In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery; the Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early and Late Middle Ages. Population decline, counterurbanisation, collapse of centralized authority and mass migrations of tribes, which had begun in Late Antiquity, continued in the Early Middle Ages; the large-scale movements of the Migration Period, including various Germanic peoples, formed new kingdoms in what remained of the Western Roman Empire. In the 7th century, North Africa and the Middle East—once part of the Byzantine Empire—came under the rule of the Umayyad Caliphate, an Islamic empire, after conquest by Muhammad's successors. Although there were substantial changes in society and political structures, the break with classical antiquity was not complete.
The still-sizeable Byzantine Empire, Rome's direct continuation, survived in the Eastern Mediterranean and remained a major power. The empire's law code, the Corpus Juris Civilis or "Code of Justinian", was rediscovered in Northern Italy in 1070 and became admired in the Middle Ages. In the West, most kingdoms incorporated the few extant Roman institutions. Monasteries were founded; the Franks, under the Carolingian dynasty established the Carolingian Empire during the 8th and early 9th century. It covered much of Western Europe but succumbed to the pressures of internal civil wars combined with external invasions: Vikings from the north, Magyars from the east, Saracens from the south. During the High Middle Ages, which began after 1000, the population of Europe increased as technological and agricultural innovations allowed trade to flourish and the Medieval Warm Period climate change allowed crop yields to increase. Manorialism, the organisation of peasants into villages that owed rent and labour services to the nobles, feudalism, the political structure whereby knights and lower-status nobles owed military service to their overlords in return for the right to rent from lands and manors, were two of the ways society was organised in the High Middle Ages.
The Crusades, first preached in 1095, were military attempts by Western European Christians to regain control of the Holy Land from Muslims. Kings became the heads of centralised nation-states, reducing crime and violence but making the ideal of a unified Christendom more distant. Intellectual life was marked by scholasticism, a philosophy that emphasised joining faith to reason, by the founding of universities; the theology of Thomas Aquinas, the paintings of Giotto, the poetry of Dante and Chaucer, the travels of Marco Polo, the Gothic architecture of cathedrals such as Chartres are among the outstanding achievements toward the end of this period and into the Late Middle Ages. The Late Middle Ages was marked by difficulties and calamities including famine and war, which diminished the population of Europe. Controversy and the Western Schism within the Catholic Church paralleled the interstate conflict, civil strife, peasant revolts that occurred in the kingdoms. Cultural and technological developments transformed European society, concluding the Late Middle Ages and beginning the early modern period.
The Middle Ages is one of the three major periods in the most enduring scheme for analysing European history: classical civilisation, or Antiquity. The "Middle Ages" first appears in Latin in 1469 as media tempestas or "middle season". In early usage, there were many variants, including medium aevum, or "middle age", first recorded in 1604, media saecula, or "middle ages", first recorded in 1625; the alternative term "medieval" derives from medium aevum. Medieval writers divided history into periods such as the "Six Ages" or the "Four Empires", considered their time to be the last before the end of the world; when referring to their own times, they spoke of them as being "modern". In the 1330s, the humanist and poet Petrarch referred to pre-Christian times as antiqua and to the Christian period as nova. Leonardo Bruni was the first historian to use tripartite periodisation in his History of the Florentine People, with a middle period "between the fall of the Roman Empire and the revival of city life sometime in late eleventh and twelfth centuries".
