2. Posidippus On Papyri Then and Now

Dirk Obbink, University of Oxford
In order to contextualize the new epigrams of Posidippus, [1] I must take you from the Fayum—the large agricultural oasis south of Cairo where the Milan roll was found—across the desert to the Northeast to Saqqara, just south of the pyramids at Giza. From there comes the painted limestone stele, now in the Cairo Museum (SB 685; I. Metr. Egypt 112). Its painted inscription, datable by its letter shapes, advertizes the services of a Greek oracle-seller, Kres (or perhaps: ‘a Cretan’) who has enterprisingly set up shop outside the precinct of the nearby Memphite Serapeum, itself an oneirotic oracular shrine of an institutional type. Apart from depicting a Greek temple (steps to a raised floor, roof and columns with Egyptianizing Caryatids), and altar with approaching bull (perhaps recalling the Apis bulls, entombed in their huge sarcophagi in the underground sanctuary nearby), it bears a metrical epigram of anonymous composition, addressing the passerby, with a practical purpose—in light of which we might hesitate to call it poetry, but verse and an epigram it remains:
ἐνύπνια κρίνω τοῦ θεοῦ πρόσταγμα ἔχων
τυχ᾿ ἀγαθᾶι· Κρής ἐστιν ὁ κρίνων τάδε.

I interpret dreams at the god’s command,
Good luck! It is Kres who gives interpretations here.
An apposite epigram appears in the Milan roll, from the section subtitled οἰωνοσκοπικά, ‘divination from bird signs’, similarly advertising the divinatory services of one Damon (AB 34):
ἐκ τούτου <τοῦ> πάντα περιϲκέπτοιο κολωνοῦ
     Δάμων Τελμηϲϲεὺς ἐκ πατέρων ἀγαθὸϲ
οἰωνοϲκοπίαϲ τεκμαίρεται· ἀλλ᾿ ἴτε φήμην
     καὶ Διὸϲ οἰωνοὺϲ ὧδ᾿ ἀναπευϲόμ̣ε̣ [νοι.

From this hill which commands a panoramic view
     Damon of Telmessus of good paternal stock
makes his predictions from bird signs. But do come along
     to consult here the prophetic voice and omens of Zeus.
One wonders whether this epigram is to be read as serving a purely practical purpose, similar to the advertisement of Kres from Saqqara given above. Or is the panoramic view, for example, provided by the vantage point described in the epigram of Posidippus on Damon designed to complement artfully the far-sightedness of Zeus’ prophecies that it advertises? Both epigrams are localized by their respective texts by deictic pronouns (τάδε in the epigram of Kres, and ἐκ τούτου τοῦ κολωνοῦ in Posidippus AB 34), and individuated by objectively naming a professional practitioner. Both have an ostensibly practical purpose—and in that sense are occasional—unambitiously monumentalizing, perhaps, within the circumscribed contexts of their respective advertizers’ lives and occupations. In both we are briefly allowed a private glimpse into the business life of a private diviner, at once mundane and mysterious, practical and portentous.
The topic of divination itself lends these verses a sub-literary cast: the entire section of οἰωνοσκοπικά constitutes virtually a verse manual on divination from bird signs in miniature, though each can be read as an individual epigram and some are paired. A good comparison here is afforded by the collection of horoscopic epigrams in elegiacs by Anubion, [2] which includes some written for famous figures of history or myth (Oedipus, Philip of Macedon) or professions, e.g. the orator. The theme of divination occurs elsewhere in the new Posidippus epigrams. AB 36 describes the dedication of a statue to Arsinoe, upon receipt of a command from her in a dream to do so. AB 33 is a grave epigram that describes the death of the deceased as ironically and tragically determined by acting on an erroneous interpretation of a dream. AB 40 describes a temple thesauros in the shape of a statue through whose mouth money is received by a priestess in return for an oracle response. The epigrams of the Milan roll that depict individuals (most of them women) as participants in the mysteries might also be cited in this connection (AB 43–4, 46, 58). Book XI of the Palatine Anthology contains a section of related poems on astrologers and diviners, many of them skoptic. Theocritus Idyll 2 with its epigrammatic refrain might be also compared in this connection. AB 34 on Damon [no. 2] instantiates what can only be an epigrammatic sub-genre that I would characterize as sub-literary and occasional in its content if not in its composition, perhaps with literary aspirations, insofar as it seems to aspire to conformity to a type, but admits of significant variation: i.e. not a copy or metaphrastic version but another example of its class.
