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Recent publications of papyri & ostraca 4th BC-8th AD; conferences, lectures etc. from Papy-L and other sources as noted. PLEASE SEND SUGGESTIONS

Sunday, January 06, 2013

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This paper challenges the historical value of P.Oxy.X.1241, part of which is the list of Alexandrian Librarians. It questions the basic assumption that the list at col. i.5 - ii.30 is in fact a list of the heads of the Alexandrian library. It calls attention to the fact that every single chronological statement needed to be emended and shows the fallacious reasoning behind the editors' influential conclusion that the papyrus is the most trustworthy of all sources pertaining to the history of the library.
In 1914, B.P. Grenfell and A.S. Hunt published an anonymous 2nd cent. CE papyrus containing lists of famous artists, grammarians and historical/mythological inventors of weapons of practices of warfare. They observed its similarity to Hellenistic and Imperial mythographical catalogues and concluded: “Though the name of the compiler is unknown, the class to which this treatise is to be referred is thus clear; it is a characteristic product of Alexandrian erudition.” They, therefore, assessed the papyrus to be the most historically accurate source about the Alexandrian library. Their view has been accepted almost universally.

The papyrus is 6 columns with the list in question occupying col.i.17-ii.30. After a break of about 8 lines, the text picks up in the midst of a catalogue of grammarians, γραμματικοί, with a reference to “Philadelphus.” It is unclear who the grammarians in the first column were, but at the beginning of col.ii the text resumes with Apollonius of Rhodes, Eratosthenes, Aristophanes of Byzantium, Aristarchus, Apollonius the Eidographer, Aristarchus of Samothrace, Cydas the Spear-bearer, Ammonius, Zenodotus, Diocles and Apollodorus.

The first observation is that the library or of the position of librarian is not mentioned. The position that is explicit in the papyrus, however, is royal tutor (διδάσκαλος to royal children), and only two grammarians in the list are singled out as having held it: Apollonius of Rhodes and Aristarchus of Samothrace. Thus, it is only an inference of the editors that the list refers to “head librarians,” an inference that is apparently based on a supposition that royal tutor = head Librarian. Yet, the link between these positions is merely one of correlation, and the main basis for this correlation is P.Oxy.X.1241 itself. Rather than following this circular logic with the editors who assert that the list is “an account of the Alexandrian librarians,” it is submitted here that the list is as it appears, a catalogue of grammarians connected to the Ptolemies, some of whom were known to be heads of the library.

Additionally, the unemended list is full of chronological errors. Indeed, the editors found it necessary to emend every single chronological reference in the papyrus in order to make it consistent with other sources. Particularly egregious is the case of Apollonius Rhodius. The unemended text says that Apollonius was the teacher of the first king, διδάσκαλος τοῦ πρ[ώ]του βασιλέως, Ptolemy I Soter (304 — 283 BCE). This is prima facie false. The editors, prompted by this error, emended the text to say τρίτου βασιλέως, “the third king,” which reflects the chronology of Suda and MS H of the Vita A of Apollonius. Hence, Suda and Vita A are the basis of the papyrus’ corrected chronology. Nevertheless, the papyrus’ singular report that Eratosthenes succeeded Apollonius is preferred to the Suda’s report that he was Apollonius’ predecessor. Apart from the fact that the papyrus is most likely only referring to the position of royal tutor, it is fallacious reasoning for the editors to base their emendations on one source, then to conclude that the emended text is more reliable than that source. Accordingly, left unemended the papyrus is useless because it is full of errors; whereas emended it must be regarded as the least reliable of our sources concerning the history of the Alexandrian library.



Moving from Vindolanda to Nessana, from Oxhyrhynchus to Narmouthis, from Masada to the Mons Claudianus, a spread knowledge and reception of Virgil’s works in the Roman Empire (and in its provinces, in particular) is documented through papyrus and parchment scraps, wooden tablets and ostraka, all containing verses from the Aeneid, Bucolics and Georgics.

Virgil has, actually, the leading role in Latin calligraphic exercises by Oriental scribes (PHaw. 24; POxy. 3554; PMasada 721), but – as we know reading about the Arusianus Messius’ quadriga, too – he is also the main ‘instrument’ to teach and learn Latin language both in grammatical treatises (PLaur. III / 504; PMich. 459) and though Latin-Greek glossaries (PNess. 1; PRyl. 478+PCairo 85.644+PMil. 1; PBerol. 21138; PVind. 62; PSI 756); he was stored in libraries and sometimes object of annotations (PAnt. 29) or simply copied in manuscripts in his original hexametric sequences, just to be read and studied (PNess. 2; PBerol. 21.299; PSI 21: maybe it is not something accidental that all these papyri have signs of lectio, made by ‘second’ hands, different from the scribe himself) and his verses were also the object of rhetorical exercises and rewritings (PSI 142, a real Vergilian progumnasma). Nowadays, we have more than thirty fragments with Virgil’s verses, more than the ones of any other author of Latin literature; and it is not something secondary, especially if compared to what we know through the modern editions of Virgil’s works.
The acquisition of papyrological data in the Vergilian recensio is something recent: Roger Mynors (P. Vergili Maronis Opera, Oxonii 1969) collated only the parchment fragments from the Ambrosiana in Milan, the Palin. Ambr. L 120 sup., while, before him, in a partial edition of the Aeneid, Arthur Stanley Pease (Publi Vergili Maronis Aeneidos Liber Quartus, Cambridge 1935) used in his apparatus only the PSI 21 and the bilingual POxy. 1099. It was in 1973 that Mario Geymonat mentioned eighteen Virgil’s papyri and these will become twentynine in his new edition in 2008 (Vergili Maronis opera, Roma 20082): the role of papyri has been vitalized and ‘pondered’ at the same time. It has been vitalized as it was the first time that all the know Virgil’s papyri were presented as witnesses of Virgil text (together with manuscripts) and all mentioned in the critical apparatus; it has been ‘pondered’ as papyri go into Textkritik as witnesses of Textgeshichte without giving particular attention to their ecdotical relevance (Geymonat writes: haec fragmenta nos perraro ad textum Vergilianum emendandum adiuvant (…), maximi autem momenti sunt ad haec studia apud antiquos illustranda et ad formulas rationesque scribendi vel Graecas locutiones explorandas, p. XIII n. 34). What has to be emphasised is that Virgil’s editors – including the Spanish équipe (L. Rivero García – J.A. Estévez Sola – M. Librán Moreno – A. Ramírez de Verger (edd.), Publio Virgilio Marón. Eneida. Volumen I (Libros I-III), Madrid 2009) and Gian Biagio Conte (P. Vergilius Maro. Aeneis, Berolini – Novi Eboraci 2009) – followed the papyri’s (sometimes really old) editions, sometimes in a not critical way.
The paper will present the results both in a palaeographical and papyrological and in a philological and linguistic dimension and will give a balance concerning all the Virgil’s papyri, once having made an autoptical examination of most of them: papyri give significant contributions to our knowledge of how Virgil was read and learnt – and so, spread, acknowledged and understood – in the pars Orientis of the Empire, from the I a.D. till Late Antiquity.