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Ed. Pr. Lobel, P. Oxy., vol. 18, no. 2159 with Plate I.

Lobel suggests that this is part of a speech by Glaucus himself describing the miracle of the aeizôos poa (cf. fr. 15, 16). But Glaucus before his transformation was a fisherman, not a cowherd as the speaker seems to be; l. 6 looks as if the speaker is protesting that the oddness of his story must not be set down to his blindness or frivolity; and Siegmann seems likely to be right in suggesting that an old herdsman is here describing to an incredulous listener an appearance of the transformed Glaucus. Siegmann and Cantarella think we have first part of a dialogue, then a continuous speech; Siegmann beings the latter at l. 5, Cantarella at l. 8. But isthi in l. 4 is no certain evidence for this, and for all we know the whole fragment may belong to a single speech by a single speaker.

. . . foolish . . . whirlwind . . . few . . be sure. . . . And I still believe the certain witness of my own eyes. I was not blear-eyed or peering vainly to no purpose when I saw this fearful thing, this awful happening. You know, I am a countryman and of these parts; and I am always about the land here opposite Chalcis, and am used to accompany the grazing cattle from the byre to Messapion’s1 leafless lofty crag. And it was from here that my eye lit upon the miracle. When I had come to the bend of Euboea, about the headland of Cenaean Zeus, right by unhappy Lichas’ tomb . . . four-horse chariot . . .

1. Mt. Messapion is near Anthedon on the Boeotian shore of the Euripus; this is where the Glaucus legend is localised by Strabo 9. 405, and Pausanias 9. 22. 5 f.



(a) 274: ed. pr. Vitelli-Norsa, Bulletin de la société royale d’archéologie d’Alexandrie, no. 28. 1933, 155 with Plate.
(b) 275 : ed. pr. Lobel, P. Oxy., vol. 18, 1941, no. 2161, 9, with Plate III.

This was the satyr-play that accompanied Aeschylus’ trilogy about Perseus. Two of the plays were called Phorcides and Polydectes; the name of the third is not known. If it was the first of the trilogy, it presumably described the cruel treatment of Danaë by her father Acrisius; if it was the third, it may have described Perseus’ coming to Argos and Acrisius’ death (see Pfeiffer, l.c., 20; Howe, A.J.A. 57, 1953, 269).

Fr. 274 describes how two people catch sight of the chest containing Danaë and the infant Perseus as it appears near the shore of the small Aegean island of Seriphos. The usual legend was that it was fished up by Dictys, the brother of Polydectes, king of that place; considering the proverbial insignificance of Seriphos there is nothing odd in the king’s brother being a fisherman. Dictys must be one of the speakers; who is the other? Possibly it is a companion of a slave of his; but the limitation on the number of the actors makes against this. Settie thinks that the Chorus of satyrs is already on the stage, and that one or more of its members speaks during this scene; but it seems likelier that the Chorus arrives in answer to the call for help in ll. 17 f., just as the Chorus of Aristophanes’ Peace is summoned by a very similar appeal (269 f.). Perhaps the likeliest companion for Dictys during this scene is the father of the satyrs, Silenus.

What are the satyrs doing on Seriphos? Perhaps Aeschylus accounted for their presence by the legend of their pursuit of the pirates who carried off Dionysus (cf. Euripides’ Cyclops). It may be that they are temporarily enslaved there, perhaps to Polydectes, as they are to Polyphemus in the Cyclops. Dictys’ companion seems to be there to help him; and it may be that Silenus has come fishing with him as his assistant.

There is no certain means of knowing which lines are spoken by Dictys and which by his companion. Like all others except Setti, I have assumed that there are only two speakers; but I have preferred to make Dictys the second, not the first, of these. The chest is said to have been fished up by Dictys, and the first speaker has been identified with Dictys on the ground of l. 12, where the net is called his. But it is doubtful if the ethic dative shows that the net is regarded as the special property of either speaker; they may well have one net between them, and the words may simply mean, “What have you there in the net?” I suspect that Dictys was the more observant and less excitable of the two companions; but there is no knowing which he really was. If the other speaker really is Silenus, and if the net was in any sense his, he may have based his claim to Danaê later on this fact; compare the behaviour of Gripus in Plautus’ Rudens.

Fr. 275 begins with a solemn offer of protection made to Danaë by an unknown speaker. Danaë’s response is to appeal to the gods for help. There follow 14 lines of what look to have been choriambic dimeters, spoken by the Chorus. Next comes a passage of glyconics and pherecrateans 22 lines long, in which the unknown speaker tries to captivate the child by describing the delights of hunting that he will enjoy when he, the speaker, is his stepfather. The Chorus next calls, in anapaestic dimeters, for the immediate conclusion of the marriage.

Who is the unknown speaker of 765-72 and of 798-820? If Lobel is right in suggesting that 799-800 may have meant “Damme if I am not glad . . .”, with the speaker referring to himself, as people sometimes do in utterances of this kind, 798-820 will have been spoken by Dictys. But as Lobel says (p. 9), one need only reject this suggestion to make it possible to assign the parts differently. And the suggestion is a very long way from being certain. It may be that the speaker is expected to say “If damn me,” but gets a comic effect by saying instead, “If . . ., damn Dictys” (Dictys being his rival); or it may be that the apodosis to the “if” clause came in the lost portion of the text that precedes it, and that a new sentence begins at the beginning of l. 800. Now whoever speaks these lines is evidently in close collusion with the satyrs, as their following anapaests show. Can the person thus closely associated with the satyrs have been Dictys? Nothing can be more unlikely. A reliable clue to his identity is given by his holding out to the child the delights not of fishing, but of hunting. There cannot have been much game on Seriphos; but the description of the woodland life is just what might be expected from the other obvious possible speaker, Silenus, father of the satyrs.

It is reasonable to suppose, with Siegamm, that Dictys’ call for help in hauling in the heavy chest was answered by the satyrs; that they helped him bring his catch to land; that Dictys and the satyrs quarrelled over what should be done with Danaë; and that Dictys went off to get help. Who will have spoken 765-72? These cannot be the last words of Dictys before departing, for we would not then understand why instead of answering Danaë implores the gods for help. They must have been spoken by Silenus; 770-2 looks like a piece of the same grotesque wheedling as Silenus’ later speech contains.

We know from a stichometrical mark opposite l. 800 that the first line of this fragment was l. 765 of the play. Kamerbeek insists that an Aeschylean satyr-play cannot have had many more than 800 lines; and that since other plays by Aeschylus ended with marching anapaests, therefore this one must have ended with the marching anapaests that begin at 821. As we have no idea of the average length of an Aeschylean satyr-play, and as we have no possible ground for insisting that the marching anapaests must have brought the play to a close, his argument lacks cogency. And if the conclusions drawn above are not hopelessly wrong, we must infer that Dictys returned with a party of his friend and forced Silenus to give up his booty.

The view of Mette and Kamerbeek that Dictys and Silenus are somehow one and the same person seems to me very improbable indeed. The rescue of a distressed beauty from the satyrs was a not uncommon theme in satyric drama; Amymone, Iris and even Hera were all beset by satyrs (see Guggisberg, Das Satyrspiel, Diss. Zürich, 1947, 63). And the red-figure lecythos illustrated in Ath. Mitt. 1891, plate IX (cf. Buschor, ibid., 1927, 230, and Satyrtänze und Frühes Drama 105, with Abb. 80) illustrates what may happen when an unprotected female arrives at a lonely island where there are satyrs who in Buschor’s words “are suffering severely from the lack of nymphs.”