Of course drawing attention to such sub-literary and occasional aspects of the poems is hardly tantamount to proving that they were actually set up for display in the manner of the epigram of Kres at Saqqara, or even composed expressly for such a purpose. But the deictic function of the pronoun is sufficient to establish at least the fiction of its display or purpose and so its occasionality. And while I do think that many (perhaps as many as half) of the new epigrams could have been plausibly inscribed in some medium or context (and it is hard to think how some, e.g. AB 61, could have been destined for any other use), even in the one instance where this appears certainly to have been the case, transmission of the poem can be seen to have occurred by scribal means: i.e. through copying from a manuscript rather than from the monumentally inscribed version.
The conclusion necessitated then is that monumentality is not a necessary condition for occasionality in these poems, but only a sufficient condition. It is highly unlikely that many (if any) of the epigrams of Posidippus owe their survival (as opposed to their composition) to their inscription on stone or any other medium than papyrus. So far from the scenario envisaged in the following quotation from Charlotte Bronte:
The place was large enough to afford half an hour’s strolling without the monotony of treading continually the same path; and for those who love to peruse the annals of graveyards, here was variety of inscription enough to occupy the attention for double or treble that space of time. Hither people of many kindreds, tongues and nations had brought their dead for interment; and here on the pages of stone, of marble and of brass were written names, dates, last tributes of pomp or love in English, in French, in German, in Latin … Every tribe and kindred mourned after its own fashion; and how soundless was the mourning of all. [3]
Here curious readers consult epitaphs in a graveyard like an historical library. Bing has argued that only exceptionally were texts on stone read and cited in antiquity. [4] He concludes (with some justification) that, in general, monumental verse inscriptions were not read, at least not in the same way as books, i.e. as repositories of literary texts. Those like Craterus and Polemon of Ilium, who went around collecting the texts of monumental inscriptions for transmission in book form, seem to have been few and far between. Fraser [5] adduces the interesting argument that the ‘publication of epigrams in roll form explains how such pieces written by poets in one part of the Greek world were imitated in other parts, for it is not likely that isolated short poems would have traveled in the same way that complete rolls did,’ while inscriptions on stone, of course, do not move at all. This would have been a decisive development: collections of epigrams are not present in the fourth century, but exist by the time of Posidippus. Thus the epigram became divorced from its lapidary context, which in turn facilitated the enlargement of and alteration of the genre’s scope. The burden of proof lies on the shoulders of those who would claim that any of the epigrams that purport to be inscribed on an object were actually so inscribed, to show that they were ever actually cited from such a source.
So let us turn to Posidippus, at least insofar as he was known on papyrus before the Milan roll came to light, and an epigram independently attested in connection with its inscription on a monument. It derives from the same location at Saqqara, where in the Memphite Serapeum a large archive of papers comprising a temple archive (one them bearing a pair of epigrams by Posidippus) were recovered by archaeologists in the late nineteenth century.
The papyrus is P.Louvre 7172 (P.Firmin-Didot), containing AB 115–16 (= 12, 14 GP = Page, GLP 104a–b). [6] Written before 161 BC, on an opisthographic papyrus roll, it consists of poems written by the orphaned sons of a Macedonian mercenary in the Memphite Sarapeum. [7] The roll includes excerpts from comedy and tragedy as well. The name Ποσειδίππου and the title ἐπιγράμματα, together with the beginning of the first epigram inset as an incipit-title, are given as a heading [8] to the texts of two otherwise unknown epigrams—one (AB 116 = 12 GP) on the dedication of the lighthouse by Sostratus of Cnidos, and another (AB 117 = 24 GP) on the shrine of Arsinoe-Aphrodite at Cape Zephyrium by Callicrates of Samos:
Ποσιδίππου ἐπιγράμματα
     Ἑλλήνων σωτῆρα, Φάρου σκοπόν,
ὦ ἄνα Προτεῦ,//Σώστρατος ἔστησεν Δεξιφάνους Κνίδι`ος´·
     οὐ γὰρ ἐν Αἰγύπτωι σκοπαὶ οὔρεος οἷ᾿ ἐπὶ νήσων,
ἀλλὰ χαμαὶ χηλὴ ναύλοχος ἐκτέταται.
