Virgilian Echoes in the Aenigmata Symposii: Two Unnoticed Technopaignia

Castelletti, Cristiano ; Siegenthaler, Pierre

In: Philologus, 2016, vol. 160, no. 1, p. 133-150

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    This paper aims to provide a new interpretation of the first riddles of the Aenigmata ascribed to Symposius, discussing two technopaignia that seem to have gone unnoticed by scholars. The first one is the boustrophedon acrostic TAVROD ("by the ox” or "from the ox”), embedded in the opening riddle of the collection (Graphium/Stilus). The second acrostic is in the third riddle (Anulus cum gemma): the boustrophedon sequence spells the word CIRIUS (or CISIUS), which could be interpreted as the author's signature (his name would be Caerius or Caesius), or as the adjective cereus, "of wax”, or as a transliteration of the Greek κύριος "Lord”. The sources of inspiration for these features are the boustrophedon acrostics ASTILOMV (= A STILO M[aronis] V[ergili]), and MOS QIS EI (= mos quis ei?) composed by Virgil at the very beginning of the Aeneid (the poet's sphragis). Virgil (whose source of inspiration is Aratus) used the boustrophedon to allude to the origins of writing, and to archaic Rome. The author of the Aenigmata, revealing his mastery of the techniques of acrostic composition, provides a late antique reading of his sources, acknowledging the genuine character of the Virgilian sphragis.