?—Can you see . . .?
DICTYS. —I can see. . . .
? —What do you want me to look out for? . . .
DICTYS. —In case anywhere . . . in the sea. . . .
—Not a sign; so far as I can see, the sea’s a mill-pond.
DICTYS. —Look now at the crannies of the cliffs by the shore.
? —All right, I’m looking. . . . Good Lord, what am I to call this! Is it a monster of the sea that meets my eyes, a grampus or a shark or a whale? Lord Poseidon and Zeus of the deep, a fine gift to send up from the sea . . .!
DICTYS. —What gift of the sea does your net conceal? It’s covered with seaweed like. . . . Is it some warm-blooded creature? Or has the Old Man of the Islands1 sent us something in a chest? How tremendously heavy it is! the work’s not going ahead! I’ll shout and raise an alarm. HALLO THERE! Farmers and ditchers, this way, all of you! Herdsmen and shepherds, anyone in the place! Coastal folk and all you other toilers of the sea! . . .

1. The context suggests that gerôn nêsaios, “the Old Man of the Islands,” may have been identical with the halios gerôn, “the Old Man of the Sea.” But the text is partly conjectural, and the assumption is not a safe one.
Pfeiffer (l.c. 18, cf. ibid. 11) thinks the words gerôn nêsaios refer to Dictys’ companion. If so, why is he referred to in the third person, as their being in the nominative case seems to imply?


[765] . . . I call upon . . . and the gods to witness what I now proclaim to the whole company. But whatever you do, don’t rush recklessly away from us; understand at last and accept me as a most kindly protector and supporter. Why, look, the boy is greeting me with friendly words, as he would his respected grandmother. Won’t he always be the same towards me, as time goes on?

[773] Rivers of Argos and gods of my fathers, and you, Zeus, who bring my ordeal to such an end! Will you give me to these beasts, so that they may outrage me with their savage onslaughts, or so that I endure in captivity the worst of tortures? Anyhow, I shall escape. Shall I then knot myself a noose, applying a desperate remedy against this torture, so that no one may put me to sea again, neither a lascivious beast nor a father? No, I am afraid to! Zeus, send me some help in this plight, I beg you! for you were guilty of the greater fault, but it is I who have paid the full penalty. I call upon you to set things right! You have heard all I have to say.

[786] Look, the little one is smiling sweetly as he looks on his shining raddled bald pate. . . . Qualis vero amator mentularum est hic pusillus!

[788] . . . if I don’t rejoice in the sight of you. Damnation take Dictys, who is trying to cheat me of this prize behind my back! [To Perseus.] Come here, my dearie! [He makes chuckling noises.] Don’t be frightened! Why are you whimpering? Over here to my sons, so that you can come to my protecting arms, dear boy—I’m so kind—, and you can find pleasure in the martens and fawns and the young porcupines, and can make a third in bed with your mother and with me your father. And daddy shall give, the little one his fun. And you shall lead a healthy life, so that one day, when you’ve grown strong, you yourself—for your father’s losing his grip on his fawn-killing footwork—you yourself shall catch beasts without a spear, and shall give them to your mother for dinner, after the fashion of her husband’s family, amongst whom you’ll be earning your keep.

[821] Come now, dear fellows, let us go and hurry on the marriage, for the time is ripe for it and without words speaks for it. Why, I see that already the bride is eager to enjoy our love to the full. No wonder: she spent a long time wasting away all lonely in the ship beneath the foam. Well, now that she has before her eyes our youthful vigour, she rejoices and exults; such is the bridegroom that by the bright gleam of Aphrodite’s torches. . . .



Ed. pr. Lobel, P. Oxy., vol. 18, no. 2162, with Plates IV and V.

These fragments are preserved on two sheets of papyrus (1 and 2), each containing two columns of writing; of these columns, 1 (i) and 2 (ii) are mostly readable, but only the bottom part of 1 (ii) and only the top part of 2 (i) are preserved. Were the two sheets in fact consecutive, so that 2 (i) supplies the top and 1 (ii) the bottom of the same column, a column that stood in the text between 1 (i) and 2 (ii)? Lobel says that this cannot be determined, but that the possibility cannot be excluded; Snell (in Hermes, l.c.) boldly assumes that it is so. The sense yielded by the text at the three points where the fragments would join one another ought to resolve this question; these points fall between lines 35 and 36, between lines 53 and 61 and between lines 72 and 73 in the text printed below. At the first two points, the text is too deficient for the sense to furnish any evidence either way; but at the third the sense given by the join is good. I have therefore followed Snell in printing the text in accordance with this suggestion, but not without considerable misgivings. If 1 (ii) and 2 (i) really belonged to the same column, one would expect the pattern of the fibres to make this clear: but it does not. There is a small fragment (1 (b)) which if this is right must come from the middle of the column containing 1 (ii) and 2 (i); but it cannot be fitted to either of these fragments.

In view of the length of these fragments, it is remarkable that we can make out so little of the subject-matter. theôroi could mean “spectators” or “members of a sacred embassy”; and since ht text shows that the satyrs of the Chorus mean to compete in the Isthmian games, the title probably indicates that they came there as members of a sacred embassy, presumably sent or conducted by Dionysus in honour of Poseidon.

Our portion of the text begins with the satyrs, thanking someone for exact likenesses of themselves, which they then proceed to nail up upon the temple of Poseidon Isthmios, with the remark that they will frighten away strangers. The strangers will presumably be frightened, as Snell suggests, because they will think they have come to a place like the palace of Oenomaus with its display of severed human heads. We are told that the likenesses are painted (l. 12); but that does not rule out their being sculptures rather than pictures. Eduard Fraenkel has suggested that they are antefixes, the upright ornaments placed along the cornices of Greek temples, originally in order to mask the ends of the covering tiles that protected the joints between the rain-tiles, and customarily shaped like masks. Satyr-masks were sometimes used as antefixes, and the practice may well have suggested this scene; it is not, of course, meant that the satyr’s portraits are antefixes, since antefixes cannot be nailed up or taken down at will. The fright which the portraits are likely to give to the satyrs’ mother or to any strangers makes it likely that such portraits, and probably the art of portraiture itself, are thought of as being unusual or even new at the time in question.

A new character now enters the stage; he has been looking for the satyrs, and grimly remarks that he has known where to find them. He remarks on them what are probably the effects of the practice known as ligatura praeputii, one which was often adopted by Greek athletes in training and which satyr-athletes on several vases are shown as adopting; on this and on the similar but distinct Roman practice of infibulatio, see Dingwall, Male Infibulation, London, 1925, and Brommer, Satyrspele 74. The satyrs should be giving their minds to the dance, says this personage, but instead they have learned new habits, and are exercising their arms and wasting his money (or “ruining his property”?). Between lines 35 and 65 very little can be made out; but it looks as if either the Choragus or a Silenus like those of the Ichneutae and the Cyclops replied to this speech with one in which he complained of the discomforts which the satyrs have endured while in the other speaker’s service and declared that they would no longer obey his orders. Lines 53-60 are missing. When we pick up the thread, the other speaker is replying. “You say I am no good at iron-work,” he says, “but am a cowardly, womanish creature”; then he repeats his former reproaches, and threatens to be avenged. Finally he draws the attention of the satyrs to somebody or something near at hand.

The satyrs now repeat their refusal to leave the temple (80-4). L. 85 seems to be addressed to a new character, who has brought with him, he says, newly-made objects straight from adze and anvil. He offers the first of these to the satyrs, who refuse it with alarm. “What am I to do with this?” they ask, and are told in reply that they are to use it in practising the new craft that they have adopted (91-2). This presumably means athletics (cf. 35). A dangerous object is made with an adze may well be javelin, as Snell suggests.

Silenus (or the Choragus) now says to the other person, “What will you do in return if I let you sail?” (l. 93: Lobel’s suggested restoration of this line, which Snell ignores, seems almost unavoidable). The other replies that he will be a good comrade to him at the Isthmian games. Then Silenus may have said that the other character “will go on board” (l. 95). Soon after that, the text breaks off.

