Multitextuality in the Homeric Iliad: The Witness of the Ptolemaic Papyri

  Bird, Graeme D. 2010. Multitextuality in the Homeric Iliad: The Witness of the Ptolemaic Papyri. Hellenic Studies Series 43. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.

Chapter 3: The Ptolemaic Papyri of the Iliad: Evidence of Eccentricity or Multitextuality?

Until the end of the nineteenth century, the text of Homer, as preserved in papyri and medieval manuscripts, was relatively uniform, with few significant variant readings to exercise scholars. True, there were instances where an ancient author such as Plato or Aeschines had quoted a passage of Homer in a way that differed in unusual ways from the “received text,” but these cases were generally put down to the faulty memory of the author.

I illustrate these features in simplified diagrammatic form:

4th/3rd cent. bce–8th cent. ce 9th cent. ce–18th cent. ce
papyrus parchment
uncial script minuscule script
scroll/roll and codex codex

The earliest Iliad papyri date from the fourth/third century BCE, with at present 17 papyri from this period. At the other end of the chronological scale are 27 papyri from the sixth and seventh centuries. Thus Iliad papyri span roughly a thousand-year period, from the “Ptolemaic,” through the “Roman,” and into the “Byzantine” periods. Chart 1 illustrates the distribution of those papyri of the Iliad which can be dated (more than four-fifths of the total). One immediately notices the “normal” (in a statistical sense) shape of the graph, indicating among other things the scarcity of Ptolemaic (6 percent) and late Byzantine papyri (12 percent), as well as the relative abundance of Roman texts (82 percent). Whatever the factors responsible for this state of affairs, our examination of the Ptolemaic papyri must bear in mind that our surviving amount of evidence is tiny, and cannot automatically be assumed to be a “representative sample.” However, neither can its evidence be ignored. I add for comparison Chart 2, which includes the medieval manuscripts along with the papyri.



Chart 1. Chronological distribution of Iliad papyri, by century.



Chart 2. Chronological distribution of Iliad papyri and manuscripts, by century. 


Note the far smaller number of these later witnesses to the text; however, what the chart does not show is that the medieval manuscripts each contain on average far greater amounts of Homeric text; in contrast, some of the papyri are extremely fragmentary, containing sometimes only a few partial lines.



Chart 3. Chronological distribution of Greek New Testament papyri and manuscripts, by century.



Ptolemaic before 30 BCE
Roman 30 BCE–284 CE
Early Byzantine 284–400 CE
Late Byzantine after 400 CE


For the purposes of this chapter, I use the following simplified scheme for manuscripts (papyrus or otherwise):


Ptolemaic iii–i (i.e. third to first centuries BCE)
Roman I–III (i.e. first to third centuries CE)
Byzantine IV–VIII (i.e. fourth to eighth centuries CE)


In this chapter I will note the significance of the date 146/145, while also considering papyri that date as late as the end of the first century BCE.

Provenance is not always easy or even possible to determine; Grenfell and Hunt remark that some of their papyrus fragments came to them by means of a dealer, far from where they had been unearthed, while others they uncovered themselves. Opposite is a table showing the number of papyri of the Iliad for which the provenance is fairly certain (373 out of about 1,900, or approximately one-fifth). I separate the Ptolemaic papyri from the rest; note the importance of Hibeh, thanks in large part to the team of Grenfell and Hunt.


Numbers of Iliad Papyri with Secure Provenance 

Site Ptolemaic Later Total
Oxyrhynchus 200 200
Fayum  31 33  
 Hermupolis 28 28
 Tebtunis 4 20 24
Soknopaiou Nesos  –  10  10
 Hibeh  8  1  9
 Karanis  9
 Madinet Madi  –  9  9
 Theadelphia  –  7
 Thebes  –  7  7
 Gurob  1  –  1
 El Lahoun  1  –  1
Magdola 1 1
other 34 34
totals 18 355 373


As mentioned above, the discovery of the Ptolemaic papyri of Homer aroused great curiosity and excitement initially. By the year 1897 the following Iliad papyri had been unearthed, all dating to the third century BCE:


Ptolemaic Papyri of the Iliad Recovered by 1897 (all 3rd century BCE)

Papyrus No. Lines “New” Lines Percent Provenance Discoverer Date* Source
P8 36  13.9%  Gurob F. Petrie 1891 cartonnage 
P5 72  12.5%  ??  J. Nicole  1894  ?? 
P7 ~90  31?  34.4%  Hibeh  G. & H.**  1897  cartonnage 
P12  ~282  27?  9.6%  Hibeh  G. & H. 1897  cartonnage 
P41  73  1.4%  Hibeh  G. & H. 1897  cartonnage 

*This is the date of publication, not necessarily of original discovery. 
** Grenfell and Hunt 1906.

The column labeled “percent” is calculated by dividing the number of new lines by the number of lines in total—i.e. dividing column 3 by column 2. Thus for P7 one can see that 33%, or approximately 1 in 3 of its lines are “new”—i.e. not in our “usual” text of Homer. 


I 108 the papyrus’ reading is “not inferior.”
I 567 the papyrus’ reading is “not an aberration.”
II 622 the papyrus variant is “not formulaic, may be right.”
II 795 the papyrus reading is “superior.”
XI 271 both readings [i.e. papyrus and “vulgate”] seem “equally good.”
XII 180 the papyrus reading “is not derived from the vulgate,” i.e. it is “independent.”
XII 183 a [52] it is “very tempting to regard the text of the papyrus as authentic.”
XII 192 the papyrus “may well preserve an earlier version of this line.”


However, one also meets this kind of evaluation:


XXI 406 the papyrus presents a “rather stupid variant.”
XXI 412 the papyrus’ reading is “worthless.”


The point of mentioning these examples is to show that, in spite of appearing to be working from the assuption of one “original” and “genuine” text of the Iliad, West is still willing at times to allow for the “authenticity” of a papyrus reading, and even for the equal value of more than one variant. I argue later in this chapter that one can and should go further, showing that there are many cases where both the papyrus and the “vulgate” reading (and sometimes the reading of Zenodotus or Aristarchus as well) can be demonstrated—often by both internal and external evidence—to be “authentic,” i.e. that the passage is “Homeric” whichever variant is read.


“New” Lines in the Ptolemaic Papyri of the Iliad

4th/3rd century BCE

Papyrus Book(s) No. lines “New” lines Percent
w38* 24 2 0
P5 11–12 72 11 15.3%
P7 8 90 32 35.6%
P8 11 36 4 11.1%
P12 21–23 282 28 9.9%
P59 16 6 0
P410 6 4 0
P432 11–12 64 14 21.9%
P480a 6 13 3 23.1%
P496 12 31 0
P501c** 17 17 4 23.5%
P672 17 15 1 6.7%
h59*** (quotation) 6 8 0
h117^ (anthology) 3 6 2 33.3%
h125^^ (quotation) 2 9 0
w14^^^ (quotation) 2, 5, 9, 13 8? 1? 12.5%
w19 (commentary) 4, 5, 14 3 0
Totals   666 100 15.0%

* This is the only fourth-century papyrus: it quotes 2 lines of Iliad XXIV as Orpheus.
**P501c is dated by Sutton and West as “Ptolemaic.”
*** Previously labeled P317.
^Previously labeled P. Mich. 5.
^^ Previously labeled P459.
^^^Previously labeled P. Hamb. 137.

