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

Plato, Phaedrus: Late second century AD

Nine consecutive columns from a papyrus roll containing Plato’s dialogue Phaedrus (242d-244e). In the format of an Oxford Classical Text these nine columns would occupy three pages (the entire dialogue fills 67 pages, or roughly 25 times the length of the preserved papyrus). The lines are short in proportion to the height of column. At the end of many lines the scribe added a complementary sign (dash or dot) in order to produce a uniform right-hand margin. Accents, breathings, and elision marks were inserted by a second hand, who also introduced corrections. But the corrector failed to observe many obvious errors, and inserted many variants not otherwise recorded, most of them inferior to those normally adopted. Of special note are the ‘double commas’ in the second column, lines 21ff (243a) marking a quotation from the poet Stesichorus addressed to Helen of Troy (Poetarum Melicorum Graecorum fragmenta fr. 192, ed. Davies), written as prose:

‘That story has no truth in it, and you never even went on the well-benched ships, and you never set foot in the tower of Troy.’

In the fifth column the coronis marks the end of a section.

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri vol. XVII 2102