NEW EURIPIDES!

Exciting news from Medievalists.net:

Using cutting-edge technology, European scientists have uncovered new fragments by Euripides and an unknown ancient commentary on Aristotle.
These writings were on parchments that were washed off and overwritten in medieval times. Using advanced multispectral imaging methods, the Palamedes project, based out of the Universities of Göttingen and Bologna were able to see the original writings in the manuscripts, one of which is located at the library of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem, while the t other can be found at the National Library of France in Paris.
The manuscript in Jerusalem originates from the famous Library of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. The uppermost text layer from the thirteenth century comprises the Prophetic Books of the Greek Old Testament, underlaid by older texts from various medieval manuscripts that contain works of Euripides and Aristotle, alongside theological tractates. “The manuscript in Jerusalem is one of the most significant witnesses to Euripides’ work”, explains the head of the research project, Felix Albrecht from Göttingen University’s Faculty of Theology. The manuscript contains the text of Euripides, surrounded by ancient annotations.[...]

Check out the accompanying photograph—it sends a chill down my spine to see that ghostly text showing through the overwriting. Thanks for the link, Paul!

Comments

  1. Bill Walderman says:

    Is this the same palimpsest as the one described here:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=Y8wwAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA201&lpg=PA201&dq=jerusalem+euripides&source=bl&ots=8mZuUQQLjn&sig=Q55FZUcftzf1XZMqvYao7l4Lhow&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ew6QUsqhGbDdsATX74LABQ&ved=0CEcQ6AEwBTgU#v=onepage&q=jerusalem%20euripides&f=false
    If so, it appears that scholars have been able to discover more fragments of plays for which we already have texts, using modern technology in a ms. that has been known for a century and a half. This would probably be useful in editing some texts that have been preserved, adding weight to some readings or providing some new ones, but probably wouldn’t add new material to what has been preserved in other ms. sources.
    More of Euripides has been preserved than of the other two tragedians. About seven canonical plays each were preserved because they were widely read in schools. But in Euripides’s case, a number of additional plays happened to be preserved from an ancient complete edition in alphabetical order by title: somehow the plays from the complete edition in the range of eta to iota (if I remember correctly) were preserved. But it’s unlikely that any additional plays would show up in a 10th century Byzantine ms. By that time, the other plays were lost for good, unless maybe a lucky papyrus find from Egypt or maybe from the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum brings new ones to light.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_of_the_Papyri
    Personally, I’d rather see more Sappho and Pindar (as well as the two other tragedians who aren’t as well represented as Euripides)–not that I don’t like Euripides, but Sappho especially seems like a horrible loss, based on what remains.
    Now David will set me straight on all this.

  2. David Marjanović says:

    Which David? Not me. Except of course that there are lots of lost manuscripts about history, geography etc. etc. that I’d love if they resurfaced.

  3. I’m betting he means David Eddyshaw.

  4. Personally, I’d rather see more Sappho and Pindar
    Well, yeah, me too. And Archilochus. But it’s still pretty neat.

  5. Bill Walderman says:

    I did mean you, David Marjanović. You’re usually much better informed about these things than I am.

  6. A substantial fragment of a poem by Archilochus was in fact discovered on a papyrus in the 1970s. It describes, in very explicit language (which some scholars have made even more explicit by conjecturing an illegible but key word), how Archilochus had sex with–perhaps raped–a young girl.

  7. I had a chum who, decades ago, worked for six months in the Vatican Archives. He said it was a shambles, and that there must have been a wealth of material awaiting discovery or rediscovery.

  8. A substantial fragment of a poem by Archilochus was in fact discovered on a papyrus in the 1970s.
    I remember it vividly; I was in grad school at the time, and the historical linguists and classicists were more excited than you can possibly imagine. I tried my hand at translating it myself; I could probably dig up my effort if I wanted to.

  9. Ahoy, Hat.
    Yeah, people keep sending me that, but it’s been all over the internet so I figure anybody who’s interested has seen it. Besides, it’s been well covered at the Log and Sentence first.

  10. David Marjanović says:

    I had a chum who, decades ago, worked for six months in the Vatican Archives. He said it was a shambles, and that there must have been a wealth of material awaiting discovery or rediscovery.

    None of this surprises me.

    it’s been all over the internet so I figure anybody who’s interested has seen it

    I hadn’t seen it :-]

  11. Of course, the Cambridge Grammarians would see prepositional because as yet more evidence that prepositions, subordinating conjunctions, and adverbs are all the same thing, and that it’s lexically specific which words accept noun phrases, which bare sentences, and which neither.

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