3rd–2nd century BCE

Papyrus Book(s) No. lines “New” lines Percent
P40 2–3 95 14 14.7%
P269 1 26 1 3.8%
P391 3 10 0
P494 10 16 0
P590 7 13 0
P593 8 15 0
P662 19 5 0
h103 glosses
Totals   180 15 8.3%

2nd century BCE

Papyrus Book(s) No. lines “New” lines Percent
P41 3–5 73 1 1.4%
P37 2 116 0
P53 1 12 2 16.7%
P217 12 90 8 8.9%
P266 1 8 0
P354 1 45 2 4.4%
P460 2 14 0
P609 10 30 1 3.3%
h68 (commentary) 9 19? 0
h102 (lexicon)
w21 (quotation) 4 1 0
Totals   408 14 3.4%

2nd–1st century BCE

Papyrus Book(s) No. lines “New” lines Percent
P102 5 15 0
P270 6 297 0
P271 22 52 0
P333 1 13 0
P671 16 35 0
h88 (anth./summary) 18–19
Totals   412 0 0.0%

1st century BCE

Papyrus Book(s) No. lines “New” lines Percent
P13 23–24 1,069 3 0.3%
P29 2 9 0
P45 23 15 0
P47 13 179 0
P51 18 13 5 38.5%
30 other papyri   ~900 0
Totals   ~2,100 8 0.4%

1st century BCE–1st century CE

Papyrus Book(s) No. lines “New” lines Percent
20 papyri   440 0
Totals   440 0 0.0%

I summarize by giving figures again for each of the six time periods:

Century No. lines “New” lines Percent
4th/3rd 666 100 15.0%
3rd–2nd 180 15 8.3%
2nd 408 14 3.4%
2nd–1st 412 0 0.0%
1st ~2,100 8 0.4%
1st BCE–1st CE 440 0 0.0%

Ptolemaic “Plus Verses” by Book (Iliad)

Book No. +Verses Location (=Line) Papyrus No. –Verses Location (=Line) Papyrus
I +3 484yz P53 0    
    543a P269      
II +4 794a, 855ab P40 0    
    848a w14      
III +13 283a, 302abcd, 304a, 339abc, 362a, 366a P40 -2 133, 389 P391, P41
    425a, 429a h117      
IV +1 69a P41 -1 89a P41
V 0     -1 527 P41
VI +3 280a, 288ab P480a 0    
VII 0     0    
VIII +32? 38a, 52abcd, 54abcd, 55abcd, 65abcd … i, 197a, 199a, 202ab, 204a, 206a?b, 216a, 252ab, 255a P7 -1 6 P593
IX 0     0    
X +1 433a P609 0    
XI +24 266abcd, 266yz, 272a, 280ab P432 -4 281-283c P432
    504a, 509a, 513a, 514a P8   529 or 530d  
    795ab, 804a, 805a, 807a, 827abc, 834abe, 840a P5      
XII +10f 130a, 189bg, 190a, 193a P432 -6    
XII   183a, 189ab, 190a, 250a, 360a, 363a, 370a P217h   184-187i, 369, 403 P217
XIII 0     0    
XIV 0     0    
XV 0     0    
XVI 0     0    
XVII +5 574ab, 578ab P501c 0    
    683a P672      
XVIII +5+j 606a, 608abcd P51k 0    
XIX 0     0    
XX 0          
XXI +1 382a P12m -2 402, 405 P12
XXII +8 99a, 126a, 259ab, 316abc, 392a P12 -3/-6? see noten P12
XXIII +22 93a, 94a, 130a, 136a, 155a, 160a, 162a, 165a, 171a, 172ab, 183a, 195a, 209a, 221a, 223ab, 278ab P12 -1 92o P12
    757abc P13p      
XXIV 0     0    
Totals   +132   -21/-24    

a Also omitted by Zenodotus.
b Either a “plus verse” or a different version of 207 (S. West 1967:89).
c XI 281–283 omitted by P432. S. West (1967:98) thinks that P432 may be “genuine” in omitting these lines.
d See S. West 1967:104, 107. There appears to be one line missing between 528 and 531.
e “There must have been at least two plus verses here” (S. West 1967:117).
f I count only once each the two “plus verses” 189b and 190a, which occur in both papyri.
g 189a is not preserved in P432, but is in P217.
h Formerly labeled as P121 and P342.
i S. West (1967:124) thinks the papyrus is “genuine” in omitting lines 184–187.
j “There must also have been some plus verses between 589 and 596” (West 1967:132). 
This papyrus contains critical signs next to some lines.
k P51 is dated after 150 BCE, but is still considered “Ptolemaic.”
m West 1967:137: “A second, rather cursive, hand has … inserted variants … [perhaps] a selection from various texts, a kind of primitive apparatus criticus.” Some marginal signs.
n Perhaps lines XXII 74–76 omitted. XXII 133–135 omitted, inserted after XXII 316.22.
o Line 92 was also athetized by Aristarchus. “This is the only place where an ancient athetesis corresponds to an omission in a pre-Aristarchean papyrus” (S. West 1967:171).
p P13 is dated after 150 BCE, but is still considered “Ptolemaic.”

I conclude this section with one more graphic illustration of the distribution of the Ptolemaic “plus (and minus) verses” in the Iliad. On the following pages I show how the “plus and minus verses” are distributed throughout the Iliad. Each “cell” represents a 25-line block of text; [73] the darker shading represents parts of the Iliad covered—even if very fragmentarily—by one or more Ptolemaic papyri dating to before 150 BCE. The lighter shading represents passages covered by later Ptolemaic papyri—down to the end of the first century BCE. Within these blocks, “plus verses” are marked with a “+” and “minus verses” with a “–”. What is significant from these charts is, first, how little of the Iliad is actually represented by papyri of the earlier or later Ptolemaic period—none of books IX, XIV, and XX, and very little of books XVI and XIX. Second, the “plus and minus verses” are almost exclusively confined to the earlier Ptolemaic period, specifically the time before the mid second century, the date when it is supposed that Aristarchus was compelled to leave the library at Alexandria. The charts further indicate, contrary to S. West’s suggestion (above, n70), that the books containing relatively high proportions of “plus verses” are just those which happen to have a high degree of “coverage,” rather than that they are somehow more likely to “attract” “plus verses” because of their content and style. The asterisks next to the totals for books XVIII and XXIII refer to the two papyri dating from after 150 BCE that contain “plus verses.”




An Examination of Some Ptolemaic Papyrus Passages

In this section I look closely at a selection of passages from the Ptolemaic papyri, focusing primarily on “plus verses,” but also examining the surrounding context of these unfamiliar lines, and looking at how, far from being simply “inserted” arbitrarily into Homeric episodes, these lines seem to fit “organically” into their locations.