     τοῦ χάριν εὐθεῖάν τε καὶ ὄρθιον αἰθέρα τέμνειν
πύργος ὅδ᾿ ἀπλάτων φαίνετ᾿ ἀπὸ σταδίων
     ἤματι, παννύχιος δὲ θοῶς ἐν κύματι ναύτης
ὄψεται ἐκ κορυφῆς πῦρ μέγα καιόμενον,
     καί κεν ἐπ᾿ αὐτὸ δράμοι Ταύρου Κέρας, οὐδ᾿ ἂν ἁμάρτοι
Σωτῆρος, Πρωτεῦ, Ζηνὸς ὁ τῆιδε πλέων.
μέσσον ἐγὼ Φαρίης ἀκτῆς στόματός τε Κανώπου
     ἐν περιφαινομένωι κύματι χῶρον ἔχω,
τήνδε πολυρρήνου Λιβύης ἀνεμώδεα χηλήν,
     τὴν ἀνατεινομένην εἰς Ἰταλὸν Ζέφυρον,
ἔνθα με Καλλικράτης ἱδρύσατο καὶ βασιλίσσης
     ἱερὸν Ἀρσινόης Κύπριδος ὠνόμασεν.
ἀλλ᾿ ἐπὶ τὴν Ζεφυρῖτιν ἀκουσομένην Ἀφροδίτην,
     Ἑλλήνων ἁγναί, Βαίετε, θυγατέρες,
οἵ θ᾿ ἁλὸς ἐργάται ἄνδρες· ὁ γὰρ ναύαρχος ἔτευξεν
     τοῦθ᾿ ἱερὸν παντὸς κύματος εὐλίμενον.

(i) As a savior of the Greeks, this watchman of Pharos, O lord Proteus,
     was set up by Sostratus, son of Dexiphanes, from Cnidos.
For in Egypt there are no look-out posts on a mountain, as in the islands,
     but low lies the breakwater where ships take harbor.
Therefore this tower, in a straight and upright line,
     appears to cleave the sky from countless furlongs away
during the day, but throughout the night quickly a sailor on the waves
     will see a great fire blazing from its summit.
And he may even run to the Bull’s Horn, and not miss
     Zeus the Savior, O Proteus, whoever sails this way.
(ii) Midway between the shore of Pharos and the mouth of Canopus,
     in the waves visible all around I have my place,
this wind-swept breakwater of Libya rich in sheep,
     facing the Italian Zephyr.
Here Callicrates set me up and called me the shrine
     of Queen Arsinoe-Aphrodite.
So then, to her who shall be named Zephyritis-Aphrodite,
     come, ye pure daughters of the Greeks,
and ye too, toilers on the sea. For the captain built
     this shrine to be a safe harbor from all the waves. [9]
The first epigram (AB 115) addresses Proteus, tutelary Greek divinity of Pharos Island in the harbor at Alexandria, and tells of a dedication there by Sostratus of Cnidos, one of the King’s wealthy φίλοι. It contrasts Egypt, with its flat plains, and the mountain peaks that serve as watch towers for sailors in the Greek islands like Cnidos, praising Sostratus for installing in the harbor at Alexandria such a look-out as would be a guiding Savior to sailors approaching the harbor from a distance at sea. The second epigram (AB 116) describes the construction and dedication of a temple of Aphrodite (soon to be identified with Arsinoe) by the Ptolemaic admiral Callicrates of Samos at Cape Zephyrium and invites young Greek women to choral performances at her festival there.
