THE PAPYRUS OF DERVENI
Thessaloniki, Archaeological Museum, from 4.4.98
A unique model of writing in antiquity, the "Papyrus of Derveni", is being exposed with other findings of the same excavation. The papyrus roll was found carbonized among the remains of the funeral pyre upon the slabs of Derveni Tomb A. It is probably the
single one had been found in Greece and the script is dated to approximately the third quarter of the fourth century B.C. From scores and scraps, mostly tiny, it has been possible to reconstruct 26 columns of writing, of which only the upper part survives.
After an account of funeral rites and eschatological beliefs, the main part of the text consists of a prose allegorical-philosophical interpretation of a theogonic poem written in dactylic hexameters and ascribed in antiquity to the mythical poet Orpheus. The
unknown author seems to have composed the book at the close of the fifth century B.C. His language abounds with Ionic elements, but this does not speak necessarily for Ionic origins, since Ionic was the dialect typical for scientific prose. He seems well conversant with Ionic philosophy and the likeliest candidate seems to be the Athenian mantis Euthyphron.
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