Tripartite periodisation became standard after the 17th-century German historian Christoph Cellarius divided history into three periods: ancient and modern. The most given starting point for the Middle Ages is around 500, with the date of 476 first used by Bruni. Starting dates are sometimes used in the outer parts of Europe. For Europe as a whole, 1500 is considered to be the end of the Middle Ages, but there is no universally agreed upon end date. Depending on the context, events such as the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, Christopher Columbus's first voyage to the Americas in 1492, or the Protestant Reformation in 1517 are sometimes used. English historians use the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 to mark the end of the period. For Spain, dates used are the death of King Ferdinand II in 1516, the death of Queen Isabella I of Castile in 1504, or the conquest of Granada in 1492. Historians from Romance-speaking countries tend to divide the Middle Ages into two parts: an earlier "High" and late
Hesiod was a Greek poet thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. He is regarded as the first written poet in the Western tradition to regard himself as an individual persona with an active role to play in his subject. Ancient authors credited Homer with establishing Greek religious customs. Modern scholars refer to him as a major source on Greek mythology, farming techniques, early economic thought, archaic Greek astronomy and ancient time-keeping; the dating of Hesiod's life is a contested issue in scholarly circles. Epic narrative allowed poets like Homer no opportunity for personal revelations. However, Hesiod's extant work comprises several didactic poems in which he went out of his way to let his audience in on a few details of his life. There are three explicit references in Works and Days, as well as some passages in his Theogony that support inferences made by scholars; the former poem says that his father came from Cyme in Aeolis and crossed the sea to settle at a hamlet, near Thespiae in Boeotia, named Ascra, "a cursed place, cruel in winter, hard in summer, never pleasant".
Hesiod's patrimony there, a small piece of ground at the foot of Mount Helicon, occasioned lawsuits with his brother Perses, who seems, at first, to have cheated him of his rightful share thanks to corrupt authorities or "kings" but became impoverished and ended up scrounging from the thrifty poet. Unlike his father, Hesiod was averse to sea travel, but he once crossed the narrow strait between the Greek mainland and Euboea to participate in funeral celebrations for one Athamas of Chalcis, there won a tripod in a singing competition, he describes a meeting between himself and the Muses on Mount Helicon, where he had been pasturing sheep when the goddesses presented him with a laurel staff, a symbol of poetic authority. Fanciful though the story might seem, the account has led ancient and modern scholars to infer that he was not a professionally trained rhapsode, or he would have been presented with a lyre instead; some scholars have seen Perses as a literary creation, a foil for the moralizing that Hesiod develops in Works and Days, but there are arguments against that theory.
For example, it is quite common for works of moral instruction to have an imaginative setting, as a means of getting the audience's attention, but it could be difficult to see how Hesiod could have travelled around the countryside entertaining people with a narrative about himself if the account was known to be fictitious. Gregory Nagy, on the other hand, sees both Pérsēs and Hēsíodos as fictitious names for poetical personae, it might seem unusual that Hesiod's father migrated from Asia Minor westwards to mainland Greece, the opposite direction to most colonial movements at the time, Hesiod himself gives no explanation for it. However around 750 BC or a little there was a migration of seagoing merchants from his original home in Cyme in Asia Minor to Cumae in Campania, his move west had something to do with that, since Euboea is not far from Boeotia, where he established himself and his family; the family association with Aeolian Cyme might explain his familiarity with eastern myths, evident in his poems, though the Greek world might have developed its own versions of them.
In spite of Hesiod's complaints about poverty, life on his father's farm could not have been too uncomfortable if Works and Days is anything to judge by, since he describes the routines of prosperous yeomanry rather than peasants. His farmer employs a friend as well as servants, an energetic and responsible ploughman of mature years, a slave boy to cover the seed, a female servant to keep house and working teams of oxen and mules. One modern scholar surmises that Hesiod may have learned about world geography the catalogue of rivers in Theogony, listening to his father's accounts of his own sea voyages as a merchant; the father spoke in the Aeolian dialect of Cyme but Hesiod grew up speaking the local Boeotian, belonging to the same dialect group. However, while his poetry features some Aeolisms there are no words that are Boeotian, his basic language was the main literary dialect of Homer's Ionian. It is probable that Hesiod wrote his poems down, or dictated them, rather than passed them on orally, as rhapsodes did—otherwise the pronounced personality that now emerges from the poems would have been diluted through oral transmission from one rhapsode to another.
