More Latian Anagrams (Aen. 8.314–36)

P. Chaudhuri and J.P. Dexter Classical Philology 117 2022-01-07

This note offers a new reading of Evander’s speech at Aeneid 8.314–36. The passage contains a celebrated anagrammatic wordplay centering on the word Latium, to which we add several newly identified anagrams. We argue that these wordplays represent in microcosm the composition, disintegration, and recomposition of states leading up to and including Rome itself. In doing so, the anagrams convey an underlying evolutionary process in which elements—whether letters or peoples—are grouped differently over time to create new words and identities. At the same time, couched in Evander’s moralizing discourse about human evolution, the wordplay does more than merely exemplify societal change: formal features embody real-world processes with major historical and ethical effects.