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Oxyrhynchus: A City and its Texts, Virtual Exhibition: Navigation

Elegy on Gods and their Boy Loves: Second century AD

A papyrus roll of unusually narrow format, on the back of a reused tax document cut down, thus a ‘pocket-roll’. The informal script, with cursive tendencies, is amateurish but neat. The poem, by an unknown author, concerns themes of erotic mythology, especially gods and their boy loves: Apollo and Hyacinthus, Heracles and Hylas. The style and subject show that these verses are Hellenistic or later. Vocabulary points to the Roman period. The author adds four words to our dictionaries.

J. R. Rea has suggested that the basic subject was the love of the Emperor Hadrian for his favourite Antinoos, who drowned in the Nile and was a favoured subject with Greek-Egyptian poets.

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri vol. LIV no.3723