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Oxyrhynchus: A City and its Texts, Virtual Exhibition: Excavations and Finds

Ibycus: Second century BC

Three columns from a de-luxe papyrus roll written in an unusually ornamental hand. The text is a corrected copy of an encomium of the sixth century BC lyric poet Ibycus comparing the famous tyrant Polycrates of Samos to the heroes of the Trojan war (Poetarum Melicorum Graecorum fragmenta fr. S151, ed. Davies). The last three lines (punctuation uncertain, and exact sense controversial) run as follows:

‘With them you too, Polycrates,
shall have immortal fame for beauty
as long as my song and fame endure.’

Before the final line, a marginal monogram known as a coronis marks the end of the poem and guarantees the reader that nothing has been omitted. Blank space follows. But there is no end title, as would have been expected. Instead, inspection under infra-red photography revealed superimposed letters from another papyrus in a documentary script (the word drachmais can be read). At the foot of the empty space an ancient scholar has written a note (scholium) in a cursive hand, commenting on the name Kyanippos, and enabled J. P. Barron to restore this name in an incomplete line of the preceding column.

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri vol. XV no. 1790