The character who quarrels with the satyrs is very probably Dionysus, their usual master. It might be Silenus, in which case the part which I have suggested might belong to Silenus would belong to the Choragus; but Snell rightly observes that the reproach of being a gynnis is much more appropriately levelled against Dionysus (cf. fr. 31, etc.). It seems that the satyrs have been brought by Dionysus to the Isthmus as members of a sacred embassy to the Isthmian games. Once arrived, they have decided to compete in the games themselves, and have slipped off to practise them instead of dancing. Perhaps Dionysus had meant them to give a display of their usual dances or to enter for the choral contest. They are encouraged in this behaviour by a character who first brings them their portraits meant apparently to scare off rival competitors, and then implements, very likely javelins, that will be useful in the games. (If the javelin-throwing competition was already in existence, the javelin could not be a new invention; but perhaps these were the first javelins equipped with the agkylê (Lat. amentum), a device which makes them a good deal easier to aim; see Saglio in Darember-Saglio i, 226).

Who can this other character be? Snell suggests that it is Sisyphus, the crafty king of Corinth, who figured in satyr-plays by all the three great tragedians. Sisyphus, according to one story, founded the Isthmian games, and Snell thinks the play may have dealt with their foundation. Corinth was a famous centre of craftsmanship; Sisyphus himself is credited with philotechnia as well as with panourgia by Diodorus 6, fr. 6, 3 and is coupled with the famous smiths, the Cercopes and the Telchines, by Aelian, De nat. anim. 6, 58. Snell also suggests that a fragmentary text (P. Oxy. 2250, in vol. xx, 12) in which a rich king is addressed in marching anapaests, may come from an address to Sisyphus by the Chorus of this play.

This suggestion might possibly be right, but there is very little positive evidence in its favour. There is no suggestion in the text that this is the first performance of the Isthmian games: if it were, Aeschylus as an Athenian might be thought likely to prefer the legend that made Theseus their founder. Nor is there any real evidence for Sisyphus as a craftsman. philotechnia in Diodorus must mean much the same as panourgia, and Aelian compares Sisyphus to the Cercopes and Telchines in point of cunning, not of craftsmanship. No tradition connects Corinth with the origins of representative art or of weapons; its fame as a centre of craftsmanship belongs to historic rather than to heroic times. A more positive objection to the theory is the difficulty of reconciling it with Lobel’s very probably restoration of l. 93. Why should Sisyphus ask the satyrs “to let him sail” or “to take him on board”? As for P. Oxy. 2250, it might have occurred in any number of different contexts, and there is no substantial reason for connecting it with this play.

It is worth exploring other possibilities, provided one remembers that certainty is not likely to be attainable. It seems likely that he maker of the portraits and weapons may be one of the great artificers of mythology. At l. 7 one of the likenesses is called to Daidalou mimêma. This has been taken to mean “the likeness like one by Daedalus.” But a more natural sense would be “the likeness by Daedalus.” Can Daedalus be the maker of the portraits and the javelins?

Daedalus is often said to have invented the art of sculpture (see Apollodorus 3. 15. 9, Hyginus, Fab. 274). He was also the inventor of carpentry and several of its instruments, including the adze (Pliny, N.H. 7. 198). He was by origin a noble Athenian, a kinsman of Theseus (Cleidemus ap. Plutarch, Theseus 19, etc.), and had to leave Athens because he killed his nephew out of jealousy at his superior skill. Is Daedalus at the Isthmus, trying to persuade the satyrs to take him on their ship, perhaps so that he can get to Crete? Daedalus certainly figures in the Daedalus and Camici of Sophocles, either or both of which may have been satyric, apart from the comedies by Plato and Aristophanes called after him.

But there is a sculptor and smith even more renowned than Daedalus who is constantly portrayed on vases in the company of satyrs. This is Hephaestus. In spite of Wilamowitz (Kleine Schriften v. 11), there is good reason to believe that Hephaestus was sometimes referred to as Daidalos (see Pearson, Fragments of Sophocles i. 110 and literature there quoted). No legend about satyrs is more commonly depicted on vases than that of the Return of Hephaestus; of how Hera slighted her deformed son; of how he made for her a marvellous throne, which when she tried to rise from it held her fast bound; of how Ares tried to overcome Hephaestus by force and failed miserably; of how Hepheastus vanished from Olympus, so that no one was able to release his mother; and of how he was finally brought back by Dionysus and his satyrs, who had made him drunk (see Beazley, Development of Attic Black-Figure 31, 44; Brommer, Jahrbuch des Deutschen Institute 52, 1937, 198; id. Satyrspiele 23, 68, etc.). Wilamowitz’ guess that it formed the subject of a lost Homeric Hymn rests on insufficient evidence; but it was handled by Alcaeus (see Page, Sappho and Alcaeus 258 f.) and by Epicharmus in his Kômastai ê Haphaistos. The earliest Athenian work that we know to have treated this theme is the satyr-play Hêphaistos of the tragedian Achaeus; but there must have been other satyr-plays that had the exile and return of Hephaestus as a principal or as a subsidiary theme.

Dionysus complains (l. 66 f.) that the satyrs reproach him with being no good at work in iron. This suggests that he may be being unfavourably contrasted with some other possible patron who is. It reminds us that there are several legends in which the satyrs figure as Hephaestus’ workmen (see Pearson, op. cit, ii. 136). And it recalls the problem set by a fairly numerous group of vases which feature what at first sight seems to be the Return of Hephaestus: only the figure on the ass and holding the smith’s tools that we should expect to be Hephaestus turns out on closer inspection to be Dionysus (see Brommer, Jahrb. Des Deut. Inst. L.x., 206, with literature there quoted). It has already been suggested that there may have been a story of Dionysus stealing Hephaestus’ tools. I cannot help suspecting that the giver of the portraits and the javelins may have been the exiled Hephaestus, eager for a lift on the satyrs’ ship to escape those who are trying to fetch him back to Olympus; that Dionysus may have tried to punish Hephaestus for stealing his retainers by stealing his tools; and that finally Dionysus may have learned that Hephaestus was wanted on Olympus and have made the return of the tools conditional upon his surrender. But I put this forward only as a guess at the nature of facts that are not known.

[1] . . . seeing the portraits, wrought by super-human skill. And however you may act, you won’t be guilty of irreverence.

[3] I’m very grateful to you for this: you’re most obliging. Listen, all of you, and . . . in silence. Look and see whether this image could [possibly] be more [like]1 me, this likeness by the Skilful One; it can do everything but talk! Look at these! You see? Yes, come! Come! I bring this offering to the god to ornament his house, my lovely votive picture. It would give my mother a bad time! If she could see it, she’d certainly run shrieking off, thinking it was the son she brought up: so like me is this fellow.

[12] Ho there! look upon the house of the Lord of the Sea, the Shaker of the Earth! and let each fasten up the likeness of his handsome face, a truthful messenger, a voiceless herald to keep of travellers; he’ll halt strangers on their way by his terrifying look, Hail, King, hail, Poseidon . . . protector . . .

[23] I knew I’d find you, my good fellows! I won’t apply to you the words, “I couldn’t see that you were on your way.” 2 The road itself tells me this, and [the . . . . , seeing these companions of yours],3 warned me of this and set me on the right track . . . cum decurtatas, tanquam murium caudas, mentulas vobis video. You’ve practised hard for the Isthmia; you haven’t been slack but have trained properly. Well, if you’d been loyal to the old saying,4 you might have seen to your dancing instead. But you’re playing the Isthmian competitor; you’ve learned new ways, and are keeping your arm-muscles in trim and wasting my money . . . So aren’t you breaking your oath when you flout me? a curse on you . . .

