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Eurypylus and beyond: Groups and sub-groups of fragments in P.Oxy. IX 1175 + XVII 2081(b)

Giulio Iovine

The paper aims to reinvigorate studies on **Εὐρύπυλοc, a fragmentary tragedy of Sophocles (frr. 206-222b18 R.2), beginning in particular with a palaeographical re-examination of the 121 fragments of P.Oxy. IX 1175 + 2081(b), which constitute the only source for this lost Sophoclean tragedy.

In 1912, Arthur Hunt published P.Oxy. IX 1175, 107 fragments of fairly small size from a Greek tragedy. This number increased to 121 in 1927 with the publication of P.Oxy. XVII 2081(b). Since many of these fragments were later found to preserve fragments from Sophocles’ Eurypylus, it is now generally thought that all of them derive from the same work. Hunt himself, however, was far from sure about the assemblage: «[T]hat all these [fragments] belong to the Eurypylus is by no means certain or even probable», he wrote in the first edition (p. 88). The differences between the fragments of Eurypylus are even more striking if one considers the strict palaeographical homogeneity of its twin papyrus, P.Oxy. IX 1174 (Sophocles’ Ἰχνευταί). This path of research was followed only partially by Hunt, who put fragments with similar handwriting and features close to one another in his edition; but these initial steps have not been pursued since, apart from some occasional considerations (Calderini 1913, 718; Brizi 1927, 15; Görschen 1975; Snell ap. Radt ad frr. 211, 213 R.2).

A recent re-examination of the originals, focusing on clear differences in handwriting, ink, pen, letter size and inclination, provides evidence for at least three main groups of fragments. The first part of this paper provides a brief description of them, and establishes sub-groups within them by rigorously applying the methodology formulated in recent studies by D’Alessio, Henry and others (e.g., similar sequences of wormholes). One may thus identify (i) a group with smaller letters and a slight inclination to the right (206-219a79, 222b5-8 R.2, two subgroups according to the different pen); (ii) a group of more upright and larger letters (219a82f., 220a84-89, 221, 221a, including a subgroup with remarkably huge letters: 219a80+81+n.f. 3, 220, 222b12); (iii) a group of uncertain features and little homogeneity (frr. 222, 222a95-107, 222b9-11, 13-18).

The second part of this paper considers the possible explanations for this palaeographical variety (e.g., different hands in the same work, a possible anthology etc.). It will focus in particular on the possibility that rather than being the scattered remains of a single tragedy, these 121 fragments come from different Sophoclean tragedies (including Eurypylus), probably copied on different rolls.

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Culture and Society in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Egypt

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