Pausanias asserted that Boeotians showed him an old tablet made of lead on which the Works were engraved. If he did write or dictate, it was as an aid to memory or because he lacked confidence in his ability to produce poems extempore, as trained rhapsodes could do, it wasn't in a quest for immortal fame since poets in his era had no such notions for themselves. However, some scholars suspect the presence of large-scale changes in the text and attribute this to oral transmission, he composed his verses during idle times on the farm, in the spring before the May harvest or the dead of winter. The personality behind the poems is unsuited to the kind of "aristocratic withdrawal" typical of a rhapsode but is instead "argumentative, suspicious humorous, fond of proverbs, wary of women." He was in fact a misogynist of t
Garden of Eden
The Garden of Eden called Paradise, is the biblical "garden of God" described in the Book of Genesis and the Book of Ezekiel. Genesis 13:10 refers to the "garden of God", the "trees of the garden" are mentioned in Ezekiel 31; the Book of Zechariah and the Book of Psalms refer to trees and water without explicitly mentioning Eden. The name derives from the Akkadian edinnu, from a Sumerian word edin meaning "plain" or "steppe" related to an Aramaic root word meaning "fruitful, well-watered". Another interpretation associates the name with a Hebrew word for "pleasure"; the Hebrew term is translated "pleasure" in Sarah's secret saying in Genesis 18:12. Like the Genesis flood narrative, the Genesis creation narrative and the account of the Tower of Babel, the story of Eden echoes the Mesopotamian myth of a king, as a primordial man, placed in a divine garden to guard the Tree of Life; the Hebrew Bible depicts Adam and Eve as walking around the Garden of Eden naked due to their innocence. The location of Eden is described in the Book of Genesis as the source of four tributaries.
The Garden of Eden is considered to be mythological by most scholars. Among those that consider it to have been real, there have been various suggestions for its location: at the head of the Persian Gulf, in southern Mesopotamia where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers run into the sea; the second part of the Genesis creation narrative, Genesis 2:4-3:24, opens with YHWH-Elohim creating the first man, whom he placed in a garden that he planted "eastward in Eden". "And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree, pleasant to the sight, good for food. Last of all, the God made a woman from a rib of the man to be a companion for the man. In chapter three, the man and the woman were seduced by the serpent into eating the forbidden fruit, they were expelled from the garden to prevent them from eating of the tree of life, thus living forever. Cherubim were placed east of the garden, "and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way of the tree of life". Genesis 2:10–14 lists four rivers in association with the garden of Eden: Pishon, Gihon and Phirat.
It refers to the land of Cush—translated/interpreted as Ethiopia, but thought by some to equate to Cossaea, a Greek name for the land of the Kassites. These lands lie north of Elam to the east of ancient Babylon, unlike Ethiopia, does lie within the region being described. In Antiquities of the Jews, the first-century Jewish historian Josephus identifies the Pishon as what "the Greeks called Ganges" and the Geon as the Nile. According to Lars-Ivar Ringbom the paradisus terrestris is located in Shiz in northeastern Iran. In Ezekiel 28:12–19 the prophet Ezekiel the "son of man" sets down God's word against the king of Tyre: the king was the "seal of perfection", adorned with precious stones from the day of his creation, placed by God in the garden of Eden on the holy mountain as a guardian cherub, but the king sinned through wickedness and violence, so he was driven out of the garden and thrown to the earth, where now he is consumed by God's fire: "All those who knew you in the nations are appalled at you, you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.".
According to Terje Stordalen, the Eden in Ezekiel appears to be located in Lebanon. "t appears that the Lebanon is an alternative placement in Phoenician myth of the Garden of Eden", there are connections between paradise, the garden of Eden and the forests of Lebanon within prophetic writings. Edward Lipinski and Peter Kyle McCarter have suggested that the Garden of the gods, the oldest Sumerian version of the Garden of Eden, relates to a mountain sanctuary in the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges; the Garden of Eden is considered to be mythological by most scholars. However, there have been suggestions for its location: at its source of the rivers, while others have looked at the head of the Persian Gulf, in southern Mesopotamia where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers run into the sea. British archaeologist David Rohl locates it in Iran, in the vicinity of Tabriz, but this suggestion has not caught on with scholarly sources; the location of Eden is described in the Book of Genesis, chapter 2, verses 10–14: And a river departed from Eden to water the garden, from there it divided and became four tributaries.