[39] (Fifteen lines unintelligible, including “a slave or thrice a slave,” “rightful master,” “miserable bed and miserable sleepings-out,” “in the (?wretched) . . . of this old . . .,” “running away from . . . of a polyp,” “Did I do anything . . . to you? Didn’t I do you many . . .?” “Well, then, be brave and speak . . .,” “. . . stay in the temple.” Eight lines missing; fragments of two lines.)

[63] . . . covering with a shield . . . and you spread this story . . . and let loose a spate of words, venting your fury against me, saying that I’m no good at work in iron, but am a cowardly, womanish creature, not to be counted as a male. And now you have to hand these other new implements, the most detestable of all tools. And you abuse me and my dancing, for which I’m summoning together the people of the Isthmian land, and no one, young or old, stays away from these double rows of dancers if he can help it. But you are playing the Isthmian competitor, and with your wreath of pine-leaves5 you refuse the ivy6 its due honour. Well, you’ll weep for this, you’ll weep tears that are not stung from you by mere smoke. But don’t you see your darling close at hand?

[79] No, I will never leave the temple! Why do you keep threatening me so? I enter my new home, the Isthmian house of Poseidon. But you must direct these gifts to others.

[84] Since you like to learn of novelties like these, I’m bring these new toys, freshly made, straight from adze and anvil. Here’s the first plaything for you.

[89] No, not for me! Give it to one of my friends!

[90] Don’t refuse, my dear fellow! Why, think of the evil omen!

[91] How can one enjoy this thing? and how shall I use it?

[92] It is suited toe the new craft which you’ve taken up.

[93] But what are you willing to do in return, if I let you sail?

[94] To be your comrade at the Isthmian games, a most agreeable pursuit.

[95] . . . bring . . . shall go on board . . . you shall go on foot . . . ankles.

1. Text very doubtful: see Summary.
2. Ogtogterôzoydêlosêsthodoiporôn: other editors read this as outoi heterôs, ou, dêlos, ktl. Prof. K. J. Dover makes the very attractive suggestion that the words I have put in inverted commas may be a quotation from one of Archilochus’ beast-fables. But I can find no evidence to substantiate this.
3. Text very doubtful: see Summary.
4. Doubtless erdoi tis ên hekastos eideiê technên: “Let each other practise the craft he knows” (Lobel).
5. Worn by competitors at the Isthmian games in early times.
6. Emblem of Dionysus



Ed. Pr. Vitelli-Norsa, Bulletin de la société royale d’archéologie d’Alexandrie 28, 1933, 108, with Plate.

The Papyrus gives no direct indication of speaker or speakers. Are the words preserved spoken by one speaker or no? And is all or part of the fragment spoken by Niobe herself?

Let us first consider ll. 1-9. We know from Aristophanes (Ran. 911 f.) and from the ancient Life of Aeschylus (quoted below) that for the whole of the early part of the play Niobe remained veiled and silent. Do these lines come from a speech made by her, after she has at last broken her silence, or do they come from a description of her behaviour by some other character? Three passages look as though, if their text was complete, they would supply an answer to this question. But of these three passages two (1-4, 10-11) are mutilated at the vital point, and might be supplemented in accordance with either view. In l. 1, we might read either anasten[ein echo or anasten[ein echei. L. 11 would be most naturally filled in by a participle (e.g. zêtôn, agôn); but one cannot rule out the possibility that the poet wrote, e.g., psuchês] komistra têde, ktl: in which case Niobe would after all have been the speaker. Ll. 6-8 should furnish a more certain indication, especially since they are quoted, or rather paraphrased by Hesychius (cf. fr. 78). But unfortunately the text of the papyrus is almost certainly corrupt, nor does Hesychius help us to amend it with certainty.

Hesychius explains the word epôzein as follows: epikathêsthai tois ôois. Aischylos Niobê metaphorikôs. ephêmenê taphon teknois epôze tois tethnêksin. From this scholars have inferred that the epoimôzousa of the papyrus in l. 7 is corrupt. Those who think Niobe is not the speaker mostly suppose that the corruption arose from epôze<I zôsa> (Latte), and in l. 8 supply a participle; those who think she is in l. 7 read epôazousa and l. 8 supply an aorist indicative.

The verbs epôzô and epôazô can both mean “to sit on eggs”; but also both can mean “to utter cries,” one deriving from ô and the other from ôa. (When they mean “to sit on eggs,” they should properly be written with adscript iota after the ô, but adscript iotas are so often omitted in papyri that the absence of this is of no significance.) Hesychius, or rather his authority, clearly thought that Niobe was compared to a hen; and some of those who share his view argue against Niobe’s beign the speaker on the ground that she herself can hardly have made such a comparison. But the argument has no force, since Hesychius is unlikely to be right. The sense of “utter cries of lamentation” is far better suited to the context; nor is it reasonable to insist that Niobe’s silence must exclude the uttering of cries of lamentation. See Kloesel’s excellent treatment of this point.

Page rightly says that it would have been far easier for the MS. reading to be displaced by a paraphrasing word that would not destroy the sense than by a word that would destroy it; and this makes in favour of epoimôzousa as against epôzei zôna. But it is still unlikely that those who supply an aorist in l. 8 are right. Wolff’s tritai]on at the beginning of l. 6 is generally accepted. He compares Vita Aeschylus s. 6, where in all MSS. except M we read en gar têi Niobêi heôs tritês hêmeras epikathêmenê tôi taphôi tôn paidôn ouden phtheggetai. The words tritês hêmeras may be a mere corruption of M’s reading tritou merous. But even if it is, tritaion or some other ordinal number is very probably right. Is it possible for tritaion êmar . . . ephêmenê, “I have been sitting . . . for two days,” to be followed by a main verb that is not present but aorist? Page explains his reading eklausa as being an instantaneous aorist, of the kind which in English is properly rendered by a present. But I know of no case of a present participle that is used closely with an indication of time, as ephêmenê is used with tritaion hêmar, being followed by an aorist main verb. Instantaneous aorists of this sort may be equivalent in sense to English presents, but they are not treated as presents in Greek syntax. I therefore think it likely that whatever was displaced by epoimôzousa must have included a main verb in the present tense and that at the beginning of l. 8 we should supply a participle.

The favourite supplement of those who insist that Niobe must be the speaker is therefore unlikely to be right; but their main contention is not necessarily wrong. For epoimôzousa did not necessarily arise from epôzei zôsa. It may equally well have arisen from epôzô zôsa; and though the ugly repetition of may be thought to make against this reading, it is somewhat likelier to have given reise to the corruption in the papyrus than is epôzei zôsa. Hesychius, it is true, puts the verb in the third person; but since he is probably paraphrasing the text rather than quoting it, this consideration has little weight.

We are forced to conclude that the text as it stands offers no reliable means of determining whether Niobe speaks the lines or no. Those who argue that she does not contend that their tone is too calm and reflective to be suitable to her. I feel some sympathy with this argument, but it is not one that can be pressed far; though it may derive some strength from the reflection that ll. 10-11 look as if they are not spoken by or to Niobe. Not that this is certain.

Some scholars think the fragment is part of a dialogue, ll. 1-9 being spoken by an actor, 10-13 by the Chorus and the rest by the actor again. This cannot be ruled out, but is unlikely to be right. The question in ll. 12-13 looks like a rhetorical question of the kind that the asker himself at once proceeds to answer; for such a question and answer in Aeschylus compare, for instance, P.V. 500-4.

If the speaker is not Niobe, who else may it be? Latte suggested Niobe’s nurse; others refuse to credit a nurse with so much semnotês and suggest Niobe’s mother-in-law, Antiope. There is some reason to suspect that a nurse was mentioned in this play (see Lesky, l.c., p. 7); and as the single instance of the Choephoroe does not prove that all Aeschylean nurses were incapable of semnotês, the nurse ahs a shade the better claim. But we cannot know which of them it was, if it was either.

