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P.Oxy. LXIX 4708

A papyrus from Oxryhynchus in Middle Egypt now in the Sackler Library, University of Oxford has now been identified as containing elegiac verses of the seventh century BC poet Archilochus. The fragments, uncovered in 1897, came from the same papyrus roll as two other previously published papyri (P.Oxy. VI 854 and XXX 2507) both of which also contain elegiac verses by Archilochus. This text, which narrates a pre-Trojan War battle between the Greeks and and Telephus king of Mysia, is the first known instance of a mythical narrative in elegiac verses from the Archaic period.

View the document   IMAGE OF FR.1 BACK

View the document   IMAGE OF FR.1 FRONT

View the document   GREEK TEXT of Fr.1

(A new reconstruction by Dirk Obbink of the critical text in The Oxyrhynchus Papyri vol. LXIX (2005) pp. 28-30)

Translation

'One doesn't have to call it weakness and cowardice, having to retreat, if it's under the compulsion of a god: no, we turned our backs to flee quickly: there exists a proper time for flight. Even once Telephus from Arcadia put to flight the great army of Argives, and they fled--indeed, so greatly was the fate of the gods routing them--powerful spear-men though they were. The fair-flowing river Kaikos and the plain of Mysia were stuffed with corpses as they fell. And being slain at the hands of the relentless man (Telephus), the well-greaved Achaeans turned-off with headlong speed to the shore of the much-resounding sea. Gladly did the sons of the immortals and brothers, whom Agamemnon was leading to holy Ilium to wage war, embark on their swift ships. On that occasion, because they had lost their way, they arrived at that shore. They set upon the lovely city of Teuthras, and there, snorting fury along with their horses, came in distress of spirit. For they thought they were attacking the high-gated city of Troy, but in fact they had their feet on wheat-bearing Mysia. And Heracles encountered them (the Argives), as he shouted to his brave-hearted son of Telephus, fierce and pitiless in cruel battle, who, inciting unfortunate flight in the Danaans, strove along on that occasion to gratify his father.'
Anatomy of a Book-roll
The new fragments have the same hand and format as: P.Oxy. XXX 2507 (Adesp. Eleg. 61 W.), elegiacs hesitantly ascribed by Lobel to Archilochus (line 10 could be restored as Archil. fr. 1.2, but the preceding line is different from fr. 1.1) and P.Oxy. VI 854, containing line-beginnings overlapping (at vv. 6-9) a passage ascribed by Athenaeus 483d to Archilochos en elegeiois (fr. 4 W.).

The hand was identified by W. B. Henry (see Bibliography). All three fragments have on their fronts the same cursive writing (accounts). Thus it may be concluded that:

  1. Adesp. Eleg. 61 W. is by Archilochus, who used line 10 = fr. 1.2 (or a variation thereof) over again in that poem.
  2. P.Oxy. VI 854, XXX 2507 and the new fragment belong to a single book consisting of poems by Archilochus in the elegiac metre, according to the attested ancient grouping of his poems into books by metres, and that it was coextensive with an edition of Archilochus cited by ancient authors as en tois elegeiois (Athen. 483d, Orion Etym. col. 55.22 Sturz, and Et. Gen. s.v. epirhesis I all cite from it in this form).
  3. This was an extensive critical edition equipped with coronides, paragraphoi, accents, variant readings, and critical marginal signs.

[click here for image of P.Oxy. XXX 2507 Back]
[click here for image of P.Oxy. XXX 2507 Front]
[movable image of XXX 2507 (Back) [may not be available in certain browsers]]
[movable image of XXX 2507 (Front) [may not be available in certain browsers]]

[click here for Applet displaying Greek Text of XXX 2507]

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[click here for image of VI 854 (Back]
[click here for image of VI 854 (Front)]
[movable image of VI 854 (Back) [may not be available in certain browsers]]
[movable image of VI 854 (Front) [may not be available in certain browsers]]

[click here for Applet displaying Greek text of VI 854]


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