End-titles in Greek verse

An email brings me word of a new publication by F. Schironi on the ends of books and the titles that appeared there, mainly connected with Greek poetry.

A systematic and chronoloical investigation into the nature and development of end-titles in papyrus rolls and codices of hexameter poetry from the III century BC through the VI century AD. The bulk of the evidence for presentation of hexametric verse derives from Homeric papyri (51 papyrus copies), although Hesiod’s Theogony, Works & Days, and Shield(two), and Oppian’s Halieutica likewise supply data (one). For comparative purposes the author also provides a sampling of end-titles in non-epic genres. The discussion of individual papyri and summation of the results are rich and informative. Includes bibliographical references, charts with comparative statistics, and pertinent indices. 

We’d probably better not ask what the price is — the blog is afraid to give it! — but there is a PDF summary available here.  I give the full url because the site can be a bit cranky:


Book-Ends and Book-Layout in Papyri with Hexametric Poetry – Francesca Schironi

The present article is a very brief summary of a monograph I have completed which consists of an analysis of the way ancient manuscripts (rolls and codices) containing hexametric poetry mark book-ends.   I have addressed two main questions: 1) if and how these manuscripts mark the end of books and  how end-marks change over time, especially with the adoption of the new format of the codex; and 2)  how epic poems in rolls and codices were arranged, in particular whether, after the end of one epic book,  another book followed and, if so, where it was placed, i.e. in the same column (or page) or in the next one.

The present analysis allows us to identify some clear patterns and to understand the way ancient manuscripts containing epic and above all Homeric poetry marked the end of books and organized their content over a period of time ranging from the 3rd century BC to the 6th century AD.

The paragraphos was one of the signs used to mark the end of a book and it consisted of a line at the left margin stretching under the first letters of the last line of the book. This line was used to separate visually the last line of a book from the first line of the next book. … The papyri in our data set prove that the common claim that Ptolemaic papyri used to have the entire poems written continuously in one, very long roll without distinguishing one book from another is false.  … All the codices available to us have an end-title. This is normally in the full form of the genitive of the name of the poem, followed by the letter designative of the book which has reached the end.  

It is very good news that this summary paper exists, so that thereby this intricate subject may reach a wider audience.  It indicates that the monograph must be a work of considerable interest and precision, and I sincerely hope the conclusions are taken seriously and not merely forgotten.

Now what about a similar study on prose texts?


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