Sunday, September 4, 2011

Editing Ancient Papyri

The oldest complete texts of the Homeric Iliad are the Byzantine Manuscripts, several of which students of the Classics Department at Furman are editing and turning into digital facsimile editions. But the very oldest texts of the Iliad are fragments of papyrus, found in archaeological sites in Egypt. These papyri date from as early as the 3rd century BCE.

The Homer Multitext has published a growing library of  library of homeric papyri. Furman students have been editors of these documents from the beginning.

This week we have updated the Homeric Papyri site with editions of fifteen new documents. These include the Hawara Papyrus in a new edition by Amy Koenig of Harvard University. This text contains 547 lines of the Iliad, from Books 1 and 2. The remaining fourteen documents are the results of editorial work by Alexander Loney and Bart Huelsenbeck of Duke University, and Lia Campbell, Andrew Corley, David Creasy, Kylie Elliott, Talley Lattimore, Brett Stonecipher, and Blake Williams, undergraduate students of Greek at Furman University.

In all, the Homeric Papyri Digital Library now contains 30 edited texts, containing 3,142 lines of Homeric poetry. These lines include 2,706 unique citations. The collected documents include portions of 22 out of the 24 Books of the Iliad (Books 19 and 20 are the only ones not represented at all among these published fragments).

The Homeric Papyri library is exposed via the Canonical Text Services protocol (CTS). Its website offers two different human-readable presentations of each document, as well as direct access to the raw TEI XML.

Work on these papyri continues, and we are looking forward to increasing the holdings of this open-access digital library in the near future. We are grateful for the support of the Center for Hellenic Studies of Harvard University.