Cicero at Oxyrhynchus

I wonder how many people know that 10 papyrus fragments of Cicero exist from Oxyrhynchus, etc, the earliest dating from the start of the 1st century AD and the latest from the 6th? I certainly didn’t!

I owe this knowledge to CEDOPAL, the online database of 7,000 papyri.  A look at the drop-down list of authors is interesting by itself.  Julius Africanus is represented.  Three fragments of the lost works of the 2nd century jurist  Ulpian are there.  A few bits of Galen; surprisingly few, really, considering that his works amount of 10% of the now-surviving Greek literature before AD 300.  A fragment of Juvenal Satire 7 from ca. 500 AD from Arsinoe is a poignant relic, considering that he ended his days in exile in Egypt.

Only two snippets of Libanius were found, one from his Monody for Julian the Apostate.  A fragment of an epitome by Manetho exists from the 5th century.  Another 2nd century fragment is from the Chronicle of Phlegon of Tralles; and Hippolytus gives us a fragment of his own Chronicle, 6-7th century.  Polybius is present in a 1st century AD fragment.  And so the list goes on.

I was glad to see that links are starting in CEDOPAL to appear to online images of some of the papyri.  This must come, I think, and will put an end to the absurd concealment of these things behind barriers of money and privilege.  But much remains to be done.

2 Responses to “Cicero at Oxyrhynchus”


  1. Thomas Rudder

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve just read the Loeb Letters to Atticus and was wondering what the oldest fragments would date to. One would think Herculaneum would have Cicero and hopefully Varro buried in one the villas. If, one could dig all of Naples and had the scanning technology perfected that Dr. Seales of UofK was working on, a great body of early Latin literature might be recovered.

    Agreed on the prohibitive cost of the Egypt Society publications. Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, has a greek author list of some 2,200 from 8bc to 15 ad including Oxyrhyncus writers. Again, prohibitively expensive for complete access to their work.

  2. Roger Pearse

    I wonder too. I suspect our oldest witness is the medieval codices, not older than a thousand years.

    Apparently the TLG subscription for individuals is $100 a year. I’ve not subscribed, I must say.



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