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Something I was wondering about~Very Advanced Question

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Something I was wondering about~Very Advanced Question

Postby Dean » Sun Feb 20, 2005 4:24 am

Hi Everyone,

I have one of those more advanced questions about Classical Greek. Has there been any kind of writing that has come to light from the time of Homer?
I know that papyrus scraps have been found in Egypt basically in what we would call trash piles today. Has anything been found there relating to this?
I have wondered about the early language and if there was ever anything else found written in the dialect of Homer from these early times. I have a feeling that I might know of a place where some of that might be found if only they would go ahead and look and stop beating around the bush~in Herculaneum at the Villa of the Papyri. After all they found scrolls of the writings of Philodermus there.

Anyway any input would be appreciated!

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Postby adz000 » Tue Feb 22, 2005 4:56 am

Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

Calling Homer's language a dialect is misleading because he composed in an artificial dialect that contains mixtures from several regional Greek dialects as well as a great deal of archaism. So nothing was written in Homeric Greek besides Homer (I'm using "Homer" as a pseudonym for any kind of Greek bardic poetry) and anything that was self-consciously echoing Homer. Certainly not prose or the kinds of transactions you find in Oxyrhynchus.

I think the earliest Greek papyrus we have is from the second century BC (someone check me on this).

The earliest Greek inscription is in fact three lines of Homeric verse carved onto "Nestor's Cup" (c. 750-700), which was found in Ischia off the coast of Naples.

Finding fragments of Philodemus in a 1st century BC Epicurean library is a far cry from coming across original transcriptions of Homeric performance, but anything is possible. Put pressure on the Italian authorities! At the very least it's certain we'll get multiple complete copies of Ennius.
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Postby Sappho » Thu Mar 03, 2005 1:04 pm

I believe Packard finances new excavations in Pompeï, beneath the library of Philodemus, where they assume more scrolls are saved.
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Postby Skylax » Thu Mar 03, 2005 4:14 pm

adz000 wrote:I think the earliest Greek papyrus we have is from the second century BC (someone check me on this).

There is a Greek literary papyrus from the fourth century BC. It is an edition of the Persians, a long lyric song by Timotheus of Miletus (circa 450-360 BC). The papyrus is preserved in Berlin. Yesterday, when I was young, it was the oldest literary papyrus extant. Maybe it is still so today...
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Postby whiteoctave » Thu Mar 03, 2005 9:19 pm

i was under the impression that the Derveni papyrus (Leiden, LDAB 7049)concerning an Orphic poem was the oldest literary papyrus (this is the conclusion Glenn Most reaches in his '97 book).

as for the archaism of Homer (i use the term to refer to the result of the centuries-long process of composition finally put to writing by one guiding hand weaving together previously composed episodes), my favourite piece of evidence is Il.16.857 (=22.363 and the latter half of 22.6) which suggests pre-Mycenaean authorship.

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