Both epigrams interestingly showcase Ptolemaic Egypt (Alexandria, Cape Zephyrium), its famous building projects (the lighthouse in the harbor in Alexandria, the temple of Aphrodite), and its famous personalities (Sostratus, Arsinoe, Callicrates). In the first, the capital of Ptolemy’s realm is advertised as visible from afar, by a beacon of light that shines throughout the Greek world, as visibly as the mountain-peaks of the Greek isles. The second connects the northern shore of Egypt with the rest of the Greek world as an equally enviable place: Libya rich in sheep, Italy. In both the gaze of sailors converges from without upon a land that is as safe as it is Greek. The focus is on safety (lighthouse, harbor, breakwater), on cult (sea-god Proteus on Pharos island and Aphrodite’s temple at Cape Zeuphyrium), on Ptolemaic celebrity (Sostratus, Queen Arsinoe, Callicrates), and finally and most importantly on Greekness: Egypt is not a barbarian land, nor is it a mere Macedonian possession; it is a civilized, cultured, and celebrated place, peopled by Ptolemaic Greeks.
In this respect the pair of epigrams AB 115–116 forms a piece with the new epigrams by Posidippus of the Milan roll. Egypt attracts celebrities from the entire Greek world (Cnidos, Samos). Greeks are mentioned twice: prominently in AB 115.1 and again in 116.8 nearer the end of the poem, thus forming a ring. Thus I argue that the epigrams are paired, both here on the papyrus in a manner of a mini-anthology, and in composition, as evidenced by the framing references to (i) Greekness and Sostratus at the beginning of AB 115 and (ii) to Greekness and Callicrates at the end of AB 116. However in this case the physical separation of the two monuments precludes that they were ever actually paired in an inscribed monumental context, for the two monuments in question were hundreds of miles apart. Rather, they must have originally been paired in a book.
But were the epigrams known individually, as inscribed in monumental contexts? The answer is that they very probably were. The existence of the first is recorded by Strabo XVII 791, while the second has a close partner in AB 119 on the dedication of the same temple by Callicrates and which is quoted by Athen. VII 318d (ἔγραψε δὲ καὶ Ποσείδιππος). [10] Thus there arises the possibility that the writer in fact knew them from their monumental, inscribed contexts. Did he perhaps write them down after reading them or hearing them recited? The papyrus roll that contains them consists of a privately arranged and written anthology, containing the writer’s personal selection of literary passages, including those by Posidippus, Euripides, and other unidentified authors. The rest of the papers in the archive belong to two brothers, Ptolemy and Apollonius, left orphaned by their father, a Macedonian mercenary. The brothers have taken refuge as katochoi at the Serapaeum, but move freely in the Helleno-Memphite community at Saqqara. Their story is vividly recounted in a study by D. J. Thompson. [11] The principle of selection in the anthology is unknown, but a number of scholars have suggested that ties to Macedon may have recommended the choice of passages from both Posidippus and Euripides for copying. The documents produced by each of the two brothers are easily identified and distinguished, for the reason that the younger, Apollonius, is far more advanced and proficient, and may have been acting as tutor to the older, slower brother.
The lighthouse on Pharos island in the harbor at Alexandria was one of the most famous and celebrated monuments in the ancient world. It is illustrated in a Mosaic from Gasr el Libia. [12] Strabo, who visited Alexandria in 24 BCE, describes not only the monument but also the inscription that it bore, presumably on its base (XVII 791):
ἔστι δὲ καὶ αὐτὸ τὸ τῆς νησῖδος ἄκρον πέτρα περίκλυστος ἔχουσα πύργον θαυμαστῶς κατεσκευασμένον λευκοῦ λίθου πολυώροφον ὁμώνυμον τῇ νήσῳ. τοῦτον δ᾿ ἀνέθηκε Σώστρατος Κνίδιος, φίλος τῶν βασιλέων, τῆς τῶν πλωιζομένων σωτηρίας χάριν, ὥς φησιν ἡ ἐπιγραφή.
Lucian says that Sostratus was the builder of the monument and that he put up the inscription (cf. variation), but plastered over his own name and cut the king’s in plaster, knowing that in time the plaster would fall off [13] , an evident fiction sufficiently exposed by the appearance of Posidippus’ epigram on papyrus. Pliny says that the monument cost 800 talents and adds that it was very generous of the Ptolemaic king to allow Sostratus’ rather than his own name to go onto the monument. This discrepancy—and many more (e.g. the referent of Σωτήρ in lines 1 and 11)—was neatly solved in an ariticle by Bing, who argues that Sostratos dedicated not the monument itself, but the statue of Zeus Soter that stood astride the top of the tower. [14] The epigram, Bing suggests, may have been inscribed on the tower, rather than right beneath the statue of Zeus, where it would have been hard to see.
