Acosta-Hughes, Benjamin, Elizabeth Kosmetatou, and Manuel Baumbach, eds. 2004. Labored in Papyrus Leaves: Perspectives on an Epigram Collection Attributed to Posidippus (P.Mil.Vogl. VIII 309). Hellenic Studies Series 2. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_AcostaHughesB_etal_eds.Labored_in_Papyrus_Leaves.2004.
1. The Manuscript:  Posidippus on Papyrus
Ἑλλήνων σωτῆρα, Φάρου σκοπόν,
ὦ ἄνα Προτεῦ, | Σώστρατος ἔστησεν Δεξιφάνους
Κνίδιος· οὐ γὰρ ἐν Αἰγύπτωι σκοπαὶ οὔρεος οἷ᾿ ἐπὶ
What We Can Deduce From the Milan Roll
- The original manuscript written along the fibers of a roll, containing epigrams, and written in a hand that likely belongs to the later part of the third century (ca. 230–200 BCE). The hand is that of a professional scribe, so this is not a privately made copy.
- Subsequently, the original protocollon—the sheet attached at the opening of the roll to strengthen it—was replaced, either because the opening was somehow damaged or for another reason.
- A text containing mythological material of some kind was written on the back of the roll.  This text can be dated by comparanda to the early second century and the hand is documentary in style (which makes the dating somewhat more secure). It is in four columns extending 72.5 cm. It is written upside down with respect to the text of the epigrams and covers an area running from cols. 6–13. From the fact that this second text only occupies the center of the roll, we can infer that the two sides were in simultaneous use. If not, we should expect that the roll would have simply been cut down to the necessary size for the new text.
- Finally, at some point around or after 176 BCE, the papyrus was sent to a recycling center and formed into the pectoral from which it was recovered. The papyrus itself had a useful life, we may infer, of at least 30 years (giving a low date for the initial writing) to 176, very possibly much longer—50 or more years.
- The first is an Oxyrhynchus papyrus (P.Oxy. 3724) of the late first century CE. It contains a list of seventy-five incipits written in a documentary hand, which should indicate that it was a privately made copy. Twenty-seven of the incipits have been identified as belonging to Philodemus and there are good reasons to think that all of them belonged to that author. If so, we have an incipit list organized to produce a selected edition of epigrams of Philodemus. It should be noted that these incipits are occasionally reversed, some crossed out, with occasional ticks in the margin—all of which suggests a process of reorganizing.
- The second is an unpublished Vienna papyrus (P.Vindob. G 40611), also from cartonnage and found with documents datable to the last third of the third century BCE.  It consists of five fragments from a roll measuring 17 cm x 70 cm and contains incipits from over 200 epigrams. Only one of the incipits has so far been identified—and not to everybody’s satisfaction—as from Asclepiades (AP XII 4b). It bears the title τὰ ἐπιζητούμενα τῶν ἐπιγραμμάτων ἐν τῆι α´ (= 1st) βύβλῶι. Each incipit is accompanied by a number, e.g., 4, 8, 10, that is, presumably, the numbers of lines of the epigram to which the incipit belongs. At the bottom of col. 1 is the notation (εἰσι) κ´ στίχοι πη´, that is there are 20 lines, 88 verses. Col. 2 has the same notation as col. 1, col. 3 has (εἰσι) κδ´ στίχοι ρ´ (= 24 lines, 100). The total for book one is given as 83 incipits and 344 lines. Other identifiable numbers indicate that the Vienna epigrams like the Milan will have had mainly four and six line epigrams, with a few longer poems, though one poem of 21 in the Vienna cannot have been an epigram. In both we have mainly four and six line epigrams, with a few longer poems. These numbers are typical.
The opening of the roll as it stands seems to have been damaged or cut in some way and its original cover sheet replaced with another, which is rather narrower and attached not by overlapping the left edge (which is the usual practice) but by being fastened underneath. The editors assume that the roll is complete and that we have the original opening. They infer this from the fact that they read the category heading [λιθι]κ̣ά̣—in the top margin. They also point to the fact that the stichometric number for this section is correct for the actual lines still extant, thus guaranteeing that the section is complete. We cannot read the letters they claim to see, which in any case would be rather high in the margin, not in line with the top of the subsequent columns. The anomaly in the placement of this heading (if it is there) in combination with the recut left margin raises the question of whether we in fact have the original beginning of the roll. William Johnson has argued that line 1 of col. i is in fact an addition in the upper margin of col. i, written by a second hand (after the original beginning of the roll was detached) in order to make col. i begin with a complete poem.  According to him it is written noticeably above the level of the first lines of the subsequent columns in the roll. An examination of the papyrus, however, reveals that the graphic typology and ink of the hand that wrote line 1 of col. i differs little, if at all, from the text of the rest of the roll: its differences are certainly not sufficient to establish the presence of another writer at work. In addition, the level of line 1 of col. i does not appear to be significantly different from that of the first lines of the subsequent columns: the disparity is caused by the necessity of straightening out in Photoshop the angle at which fr. 1 of col. i (containing line 1) appears in the volume of plates accompanying P.Mil.Vogl. VIII 309 in order to effect a comparison with the level of the first line of the subsequent columns.It would be quite easy in principle to cut off one or more of the opening columns (perhaps another full section) and attach a new protocollon. But if the scribe numbered the sections as he copied, then this could only happen if the beginning of the category—λιθικά—coincided with the top of a column (if not the title). Otherwise the stichometrics, which appear to have been written by the original hand, would need to have been added after the fact. Either scenario is possible, but there is a greater likelihood that the scribe would have totaled as he went. The lack of title at the opening cannot be used as evidence of anything in particular. Literary texts in antiquity regularly bore end-titles not initial titles, though occasionally we have evidence of titles added at a roll’s beginning or on the outside of the protocollon at right angles to the text.  Should we not expect, if we have the original beginning, some kind of dedicatory poem? We initially thought that the opening poems, now fragmentary, of the Lithika would have contained the necessary dedicatory information. But there are reasons to doubt this, given what we can see of the poems. 
There are two separate stichometric systems on this papyrus. The first is a total of lines (M = 40) entered at the foot of col. 1. If the scribe wished to have a total of the number of lines copied (and from the presence of this number, presumably he did), all he needed to do was multiply this number by the total number of columns in the completed text to arrive at a sufficiently accurate count. There is, however, a second set of numbers used in conjunction with a point placed at every tenth line of each section. (The points begin with a new section and are not cumulative for the whole papyrus.) The stichometrics occur at the end of each section and provide a total for that section. The numbers are not cumulative, which is the normal practice, so their purpose is not to provide a simple count of the whole, but must perform some other function. (In fact adding up these individual numbers to reach a total for the whole would be quite tedious.) Why section totals? We can think of three possibilities:
- (a) for balance
- (b) for control
- (c) for extraction from another longer roll (or rolls).