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Two new Sappho fragments

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Re: Two new Sappho fragments

Postby Qimmik » Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:21 pm

An article by Dr. Obbink from TLS:

http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article1371516.ece

Two points:

1. "documented legal provenance"

2. Dr. Obbink has accepted ἀέρρῃ.
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Re: Two new Sappho fragments

Postby daivid » Wed Feb 05, 2014 2:03 pm

Qimmik wrote:An article by Dr. Obbink from TLS:

http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article1371516.ece

Two points:

1. "documented legal provenance".


That does indeed put my mind at rest.

But I still think you are far too relaxed about thefts. It is true that thefts are nothing new. What is new is that modern technology allows the robbers to detect tombs under the sand that in the past would have been undetectable to robbers. Also the current political crisis means that the robbers are able to bring mechanical diggers onto the sites and clear tombs out in the course of day.

It is one of my favorite daydreams, thinking of what lost works might be wrapped round a mummy in an excavated tomb. The rate of theft is such that there may well soon be none left.
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Re: Two new Sappho fragments

Postby Qimmik » Wed Feb 05, 2014 2:27 pm

I'm not unconcerned about the widespread looting of items of cultural heritage, but I simply thought it was premature to become vexed over the provenance of this particular piece of mummy cartonage. Some of the antiquities on the market today have legal provenance, as Dr. Obbink asserts this one does--leaving aside whether it was ethical to unearth and export these items before legislation prohibited the practice.

But of course no one thought in terms of the ethical component of archeology until very recently. If they had, the museums of London, Paris, Berlin, New York, Los Angeles etc. would be empty of antiquities today; the great university collections of papyri would be bare; and Bacchylides, Menander, the Partheneion of Alcman, poems of Sappho, Archilochus, Steisichorus--the list goes on and on--would remain unread.
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Re: Two new Sappho fragments

Postby Paul Derouda » Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:29 pm

I still wonder whether Obbink made some kind of sense out of ἀέργη. Because wouldn't he have put daggers otherwise? What is the custom in papyrology? Anyway, this "raises his head" metaphor just somehow feels a bit bland. But what do I know about Lesbian poetry. Still, M.L. West thinks the poem is rather weak, so maybe I'm not in bad company. :)

I certainly got over-excited in trying to find meaning in words that apparently don't have any...
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Re: Two new Sappho fragments

Postby Qimmik » Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:02 pm

It might have been a stronger poem if we had the beginning.
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Re: Two new Sappho fragments

Postby Scribo » Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:12 pm

When/where did West comment? I only can think of comments on the earlier "new" (now the "old new old" lol) fragment.
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Re: Two new Sappho fragments

Postby Qimmik » Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:35 pm

Dr. West's comment is mentioned in the TLS article.
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Re: Two new Sappho fragments

Postby Paul Derouda » Wed Feb 05, 2014 8:52 pm

Yes, I meant the TLS article. And anyway, I wasn't really serious about it being a bad poem. Let's not pass judgment rashly...
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Re: Two new Sappho fragments

Postby daivid » Wed Feb 05, 2014 10:25 pm

Qimmik wrote:I'm not unconcerned about the widespread looting of items of cultural heritage, but I simply thought it was premature to become vexed over the provenance of this particular piece of mummy cartonage. Some of the antiquities on the market today have legal provenance, as Dr. Obbink asserts this one does--leaving aside whether it was ethical to unearth and export these items before legislation prohibited the practice.

But of course no one thought in terms of the ethical component of archeology until very recently. If they had, the museums of London, Paris, Berlin, New York, Los Angeles etc. would be empty of antiquities today; the great university collections of papyri would be bare; and Bacchylides, Menander, the Partheneion of Alcman, poems of Sappho, Archilochus, Steisichorus--the list goes on and on--would remain unread.


I suspect we are disagreeing because we are using the internet rather than talking face to face.

Many of the founders of of archaeology did things that would be shocking today but maybe they had to learn by their mistakes. However there is a world of difference between archaeologists going to sites without any official permit at a time when there were really no responsible authorities to give permission and the situation now where legal and responsible authorities exist. By responsible authorities I mean those in charge of antiquities not the government or to be precise the army.
Illegal digging in Egypt today is simply extremely destructive souvenir hunting.

Ethics is an issue in all this but there is also the simple pragmatic issue of how much actual history can be recovered from sites. However gray early archaeology may have been, anything illegal today is entirely black.