The name of the first is Pishon, the circumnavigator of the land of Havilah where there is gold. And the gold of this land is good, and the name of the second river is Gihon, the circumnavigator of the land of Cush. And the name of the third is Chidekel, that which goes to the east of Ashur. Dilmun in the Sumerian story of Enki and Ninhursag is a paradisaical abode of the immortals, where sickness and death were unknown; the garden of the Hesperides in Greek mythology was somewhat similar to the Christian concept of the Garden of Eden, by the 16th century a larger intellectual association was made in the Cranach painting. In this painting, only the action that takes place there identifies the setting as distinct from the
Homer is the legendary author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, two epic poems that are the central works of ancient Greek literature. The Iliad is set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek kingdoms, it focuses on a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles lasting a few weeks during the last year of the war. The Odyssey focuses on the ten-year journey home of Odysseus, king of Ithaca, after the fall of Troy. Many accounts of Homer's life circulated in classical antiquity, the most widespread being that he was a blind bard from Ionia, a region of central coastal Anatolia in present-day Turkey. Modern scholars consider these accounts legendary; the Homeric Question – concerning by whom, when and under what circumstances the Iliad and Odyssey were composed – continues to be debated. Broadly speaking, modern scholarly opinion falls into two groups. One holds that most of the Odyssey are the works of a single poet of genius; the other considers the Homeric poems to be the result of a process of working and reworking by many contributors, that "Homer" is best seen as a label for an entire tradition.
It is accepted that the poems were composed at some point around the late eighth or early seventh century BC. The poems are in Homeric Greek known as Epic Greek, a literary language which shows a mixture of features of the Ionic and Aeolic dialects from different centuries. Most researchers believe that the poems were transmitted orally. From antiquity until the present day, the influence of the Homeric epics on Western civilization has been great, inspiring many of its most famous works of literature, music and film; the Homeric epics were the greatest influence on education. Today only the Iliad and Odyssey are associated with the name'Homer'. In antiquity, a large number of other works were sometimes attributed to him, including the Homeric Hymns, the Contest of Homer and Hesiod, the Little Iliad, the Nostoi, the Thebaid, the Cypria, the Epigoni, the comic mini-epic Batrachomyomachia, the Margites, the Capture of Oechalia, the Phocais; these claims are not considered authentic today and were by no means universally accepted in the ancient world.
As with the multitude of legends surrounding Homer's life, they indicate little more than the centrality of Homer to ancient Greek culture. Many traditions circulated in the ancient world concerning Homer. Modern scholarly consensus is; some claims were repeated often. They include that Homer was blind, that he was born in Chios, that he was the son of the river Meles and the nymph Critheïs, that he was a wandering bard, that he composed a varying list of other works, that he died either in Ios or after failing to solve a riddle set by fishermen, various explanations for the name "Homer"; the two best known ancient biographies of Homer are the Life of Homer by the Pseudo-Herodotus and the Contest of Homer and Hesiod. The study of Homer is one of the oldest topics in scholarship, dating back to antiquity. Nonetheless, the aims of Homeric studies have changed over the course of the millennia; the earliest preserved comments on Homer concern his treatment of the gods, which hostile critics such as the poet Xenophanes of Colophon denounced as immoral.
The allegorist Theagenes of Rhegium is said to have defended Homer by arguing that the Homeric poems are allegories. The Iliad and the Odyssey were used as school texts in ancient Greek and Hellenistic cultures, they were the first literary works taught to all students. The Iliad its first few books, was far more intently studied than the Odyssey during the Hellenistic and Roman periods; as a result of the poems' prominence in classical Greek education, extensive commentaries on them developed to explain parts of the poems that were culturally or linguistically difficult. During the Hellenistic and Roman Periods, many interpreters the Stoics, who believed that Homeric poems conveyed Stoic doctrines, regarded them as allegories, containing hidden wisdom; because of the Homeric poems' extensive use in education, many authors believed that Homer's original purpose had been to educate. Homer's wisdom became so praised that he began to acquire the image of a prototypical philosopher. Byzantine scholars such as Eustathius of Thessalonica and John Tzetzes produced commentaries and scholia to Homer in the twelfth century.