Ptolemaus, [15] who wrote the anthology of literary passages containing the pair of epigrams by Posidippus, happened to have recorded in another papyrus found among his papers a dream (used as divination in the Serapaeum) as follows (UPZ 78.28–39):
ᾤμην με ἐν Ἀλεξαν|δρήᾳ με εἶναι ἐπάνω πύργου μεγάλου. εἶχον | πρόσοπον καλὸν <εἶχον> καὶ οὐκ ἤθελον οὐθενεὶ | δῖξαί μου τὸ πόρσοπον διὰ τὸ καλὸν αὐτὸν | εἶν[α]ι καὶ γραῦ<σ> μοι παρεκάθητο καὶ ὄχλος ἀπὸ βορρᾶ μου | καὶ ἀπὸ ᾿πηλιότης …
I thought I was in Alexandria, on top of a great tower. I had a beautiful face, and did not want to show my face to anyone because of its beauty. And an old woman sat down next to me, and [there was] a crowd of people to the north and east of me …
When U. Wilcken read this in 1920, he could hardly believe his eyes! He concluded that Ptolemaus could have visited Alexandria in his youth. D. J. Thompson proposed that the ‘great tower’ was ‘perhaps indeed the Pharos.’ Bing carries his argument one step further to propose that the dreamer identifies with the statue, and that the beautiful face is that of Zeus Soter on top of the Pharos. He suggests further that Ptolemaus, because of his ‘particular interest in the statue’, transcribed the poem. In fact the statue on top of the lighthouse on Pharos island in the harbor at Alexandria seems to have been fairly well known as a famous monument. It is, for example, apostrophized by Callimachus in a fragmentary poem (fr. 400 Pfeiffer):
ἁ ναῦς, ἃ τὸ μόνον φέγγος ἐμὶν τὸ γλυκὺ τᾶς ζόας
ἅρπαξας, ποτί τε Ζανὸς ἱκνεῦμαι λιμενοσκόπω.

Ship, that snatched away the only sweet light of my life,
I entreat you by Zeus the watchman of the harbor.
Bing leaves open the question of whether the Ptolemaus knew the epigram from the inscription on the monument, but allows he might have, and assumes that Strabo knew it from sailing in and out of the harbor. While it is tempting to think that Ptolemaus in fact knew the epigram from the inscription on the monument, we can be confident that he did not. Rather, he copied it, along with the epigram on Callicrates dedication on the temple of Arsinoe-Aphrodite at Cape Zephyrium, from a Hellenistic poetry book where he found them paired. This is clear from the graphic features which it exhibits. Among these may be counted the scribal errors, which are those of a beginner or bilingual writer copying from a book: dittographies and hyperiotacisms abound as well as numerous errors of a visual sort caused by the slip of the eye from one sequence to a subsequent identical sequence of letters, as well as seeming phonetic errors caused by misremembering what a copyist has read. [16]
But the tell-tale sign that Ptolemaus is copying from a professionally produced book is that, although he is copying only a pair of epigrams, he manages to replicate the significant features of the form of the Hellenistic poetry book. Note first that in the layout of the epigrams as represented by the copyist, the pentameters are not inset from the starting point of the hexameters as they conventionally are in modern printed editions. This is standard practice for Greek poetry books. [17] (The only exceptions are the Gallus papyrus, a Roman manuscript of Latin epigrams by Cornelius Gallus dating from the early Augustan period, and SH 982, a Greek epigram in elegiacs celebrating Augustus’ victory at Actium with which its writing is virtually contemporaneous.) In addition, Ptolemaus in copying his model has squeezed in an initial title after the fact, indicating that the pair of poems are epigrams [18] by Posidippus. [19] He does this for none of the other literary passages (from Euripides, Menander, etc.) that he copied into his personal anthology. It must be regarded as a feature drawn from the exemplar from which he copied. Presumably he found this title in the colophon of the book from which he was copying at the end of the roll where titles would be expected in an ancient Greek book; he then decided to import it into the top margin before the column in which he had written AB 115 on the lighthouse and 116 on the temple.