To sum up, we have not sufficient evidence to know whether Niobe is the speaker or no. Nor can we be quite sure that they belong to a single speaker, though it is likelier than not that this is so. I suspect, although I cannot prove, that this speaker was not Niobe, and my supplements are made accordingly. But I offer them with very little confidence.

1-3 The speaker does not mean to say: “She can only weep for Tantalus.” The speaker means to say: “She can only weep for the disastrous marriage which Tantalus made for her”; but this is expressed by means of the common construction exemplified, e.g., by Eur., Med. 37: dedoika d’autên mê ti bouleuêi neon.

But she can only lament over her luckless marriage, one that proved no haven, into which mighty Tantalus, the father that begot her and gave her away., forced her fortune’s ship. For the blast of all manner of evil is striking against her house, and you yourselves can see the conclusion of the marriage. This is the third day she has sat by this tomb, wailing over her children, the living over the dead, and mourning the misfortune of their beauty. Man brought to misery is but a shadow. Mighty Tantalus will in due course come here; to bring her home will be the purpose of his coming. But what cause of wrath had the Father against Amphion, that he has thus ruthlessly destroyed his family, root and branch? Loyal as you are, I will tell you. A god causes a fault to grow in mortals, when he is minded utterly to ruin their estate. But none the less, a mortal must abstain from rash words, carefully nursing the happiness that the gods give him. But in great prosperity men never think that they may stumble and spill the full cup of their fortune. So it was that this woman, exultant in . . . beauty . . .



Ed. pr. Lobel, P. Oxy., vol. 20, no. 2245, with Plate I.

Aeschylus wrote certainly three and probably four plays about Prometheus; the extant Prometheus Desmotes, the Prometheus Lyomenos, the Prometheus Pyrphoros, which was probably either the first or the third play of the trilogy that contained the former two, and the Prometheus Pyrkaeus. The last-mentioned play was probably the satyr-play produced in 472 together with the Persae, the Phineus and the Glaucus Potnieus: see the hypothesis to the Persae. The play probably dealt with the bringing of fire to earth by Prometheus; and the numerous vases that show satyrs carrying fire in fennel-stalks, sometimes accompanied by Prometheus himself, are likely to be connected with it: see Beazley in A.J.A. 43, 1939, 618; ibid., 44, 1940, 212; Brommer, Satyrspiele 44, 79. Fraenkel is almost certainly right in assigning this fragment to this play. Its subject-matter accords well with what is known of the Pyrkaeus (see fr. 117 with note); and both the dance and the allusion to the nymphs suggest satyric drama rather than tragedy. The lines may belong to the chorus of satyrs; but he reference to Prometheus in the third person does not preclude their belonging to Prometheus himself.

Terzaghi’s case for attributing the fragment to the Pyrphoros rests on the word chitôna in l. 3. Satyrs, he says, do not wear chitônes and therefore the text cannot belong to a satyr-play. But even if we could be sure that this word referred to the dress of the Chorus, which we cannot, vases not infrequently show satyrs dressed like ordinary people. Of course we do not know to which play the fragment belongs; but there is no positive evidence in favour of Terzaghi’s view.

. . . and . . . gracious kindness sets me dancing. [Throw down] your bright cloak by the unwearying light of the fire. Often shall one of the Naiads, when she has heard me tell this tale, pursue me by the blaze within the hearth.
The nymphs, I know full well, shall join their dances in honour of Prometheus’ gift!
Sweet, I think, will be the song they sing in honour of the giver, telling how Prometheus is the bringer of sustenance and the eager giver of gifts to men.
The nymphs, I know full well, shall join their dances in honour of Prometheus’ gift!
(Fragments of six more lines, including “. . . shine . . . shepherd’s (shepherds?),” “night-wandering dance . . . crowned with . . . leaves,” “deep thicket.”)



Ed. pr. Lobel, P. Oxy., vol 18, no. 2164, with Plate I.

Ed. pr. Assigned this fragment to the Xantriae, because ll. 16-17 coincide with a quotation assigned by one of its quoters to that play. This quotation is fr. 84, the following authors preserve: (1) Plato, Rep. 381D; (2) Diogenes, Epist. 34, 2; (3) Scholiaston Aristophanes, Frogs 1344. These authorities in Lobel’s words, “diverge strangely from each other and from the papyrus.”

Only the scholion on Aristophanes names the Xantriae. Latte points out that we have good reason to think this play contained an account of the tearing to pieces on Mt. Cithaeron of Semele’s nephew, Pentheus; the testimony of a scholion on Eum. 26, is borne out by fr. 85, whose words were spoken by Lyssa, the goddess of madness (see Dodds on Eur., Bacchae 977). It is hard to see how a play that contained this can also have contained a scene in which Hera appeared disguised as a begging priestess. But such a scene would fit well into another play which was part of the same trilogy, the Semele. Semele’s ruin, according to the usual story, was brought about by Hera, who disguised as an old woman induced her to persuade Zeus to appear before her armed with his thunder. The versions of this legend known to us make Hera disguise herself as an old nurse. But these are all of much later date. In Aeschylus she may well have disguised herself as a priestess; and such a priestess may well have claimed to have arrived in Thebes from Argos, the centre of Hera’s worship. (Nilsson’s assumption that the invocation of the Argive nymphs proves that the scene of the play was Argos seems to me unsafe.) Latte points out that Asclepiades was a careless writer, and gives several examples of a quotation being mistakenly assigned to a play belonging to the same trilogy as that to which it really belongs. He rightly concludes that the balance of probability is in favour of the Semele, and not the Xantriae, being the play to which this fragment belongs.

Ll. 1-11 seem to consist of choriambic dimeters, 12-15 of marching anapaests, 16-30 or lyric hexameters. The general sense of 1-15 cannot be guessed at with any certainty; but it seems reasonable to guess that the Chorus is describing the favours conferred by Zeus on Semele and praying that her good fortune may continue.

At 16-17, the reading of the papyrus seems to confirm the opinion of the commentator on Aristophanes that oressigonoi was not in the text, as Asclepiades supposed it was. Diogenes’ krênais may be an explanatory gloss; and Latte’s suggestion (printed below) is likely to be right. The nymphs of the Argive rivers were four of the daughters of Danaus, Hippe, Automate, Amymone and Physadeia. Danaus was descended from Inachus; and this, together with the fact that Inachus was the principal river of Argos, makes it natural for the nymphs to be called “daughters of Inachus.” The nymphs were patronesses of marriage and childbirth (se Latte, p. 54). This is why brides and women who had just given birth performed a ceremonial ablution in the water of the particular spring consecrated by their city to this purpose. At Athens this was Enneakrounos (Thuc., 2, 15), at Thebes Ismenus (Eur. Phoen. 347), at Argos Atuomate (see Callim., fr. 65 Pfeiffer).

. . . anointed with unguents . . . not more than Hera . . . more arrogant . . . mighty . . . from afar. May there abide . . . life . . . the gods . . . among friendly . . . But may all the envious be absent, and all unseemly rumour. We pray that Semele’s good fortune may ever steer a straight course. For . . . this other . . . Semele . . . Cadmus . . . the all-powerful Zeus . . . marriage.

Nymphs that speak the truth, honoured goddesses are they for whom I collect offerings, the life-giving children of Inachus the river of Argos. They are present at all the actions of men, at feasts and banquets and the sweet songs of marriage, and they initiate maidens lately wedded and new to love. . . . kindly . . . eyes . . . of the eye . . . For unsullied modesty . . . is by far the best or adorners for a bride. And fruitful in children are the families of those to whom the nymphs shall come in kindness, with sweet disposition, . . . coming . . . both . . . harsh and hateful . . . when they come near. Many . . . husband . . . girdles . . .