My procedure will be first to give the immediate context of the passage in question, then to give the “vulgate” Greek text along with a fairly literal translation into English, and then provide the papyrus Greek text and translation. I then give an analysis of the papyrus text. I sometimes give more lines for context than there are in the papyrus, as papyri are so often torn at an inconvenient place in the text.

I follow several somewhat arbitrary but generally accepted conventions. I print both texts with lowercase script except for proper names; accents and breathing marks, including in reconstructed portions of text; iota adscript instead of subscript; and the two forms of lowercase sigma. Square brackets ([ ]) indicate where the papyrus has been torn away; a dot under a letter indicates that its reading is not certain. Sometimes there is an extended portion of a line where no letters can be made out; in such a case the space will be either blank or filled with dots, corresponding roughly to the number of “missing” letters. In these cases I also bracket the English translation, as an approximate way of showing how much (but rarely which actual Greek words) of a particular line is missing in the papyrus.

For the “vulgate” text I use Martin West’s new Teubner edition of the Iliad, not to imply that he has slavishly followed the medieval manuscript tradition—indeed he frequently chooses “non-vulgate” readings, sometimes readings of one of the Alexandrians, sometimes scholarly conjectures, and sometimes a reading preserved by only a small number of witnesses. And as said previously in this book, his respect for the papyri—indicated by always citing their readings first—is much appreciated by those of us with an interest in papyri. I use West’s text as the “standard” against which I compare the Ptolemaic papyrus readings. [75] This may seem like a contradiction to my stated aims, which include the principle that in cases where multiple variants exist, no one reading should automatically be privileged above all the others. However, I follow this procedure in the interests of practicality, and because, as people have generally viewed the texts of the Ptolemaic papyri as unusual or “wild” or “eccentric,” I treat them, at least initially, as “marked” (in the linguistic sense of that term), meaning that there needs to be a corresponding “unmarked” or “default” text. My goal is to show, as has been acknowledged by S. West among others, that at one time these texts were no more unusual than any others of their time period. So my aim will be to demonstrate that the Ptolemaic papyrus readings are often as “good” or “authentic” as the “default” text.

I indicate where the papyrus reading differs from the Teubner by underlining all differences, including any “plus verses,” and this both in the Greek and in the English. This allows the reader to see easily not only the “plus verses,” but also how much other variation there is in the immediate context. Of course we cannot always be certain of the correctness of a particular reconstruction—it is quite possible that if we had more of a particular line of a papyrus surviving, it might differ substantially from our current conjecture, hence resulting in a papyrus even more “eccentric” than we had previously supposed.

Needless to say, my “defense” of some of these seemingly “eccentric” readings is not going to change the mind of anyone who has already decided in advance, as evidently had Bolling and van der Valk, that there could never be more than one “correct” reading in a given passage. But for those who have come to agree with Parry and Lord’s understanding of oral poetry, its composition, performance, and transmission, the following analyses should seem hardly surprising or threatening; rather, I see them as a case of the evidence supporting the theory, and vice versa.

There are several questions that I have discussed previously, and which come to the fore now as we look at these passages of the Iliad. What does it mean to say that a line has been “interpolated”? We may have an idea of how and why it came to be in this specific location, but does that mean that it does not “belong” there now? How do the canons of textual criticism apply in these situations? For Bolling and others, the external evidence has nearly always seemed to be primary. But why should internal evidence be downplayed? And if the passage seems to read “better” without a given line and “worse” with it, should this, in the case of Homer, automatically mean that the line gets cut from the text? Don’t performers perform “better” on some occasions than others, and while we may have a preference, is that the same as judging a reading to be “right” or “wrong”? For some these questions may have easy and decisive answers. But back to the text.

Immediate context: A duel has been agreed to between Menelaus and Paris. Agamemnon has just made a speech declaring the terms of the truce and duel, and has sacrificed lambs and poured wine on the ground. Interestingly, this is one of the few times when the death struggle of the sacrificial victims is described. [77] Soldiers on both sides are praying that anyone who breaks the conditions of the oaths may have their brains poured out on the ground and their wives controlled by (or sleep with) other men.First, the “vulgate” text:

302 ὣς ἔφαν· οὐδ’ ἄρα πώ σφιν ἐπεκράαινε Κρονίων.
       τοῖσι δὲ Δαρδανίδης Πρίαμος μετὰ μῦθον ἔειπεν·
       “κέκλυτέ μοι, Τρῶες καὶ ἐϋκνήμιδες Ἀχαιοί.
305 ἤτοι ἐγὼν εἶμι προτὶ Ἴλιον ἠνεμόεσσαν
      ἄψ, ἐπεὶ οὔ πω τλήσομ’ ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖσιν ὁρᾶσθαι
μαρνάμενον φίλον υἱὸν ἀρηϊφίλωι Μενελάωι.
Ζεὺς μέν που τό γε οἶδε καὶ ἀθάνατοι θεοὶ ἄλλοι,
ὁπποτέρωι θανάτοιο τέλος πεπρωμένον ἐστίν.”
310ἦ ῥα, καὶ ἐς δίφρον ἄρνας θέτο ἰσόθεος φώς,
ἂν δ’ ἄρ’ ἔβαιν’ αὐτός, κατὰ δ’ ἡνία τεῖνεν ὀπίσσω·
πὰρ δέ οἱ Ἀντήνωρ περικαλλέα βήσετο δίφρον.
302Thus they spoke, but the son of Kronos would not yet grant them fulfillment.
And Dardanian Priam spoke to them:
“Hear me, Trojans and well-greaved Achaeans;
305Indeed I am going to windy Ilion
Again, since I will not dare to see with my own eyes
My own son fighting with Menelaus dear to Ares;
Zeus, no doubt, and the other immortal gods know
To which of the two the fate of death has been destined.”
310He spoke, and then the godlike man placed the lambs onto his chariot,
Then himself got on, and pulled the reins back;
And Antenor got onto the well-made chariot beside him.

Next, the Ptolemaic papyrus P40:

302[ὣς ἔφαν, εὐχό]μενοι, μέγα δ’ ἔκτυπε μητίετα Ζεύ̣ς
302a[. . . . . . . . . . . .] φ̣ων ἐ̣π̣ὶ̣ δὲ στεροπὴν ἐφέηκεν·
302b[θησέμεναι γ]ὰρ̣ ἔμελλεν ἔτ᾽ ἄλγεά τε στοναχάς τε
302c[Τρωσί τε καὶ] Δαναο̣ῖ̣[σι] διὰ κρατερὰς ὑσ[μί]νας.
302d[αὐτὰρ ἐπεί ῥ᾽ ὄ]μοσέν τε τελεύτησέν [τε] τὸν ὅρκον,
303[. . . . . . Δαρδανί]δ[η]ς̣ Πρίαμος πρὸς μῦθον ἔειπ[ε·
304[“κέκλυτέ μοι Τ]ρῶες̣ καὶ Δάρδανοι ἠδ᾽ [ἐ]π̣ί̣κ̣[ουροι,
304a[ὄφρ᾽ εἴπω] τά μ̣[ε θυ]μὸς ἐνὶ στήθεσσιν ἀν[ώ]γε[ι.
305[ἤτοι ἐ]γὼν εἶμι πρ[ο]τὶ Ἴλιον ἠνεμόεσσαν·
306[ο]ὐ̣ γάρ κεν τλαίην [ποτ᾽ ἐν ὀφθα]λμοῖσιν ὁρᾶ[σθαι
307[μα]ρνάμ[ε]νον φίλο[ν υἱὸν ἀρηϊφίλωι Μενελάωι·
308[Ζεὺς μέν που] τ̣ό̣ [γ]ε̣ [οἶδε καὶ ἀθάνατοι θεοὶ ἄλλοι,
309[ὁπποτέρωι θα]ν̣ά̣τοιο τέλ[ος πεπρωμένον ἐστίν.”
310[ἦ ῥα, καὶ ἐς δίφρο]ν̣ ἄ̣ρ̣[νας θέτο ἰσόθεος φώς,
302[Thus they spoke, pray]ing, and Zeus the counselor thundered greatly.
302a[ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .] and let loose a bolt of lightening:
302b[For he intended] to place further woes and groanings
302c[Upon the Trojans and] Danaans through fierce battles.
302d[But when he had] sworn and finished the oath,
303[. . . . . . . Dardan]ian Priam spoke this word:
304[“Hear me, T]rojans and Dardanian allies;
304a[While I say] what my heart in my breast is bidding me.
305[Indeed] I am going to windy Ilion
For I would not [ever] dare to see with my own eyes
My own son fighting [with Menelaus dear to Ares;]
[Zeus] and [the other immortal gods know]
[To which of the two] the fate of dea[th has been destined.”]
310[He spoke, and then the godlike man placed] the la[mbs onto his chariot,]

The reconstruction of the beginning of line 302 ὣς ἔφαν εὐχόμενοι, ‘thus they spoke, praying’, occurs only in Iliad X 295 (although the singular participle occurs much more frequently): there Odysseus and Diomedes pray specifically to Athena, at some length, and she hears and in effect answers their prayers. Here the prayers are to Zeus, for any breaking of the oaths to be avenged. The “vulgate” has no mention of prayer, nor of Zeus thundering, just his reluctance to grant fulfillment to their wishes. In the papyrus, it appears that the poet continues with the idea of prayer; the verb κτυπέω is fairly rare, and generally seems to indicate trouble for one group, and maybe success for the other. But in Iliad XV 377, Zeus hears the prayer of Nestor, then ἔκτυπε ‘crashed, thundered’ to show he has heard his prayer; however he then gives help to the Trojans rather than the Greeks.

Line 302d has Priam as its subject; the Trojan preparation for the oaths has occurred in lines 245–258, so again it is not incongruous that Priam has finished his oath at this point. What is more interesting is the way in which the papyrus seems to emphasize Priam’s fear of seeing his son Paris fight against Menelaus. In line 304 the papyrus has Priam talking only to Trojans and Trojan allies, as opposed to both Trojans and Greeks in the “vulgate.” 304a adds a personal touch about Priam’s internal unease, and in 306 the papyrus uses a potential optative rather than the future indicative, seeming to contribute to the emotional instability of Priam.

Immediate context: Lots have just been cast by Hector, and Paris’ lot has “jumped out” first, indicating that he should have the first spear throw in his duel with Menelaus. [81] Paris now begins to arm himself. I start at line 330 in the Teubner, although P40 really only starts this section at line 338 (the previous line has three letters surviving, and apparently was quite different from our line 337 [82] ).Teubner:

330κνημῖδας μὲν πρῶτα περὶ κνήμηισιν ἔθηκεν
καλάς, ἀργυρέοισιν ἐπισφυρίοις ἀραρυίας·
δεύτερον αὖ θώρηκα περὶ στήθεσσιν ἔδυνεν
οἷο κασιγνήτοιο Λυκάονος, ἥρμοσε δ᾽ αὐτῶι·
ἀμφὶ δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ὤμοισιν βάλετο ξίφος ἀργυρόηλον
335χάλκεον· αὐτὰρ ἔπειτα σάκος μέγα τε στιβαρόν τε·
κρατὶ δ᾽ ἐπ᾽ ἰφθίμωι κυνέην εὔτυκτον ἔθηκεν
ἵππουριν· δεινὸν δὲ λόφος καθύπερθεν ἔνευεν·
εἵλετο δ᾽ ἄλκιμον ἔγχος, ὅ οἱ παλάμηφιν ἀρήρει.
ὣς δ᾽ αὔτως Μενέλαος ἀρήϊος ἔντε᾽ ἔδυνεν.
330First he (i.e. Paris) put the greaves around his legs,
fine ones, fitted with silver ankle-pieces.
Second he put on his breastplate about his chest,
of his brother Lycaon; and fitted it to himself.
And about his shoulders he threw his silver-studded sword
335of bronze, and then his shield great and sturdy.
And upon his mighty head he put a well-made helmet
with horse-hair crest; and terribly did the plume nod from above.
And he took a stout spear, which fitted his hands.
And likewise warlike Menelaus donned his battle gear.
338εἵλε̣[το δ᾽ ἄλκιμα] δοῦρε δύ̣[ω κεκορυθμένα χαλκῶι.
339ὣς δ᾽ αὔ̣[τως Μεν]έλαος ἀρήϊα [τεύχε᾽ ἔδυνεν,
339aἀσπίδα κ[αὶ πήλη]κα φαεινὴ[ν καὶ δύο δοῦρε
339bκαὶ καλὰ[ς κνη]μῖδας ἐπισφ[υρίοις ἀραρυίας,
339cἀμφὶ δ᾽ ἄ[ρ᾽ ὤμοισι]ν βάλετο ξί[φος ἀργυρόηλον
338And he took two [stout] spears, [tipped with bronze.
339And like[wise Men]elaus donned his [warlike armor,
339aHis shield a[nd shin]ing helmet, [and two spears
339bAnd fine greaves fitted [with ankle-pieces,
339cAnd about his [shoulders] he threw his si[lver-studded sword.

Conceivably two different readers could come up with opposite conclusions about this passage. One might say that the added lines are repetitive—we have already had the arming of Paris, so lines dealing with that of Menelaus are redundant. Conversely, another could want Menelaus to be given more than just one line, as if Paris were stealing the limelight. Of course we are fully expecting Paris to lose this duel, so giving him the longer arming scene enhances the ominous nature of the passage.