Second, Ptolemaus began copying the pair of epigrams by writing on the first line of the column the first half of the first hexameter up to the caesura, the first four words: Ἑλλήνων σωτῆρα Φάρου σκοπόν. Then he began the second line by completing the hexameter (ὦ ἄνα Πρωτεῦ). In order to do so he had to squeeze in the entire pentameter into the remaining space, creating an inordinately long line that required wrapping part of Sostratus’ ethnic Κνίδιος underneath. In doing this he exhibits another feature of the Hellenistic poetry book (and of Alexandrian bibliographic practice in copying and indexing of books): the literary incipit. Callimachus in his Pinakes (an index of books in the Alexandrian Library) recorded the ἀρχή of each book, together with the author, title (if one was known), genre, and number of lines. The practice of identifying works by their opening words derives from Peripatetic practice among the pupils of Aristotle. The hypotheses of Attic dramatic works attributed to Dichaearchus, the earliest examples, identify each play by incipit. Originally the intention must have been to individuate the works in question, lest there be any question which play was being hypothesized, or which exact version of a book was being acquired for the library. By the time that Ptolemaus copied the pair of epigrams by Posidippus, the practice of composing ‘wish-lists’ of poems (particularly epigrams) for transcription into an anthology or edition was becoming common practice. [20]
Side by side with this goes the attention paid to the number of lines contained in a given poem. Not only did a stichometric count figure in the entries in Callimachus’ Pinakes, but we also find them in the totals of many literary books on papyrus. They are also of interest to the scribe of the Milan roll of Posidippus’ epigrams, who gives marginal totals for the poems he copies. Ptolemaus did not give a count for the number of lines in the pair of epigrams of Posidippus that he copied, but he does give a stichometric total for all the passages he has copied into his anthology at the end of the roll.
Finally, and also as an afterthought, Ptolemaus returned to the pair of epigrams after copying them, divided the two at the margin by the short horizontal line of punctuation known as the παραγραφός, and penned the word ἄλλο in the center of the column between the line ending AB 115 and the one beginning AB 116. The uniquely early thematic subheadings of dividing the sections in the Milan roll immediately come to mind as a graphic comparison. But in fact this use of ἄλλο is familiar to us from the later anthologies of Greek epigrams, where it designates a succession of epigrams on the same theme or by the same author or both. We are thus entitled to assume Posidippus’ authorship of AB 116 as well as that of AB 115, and that the epigrams were meant to stand as a pair. What is more, they are made to look by the writer as though they had the same graphic arrangement as a professionally produced book of poems, by a single author.
Such pairs of epigrams or ‘Konkurrenzgedichte’ survive both on papyri and inscribed on monuments. [21] For examples on papyrus, we may turn to the two funerary epigrams of unknown authorship sent in the form of a letter (very likely by the poet himself) to Zeno, the Fayum estate-manager of Apollonius, and Diorcetes of Ptolemy Philadelphus, memorializing Zeno’s hunting-dog Tauron who was mortally wounded during the (supposed) pursuit and attack of a wild boar (SH  977). One is in elegiacs, the other in iambics. Both refer to the physical burial (v. 1 ὅδε . . . τύμβος, 14 τύβωι τῶιδ᾿, 24 τᾶιδ᾿ . . . κόνει), and were doubtless destined to be inscribed as a pair, a practice exemplified in funerary epigram elsewhere. But as Bing has noted, the letter suggests distance (plausibly sent from Alexandria), and there is no evidence that they were ever actually set up. Yet we cannot assume such practice was a purely literary exercise. Inscribed epitaphs for people’s pets are not unknown. There is a new example from Termessos: [22]
- - - - -|- - - Ῥοδόπ[ης? - - - - - - - - - -
κ . . τ . ον εὐχάριτον Στέ|φανον παίζοντες ἐφώνουν, |
ἐξαπίνης θανάτῳ μεμαρμμένον ἐνθάδε κεύθ[ει, |
ἔστι κυνὸς τόδε σῆμα καταφθιμέ|νου Στεφάνοιο, |
τὸν Ῥοδόπη δά|κρυσε καὶ ὡς ἄνθρωπον ἔθαψεν. |
εἰμὶ κύων Στέφανος, Ῥοδόπη δέ [μοι] | ἔκτισε τύμβον.