Ed. pr. Lobel, P. Oxy., vol. 20, no. 2251, with Plate III.

A Chorus composed of female persons is lamenting for a hospitable person (or for such a person’s house), one who (or which) has been visited by some grievous and, in their opinion undeserved, fate. Miss Cunningham thinks the fragment belongs to the Aigyptioi, the second play of the trilogy about the Danaids; she recalls the conjecture (see Hermann, Opusc., ii, 323 f.) that the Argive king Pelasgus was killed in battle while protecting the Danaids against the sons of Aegyptus. But for all we know many hospitable persons may have suffered destruction in lost plays of Aeschylus; and there are positive objections to Miss Cunningham’s view. One is that the name of the play Aigyptioi indicates that the sons of Aegyptus formed the Chorus; this compels Miss Cunningham to suggest that the Danaids may have formed an additional Chorus. There is an extra Chorus of handmaidens in the Supplices, and it is not impossible that there may have been an extra Chorus in the Aigyptioi. But the necessity of supposing that here is does not recommend the theory which involves it. Further, the letters katask[ in l. 3 are most easily explained by Snell’s supplement, printed below; Miss Cunningham in the interests of her theory is driven to conjecture that kataskaphenta was written by mistake for katasphagenta. The verdict must be that the evidence is wholly insufficient to assign this piece to the Aigyptioi or to any other play.

L. 8: “the metaphor in anaulon bregma is not appreciably odder than in kai psall’ etheiran (Persae 1062)”: Lobel. One may speak of “plucking” the string of a musical instrument; and to speak of “plucking” one’s hair is not unnatural extension of this usage. But is it easy to speak of the front of one’s head as being “without the pipe”? Since the pipe was associated with joyful occasions, “without the pipe” might be used as equivalent to “joyless”. (But Stinton suggests anaudon, which may be right).

For look now, Zeus, lord of the law of host and guest, upon the destruction of the hospitable house! What kindness do the gods show to righteous men? Therefore I tear my hair with unsparing hand and beat my crown with joyless sound, lamenting with wailing your fortune. . . .



Ed. pr. Lobel, P. Oxy., vol. 20, no. 2256, fr. 9, with Plate V.

This piece is written in the same hand as No. 282. In itself, this need mean no more than that both are by the same author (see Lobel in P. Oxy., vol. 20, p. 29); but the content indicates that they may well come form the same scene of the same play. If so, it seems rather likelier than not that this piece came before the other; but one cannot be sure of this. The text presents several difficult problems of interpretation.

. . . girdling (?) . . . not to sow evil . . . (Then Peace is . . for mortals. And I praise this goddess; for she honours a city that reposes in a life of quiet, and augments the admired beauty of its houses, so that they surpass in prosperity the neighbours who are their rivals), nor yet to engender it. And they earnestly desire land for ploughing,1 abandoning the martial trumpet, nor do . . garrisons . . .

1. Translation very dubious.



Ed. pr. Lobel, P. Oxy., vol. 20, no 2256, fr. 91, with Plate VI.

This fragment is shown to be Aeschylean by the coincidence of l. 29 with fr. 377 Nauck; the occurrence in l.9 of the word hotiê (found at Eur., Cycl. 643, but nowhere in tragedy) points to its coming from a satyr-play. Clearly one of the speakers is the goddess Dike, Justice, who is explaining how she came by her prerogatives and what they are. It is likely, though not certain, that she is conversing with the Chorus. Dike is the paredros of Zeus as early as Hesiod (Op. 259); but in Hesiod it is not she herself, but thirty thousand daimones who are appointed by Zeus to keep a watch on men. On the notion of the “book of Zeus,” in which men’s crimes are recorded, see Solmsen, Class. Quart., 58, 1944, 27. It looks as if Euripides had this play in mind when, in a famous passage from one of his two plays about Melanippe (fr. 506 Nauck) he ridiculed this belief.

Ll. 30 ff. raise awkward problems. Is the persecutor of travellers, who is cited as a classic instance of injustice punished, Ares himself, or another? The only person connected with Ares who is known to have behaved in this fashion is Cycnus, not the king of Tenedos, but the Cycnus of the Hesiodic Shield of Heracles who persecuted visitors to Delphi and was slain by Heracles. Aeschylus certainly wrote a play in which a Cycnus was a character (see Ar., Frogs 963), though this may have been the other Cycnus. Ares is surely the subject of ll. 31 f.: and perhaps Ares’ support of Cycnus is the subject lower down.

Another explanation is offered by Robertson, who thinks the speaker is leading up to an account of the trial of Ares before the court of Areopagus for the murder of Poseidon’s son Halirrhothius; and he explains the behaviour attributed to Ares by supposing that he may have been represented as having been a difficult child at this time (cf. the Hermes of the Homeric Hymn and the Ichneutae of Sophocles). Yet in the usual version of this story, Ares was not an aggressor, but was defending the virtue of his daughter Alcippe (see Frazer, Apollodorus, ii. p. 81).

We cannot be sure that this narration relates to the main theme of the play, and there seems to be nothing to indicate the name of the play this fragment comes from. Eduard Fraenkel has inferred from the apparent importance of Dike in the plot that it is the Aetnaeae (or Aetnae), which Aeschylus wrote to celebrate Hieron’s foundation of the city of Aetna, oiônizomenos bion agathon tois sunoikizousi tên polin (Vita Aeschyli, p. 371, Murry, i. 8; see p. 381). A play that celebrates Dike might be thought appropriate to the foundation of the city which Pindar hopes will conduce sumphônon es hasuchian (Pyth. 1. 71); and he presence among these fragments of a hypothesis of the Aetna-play shows that it would not be surprising if they contained also a portion of its text. But these considerations fall a very long way short of being concrete evidence.

In. J.H.S., l.c., I have tried to show how this fragment stands in relation to Aeschylus’ theology.

(Fragments of four lines, the two first beginning makarôn and autê (hautê?) theôn.)

[5] And he has his seat upon his father’s very throne, having overcome Kronos by means of Justice; for Zeus can now boast, since his father began the quarrel, that he paid him back with Justice on his side. That is why Zeus ahs done me great honour, because after being attacked he paid him back, not unjustly. I sit in glory by the throne of Zeus, and he of his own will sends me to those he favours; I mean Zeus, who has sent me to this land with kind intent. And you shall see for yourselves whether my words are empty.

[14] How then shall we rightly address you?

[15] By the name of Dike, her who is greatly revered in heaven.

[16] And of what privilege are you the mistress?

[17] As for the just, I reward their life of justice.

[18] . . . this ordinance among mortals.

[19] But in the reckless I implant a chastened mind.

[20] By Persuasion’s spells, or in virtue of your might?

[21] I write their offences on the tablet of Zeus.

[22] And at what season do you unroll the list of crimes?

[23] When the proper time brings the fulfilment of what is theirs by right.

[24] Eagerly, I think, should the host1 welcome you.

[25] Much would they gain, should they receive me kindly.
(Two lines unintelligible).
. . . no city of people or private man, since such is the god-sent fortune she enjoys. And I will tell you a proof which gives you this clearly. Hera has reared a violent son whom she has borne to Zeus, a god irascible, hard to govern, an one whose mind knew no respect for others. He shot wayfarers with deadly arrows, and ruthless hacked . . . with hooked spears . . . he rejoiced and laughed . . . evil . . . scent of blood. . . .
(Two lines unintelligible) . . . is therefore justly called . . . just.2

1. Perhaps “the people.”
2. Clearly this passage contained one of those etymologisings of proper names which are not rare in Aeschylus. Lobel suggests that he name “Ares” may have been derived from arê, “bane,” “ruin.”



Ed. pr. Lobel, P. Oxy., vol. 20, no. 2253, with Plate III.