Eustathius's commentary on the Iliad alone is massive, sprawling nearly 4,000 oversized pages in a twenty-first century printed version and his commentary on the Odyssey an additional nearly 2,000. In 1488, the Greek scholar Demetrios Chalkokondyles published the editio princeps of the Homeric poems; the earliest modern Homeric scholars started with the same basic approaches towards the Homeric poems as scholars in antiquity. The allegorical interpretation of the Homeric poems, so prevalent in antiquity returned to become the prevailing view of the Renaissance. Renaissance humanists praised Homer as the archetypically wise poet, whose writings contain hidden wisdom, disguised through allegory. In western Europe during the Renaissance, Virgil was more read than Homer and Homer was seen through a Virgilian lens. In 1664, contradicting the widespread praise of Homer as the epitome of wisdom, François Hédelin, abbé d'Aubignac wrote a s
Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives or stories that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are gods, demigods or supernatural humans. Stories of everyday human beings, although of leaders of some type, are contained in legends, as opposed to myths. Myths are endorsed by rulers and priests or priestesses, are linked to religion or spirituality. In fact, many societies group their myths and history together, considering myths and legends to be true accounts of their remote past. In particular, creation myths take place in a primordial age when the world had not achieved its form. Other myths explain how a society's customs and taboos were established and sanctified. There is a complex relationship between recital of myths and enactment of rituals; the study of myth began in ancient history. Rival classes of the Greek myths by Euhemerus and Sallustius were developed by the Neoplatonists and revived by Renaissance mythographers.
Today, the study of myth continues in a wide variety of academic fields, including folklore studies and psychology. The term mythology may either refer to the study of myths in general, or a body of myths regarding a particular subject; the academic comparisons of bodies of myth is known as comparative mythology. Since the term myth is used to imply that a story is not objectively true, the identification of a narrative as a myth can be political: many adherents of religions view their religion's stories as true and therefore object to the stories being characterised as myths. Scholars now speak of Christian mythology, Jewish mythology, Islamic mythology, Hindu mythology, so forth. Traditionally, Western scholarship, with its Judaeo-Christian heritage, has viewed narratives in the Abrahamic religions as being the province of theology rather than mythology. Labelling all religious narratives as myths can be thought of as treating different traditions with parity. Definitions of myth to some extent vary by scholar.
Finnish folklorist Lauri Honko offers a cited definition: Myth, a story of the gods, a religious account of the beginning of the world, the creation, fundamental events, the exemplary deeds of the gods as a result of which the world and culture were created together with all parts thereof and given their order, which still obtains. A myth expresses and confirms society's religious values and norms, it provides a pattern of behavior to be imitated, testifies to the efficacy of ritual with its practical ends and establishes the sanctity of cult. Scholars in other fields use the term myth in varied ways. In a broad sense, the word can refer to any traditional story, popular misconception or imaginary entity. However, while myth and other folklore genres may overlap, myth is thought to differ from genres such as legend and folktale in that neither are considered to be sacred narratives; some kinds of folktales, such as fairy stories, are not considered true by anyone, may be seen as distinct from myths for this reason.
Main characters in myths are gods, demigods or supernatural humans, while legends feature humans as their main characters. However, many exceptions or combinations exist, as in the Iliad and Aeneid. Moreover, as stories spread between cultures or as faiths change, myths can come to be considered folktales, their divine characters recast as either as humans or demihumans such as giants and faeries. Conversely and literary material may acquire mythological qualities over time. For example, the Matter of Britain and the Matter of France, seem distantly to originate in historical events of the fifth and eighth-centuries and became mythologised over the following centuries. In colloquial use, the word myth can be used of a collectively held belief that has no basis in fact, or any false story; this usage, pejorative, arose from labeling the religious myths and beliefs of other cultures as incorrect, but it has spread to cover non-religious beliefs as well. However, as used by folklorists and academics in other relevant fields, such as anthropology, the term myth has no implication whether the narrative may be understood as true or otherwise.
In present use, mythology refers to the collected myths of a group of people, but may mean the study of such myths. For example, Greek mythology, Roman mythology and Hittite mythology all describe the body of myths retold among those cultures. Folklorist Alan Dundes defines myth as a sacred narrative that explains how the world and humanity evolved into their present form. Dundes classified a sacred narrative as "a story that serves to define the fundamental worldview of a culture by explaining aspects of the natural world and delineating the psychological and social practices and ideals of a society". Anthropologist Bruce Lincoln defines myth as "ideology in narrative form." The compilation or description of myths is sometimes known as mythography, a term which can be used of a scholarly anthology of myths. Key mythographers in the Classical tradition include Ovid, whose tellings of myths have been profoundingly influential.