The phenomenon of composing an epigram for a pet and erecting it in a monumental context is well attested elsewhere. [23]
We are thus entitled to bring the epigrams of Posidippus on papyri previously known before the discovery of the Milan roll into conjunction with the new epigrams of Posidippus from that book. The pair of epigrams informally copied by Ptolemaus can be seen to derive from a professionally produced collection like the Milan roll. As such, it comprises a subset, and can be seen in itself as a kind of mini-anthology of Posidippus. The two epigrams of Ptolemaus’ collection appear neither in the Milan roll (where we might have expected them among the other poems given under the heading Anathematika), nor in the Palatine Anthology or related later anthologies, though the existence of at least one of them is noted by a perihegetical writer, and the second has a close parallel in the Milan roll with AB 119 which purports to be inscribed on the same monument. They were copied by standard scribal techniques from a collection that was either more exhaustive of the poet’s œuvre than either of these, or at any rate contained additional material (and the lack of overlap between the three can hardly be said to point to the existence of a single authoritative edition on which all three are drawing). This together with the circumstances of copying might point in a sub-literary direction, or at least lead to doubts about authorial composition of any one of these particular collections. They were copied as a pair, as indicated by the connecting subtitle ἄλλο—thus constituting a mini-Posidippus anthology incorporated in a larger personal anthology. They came equipped in their source with titles (the latest book-technology of the day), including the use of the incipit as a title, as employed in Callimachus’ Pinakes. Thus they show signs of derivation not from monument or memory but from state of the art book production. At the same time their selection for this particular anthology, as in the case of many poems in the Milan roll, seems to have been guided by geographical and political considerations.


[ back ] 1. References to the Epigrams of Posidippus are to the numeration of the editio minor of Austin and Bastianini (= AB).
[ back ] 2. P.Oxy. 4503–7 with Callimachean metrical preferences: e.g. 4504 ii 16-18 (horoscope of Oedipus); 4505 fr. 26-10 (of a good orator μ]ύθων τε ῥητῆρα ταχὺν πρη[στῆρα φέροντα; cf. Posidippus, AB 27.5–6 (col. v 4–5) φήνη παῖδ᾿ ἀγαγοῦσα καὶ ἐν θώκοις ἀγορητὴν | ῆδυεπῆ θήσει, ‘a vulture as a child’s omen will make him a sweet-speaking orator’).
[ back ] 3. Charlotte Bronte, The Professor. That the passage could be taken as reflecting a scenario plausible in the ancient world may be inferred from its use since the nineteenth century (and it is still so used) for turning into Latin and Greek in British schools: see Archer-Hind and Hicks 1920:148, which gives a sample Latin version: Locus in tantum patebat ut semihoram ibi obambulare posses nec tuis semper insistendo vestigiis taedio affici: quod si cui studium esset rerum gestarum memoriam qualem sepulcra praeberent pernoscendi, tanta inerat ibi elogiorum varietas ut duplex quoque vel triplex temporis spatium posset haec legendo traducere, illuc enim suos genere natione lingua diversi alii aliunde convexerant sepeliendos, et nomina annosque cum supremis quoque amoris vel ambitionis testimoniis, Anglice Gallice Germanice vel etiam Latine scripta in tabulas aereas marmoreas lapideas incidenda curaverant. mortuos sibi quaeque gens, cognatio quaeque suo more lugebant, quanto omnes in illo luctu silentio!
[ back ] 4. Bing 2002a:38–66.
[ back ] 5. Fraser 1972:I 608.
[ back ] 6. Discussed as no. (ii) above in Stephens-Obbink, ‘The Manuscript’ (in this volume).