This looks very like the beginning of a prologue of a play; it recalls Eum. 1 ff. Clearly it comes from a play “about the matter of Troy.” The word sunallagê (l. 7) can mean “relations”, “dealings”, “visitation” or it can mean “reconciliation”; in this context, it is likeliest to have the latter meaning. At what stage of the Trojan war can a Greek have prayed for “friendly reconciliation”? If reconciliation with the Trojans is meant, we think of the early stages, of the time before and just after the arrival of the Greeks at Troy: Stark ahs suggested that the play may be the Iphigeneia, but without adducing any substantial evidence. P. Oxy. 2254 seems to come from a play that dealt with the fight at Tenedos which preceded the siege, and it is possible that both come from the Iphigeneia or from some play unknown to us which described an early stage in the history of the war: e.g., Aeschylus may have written a Cycnus, and the Cycnus in question may have been the king of Tenedos killed by Achilles.

But the “reconciliation” may easily have been a reconciliation between the Greek chiefs themselves. A famous Aeschylean trilogy (Myrmidones, Nereides, Phryges or Hektoros Lytra) is known to have dealt with the most notorious of their quarrels. The speaker seems to be praying for a friendly reconciliation “for the chieftains of Greece”. This might mean “a reconciliation with the Trojans”; but it more probably means “a reconciliation with each other.” It is therefore likelier than not to come from the Achillean trilogy; and the likelihood is strengthened by the fact that very minute scraps, proved by a coincidence with a quotation (fr. 59) to come from the Myrmidones and probably by the same copyist as the Aeschylean fragments in vol. 20, have already been published (vol. xviii, 2163; Snell, l.c., has shown that another small fragment in vol. 20 – 2256, fr. 55 – probably coincides with a quotation, fr. 65 in this book). Further, the formal stateliness and the impression which it gives of introducing the audience to a new situation makes somewhat in favour of it belonging to the first play of the trilogy; though here the similarity with the opening of Eum. should put us on our guard. And who is the speaker likely to be? Maas has thought of Calchas; but Agamemnon has at least as good a claim. The range of possibilities is very wide; and the supplements are more than usually uncertain.

To Zeus’ majesty I first do reverence, and with supplication I beseech him that this day’s light may see us exchange our labours for prosperous fortune; and for the chieftains of the land of Greece, who with Menelaus demand vengeance of Paris, son of Priam, for the violent rape of Helen, I pray for a friendly reconciliation of their grievous quarrel.



Ed. pr. Lobel, P. Oxy., vol. 20, no. 2256, fr. 71, with Plate VIII.

"The subject of this fragment of a chorus is evidently the death of Ajax consequent on the award of the arms of Achilles”: Lobel. This was the subject of Aeschylus’ Ajax-trilogy; and Lobel suggests that this may come from the Hoplôn Krisis, Mette preferring the Salaminiai. But the lines contain a summary account of the end of Ajax, not at all what we should expect to find in a play of which this formed the main subject, but very much what might be given if the story of Ajax is being cited as a parallel to a similar episode that ahs occurred or seems likely to occur in some different play. This impression is strengthened by the occurrence of hôster kai at the beginning of l. 16. As Snell (l.c., 440) has noticed, this can hardly introduce a theme for comparison; for a mention of Ajax follows, and Ajax has been the subject of the preceding stanza. The obvious inference is that after briefly narrating the death of Ajax the Chorus said: “Just as the noble son of Telamon perished by his own hand . . . so will (someone else) perish.”

In what lost play of Aeschylus might this have happened? Several of them may have contained characters who threatened suicide (the Oedipus, for example, comes to mind); but there are slight indications in favour of the Philoctetes. Philoctetes threatens suicide in Sophocles’ play; his suicide and that of Ajax would have had this in common, that in both cases Odysseus was responsible; and among the Aeschylean fragments in P. Oxy., vol. 20, is a fragmentary hypothesis to the Philoctetes (no. 2256, fr. 5). But these indications do not amount to anything like proof.

I will dissolve in tears (?) . . . who . . . these . . . sufferings . . . receive. . . . He, the city-guarding chieftain of the seagirt land, was brought to ruin by the shepherds of the people, the chieftains and commanders of the host, after he had set his heart upon the arms. And in the judgment the generals connived with Odysseus, with no impartial mind . . guide . . . his mind cloaked in darkness . . contrivance of the fatal sword.
Even as the noble son of Telamon perished by his own hand.



Ed. pr. Lefebvre, Bulletin de la société royale d’archéologie d’Alexandrie, no. 14, 191, 192, with Plate IX, 3.

Körte assigned this fragment to Aeschylus on the score of his supplement amphimêt[ores in l. 4. This adjective occurs in extant literature only at Eur., Andr. 466; but Hesychius says that Aeschylus used it in his Heracleidae (fr. 76 Nauck). Page (l.c.) has pointed out that this supplement is far from certain, since in l. 4 amphi mêt[era is an obvious possibility. And even if it were certain, it would not prove that this fragment came from Aeschylus’ Heracleidae; since we have no reason to assume that the word occurred only in that play. We know that it occurred also in the Andromache; and it may easily have occurred elsewhere also. We must therefore recognise at the outset that it is very doubtful whether this fragment is from the Heracleidae or is by Aeschylus at all.

But several scholars have maintained that the action which the fragment describes can be shown to be one likely to have been described in the Heracleidae. If this is true, the possibility that this fragment belongs to that play becomes greater; and this claim must therefore be investigated.

Körte, Fritsch and Mette all assume that the Heracleidae of Aeschylus, like the play of the same name by Euripides, dealt with the persecution of the Heraclids, after their father’s death, by Eurystheus. They take amphimêtores to mean “children by different mothers”, as it does in the Andromache and as Hesychius says it meant in Aeschylus; this description, they say, is true of the children of Heracles. They think this passage came from part of the play in which Eurystheus or one of his adherents (perhaps the herald Copreus) is threatening the Heraclids with burning, and supplement accordingly.

Lycus threatens to burn the children of Heracles by Megara in the Heracles of Euripides; but we are nowhere told that Eurystheus did the same. Heracles certainly had children by many different mothers (though it is doubtful whether the description amphimêtores applies to the children who survived to be persecuted by Eurystheus; according to the usual legend, all these were his children by Deianeira). In l. 3, Körte and his followers read th[lam]ouchoi[s domois, but [lam] is too long for the gap; and in l. 6 they presumably take pharmakou to refer to fire, which it can scarcely do.

This attempt to show that the fragment fits the plot of the Heracleidae scarcely stands up to examination. Stebrny has made another on quite different lines. He calls attention to the bold attempt of Zielinsky (Eos 25, 57; cf. Tragodumenon libri tres, 3, 90) to show that Aeschylus’ Heracleidae dealt with the same subject as Sophocles’ Trachiniae, the death of Heracles. Zielinski’s arguments fall a long way short of proving his case; but they certainly show that it is just as likely that the play was about this as that it was about the same subject as Euripides’ play of the same name. Accepting his thesis, Srebrny offers a restoration of this fragment based upon it. In itself, this restoration is less open to objection that are those of Körte and his followers. In l. 3 the word tha[mn]ouchoi[s (for which cf. the sense of druocha at Eur., Electra 1163), though it occurs nowhere else, seems to be the only conceivable word that will fit the space; and in l. 6 pharmakou can refer to the poison in the blood of Nessus. Leaving aside any considerations based on the conjecture amphimêt[ores, Srebrny’s hypothesis seems to explain the fragment more satisfactorily than any other assumption I have been able to think of, and after considerable hesitation I have decided to print the text with supplements along the lines he indicates. But the considerations I have set out above oblige us to recognise that any such hypothesis is anything but certain.

