the themes of Homer's two great epic works: 48 (24+24).


Arma virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris
Italiam fato profugus Laviniaque venit
litora, multum ille et terris iactatus et alto
vi superum, saevae memorem Iunonis ob iram,
multa quoque et bello passus, dum conderet urbem
inferretque deos Latio; genus unde Latinum
Albanique patres atque altae moenia Romae.


See also:
Roman numerals in numerology

Sepulchral rings

 
Monday, February 4, 2008, 14:02 - Fine Arts, Unsolved Mysteries and Myths
Posted by Administrator
F. M. Marshall makes this observation about this specific type of ancient rings in his Catalogue of the Finger Rings, Greek, Etruscan, and Roman:

Several of these rings are so flimsy that they can scarcely have been intended for the use of the living.

A few days ago I was looking at some lots of "Roman and Medieval" rings and it was precisely their "flimsy" condition that surprised me. Marshall's words put everything in its place. Indeed, it is safe to assume that a good deal of antique and vintage items that show up on eBay are the loot of European gravediggers.

Sortes Virgilianae

 
I have always used the phrase Sortes Virgilianae as the only term describing the practice of divination with the use of Virgil's works. In English this is probably best rendered as Virgilian lots. Recently I came across an absolutely delightful term "Maronian lottery".

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