The ever excellent Ancient World Online blog is indispensible for those wishing to keep aware of what is coming online, and should be in everyone’s RSS reader. Today I learn that an online edition has appeared of the Derveni papyrus, on which I wrote some notes as long ago as 2006.
The Derveni papyrus is a most interesting new document of Greek literature. It is perhaps the only papyrus to have been found on Greek soil, and is, if not the oldest Greek papyrus ever found, no doubt the oldest literary papyrus, dated roughly between 340 and 320 B.C. Its name derives from the site where it was discovered, some six miles north of Thessaloniki, in whose Archaeological Museum it is now preserved. It was found among the remnants of a funeral pyre in one of the tombs in the area, which has also yielded extremely rich artifacts, primarily items of metalware. After the exacting job of unrolling and separating the layers of the charred papyrus roll, and then of joining the numerous fragments together again, 26 columns of text were recovered, all with their bottom parts missing, as they had perished on the pyre.
The book, composed near the end of the 5th century B.C., contains the eschatological teaching of a mantis; the content is divided between religious instructions on sacrifices to gods and souls, and allegorical commentary on a theogonical poem ascribed to Orpheus. The author’s outlook is philosophical, displaying, in particular, a physical system close to those of Anaxagoras, the Atomists, and Diogenes of Apollonia. His allegorical method of interpretation is especially interesting, frequently reminiscent of Socrates’ playful mental and etymological acrobatics as seen in Plato’s Cratylus. The identification of the author is a matter of dispute among scholars. Names like Euthyphron of Prospalta, Diagoras of Melos, and Stesimbrotus of Thasos have been proposed with varying degrees of likelihood.
A few years ago The Center for Hellenic Studies made the Greek text of the papyrus available online, as it was published in 2006, © Olschki, Firenze. …
Editio princeps 2006 (Olschki, Firenze)
Unfortunately the “editio princeps” is merely a pointer to the site, and I found this rather confusing.
The announcement relates to some new way of viewing the text online, but it is news to me that the text itself has been online. Indeed, if you struggle through the site, you will find a translation in English at the book of a transliteration of each column, but only for the first six columns. Column 1 is here, for instance.
Useful to have access to, tho.