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Oxyrhynchus: A City and its Texts, Virtual Exhibition: Scribes and Scholars

List of Epigrams: Late first century AD

A list or index of epigrams by their opening words or incipit. At least three hands were at work: two wrote the epigram incipits, one careless in a semi-cursive script (column 1), the other in a good rapid cursive. An inexperienced, ‘slow’ writer wrote in awkward upright capitals a recipe for cough mixture in the upper centre, which has been crossed out. The purpose of the list is unknown. But incipits were the ancient equivalent to the title of a poem as a form of reference. In the first column, one epigram, and probably another, are copied in full. In the rest, including the two columns on the back, 175 epigram beginnings are given, of which 31 come from the beginnings of previously known poems: two of these are ascribed to the epigrammatist Asclepiades, twenty-seven to the Epicurean philosopher and poet Philodemus.

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri vol. LIV no. 3724 front