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Oxyrhynchus: A City and its Texts, Virtual Exhibition: Daily Life

Homeric Verses, illustrated: Second century AD

Greek popular literature in Oxyrhynchus often drew on Classical models. This papyrus contains Homeric verses (most taken from Iliad 23.65ff) illustrated in the upper register by an armed figure.

The verses concern Achilles’ meeting with the ghost of Patroclus. Achilles tries to set out; each time the ghost turns him back, uttering a prophecy of Achilles’ own death. If the figure goes with the lines that follow, it ought to be Achilles. He leans forward, right arm extended, wearing a bowler-shaped hat or helmet; cross-hatching on the legs indicates boots or greaves. A red patch on the shoulders stands for a fluttering cloak. The left hand wields a spear and small red shield.

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri vol. XLII no. 3001