Etruscan religion comprises a set of stories and religious practices of the Etruscan civilization, originating in the 7th century BC from the preceding Iron Age Villanovan culture influenced by the mythology of ancient Greece and Phoenicia, sharing similarities with concurrent Roman mythology and religion. As the Etruscan civilization was assimilated into the Roman Republic in the 4th century BC, the Etruscan religion and mythology were incorporated into classical Roman culture, following the Roman tendency to absorb some of the local gods and customs of conquered lands; the Etruscan system of belief was an immanent polytheism. Long after the assimilation of the Etruscans, Seneca the Younger said that the difference between the Romans and the Etruscans was thatWhereas we believe lightning to be released as a result of the collision of clouds, they believe that the clouds collide so as to release lightning: for as they attribute all to deity, they are led to believe not that things have a meaning insofar as they occur, but rather that they occur because they must have a meaning.
Around the mun or muni, or tombs, were the man or mani, the souls of the ancestors. In iconography after the 5th century BC, the deceased are shown traveling to the underworld. In several instances of Etruscan art, such as in the François Tomb in Vulci, a spirit of the dead is identified by the term hinthial " underneath". A god was called an ais; the abode of a god was a sacred place, such as a favi, a grave or temple. There, one would need to make a fler, or "offering". Three layers of deities are portrayed in Etruscan art. One appears to be lesser divinities of an indigenous origin: the sun. Ruling over them were higher deities that seem to reflect the Indo-European system: Tin or Tinia, the sky, Uni his wife, Cel, the earth goddess; as a third layer, the Greek gods were adopted by the Etruscan system during the Etruscan Orientalizing Period of 750/700-600 BC. Examples are Aritimi and Pacha, over time the primary trinity became Tinia and Menrva; the Etruscans believed their religion had been revealed to them by seers, the two main ones being Tages, a childlike figure born from tilled land, gifted with prescience, Vegoia, a female figure.
The Etruscans believed in intimate contact with divinity. They did nothing without proper consultation with the signs from them; these practices were taken over in total by the Romans. The Etruscan scriptures were a corpus of texts termed the Etrusca Disciplina; this name appears in Valerius Maximus, Marcus Tullius Cicero refers to a disciplina in his writings on the subject. Massimo Pallottino summarizes the known scriptures as the Libri Haruspicini, containing the theory and rules of divination from animal entrails; the last was composed of the Libri Fatales, detailing the religiously correct methods of founding cities and shrines, draining fields, formulating laws and ordinances, measuring space and dividing time. The revelations of the prophet Tages were given in the Libri Tagetici, which included the Libri Haruspicini and the Acherontici, those of the prophetess Vegoia in the Libri Vegoici, which included the Libri Fulgurales and part of the Libri Rituales; these works did not present prophecies or scriptures in the ordinary sense: the Etrusca Disciplina foretold nothing itself.
The Etruscans appear to have had religion and no great visions. Instead they concentrated on the problem of the will of the gods: questioning why, if the gods created the universe and humanity and have a will and a plan for everyone and everything in it, they did not devise a system for communicating that will in a clear manner; the Etruscans accepted the inscrutability of their gods' wills. They did not attempt to rationalize or explain divine actions or formulate any doctrines of the gods' intentions; as answer to the problem of ascertaining the divine will, they developed an elaborate system of divination. These revelations may not be otherwise understandable and may not be pleasant or easy, but are perilous to doubt; the Etrusca Disciplina therefore was a set of rules for the conduct of all sorts of divination. Cicero saidFor a hasty acceptance of an erroneous opinion is discreditable in any case, so in an inquiry as to how much weight should be given to auspices, to sacred rites, to religious observances.
