As bustrophedon, also sometimes boustrophedon, is meant a notation in which the direction of writing of the text changes in each line. In German, we use a horizontal right-hand font, which means that we write from left to right. If a German text bustrophedon was written, the following line would be written from right to left. This change of the direction of writing is particularly characteristic of ancient inscriptions, in which the direction of the text has sometimes been flexible and the alignment of the individual letters has not yet been clearly defined. This eliminates the reading of the line jump (see Enjambement).
The term can be derived from the Greek boustrophēdon (βουστροφηδόν) and translated with ochsenwendig. The translation thus refers to the fundamental point: namely the design of a text in which the direction of the course changes line by line, and in the same way as an ox does when plowing, always back and forth, or even in serpentine lines. Let’s look at an example: Example of a bustrophedon text
The above example converts the first two sentences of this post, the first line, ie the words “bustrophedon” and “boustrophedon”, changes the direction of the text, which now runs from right to left. This change is continued line by line and is reminiscent of snake lines.
Further examples can be found in the dialect of the hieroglyphic Luwish, which is a part of the luwian language, which is regarded as the most widely used anatolian language, and in the second and first millennium, Was spoken in Anatolia. Many texts – mostly inscriptions – preserved in this hieroglyphic writing are also written bustrophedon. However, in Latin and Greek as well as in the Etruscan language, such writings are also found, as are those which have a runic origin.
Another and very well-known example is the so-called SATOR-AREPO square, which is also known as the ROTAS-OPERA square. The special feature is that the Sator square is a set of palindromes which the viewer as a magical square read back and forth, as well as horizontally and vertically. However, it is unclear whether the text, which is probably from the ancient world, actually has a meaning.
The above example shows the Sator square, where there are several approaches to how to decrypt this. One possibility is to double the middle line and then to read the text alternately from left to right, then again from right to left, etc. Then the Latin word sequence sator opera tenet – tenet opera sator results, which holds with The sower the works – it keeps the works of the sower can be translated. This approach is also the only one which makes sense for all words since AREPO would otherwise have no meaning and could be interpreted as a proper name.
Short overview: The most important overview
As bustrophedon, a notation is designated in which the writing direction of the text changes in each line. This means that the first line is read from the left, the second from the right, or just differently. One reads thus in snake lines.
It is important to note that the noun bustrophedon is a textual feature, in which the entire text is also referred to as the term. The corresponding adjective is bustrophedon. Most of the time the word is used as an adverb, for example: This text is written bustrophedon.
A significant effect in such texts is that the skip of the line is omitted. The reader thus does not jump with the eyes from the end of the line to the beginning of the following line, but continues to read in the same place, albeit in the other direction. As a result, the incision (cf. caesura), which usually arises during reading, is much smaller.