In considering the papyrus’ “additional lines” 339abc, I observe firstly that the shield does still precede the helmet: indeed, items 4, 5, and 6 appear in order at the beginning, with greaves and sword being placed last. Now the preceding lines (328–338) have all dealt with the arming of Paris (using several lines repeated in other arming scenes), with that of Menelaus getting only the single line 339 in the “vulgate.” The papyrus version gives Menelaus four lines instead of one, and moreover none of the three extra lines is repeated from the earlier description, indeed one is “unique” in Homer. Rather than Menelaus’ arming being simply a repetition of that of Paris, it is more of a summary, with shield, helmet, and spears all mentioned in the same line. Thus one scholar’s claim that the papyrus version “has brought down the Homeric passage to the level of primitive epic poetry” by unartistic and tedious repetition, which “only says that the armor of Menelaus was identical with that of Paris,” [85] is simply false, and overlooks the obvious: the second description relates to the first by not repeating it, which would perhaps be rather “tedious” (to use the same scholar’s term), but rather by summarizing it, as mentioned above. In fact, the additional line 339a uses words for shield and helmet which are different from those used in Paris’ arming. Thus the papyrus version still focuses upon Paris’ arming, but also devotes some space to that of Menelaus: the two go together without any problems of “tedious” or “artless” repetition. (I note that, in contrast to van der Valk, Kirk suggests that a fuller description of Menelaus’ arming would have underlined the unbalanced nature of the contest. [86] This seems to me as unlikely, if not more so, than van der Valk’s suggestions.) In this connection I note other “abbreviated” scenes which mention lists of arms, such as Iliad XIII 264–265 (which is admittedly not an actual arming scene), where spears and shields appear in one line, helmets and breastplates in the other. [87]

Thinking of the two versions from a performance perspective, one can imagine a singer on a particular occasion getting a heightened sense of the drama of the upcoming duel—it is clear after all that Paris is the weaker fighter; he has been allotted first strike, meaning he is going be the loser, so to speak; and so our particular singer gives Paris two spears, as well as making not Menelaus but his armor “warlike”; and then giving Menelaus four lines instead of one for his arming. These are variations that would seem perfectly natural as a way of performing this particular episode at a higher emotional level than on some other occasion.

Immediate context: Hecuba has just tried to persuade her son Hector to rest, drink some wine, and pour a libation to Zeus and the other gods. Hector declines, saying that the wine will weaken him, and that in his current state, covered with blood and gore, he is in no condition to offer libations to the gods. He gives her instructions in order to try and appease the wrath of Athena by taking her a richly woven robe.Teubner:

“ἀλλὰ σὺ μὲν πρὸς νηὸν Ἀθηναίης ἀγελείης
280ἔρχε᾽, ἐγὼ δὲ Πάριν μετελεύσομαι, ὄφρα καλέσσω,
αἴ κ᾽ ἐθέλησ᾽ εἰπόντος ἀκουέμεν. ὥς κέ οἱ αὖθι
γαῖα χάνοι· μέγα γάρ μιν Ὀλύμπιος ἔτρεφε πῆμα
Τρωσί τε καὶ Πριάμωι μεγαλήτορι τοῖό τε παισίν.
εἰ κεῖνόν γε ἴδοιμι κατελθόντ᾽ Ἄϊδος εἴσω,
285φαίην κεν φίλον ἦτορ ὀϊζύος ἐκλελαθέσθαι.”
ὣς ἔφαθ᾽· ἣ δὲ μολοῦσα ποτὶ μέγαρ᾽ ἀμφιπόλοισιν
κέκλετο, ταὶ δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἀόλλισσαν κατὰ ἄστυ γεραιάς.
αὐτὴ δ᾽ ἐς θάλαμον κατεβήσετο κηώεντα,
ἔνθ’ ἔσάν οἱ πέπλοι παμποίκιλοι, ἔργα γυναικῶν
290Σιδονιῶν, τὰς αὐτὸς Ἀλέξανδρος θεοειδής
ἤγαγε Σιδονίηθεν ἐπιπλοὺς εὐρέα πόντον
τὴν ὁδόν, ἣν Ἑλένην περ ἀνήγαγεν εὐπατέρειαν.
“But you, go to the shrine of Athena who carries the spoil,
280and I will go and look for Paris, to call him,
if perhaps he wishes to hear what I have to say. I wish for him the earth
would gape right now; for the Olympian reared him as
a great source of pain for the Trojans and for great-hearted Priam and his children.
If I were to see him having gone down into Hades,
285I would say that my own heart had forgotten its grief.”
Thus he spoke; and she went to the hall and called
to her maids, and they gathered together the older women throughout the city.
But she went down to the sweet-smelling chamber,
Where her many-colored robes were, the work of Sidonian
290Women, whom godlike Alexander himself
Had led from Sidon when he sailed the wide sea,
That journey on which he brought back Helen of the noble father.


280″ἔρχευ, ἐγὼ] δὲ Πάριν μετελ[εύ]σομαι, ὄφρα καλέσσ[ω,
280a ] ον στονόεντα μ[. . . . .]ρ̣ω̣α̣ . . α . τ . . ω . ο̣υ̣
]ι εἰπόντος ἀκουέμεν· ὥ̣ς̣ κ̣έ̣ οἱ αὖθι
γαῖα χάν]οι· μέγα γάρ μιν Ὀλύμπιος ἔτραφε πῆμα
Τρωσί τε] καὶ Πριάμω μεγαλήτορι τοῖό τε παισίν·
εἰ κεῖνόν] γε ἴδοιμι κατελθόντ᾽ Ἄϊδος εἴ̣σ̣ω,
285φαίην κε] φρέν᾽ ἀτέρπου ὀϊζύος ἐκλελαθέσθαι.”
ὣς ἔφατ᾽, ο]ὐδ᾽ ἀπίθησ᾽ Ἑκάβη, ταχὺ δ᾽ ἀ[μ]φιπόλοισι
κέκλετο· ταὶ δ᾽ ἄ]ρ᾽ ἀόλλισσαγ κατὰ ἄστ[υ] γε̣ραιάς·
288 αὐτὴ δ᾽ ἐς] θάλαμογ κατεβήσετο κηωίεντα,
288aκέδρινον] ὑψερεφῆ ὃς γλήνη πολλ᾽ ἐκεκεύθει
288b ] φωριαμοῖσι παρί[στ]ατο δῖα γυνα[ικῶν
ἔνθ᾽ ἔσάν οἱ ]πέπλοι παμπο[ίκι]λοι ἔργα γυν[αικῶν
290 Σιδονίων, τὰς α]ὐτὸς Ἀλέξανδ[ρος θεοειδὴς
ἤγαγε Σιδονίη]θεν, ἐπιπλ[ὼς εὐρέα πόντον,
τὴν ὁδὸν ἣν Ἑλέ]νη[ν περ ἀνήγαγεν εὐπατέρειαν·
280″You go, and I will go and look for Paris, to call him,
280a. . . . . carrier of woe? . . . . .
if perhaps he wishes] to hear what I have to say. I wish for him the earth
would gape right] now; for the Olympian reared him as a great source of pain
for the Trojans] and for great-hearted Priam and his children.
If I were to see] him having gone down into Hades,
285I would say] that my own mind had forgotten its painful grief.”
Thus he spoke,] nor did Hecuba disobey, but quickly called
to her maids,] and they gathered together the older women throughout the city.
But she went] down to the sweet-smelling chamber,
288aMade of cedar] which contained many noble treasures
288b ] queenly among women, she stood beside the chests
Where her] many-colored robes were, the work of Sidonian
290Women, whom] godlike Alexand[er himself
Had led from Sidon] when he sail[ed the wide sea,
That journey on which he brought back He]le[n of the noble father.