He quipped, regarding d
An acrostic is a poem in which the first letter of each line spells out a word, message or the alphabet. The word comes from the French acrostiche from post-classical Latin acrostichis, from Koine Greek ἀκροστιχίς, from Ancient Greek ἄκρος "highest, topmost" and στίχος "verse"; as a form of constrained writing, an acrostic can be used as a mnemonic device to aid memory retrieval. Simple acrostics may spell out the letters of the alphabet in order; these acrostics occur in the first four of the five chapters that make up the Book of Lamentations, in the praise of the good wife in Proverbs 31, 10-31, in Psalms 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 119 and 145 of the Hebrew Bible. Notable among the acrostic Psalms is the long Psalm 119, printed in subsections named after the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, each section consisting of 8 verses, each of which begins with the same letter of the alphabet and the entire psalm consisting of 22 x 8 = 176 verses; some acrostic psalms are technically imperfect. E.g. Psalm 9 and Psalm 10 appear to constitute a single acrostic psalm together, but the length assigned to each letter is unequal and five of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet are not represented and the sequence of two letters is reversed.
In Psalm 25 one Hebrew letter is not represented, the following letter repeated. In Psalm 34 the current final verse, 23, does fit verse 22 in content, but adds an additional line to the poem. In Psalms 37 and 111 the numbering of verses and the division into lines are interfering with each other. Psalm 111 and 112 have 10 verses. Psalm 145 does not represent the letter Nun, having 21 one verses, but one Qumran manuscript of this Psalm does have that missing line, which agrees with the Septuagint. Acrostics are common in medieval literature, where they serve to highlight the name of the poet or his patron, or to make a prayer to a saint, they are most frequent in verse works but can appear in prose. The Middle High German poet Rudolf von Ems for example opens all his great works with an acrostic of his name, his world chronicle marks the beginning of each age with an acrostic of the key figure. In chronicles, acrostics are rare in other languages; the ease of detectability of an acrostic can depend on the intention of its creator.
In some cases an author may desire an acrostic to have a better chance of being perceived by an observant reader, such as the acrostic contained in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. However, acrostics may be used as a form of steganography, where the author seeks to conceal the message rather than proclaim it; this might be achieved by making the key letters uniform in appearance with the surrounding text, or by aligning the words in such a way that the relationship between the key letters is less obvious. This is referred to as null ciphers in steganography, using the first letter of each word to form a hidden message in an otherwise innocuous text. Using letters to hide a message, as in acrostic ciphers, was popular during the Renaissance, could employ various methods of enciphering, such as selecting other letters than initials based on a repeating pattern, or concealing the message by starting at the end of the text and working backwards. A famous acrostic was made in Greek for the acclamation JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD, SAVIOUR.
The initials spell ΙΧΘΥΣ, which means fish: Ιησούς I esous Jesus Χριστός CH ristos Christ Θεού TH eou of God Υἱός Y ios son Σωτήρ S oter saviour There is an acrostic secreted in the Dutch national anthem Het Wilhelmus: the first letters of its fifteen stanzas spell WILLEM VAN NASSOV. This was one of the hereditary titles of William of Orange, who introduces himself in the poem to the Dutch people; this title returned in the 2010 speech from the throne, during the Dutch State Opening of Parliament, whose first 15 lines formed WILLEM VAN NASSOV. Vladimir Nabokov's short story "The Vane Sisters" is famous for its acrostic final paragraph, which contains a message from beyond the grave. An acrostic poem written in English by Edgar Allan Poe is entitled "An Acrostic": In Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass, the final chapter "A Boat, Beneath A Sunny Sky" is an acrostic of the real Alice's name: Alice Pleasance Liddell. In January 2010, Jonathan I. Schwartz, the CEO of Sun Microsystems, sent an email to Sun employees on the completion of the acquisition of Sun by Oracle Corporation.
The initial letters of the first seven paragraphs spelled "Beat IBM". James May, presenter on the BBC program Top Gear, was fired from the publication Autocar for spelling out a message using the large red initial at the beginning of each review in the publication's Road Test Yearbook Issue for 1992. Properly punctuated, the message reads: "So you think it's good? Yeah, you should try making the bloody thing up. It's a real pain in the arse."In the 2012 third novel of his Caged Flower series, author Cullman Wallace used acrostics as a plot device. The parents of a protagonist send e-mails where the first letters of the lines reveal their situation in a concealed message. In 2013 a school headmaster resigned after announcing the retirement of a teacher in a statement which began "We all now know every great