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Philodemus' "On Poems" II is part of a major work on the sound of poetry by the philosopher and poet who was Vergil's teacher. In it, Philodemus rebuts the views of two of the so-called "kritikoi", Heracleodorus, who advocated the primacy of sound over content, and Pausimachus, who discussed in detail the effects of specific sounds in Homer's verses. At the end of the work Philodemus, a fine poet himself, may offer his own views on how to combine good sound and good sense in verse. He also discusses the technique of "metathesis", by which the "kritikoi" tried to show how poets wrote in the best possible way by rearranging the words of their verses. Philodemus insists on the unity of form and content, and on the fact that only the intellect, and not the ear, can grasp the sense.

This papyrus offers an excellent practical example of the methodology and the problems involved in reconstructing complete ancient books in the form of rolls. Unlike the papyrus of "On the Good King according to Homer", where there is only one "papyrus", here six differently numbered "papyri", in a distinctive handwriting (Cavallo's 'Anonimo VIII'), turn out all to belong to the same roll. The different "papyri" were opened at various times and in different ways; some survive only in old drawings. These divergent histories affect how each one needs to be approached. However, they can all be related to each other by measuring the circumferences of each spiral, which decline towards the middle, where the end is located.

The title of the work is missing, and the roll seems to lack other means that often help to reconstruct ancient book-rolls like stichometric signs, points or totals, as in "On the Good King according to Homer". This makes it harder to reconstruct. Hence other methods must be brought to bear on it.

The inner parts of the scroll were unrolled on the machine of Piaggio. The end is well preserved and highly legible, albeit with some lacunae. The next portion out contains dislocations caused by different layers of papyrus sticking together ("sottoposti" and "sovrapposti"). In addition, a passage copied by a second scribe (a rare phenomenon) will be illustrated. Further out still, the text survives well; but the outermost parts of the roll were cut in half in order to open it, and different methods have to be used to establish the correct order of the fragments (the "Delattre-Obbink method"). In addition, Philodemus' systematic method of summary and rebuttal of the views of his adversaries is a valuable aid to reconstruction.

In constituting the text, the contributions of the unpublished earliest transcripts (by the 'interpreti' G. Genovesi and L. Caterino) and of the old drawings in Oxford and Naples will be exemplified. Previous studies of the "papyri" from this roll have been partial and incomplete. T. Gomperz in the first publication in 1891 included only two "papyri", and did not consult the originals. The manuscript edition of Gottfried Kentenich, annotated by the great scholars H. Usener, S. Sudhaus and C. Jensen, was rediscovered only in 2007. The second edition, that by F. Sbordone in 1972, still omitted two "papyri", which were since discovered among the collection by C. Romeo and G. Del Mastro. The keys to reconstruction were M. L. Nardelli's discovery of the importance of measuring the circumferences, and the application by D. Delattre and D. Obbink method of multiple editing techniques. C. Romeo worked on reconstructing the beginning by C. Romeo, but this is the first attempt to reconstruct it as a whole.

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