Beginning this time with the first “plus verse,” 282a, we see that it is poorly preserved, with the only complete word able to be made out being στονόεντα ‘groaning, bringing or causing groans’. Elsewhere in Homer this word is used four times with βέλεα or βέλεμνα ‘weapons’ and once with κήδεα ‘woes’. In this passage it conceivably could be referring to Paris, which would tie in with the following sentiment of Hector, that he wishes Paris might be swallowed up by the earth and go down to Hades. This would be not only a unique usage, but also a powerful way of comparing Paris to a spear that brings grief to others, in particular his own family members. And the usage fits in well here with the following words πῆμα ‘bane, destruction’, and ὀϊζύς ‘sorrow, grief’. Similarly, line 285 in the papyrus has the uncommon adjective ἀτέρπου ‘causing pain’ used to describe Hector’s sorrow; in contrast, the “vulgate” gives the adjective φίλον, which means little more here than ‘my own’ as referring to Hector’s heart. The papyrus version is attributing to Hector a stronger sense of grief and sorrow than is our more familiar text. Once again we might imagine a performer feeling Hector’s “pain” to an unusual degree, and using diction with a greater degree of emotional intensity.

In line 286, Hecuba, rather than just μολοῦσα ‘going’, rather does not disobey, and quickly calls her maidservants, intensifying the more mundane “vulgate” version. The formulaic phrase οὐδ᾽ ἀπίθησ᾽ occurs about twenty-five times in Homer, generally of Hera, Iris, Thetis, and Zeus, but also of humans such as Achilles and Agamemnon. The only other human female it is used of is Eurycleia in Odyssey xxii 492, after being ordered by Odysseus to assist with cleaning the hall after the deaths of the suitors. For a listener familiar with that story this has to add to the power of the phrase being used in this present context. One is also reminded of Telemachus and Penelope, but even then Penelope is not spoken of as ‘not disobeying’ her son.

In the two following lines, 287 and 288, we notice two seemingly minor textual variants (I pass over κηωίεντα for now): ἀόλλισσαγ κατὰ and θάλαμογ κατεβήσετο. These are clear examples of spelling reflecting pronunciation (in these two cases assimilation of a nasal to the following velar stop), in a way that presumably would not happen if the lines were being dictated slowly and carefully. Rather I suggest that these spellings convey the memory of a live performance, with all its speed and dramatic intensity.

Line 288b and the following lines recall Odyssey xv 104, where Helen is taking the finest robe from her treasure chests as a gift for Telemachus. She too is called there δῖα γυναικῶν; and there is the added connection that Hecuba’s robes came from the same journey that Paris was on when he brought back Helen to Troy. It is as if the poet, aware that he will soon be telling of the finest robe that Hecuba must give to Athena, the one that ἀστὴρ δ᾽ ὣς ἀπέλαμπεν ‘shone like a star’ and ἔκειτο δὲ νείατος ἄλλων ‘lay underneath all the rest’ (Iliad VI 295), makes a link to the robe of Helen with those same words (Odyssey xv 108), and hence Hecuba becomes like Helen for a brief moment. But what pains Helen brought to Hecuba! And those pains are being brought into the present context by means of the allusion to Priam in Iliad book XXIV.

Immediate context: The Greeks are fighting over the body of Patroclus. Menelaus has just prayed to Athena to help protect him from Trojan weapons, and from Hector in particular.Teubner:

“χαλκῶι δηϊόων· τῶι γὰρ Ζεὺς κῦδος ὀπάζει.”
ὣς φάτο· γήθησεν δὲ θεὰ γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη,
ὅττί ῥα οἷ πάμπρωτα θεῶν ἠρήσατο πάντων.
ἐν δὲ βίην ὤμοισι καὶ ἐν γούνεσσιν ἔθηκεν,
570καί οἱ μυίης θάρσος ἐνὶ στήθεσσιν ἐνῆκεν,
ἥ τε καὶ ἐργομένη μάλα περ χροὸς ἀνδρομέοιο
ἰχανάαι δακέειν· λαρόν τέ οἱ αἷμ᾽ ἀνθρώπου·
τοίου μιν θάρσεος πλῆσε φρένας ἀμφὶ μελαίνας,
βῆ δ᾽ ἐπὶ Πατρόκλωι, καὶ ἀκόντισε δουρὶ φαεινῶι.
575ἔσκε δ᾽ ἐνὶ Τρώεσσι Ποδῆς, υἱὸς Ἠετίωνος,
ἀφνειός τ᾽ ἀγαθός τε, μάλιστα δέ μιν τίεν Ἕκτωρ
δήμου, ἐπεί οἱ ἑταῖρος ἔην φίλος εἰλαπιναστής·
τόν ῥα κατὰ ζωστῆρα βάλε ξανθὸς Μενέλαος
ἀΐξαντα φόβονδε, διάπρο δὲ χαλκὸν ἔλασσεν,
580δούπησεν δὲ πεσών. ἀτὰρ Ἀτρεΐδης Μενέλαος
νεκρὸν ὕπεκ Τρώων ἔρυσεν μετὰ ἔθνος ἑταίρων.
Ἕκτορα δ᾽ ἐγγύθεν ἱστάμενος ὤτρυνεν Ἀπόλλων,
Φαίνοπι Ἀσιάδηι ἐναλίγκιος, ὅς οἱ ἁπάντων
ξείνων φίλτατος ἔσκεν, Ἀβυδόθι οἰκία ναίων·
566″… slaughtering with the bronze; for Zeus gives the glory to him.”
Thus he spoke, and the goddess bright-eyed Athena was glad,
Because he had prayed to her first of all the gods.
And she (Athena) put strength into his (Menelaus’) shoulders and knees,
570And into his breast she put the boldness of the fly,
Which even when driven away often from human skin
Is eager to bite, and pleasant to it is the blood of a man;
She filled him with such courage in his dark mind
And he stood over Patroclus and threw with his bright spear.
575And there was among the Trojans Podes, son of Eetion,
Wealthy and noble; and Hector honored him especially
Over the people, since he was his companion and friend at the feast.
Yellow-haired Menelaus struck him on the belt
As he was rushing in fear, and he drove the bronze right through;
580And he fell with a thud; but Menelaus son of Atreus
Dragged the corpse from amongst the Trojans into the group of his companions.
But Apollo stood near Hector and urged him on,
Appearing like Phaenops son of Asius, who was to him the most loved
Of all guests dwelling in his house at Abydus.