Suppose Srebrny is right, the fragment seems to describe the circumstances of Heracles’ death in too summary a manner for it to be the principal account given in the play of an important episode in the action; contrast the elaborate instructions which Heracles gives to Hyllus in the Trachiniae. The tense of ên in l.2 is surprising. Can the whole narration have been in the past tense? If so, the fragment teaches us nothing about the plot of Aeschylus’ Heracleidae, even if we suppose Srebrny’s whole argument to be correct; for even a play that dealt with the same subject as Euripides’ Heracleidae, or with a different subject altogether, might have included a description of the death of Heracles in the past tense.

The possibility that this is so is somewhat strengthened if one considers the problem of the letter missing in l. 4 between oide and the A of amphimêtores or amphi. Only a vertical stroke is preserved; G, M, N are possible. No supplement seems suitable except ge or a pronoun; and ge neither suits the sense nor fits the psace. What would fit the space would be this writer’s broad M.

For in those parts was visible a place designed by Nature for a pyre, in the lofty, bush-covered country of Oeta. To this did [?my] children by different mothers raise [?me] aloft, encompassed with trees for fuel, flesh swollen and skin peeling beneath the strong poison.



Ed. pr. Vitelli-Norsa, Mélanges Bidez, Annuaire de l’institut de philogogie et d’histoire orientales, ii, 1934, 968, with Plate.

Page rightly points out that earlier writers were over-confident in their assignation of this fragment to Aeschylus’ Myrmidones. The only expression in the fragment which they were able to claim was peculiarly Aeschylean was diai in l. 8; and even this piece of evidence has no value, as these forms of the disyllabic preopositions occur in Sophocles and in para-tragedic passages of comedy (see Page, l.c.). Further, the style of the fragment is simpler and plainer than that of Aeschylus commonly is; though I do not think this argument can be pressed. Page also contends that the Achilles of this piece is “psychologically more advanced, more sophisticated and argumentative, more interested in himself and his own motives and actions, than we expect in Aeschylus”. I cannot share this opinion; to me this Achilles seems very like Homer’s and therefore very like the Achilles we might expect from Aeschylus.

It is true that the content of the scene is what we might expect to have occurred somewhere in Aeschylus’ Achilles trilogy, and that there is nothing in it that we can positively state to be unaeschylean: it is also true that we do not know Sophocles or Euripides to have written on this theme. But, as Page points out, Achilles was the hero of plays by Astydamas, Carcinus and others; and there is not sufficient evidence to conclude that this must be Aeschylean. The writing of the exiguous fragments printed in P. Oxy. 2163, and shown by coincidence with a quotation (fr. 59) to be from the Myrmidones is like that of P.S.I. 1208-10 (Lobel, P. Oxy., vol. 19, p. 23), but not like that of this piece. Neither does the writing of P. Oxy. 2256, fr. 55 (plausibly assigned to the Myrmidones by Snell, Gnomon 25, 1953, 437) nor that of fr. 283 resemble the writing of this fragment.

The situation in which the speech is delivered must be quite clear to anyone who knows the Iliad; the Greeks are suffering grievous losses through Achilles’ refusal to fight, and Achilles is being unsuccessfully implored to return to the battle.

. . . they will stone me! The torturing of Peleus’ son with stones will prove no blessing – never think it! – to the Greeks in the land of Troy. No, then the Trojans could sit at their ease and win the victory without a fight; and you would more easily meet . . the healer of mortal sorrows. Shall fear of the Achaeans force me to lay my hand upon my spear, a hand now quivering with anger through the doing of a cowardly leader? Why, if I alone by my absence from the battle caused this great rout, as my comrades say, am I not all in all to the Achaean host? Respect forbids me not to utter such words; for who could say such chieftains, such commanders of the army, were nobler than I? . . . one man has stricken you . . . shaken and scattered you . . . armour on youthful shoulders . . .
(Fragments of nineteen more lines.)



Ed. pr. Lobel, P. Oxy., vol. 20, no. 2257, fr. 1, with Plate IX.

This seems likely to come from a hypothesis of the play mentioned in Vita Aeschyli, ch. 9, p. 371, Murray: elthôn toinun es Sikelian, Hierônos tote tên Aitnên ktizontos, epedeixato tas Ainas oiôizomenos bion agathon tois sunoikizousi tên polin. Ll. 6-7 seem to refer to the Eumenides; the Achilleôs erastai, mentioned in l. 8, was a satyr-play of Sophocles (see Pearson, Fragments of Sophocles, I, 103 f.). The Eumenides contains a change of scene from Delphi to Athens, and it is therefore likely that these two plays are cited as containing changes of scene, and so helping to render less surprising the numerous changes of scene that are attributed to the play in question. Lobel suggests that the letters trôi in l. 7 may indicate a reference to another Sophoclean play, the Troilus (see Pearson, op. cit., II, 253 f.). “I could reconcile the remaining ink in l. 7,” he writes, “with ]dum . . . trôi . kephal.” The Troilus may have been cited as nother instance of a change of scene; though Snell thinks this line may have described the Achilleôs erastai as containing a change of scene from some unknown place (]dum) to Troy and again to another unknown place ](.) . . phal(). On the suggestion that frs. 281-2 may belong to this play, see the Summary prefixed to fr. 282.

. . . is transferred from Delphi to Athens . . . the Lovers of Achilles. For during the first act the scene is Aetna, in the second Xuthia,1 in the third Aetna again; then it shifts from here to Leontini and the scene is Leon . . ., and after that it is Syracuse and the rest is concluded at2 . . ., which is a place . . .

1. This is the name of hê peri Leontinous chôra, according to Diodorus 5. 8.
2. Pfeiffer suggests that in l. 13 we might read [en tôi Temeni]têi (cf. Thuc., vi 75. 1).


Ed. pr. Weil, Un papyrus inédit: nouveaux fragments d’Euripides et d’autres poètes grecs: Monuments Grecs publiès par l’associatio pour l’encouragement des études grecues en France, no. 8, 1879, with Plate.

M. Paul Barguest, of the Egyptian Department of the Louvre, has with great kindness supplied me with an excellent photograph, which everywhere confirms the accuracy of Nauck’s transcription. The papyrus is full of mistakes; many letters are almost indistinguishable from other similarly shaped letters, and vowels are constantly confused with one another in a way that suggests that the text was dictated. Wilcken (Urkunde der Ptolemäerzeit 115) has shown that is was written down by Apollonius, the young brother of Ptolemaeus, the recluse of Serapeum; Apollonius at the time was thirteen or fourteen years of age.

(First line unintelligible.). Such was the trick which Zeus first devised to steal me from my aged father, effortlessly, without leaving his place.1 What then? my whole long story I tell you in few words. A mortal woman united with a god, I exchanged the honoured state of maidenhood, and was joined with the begetter of my children. And in three travails I endured the pains of women; the noble seed of the father could not reproach the field he sowed, that it did not bring it forth. And I began with the greatest of my offspring, giving birth to Minos. . . . Rhadamanthys, the immortal one among my children. But though he still lives, the lives out of my sight, and they that are absent give no delight to those that love them. And third I bore Sarpedon, for whom my mind is storm-tossed, for fear the spear of Ares may have smitten him. For it is famed abroad that the flower of all Hellas is come, men supreme in warlike strength, and that they are confident that they will destroy by violence the city of the Trojans. It is this news makes me afraid that with rash valour he may do and suffer2 the extreme of ill. Slender is my hope, and I stand balanced on the edge of doom, lest I strike against a reef and lose all I have.3


1. Cf. Suppl. 101 f.
2. “The doer must suffer”; the common doctrine expressed at Cho. 313-14 (p. 189), Pindar, Nem. 4, 32, and elsewhere makes it clear why doing is mentioned here.
3. For similar mixed metaphors in Aeschylus, cf. Agam. 218 f., 1178 f., etc: cf. Stanford, Aeschylus in his Style, 94-5.