Maybe for us living outside Egypt there is little we can do beyond giving morale support to those Egyptians trying to preserve the sites. But that little is still worth doing.
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Re: Two new Sappho fragments

Postby Scribo » Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:15 pm

A lecturer of mine was excavating in Egypt as a young post-doc, I can't remember what sort of stuff they were after...it doesn't matter. Anyway they had a serious problem in terms of bribery and had to allocate quite a bit of their expenses to oiling palms. Being young, said lecturer simply wrote it up as "bribes" and naturally got into quite a bit of trouble for it.

I find it amusing, at the least its worth pointing out that sometimes "official" channels aren't anything more than crooks with badges either. Obviously this doesn't matter, its the artefacts we hope to preserve not people's careers. But still. I've given up on thinking there's anything on this planet that's not utter garbage.

Now as for Sappho. Ah I don't have an opinion yet, if people start bringing up referentiality and the wider tradition (as I think E. Hall has?) I'm probably going to have to write about it at some point but I'm terribly bad at that stuff. I can remember the moment when I found out there was a old new old Sappho (2006) when I randomly encountered it in an exam gobbet question. It had been out for 2/3 years then and I ought to have been familiar with it but my crap text did not have it and you might imagine my reaction was something like: new... :shock: Sappho... :? ...what? :oops:

Right now I'm frankly in love again with Bacchylides. My god.

EDIT: BTW regarding West I've recently been made aware of the fact he was included in the New Years Honours list. Which is bloody excellent and about time!
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Re: Two new Sappho fragments

Postby aloimonon » Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:35 pm

I'm curious, what was the latest century in which Sappho was actually copied and read? As I was reading N. G. Wilson's "Scholars of Byzantium" last night, I noticed a reference to several authors still being read and copied in Egypt in the 6-7th centuries, one of whom was Sappho (or was it 5-6th centuries, sorry, I'm not sure anymore). I did a quick search online for fragments of Sappho, and found that the latest fragment (that I saw) was dated to the 3rd century AD, so I'm not sure about Wilson's comment. Does anyone know?

I've never read Greek Lyric poetry, but I have read some epigrams in the Palatine Anthology. I consulted "Scholars of Byzantium" to get a primer on Maximus Planudes, as he does preserve some epigrams not in the Palatine Anthology, though of course his anthology was vastly inferior.
ἀλλ' ἔγωγε ἐξ αὐτῶν τούτων μᾶλλον αὐτὸν τεθαύμακα, ὅτι ἔν τε ἀλλοκότοις καὶ ἐν ἐξαισίοις πράγμασι αὐτός τε διεγένετο καὶ τὴν ἀρχὴν διεσώσατο. Dio LXXII 36.3
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Re: Two new Sappho fragments

Postby Qimmik » Thu Feb 06, 2014 2:19 pm

I have essentially the same source as you--Reynolds and Wilson, Scribes and Scholars (3rd) pp. 50 and 54, mentions the Pap. Berol. 5006, apparently a 7th century Egyptian papyrus of Sappho, which is apparently the latest surviving papyrus of Sappho. Maybe the forthcoming fourth edition will have more information.

There is some evidence, apparently, that Photius, in 9th century Constantinople, had access to some of Sappho's poetry which was transmitted in a large compendium of classical literature (the Bibliotheca) by Sopater, a philosopher who lived in the time of Constantine, but this would not have consisted of independently transmitted books of Sappho.

http://books.google.com/books?id=5ZGm9MhhdDgC&pg=PA99&lpg=PA99&dq=photius+sappho+sopater&source=bl&ots=gzM3heNO_a&sig=Cl17PEQ2RfaChDfRl62Zba_tIPM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=IpjzUojSKujcyQGOnICIAw&ved=0CCYQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=photius%20sappho%20sopater&f=false
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Re: Two new Sappho fragments

Postby aloimonon » Thu Feb 06, 2014 2:44 pm

Thanks for that info! I should have checked "Scribes and Scholars" as well. I didn't know that a 4rth edition is currently out, thanks for pointing that out.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but apparently Sappho's poems were never copied onto parchment, which meant that her poems did not survive past the Byzantine dark age, to be recopied once again in minuscule (as Pindar did). I have no idea if Photius had any poems before him. I suppose that Lyric poetry was no longer sufficiently interesting past the 7th century; I remember Alan Camaron writing that Agathias' Cycle and its related activities were an Indian Summer just before a Christian Winter...
ἀλλ' ἔγωγε ἐξ αὐτῶν τούτων μᾶλλον αὐτὸν τεθαύμακα, ὅτι ἔν τε ἀλλοκότοις καὶ ἐν ἐξαισίοις πράγμασι αὐτός τε διεγένετο καὶ τὴν ἀρχὴν διεσώσατο. Dio LXXII 36.3
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Re: Two new Sappho fragments

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Mar 03, 2014 3:44 pm

There's a discussion of the first poem in French here:
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