A FOURTH-CENTURY FRAGMENT OF THE FIRST BOOK OF HOMER'S ILIAD, in Greek, on papyrus
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A FOURTH-CENTURY FRAGMENT OF THE FIRST BOOK OF HOMER'S ILIAD, in Greek, on papyrus

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A FOURTH-CENTURY FRAGMENT OF THE FIRST BOOK OF HOMER'S ILIAD, in Greek, on papyrus
[Egypt, 4th century]
113 x 118mm. 9 lines on recto and 11 lines on verso written in black ink in broad, 5mm-high upright informal uncials. The text is a fragment from a papyrus codex, with several lines partially preserved and agreeing with the vulgate: the recto contains lines 209-217, the verso lines 233-241.

AN EARLY TESTAMENT TO ONE OF THE FOUNDATION TEXTS OF ALL LITERATURE. The text of the fragment, fraught with Homeric pathos, propels the reader into the thick of the defining quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon that opens Book I of the Iliad. Achilles, angered by Agamemnon's request that he give up the girl Briseis as compensation for Chryseis, threatens to withdraw his Myrmidons from battle and is contemplating in his 'divided heart' whether to unsheathe his sword and slay the son of Atreus on the spot when Athena, sent by Hera, appears to him and urges him to cease from strife (\Klhg\k' \KeridoV\k). Hera, she argues, loves and cares for both men ([\Kqum]w fileou[sa]\k), and, should he refrain from any too-rash action, he is sure to be rewarded with three times as many glorious gifts (\K[triV] tossa paressetai [aglaa dwra]\k). Achilles complies ([\Kcrh men swfiteron] ge qea epoV [eirussasqai]\k), but upon Athena's departure he once more launches into a scathing attack on Agamemnon and swears a prophetic, mighty oath -- \Kmegan or[kon]\k - that one day the sons of the Achaeans will come to need Achilles, and as they are slain one by one by Hector, Agamemnon will not be able to help them ([\Kh pot\k' \KAcillho]V poqh ixetai uiaV Ac[aiwn]\k).
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The lines on the recto are 233-241 and not 233-243.

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Eugenio Donadoni
Eugenio Donadoni

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