[ back ] 7. For the Egyptian context: Thompson 1987:105–121; Thompson 1988:261. The title and author, together with the text of the epigrams, contain numerous copying errors and orthographical idiosyncrasies characteristic of the level of competence of the writer and consistent with Ptolemaic copying practice. The new edition by AB (followed here) corrects simple orthographical errors, but wisely eliminates the emendations (most of them unnecessary) by early editors which appear in the editions of Page (GLP) and Gow and Page and returns to a text closer to that given by the copyist. For example, in AB 115.5 previous editors have consistently emended τέμνειν to the participle τέμνων, whereas AB sustain the infinitive of the papyrus.
[ back ] 8. I give below the text as laid-out on the papyrus. See further the discussion below.
[ back ] 9. Translated after AB.
[ back ] 10. The new AB 110. 1 εἴαρος ἡ Ζεφ[υρ- may derive from such a context, and the dedications in AB 77–78 may refer to this same temple: cf. 37. 8 ναοπόλο[υ.
[ back ] 11. Cited above.
[ back ] 12. Chamoux 1975:214–222 with pl. III 1.
[ back ] 13. Hist. Conscr. 62 records the wording of the inscription: Σώστρατος Δεξιφάνους Κνίδιος θεοῖς σωτῆρσιν ὑπὲρ τῶν πλωιζομένων.
[ back ] 14. Bing 1998:21–43.
[ back ] 15. It is his hand that is visible in the papyrus, see Turner and Parsons 1987:82–83, no.45 with addenda p. 151.
[ back ] 16. This is only partly due to the limited competence of the writer, young Ptolemy as he is learning to write: as noted above (in Stephens-Obbink, ‘The Manuscript’, in this volume) papyri of the Ptolemaic date appear to be far more tolerant than their Roman period counterparts of the sort of errors that a trained reader might have been expected to correct, and this is true of the errors of the Milan roll of epigrams of Posidippus as well.
[ back ] 17. See Anderson, Parsons, and Nisbet 1979:130. For exceptional εἰσθέσις of the pentameter in Greek epigram on papyrus that prove the rule see P.Lit.Lond. 62 = SH 982, with Barbantani 1998:259–60 and tav. II who discusses the other evidence (e.g. the Gallus fragment) and implications (or not) for dating. Another way of viewing this feature is as the setting-out into the margin in ἔκθεσις of the hexameter (the origin of the practice?). Such ἔκθεσις is the normal graphic convention for marking inception (in this case of the elegiac couplet) in quotations, lemmata in commentaries, etc., whereas eisthesis in the modern sense of ‘indentation’ is exceptional in ancient manuscripts.
[ back ] 18. Ptolemaus’ initial title ἐπιγράμματα might also be considered parallel to the subtitles in the Milan roll (though might we not have expected a more specific designation, like Περὶ Ἑλλήνων?). I have wondered whether Posidippus fr. AB 147 Περὶ Κνίδου might reflect the subtitle of a section of epigrams by Posidippus (or others) in a lost edition. Cf. Posidippus’ interest in AB 115.2 of the Cnidian origin of Sostratus. Mention of the place here, as in other epigrams of Posidippus, draws it into the ambit of the Ptolemaic empire.
[ back ] 19. Ptolemaus’ annotation Ποσιδίππου is the only testimony we have that the pair of epigrams is by Posidippus. Given that it is an addition after the fact, we might be tempted to doubt its authority, as P. van Minnen suggested to me. However, given the Ptolemaic focus of the new epigrams by Posidippus, as the lexical parallels they provide, lend new support to Ptolemaus’ claim for Posidippus’ authorship: e.g. with AB 115.4 ἐκτέταται cf. now AB 8.4 and 76.1.
[ back ] 20. Compare the lists of epigram incipits discussed by Stephens and Obbink, ‘The Manuscript’ (in this volume).
[ back ] 21. See Fraser 1972: I 611 with nn. 426–30 (ii 863f).
[ back ] 22. I.Termessos I. 22 (Iplikçioglu 1991:39–43 = Merkelbach and Stauber 2002:104, limestone dog-sarcophagus inscribed with 7 hexameters near the inscribed sarcophagus (TAM III,1 no.746) of Αὐρ(ηλία) Ῥοδόπη.
[ back ] 23. Cf. comm. ad loc. with further inscribed examples. Literary examples: AP VII 211 (Tymnes), 304 (Peisandros of Kameiros on Rhodes); Herrlinger, 1930; Zlotogorska 1997.