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

Textbook on Mythology: Early third century AD?

The schools of Oxyrhynchus, where locals were educated to speak and write classical Greek, are well represented in the papyri. This little book (possibly a miniature roll) contains the rudiments of Homeric mythology presented in a matter of fact tabular form for reference or memorising. The fragment on the left contains a list of the top nine Achaean heroes of the Iliad from Menelaus to Nestor. Answering questions about heroes was part of the job of the grammatikosor schoolmaster.

The fragment on the right contains a list of gods (indicated by the heading theon), descending in order of birth from Cronus to the generation of Zeus, Poseidon and Hera, and then through the children of Zeus, including a learned note on Athena who was conceived ‘when Zeus swallowed Metis (i.e. Wisdom)’.

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri vol. LXV no. 4460