566″χαλκῶι δηϊόων· τῶι γὰρ Ζεὺς κῦδος ἔ[[ι]]δωκεν.”
ὣ]ς φάτο, γήθησεν δὲ θεὰ γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη,
ὅ]ττί ῥά οἱ πάμπρωτα θεῶν ἠρήσατο πάντων·
ἐ]ν δὲ βίην ὤμοις καὶ ἐγ γούνασσιν ἔθηκεν,
570κ]αί οἱ μυίης θάρσος ἐνὶ στήθεσσιν ἔθηκεν,
ἥ τε καὶ εἰργομένη περ μ̣ά̣λ̣α̣ χροὸς ἀνδρομέοιο
ἰσ]χαν̣άαι δακέειν, λαρόν τέ οἱ αἷμ᾽ ἀνθρώπου·
τωίου μιν θάρσους πλῆσεν φρένας ἀμφιμελαίνας,
574βῆ] δ᾽ ἐπὶ Πατρόκλωι μεγαλήτορι, τὸν δὲ κίχανεν
574aκε]ίμενον, ἀμφὶ δέ μιμ βελέων ὀρυμαγδὸς ὀρώρει·
574bστ]ῆ δὲ παρ᾽ αὐτὸν ἰὼν καὶ ἀκόντισε δουρὶ φαεινῶι.
575ἦ]ν δέ τις ἐν Τρώεσσι Ποδῆς, [π]αῖς Ἠετίωνος,
ἀ]φνηός τ᾽ ἀγαθός τε· μάλιστα [δ]ὲ μήτιεν Ἕκτωρ
δ]ήμου, ἐπεί οἱ ἑταῖρος ἔην [φ]ίλο[ς] εἰλαπιναστής·
578τ]όρ ῥα κατ᾽ ἀσπίδα δουρὶ βάλεν ξανθὸς Μενέλαος·
578aἡ δ᾽ οὐκ ἔγχος ἔρυτο, διὰ [π]ρὸ δὲ εἴσατο χαλκός,
578bνειαίρηι δ᾽ ἐγ γαστρὶ διὰ [ζωστ]ῆρος ἔλασσεν·
566″… slaughtering with the bronze; for Zeus has given him glory.”
567Thus he spoke, and the goddess bright-eyed Athena was glad,
568because he had prayed to her first of all the gods;
569And she (Athena) put strength into his (Menelaus’) shoulders and knees,
570And into his breast she put the boldness of the fly,
Which even when [
94] driven away often from human skin
Is eager to bite, and pleasant to it is the blood of a man;
She filled him with such courage in his dark mind
574And he stood over great-hearted Patroclus, and reached him
574aAs he lay there, and around him the din of weapons arose;
574bAnd he stood going by him, and he thrust with his shining spear.
575And there was among the Trojans a certain Podes, son of Eetion,
Wealthy and noble; and Hector honored him especially
Over the people, since he was his companion and friend at the feast.
578Him yellow-haired Menelaus struck with his spear on his shield;
578aBut it (the shield) did not stop the spear, but the bronze went right through
578bAnd he drove it into his lower belly, through the belt.

This passage involves the Greeks fighting around the body of Patroclus, a frantic struggle that takes up a large part of book XVII of the Iliad. It is perhaps this franticness, as we have seen with other emotionally charged passages, that can help account for the “plus verses” and surrounding variation in the text in the papyrus version of this passage.

I note without comment the several small variations in lines 569–573; although in line 578 we see another example of assimilation, this time τόρ ῥα for τόν ῥα, reflecting the realities of oral performance rather than scribal dictation.

The charming fly simile is virtually the same in both versions; but when we get to the body of Patroclus, the papyrus has given Patroclus the epithet μεγαλήτορι ‘great hearted’, as well as the words τὸν δὲ κίχανεν//κείμενον ‘and he reached him//as he lay there’. There seems to be some special care being shown towards Patroclus, although dead; there are four separate verbs relating to standing, reaching, going, as well as the comment that the ‘din of weapons arose around him’, to stress the fight going on for his body. Finally we get the spear throw that has been “delayed” from the second half of line 574 to the second half of line 574b.

As with Patroclus, the papyrus version seems to emphasize the pathos of the death of Podes, although since the papyrus stops at line 578b we cannot be sure whether the word φόβονδε was in the next few lines. But the slightly more detailed description of the shield not stopping the spear, and of the spear going through Podes’ lower belly, suggest a somewhat greater emotional involvement on the part of the poet.

Note: 17.578ab = 5.538–539, which refer to the killing of Deïcoön son of Pergasus, by Agamemnon. In each case the warrior killed is honored greatly, and his death evokes some amount of pity. I also note several cases of acoustical assimilation: ἐγ for ἐν in 569 and 578b; μιμ for μιν in 574a; τόρ for τόν in line 578. As suggested previously, these represent the way the language was heard rather than seen, and so hold clues as to performance aspects of the Iliad and Odyssey.

In this short examination of a handful of so-called “eccentric” Ptolemaic texts, we have seen that, far from being the result of careless scribal activity, what we are looking at can be viewed as functioning as a transcript of a live performance, and not only that, but a performance in which the “performer” could and did choose to heighten the emotional level by means of such things as variation in word choice, and intertextual links to other Homeric episodes; since a line of verse does not “operate” in isolation (or a vacuum), “importing” it into what may appear to be a “new” location has the effect of bringing with that line all of its thematic connections and connotations, which, in the “hands” of a skilled performer, can add power and emotion to an already dramatic performance. So our Ptolemaic papyri preserve much more than variant readings; they contain indications of the reality of live performances, of a performer’s ability to “vary” his performance―in short, of multitextuality.


[ back ] 1. See Turner 1968:24. Flinders Petrie himself (1892) gives a fascinating account of the life of a nineteenth-century explorer in Egypt: on p. 3 he mentions the need to “subordinate the stomach to the intellect”; and on p. 12 he describes one of his places of residence as a “tomb”—which it was, literally—adding that in subsequent years, “often when in draughty houses, or chilly tents, I have wished myself back in my tomb.”

[ back ] 2. Mahaffy 1891:33ff. See also S. West 1967:103–107.

[ back ] 3. S. West, ibid., 106.

[ back ] 4. Compare the “vertical”/”horizontal” types of variation discussed above, chap. 2, n109. In addition, I note the use of the term “variation units” in Epp and Fee 1993:49–50, to refer to a passage from the Greek New Testament which includes at least two “significant” variant readings, each supported by at least two independent textual witnesses.

[ back ] 5. Above, chap. 2, pp. 30–31.

[ back ] 6. See Haslam 1997:55n1. He describes this latter habit as “pernicious.” See also n15 below for an example of a medieval papyrus manuscript.

[ back ] 7. T. W. Allen’s label; Sutton (see next note), followed by M. L. West, relabels it as “h74.”

[ back ] 8. In this chapter I depend on Homer in the Papyri: A Computerized Database (Sutton 1997), and subsequently West 2001:86–138 for a good deal of the information on Homeric papyri.

[ back ] 9. See Allen 1931 (vol. 1, Prologomena), pp. 1–10. On p. 1 he states that “a complete list of Homeric papyri is not attempted.”

[ back ] 10. See West 2001 for further details on the labeling system. West points out that in his Teubner edition he dispenses with the letter “P” for papyrus in the apparatus criticus for the sake of economy; context makes it clear when a papyrus reading is being referred to.

[ back ] 11. See Turner 1968. On p. 11 he gives figures showing that rolls are gradually supplanted by codices between the second and fourth centuries CE.

[ back ] 15. Allen 1931 (Prologomena) 11–55 listed 188; West (2001:139–142) includes the papyrus P568 as “X,” along with a further manuscript “Y,” which Allen had not used, bringing the total to 190. I will generally use West’s labeling system rather than that of Allen, except where West does not mention a manuscript in Allen’s lists.

