Ancient Languages

Ancient Languages

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Carlo R.

Carlo

HIDDEN TREASURES OF OXYRYNCHUS. Read a poem of Archilochus discovered a few years ago, with an unknown episode of the Achaean expedition against Troy. A voice speaks to us from more than 2,500 ys ago Manager's Choice

Dirigente at BNP Paribas

P.Oxy. LXIX 4708 papyrology.ox.ac.uk

A papyrus from Oxryhynchus in Middle Egypt now in the Sackler Library, University of Oxford has now been identified as containing elegiac verses of the seventh century BC poet Archilochus. The fragments, uncovered in 1897, came...

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  • August 18, 2012
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  • Carlo R.

    Carlo

    Carlo R.

    Dirigente at BNP Paribas

    And here is more about the work going on (hopefully):

    http://www.papyrology.ox.ac.uk/POxy/news/independent.html

    Does any of our Members know about recent discoveries from the Oxyrynchus papyri ?

  • Ellie Rose E.

    Ellie Rose

    Ellie Rose E.

    independent researcher, writer and translator

    No, but I have a friend who studies Archilochus . . . I'll forward this to him in case he hasn't met it yet. Thanks, Carlo!

  • Carlo R.

    Carlo

    Carlo R.

    Dirigente at BNP Paribas

    The websites dedicated to the recovery of the papyri of Oxyrynchus report a list of all recoveries and many verses of Archilocus figure in that list.
    However I suspect that there is a significant time lag, before these diverse bits find a proper place in a critical revision of the works of an author. The ways, by which this happens, remain obscure to me (my professional interests are far from this area), and I hope that members of this group could shed light on this very slow process.

    The analysis of the papyri of Oxyrynchus is expected to occupy a couple of generations, in addition to the present one. The material is immense (over 400,000 fragments, I think) and stretches from literary texts, to letters, contracts, juridic and economic reports very precious for the analysis of the ancient world.
    About 70 volumes have been published already with material recovered from Oxyrhynchus, but - as said - I don't know how long it takes before the content of those volumes is incorporated into the picture we generally have of a specific author. Is the Archilochus we (could) know today on the basis of the papyri, the same I met during my high school years ? Most probably not. And even the war against Troy is no longer the same for us, after we know of Agamemnon's wrong start in Mysia, reported in the fragment of Archilochus that you can access by the link I posted.

    I'm surprised that so little is known about the findings and about the recovery work. I would be most happy if our group could one day extend to include a few of those, who have the privilege of working for such recovery projects. If I could retire today, I would immediately volunteer for one of those projects recovering masterworks from a night that has lasted for 2,000 years or more.

  • Graham G.

    Graham

    Graham G.

    Simplicity | Clarity | Wellbeing | Learning

    I recommend "City of the Sharp-Nosed Fish" by Peter Parsons (http://s.coop/snfish).

  • Cheryl B.

    Cheryl

    Cheryl B.

    Instructor, Academy of Art University

    This is just fascinating Carlo. Interesting thing is I recognize the style of the calligraphy. I had thought the script would have evolved stylistically more over so many years.

  • Ellie Rose E.

    Ellie Rose

    Ellie Rose E.

    independent researcher, writer and translator

    When would you date it, on style? Papyrus wears well [the proof is in front of us!] and the original scroll, a sophisticated edition of Archilochus' poetry with notes and annotations, may have been, say, something discarded by unsympathetic relatives when the owner died - either bought as a job lot by a dealer or picked up from the rubbish, turned over and re-used. So it might have been quite old, antique even, at that time - what do you think?

    My other thought is that scrolls like this were produced commercially by copyists. The copyists were slaves, working in a scriptorium and generally producing material to order [rather than on spec]. A reputable scriptorium would have house standards and train its copyists accordingly. As slaves, not getting it right could be painful or get you sold into something less elite and more physically demanding. The consequence could well be the preservation of a 'classic' style in the interests of selling the purchaser a quality product. After all, if it wasn't to his liking, the purchaser could reject the finished work and leave the scriptorium with a loss on its hands.

    In fact, if it hadn't been for the easy availability of suitably skilled, literate slaves and the Empire-wide use of papyrus, we might have - we should have - had printing much, much earlier. In Roman times, there was a strong demand for consistent and legible texts, the economy to support it and the metal technology capable of producing it. A missed opportunity?

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