Aeschylus, Dictyulci: Second century AD

Two columns showing top and bottom margins and intercolumn from Aeschylus’ satyr-drama ‘The Net-pullers’ (Tragicorum Graecorum fragmenta III, fr. 47a ed. Radt). The ‘Dictyulci’ were fishermen who rescued Danaë and the baby Perseus set afloat in a chest. The papyrus was recovered by Grenfell and Hunt from the area around Kôm Gamman. Later on, Italian excavators arranged to have the Sheikh’s tomb on the Kôm moved. They recovered two further fragments in the mound from the same play and roll, now in Florence; the same scribe also copied several other plays of Aeschylus (probably in separate rolls), and also the Fables of Babrius.

The identifications may point to the existence of a scriptorium at Oxyrhynchus in the second century AD, in which the same scribe copied many works of classical literature; they also have been claimed for the holdings of a public or private library. Note no indication of speakers as in a modern script. The letter theta (= the number eight) before line 2 of the second column marks the 800th line of the play.

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri vol. XVIII no. 2161

Scribes and Scholars