[ back ] 16. See Allen 1931:11, 162–166; also Dué 2009.

[ back ] 17. Allen 1931:43.

[ back ] 18. See again chap. 1, p. 1.

[ back ] 19. See esp. Ludwich 1898.

[ back ] 20. See esp. Garner 1990 and Rengakos 1993.

[ back ] 21. E.g. Snodgrass 1998.

[ back ] 22. See Powell 1997:23–24. Both inscriptions include hexameters, and the latter apparently contains a reference to the Iliad.

[ back ] 23. Data from Aland 1987:81–83.

[ back ] 24. Grenfell and Hunt 1906.

[ back ] 25. P8, containing about 36 lines from Iliad XI. See below, p. 70.

[ back ] 26. P609, containing portions of Iliad X. Another papyrus, P662, containing a few lines from Iliad XIX, was originally (in 1922) edited as a fragment of Euripides, but subsequently (in 1989) identified and reedited as Homeric.

[ back ] 27. Exceptions include: the Epicurean papyri from Herculaneum; Hellenistic and Roman documents from Dura-Europos; papyri from Qumran (“Dead Sea Scrolls”), Murabba’at, and Auja-el-Hafir; and the Homeric “w38″—an Orphic papyrus from Derveni near Thessaloniki.

[ back ] 28. See Maehler 1996:1109–1111.

[ back ] 29. Mahaffy 1891:9.

[ back ] 30. Ibid.

[ back ] 31. Grenfell and Hunt 1906:1–12.

[ back ] 32. Grenfell and Hunt 1906:4.

[ back ] 33. Mahaffy (1891:2) blames the “vulgar tourist” for “lavishing money ignorantly and at random” and thus “encouraging the natives to maximize their profits.”

[ back ] 34. S. West 1967:136–154.

[ back ] 35. Grenfell and Hunt 1906:11.

[ back ] 36. Mahaffy 1891:11.

[ back ] 37. Grenfell and Hunt 1906:12.

[ back ] 38. S. West (1967) edits and comments on those Ptolemaic papyri of Homer available up to 1965; for papyri after that date I have depended upon the computerized database of D. F. Sutton, and subsequently West 2001 (see above, n8).

[ back ] 39. Allen 1899.

[ back ] 40. See Grenfell and Hunt 1906:67–75.

[ back ] 41. See e.g. Dué 2001, demonstrating that the text of Aeschines’ Against Timarchus—which contains an extended Homeric quotation differing from the “vulgate” text—is supported by P12, a Ptolemaic papyrus which covers some of the same lines.

[ back ] 42. Allen 1924:302.

[ back ] 43. Allen 1899:39: “the enormous working of the element of chance.”

[ back ] 44. Allen 1924:249–269.

[ back ] 45. Turner 1968:42–50. Also his statements about the “capricious nature of finds at a single site,” and the fact of “the accidental wanderings of papyri … papyri travel easily from place to place.”

[ back ] 46. S. West 1967:11.

[ back ] 47. Ibid., 5–6.

[ back ] 48. Ibid., 11.

[ back ] 49. Ibid., 13.

[ back ] 50. Ibid. Cf. p. 26: “our papyri are riddled with secondary variants and conjectures.”

[ back ] 51. These quotations are taken from the places in her commentary on the lines in question.

[ back ] 52. This is the standard notation for a “plus verse”—see below.

[ back ] 53. Van der Valk 1964:531.

[ back ] 54. Ibid. I notice his similar evaluations of the work of Zenodotus and Aristarchus.

[ back ] 55. He likens himself to a common soldier trying to advise a general.

[ back ] 56. Ibid., 532n6, modifying a statement of Lehrs.

[ back ] 57. Turner 1986:107.

[ back ] 58. Ibid., 108.

[ back ] 59. Ibid. I note Turner’s frequent use of the term “wild” in this context.

[ back ] 60. E.g. Kirk 1985:43.

[ back ] 61. E.g. Janko 1992:22.

[ back ] 62. Nagy 1996a, chap. 5.

[ back ] 63. Allen 1931.I:91.

[ back ] 64. S. West 1967.

[ back ] 65. Sutton 1997.

[ back ] 66. West 2001.

[ back ] 67. S. West 1967:15.

[ back ] 68. A small number of lines that are in the “vulgate” text but are omitted in a Ptolemaic papyrus.

[ back ] 69. Data based on S. West, D. F. Sutton, and M. L. West.

[ back ] 70. S. West 1967:75. But the distribution chart below, pp. 82–83, indicates a different answer.

[ back ] 71. See e.g. Nagy 2004:35–37 and 52–55.

[ back ] 72. See above, n4.

[ back ] 73. I note that similarly each page of the Venetus A manuscript generally contains 25 lines of Homeric text.

[ back ] 74. See above, pp. 79–80, table notes e and j.

[ back ] 75. I will use the term “Teubner” (or sometimes “vulgate”) whenever I am quoting from West’s edition.

[ back ] 76. S. West 1967:40; M. West 2001:90. Such redating of papyri does happen occasionally, based on a fresh look at and reanalysis of the script and other features. I follow S. West’s edition, West 1967:40–58.

[ back ] 77. See Kitts 2005 for her interpretation of the implications of this.

[ back ] 78. S. West 1967:53.

[ back ] 79. Ibid.

[ back ] 80. See Nagy passim for his use of this term; e.g. Nagy 2004:33–36.

[ back ] 81. In general in the Iliad the warrior who strikes first is the one who comes off worse; e.g. Sarpedon versus Patroclus in book XVI. The fight between Achilles and Hector in book XXII is an exception, not least because it is the ultimate duel between two Homeric warriors.

[ back ] 82. See S. West 1967:44, 54–55.

[ back ] 83. S. West, ibid. I notice that West omits the arming of Patroclus in Iliad XVI 130ff. Also all six elements are not always present: in the passages from Iliad V and Odyssey xxii, the first three items are missing.

[ back ] 84. Ibid.

[ back ] 85. van der Valk 1964:545–546.

[ back ] 86. Kirk 1985:316.

[ back ] 87. Cf. also Iliad XVIII 457ff. (Thetis requesting new armor for Achilles), and XIX 359ff.

[ back ] 88. Rengakos 1993:55–58.

[ back ] 89. For the “plus verses” 339abc, note: [ back ] 339a: cf. Iliad VI 322, XIII 527, Odyssey i 256, xii 228, xviii 228, xxii 101. [ back ] 339b: = Iliad XVIII 459; cf. III 331. [ back ] 339c: = Iliad II 45, etc. [ back ] (Sutton 1997).

[ back ] 90. See Bird 2009 for a detailed and illustrated account of the critical signs in the Venetus A manuscript of the Iliad.

[ back ] 91. I follow the edition of Boyaval 1967:57–65.

[ back ] 92. I note that the only other occurrence in Homer of ἐκεκεύθει is in the Cyclops’ cave in Odyssey ix; there is also an occurrence of γλήνη there—meaning ‘eyeball’.

[ back ] 93. I follow Boyaval 1967:65–71 for the text of this papyrus.

[ back ] 94. Some of the underlined text represents differences in the Greek text not reflected in the English.