The Homer Multitext and the System of Homeric Epic
How do you edit an oral tradition? Multiforms and Multitext
Homeric papyri, our oldest witnesses
433 εἰ γὰρ δὴ μέματον Τρώων καταδῦναι ὅμιλον
434 Θρήϊκες οἷ δ’ ἀπάνευθε νεήλυδες ἔσχατοι ἄλλων·
432 But why do you question me so precisely about each of these things?
433 For if you two are eager to enter into the crowd of Trojans,
434 here are the Thracians who have newly arrived, farthest apart from the others.
433a … δῦναι̣[ ̣]ι̣ στρατὸν ἐγγὺς [ἐόντ]ων
433 … dear heart rouses
433a … to enter the camp of those who are nearby
Edwards argues that “there can be no doubt that the sense … is the same as that of K 433.”  If this is so, we can see here an example of expansion (or, conversely, of compression in the Venetus A version): the singer in performance can expand episodes, scenes, or speeches with more lines if he so chooses. Even a relatively short and simple expansion such as this one seems to be evidence of the performance tradition. The language of these lines is formulaic, and they are just as likely to have been generated by a traditional singer as those found in the majority of witnesses.
302a [ca. 10 letters] 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 μευ, Τ>ρῶες 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>
302a and he let fly lightening.
302b For he was about to place still more sufferings and groans upon
302c the Trojans and the Danaans in powerful combat.
302d Next, once he [Agamemnon] had sworn the oath and completed the sacrifice,
303 To them Priam, descendant of Dardanos, spoke words,
304 “Hear from me, Trojans and Daradanians and allies,
304a let me say what my heart in my chest tells me to say:
305 I will go to wind-swept Ilion,
306 for I would never dare to watch with my own eyes
307 my dear son fighting with Menelaos, dear to Ares.
308 Zeus, I suppose, knows this, as well the rest of the immortal gods,
309 to which of the two the fulfillment of death has been allotted.”
310 He spoke, and into the chariot he, a man equal to a god, placed the lambs …
At verse 302, the papyrus seems to read ὣς ἔφαν εὐχόμενοι, μέγα δ᾽ ἔκτυπε μητίετα Ζεὺ̣ς (“So they spoke praying, and Zeus the deviser thundered loudly”) in contrast to the medieval manuscripts, which read ὣς ἔφαν, οὐδ’ ἄρα πώ σφιν ἐπεκραίαινε Κρονίων (“So they spoke, but not yet did Zeus bring it to fulfillment for them”). Following that verse, there are four plus verses that are not attested in the medieval manuscripts. At verse 303, the papyrus reads πρὸς where the medieval manuscripts have μετὰ. At verse 304, the papyrus reads Δάρδανοι ἠδ᾽ <ἐ>π̣ί̣κ̣<ουροι,> (“Daradanians and allies”) where the manuscripts read ἐϋκνήμιδες Ἀχαιοί (“well-greaved Achaeans”). After 304 there is another plus verse. At verse 306, the papyrus appears to read <ο>ὐ̣ γάρ κεν τλαίην <ποτ᾽ ἐν ὀφθα>λμοῖσιν ὁρᾶ<σθαι> (“for I would never dare to watch with my own eyes”) whereas the manuscripts have ἄψ, ἐπεὶ οὔ πω τλήσομ’ ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖσιν ὁρᾶσθαι (“back, since I will not yet dare to watch with my own eyes”).
2.40 Τρωσί τε καὶ Δαναοῖσι διὰ κρατερὰς ὑσμίνας.
2.39 For he was about to place still more sufferings and groaning upon
2.40 the Trojans and the Danaans in powerful combat.
Verse 3.302d on the papyrus can be found at Iliad 14.280:
14.280 Next, once he had sworn the oath and completed the sacrifice
And finally, verse 2.304a on the papyrus can be found at Iliad 19.102. In fact, this particular passage from Iliad 19, in which Zeus addresses the other gods, is contextually similar to the one we are exploring in Iliad 3:
19.101 κέκλυτέ μευ πάντές τε θεοὶ πᾶσαί τε θέαιναι,
19.102 ὄφρ᾽ εἴπω τά με θυμὸς ἐνὶ στήθεσσιν ἀνώγει.
19.100 Making a solemn statement, he spoke among all the gods,
19.101 “Hear from me, all you gods and goddess,
19.102 let me say what my heart in my chest tells me to say.”
We can see that verse 3.304 on the papyrus is likewise parallel to 19.101, with the substitution of the contextually appropriate Τρῶες καὶ Δάρδανοι ἠδ᾽ ἐπίκουροι for πάντές τε θεοὶ πᾶσαί τε θέαιναι.
Following Parry, we, the editors of the Homer Multitext, view the early Homeric papyri as the vestiges of a once vibrant performance tradition of the Iliad and Odyssey.  The variations preserved in the Homeric papyri are a unique channel into the oral tradition that we have lost. We are not seeking to privilege the papyri in any special way over the medieval transmission; rather we seek simply to make the readings they contain readily available to scholars and anyone interested in the transmission of the Homeric poems, and to suggest that they have great historical value in the picture they present of the state of the Homeric texts in the earliest stage at which we have it.