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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lecture: New Finds of Menander

New Finds of Menander
Monday, 10 December 2007
7pm to 8.30pm, followed by a drinks reception to be held at the
British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1

A British Academy discussion evening convened and chaired by
Mr Nigel Wilson, FBA, University of Oxford

Speakers will include:
Professor Colin Austin, FBA, University of Cambridge
Professor Francesco D’Aiuto, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”
Professor Eric Handley, FBA, University of Cambridge

Our knowledge of Menander, the leading writer of Greek New Comedy, has been greatly increased in the last fifty years, initially by the recovery of his Dyskolos in an almost complete copy in a papyrus codex dating from late antiquity, followed by the discovery of substantial portions of his Aspis, Samia and Sikyonios. A recent find in the Vatican Library comes from a palimpsest which was already known to scholars for some of its other contents but had not been fully analysed. Underneath a Syriac text copied in A.D. 886 and a Greek text in uncial script perhaps copied in the eighth century there are small portions of two plays. One of these is the Dyskolos, and it is expected that this new witness will contribute to the solution of some textual uncertainties even though only a small part of each line is preserved. The other is from a play the identity of which will be revealed at the meeting. Somewhat more substantial remains can be deciphered, but the exceptional difficulty of dealing with this doubly palimpsested codex – it is far less legible than the celebrated Archimedes manuscript – has made progress very slow; added to which is the fact that there is not yet a consensus about the best technology to use in particularly difficult cases. An international round-table colloquium is being held in order to help prepare the publication. In the evening there will be a presentation of the results, open to all interested, at the British Academy.

Presumably this refers to
Vat. sir. 623.

Cf. this this from National Geographic:

Nigel Wilson, a historian at the University of Oxford in England, says the same technologies used on the Archimedes Palimpsest could shed new light on a number of other palimpsests conserved in libraries around the world.

"There are going to be plenty," Wilson said. A text recently discovered in the Vatican Library, for example, contains previously unknown fragments by the ancient Greek playwright Menander.

Thanks to Gabriel Bodard for drawing this to my attention.