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Homeric Papyri and Transmission of the Text

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Chapter Summary

The capacity of Homer papyri to surprise is no longer what it was when they first came on the scene, but they have lost none of their significance. In classical Athens someone might own a complete Homer, but only an enthusiast or a potential rhapsode, or perhaps a schoolteacher. The transition from papyrus to parchment was even slower, and did not enjoy the same success, at any rate in Egypt, where the native papyrus continued to be the dominant material. Homer manuscripts now number well over a thousand. Alexandria itself yields none, and Homer was so ubiquitously available that perhaps none of our manuscripts was written there. The relation between Aristarchus and the post-Aristarchan vulgate is a highly curious one: there appears to be simultaneously match and mismatch. The text traveled within the contours set by Aristarchus, in much less freewheeling fashion.

Keywords: Alexandria; Aristarchus; Athens; Egypt; Homer papyri; parchment



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