02.09.14 — In Search of the One — the Acrostic

Eros. Attic red-figure bobbin, c. 470 BC–450 BC.

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February 9, 2014

ACROSTIC, Puzzle by Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon
Edited by Will Shortz


Just in time for Valentine’s Day, this sweet Sunday acrostic draws a quotation from Eros: The Bittersweet by Anne Carson.


Carson is an inspired guide through the tangled and fragmentary corpus of Greek lyric love poetry. She has a whirlwind mind and a gift for pithy expression, though once in a while she slips into a kind of gauzy equivocating that weakens her arguments. Still, this idiosyncratic take on ancient eros has moments of great insight and deserves the attention of classical scholars and non-specialists who are interested in the topic. ~ J. Connor, amazon 



The quotation:  HUMAN BEINGS WERE ORIGINALLY … TWO PEOPLE JOINED TOGETHER AS ONE PERFECT SPHERE … BUT ZEUS CHOPPED EACH OF THEM IN TWO.  AS A RESULT, SAYS ARISTOPHANES, “EACH OF US IS PERPETUALLY HUNTING FOR THE MATCHING HALF OF HIMSELF.

The author’s name and the title of the work:  CARSON, EROS:  THE BITTERSWEET

The defined words:

A. Unexpected diamond delivery?, CHANGEUP
B. Consequential pick of Paris, APHRODITE
C. Concession of a winner, REMATCH
D. Links between various stories, STAIRS
E. Clumsy, klutzy, OAFISH
F. Unlikely to produce lint, NAPLESS
G. Place extra weight on, EMPHASIZE
H. Limit in times of scarcity, RATION
I. Island where H1 runs, OAHU
J. What particular individuals do?, SPECIFY
K. Many a monthly check writer, TENANT
L. Contender showing promise, HOPEFUL
M. Let out a belch, ERUCT
N. Helpful skill in the games Fictionary and Liar’s Dice, BLUFFING
O. “A word to be found only in the dictionary of fools,” per Napoleon, IMPOSSIBLE
P. Switch between options, TOGGLE
Q. Carrier of an afternoon serve (2 wds.), TEA TRAY
R. Singer with the 1969 debut album “Empty Sky” (2 wds.), ELTON JOHN
S. Crew, by another name, ROWING
T. Hot dog (hyph.), SHOW-OFF
U. Pilot’s spot; zone of expertise, WHEELHOUSE
V. Transient, EPHEMERAL
W. Made unreadable by third parties, ENCRYPTED
X. Follower of a lifesaving clue, THESEUS

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The full paragraph of the quotation:  When I desire you a part of me is gone: my want of you partakes of me.  So reasons the lover at the edge of eros.  The presence of want awakens in him nostalgia for wholeness.  His thoughts turn toward questions of personal identity: he must recover and reincorporate what is gone if he is to be a complete person.  The locus classicus for this view of desire is the speech of Aristophanes in Plato’s Symposium.  Here Aristophanes accounts for the nature of human eros by means of a fantastic anthropology.  Human beings were originally round organisms, each composed of two people joined together as one perfect sphere  These rolled about everywhere and were exceedingly happy.  But the spherical creatures few overambitious, thinking to roll right up to Olympus, so Zeus chopped each of them in two.  As a result every must now go through life in search of the one and only other person who can round him out again.  “Sliced in two like a flatfish,” says Aristophanes, “each of us is perpetually hunting for the matching half of himself”.


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Puzzle available on the internet at
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2 comments:

Joe Mroz said...

EPHEMERAL

geoff said...

And Zeus said if Man angered him again, he would cut them in half another time. Thus a bit of symbolism in Moby Dick. The streak of white in Ahab's hair, the scar down his face, and he only has one leg.