Iolaus Romance: Second century AD

Papyrus text of an ancient novel of Roman date, but unknown except from this fragment. The exciting narrative concerned persons being initiated into the mysteries of Cybele or the Great Mother. Together with one Iolaus and a male prostitute — a cinaedus — they masquerade as galli, castrated initiates of Cybele, in order to escape some danger.

In the fragment, a speech is addressed to Iolaus in appropriately salacious Sotadean metre, although the verses are written as prose. The romance represents a tradition of the Greek comic novel, on which Petronius drew for his Satyricon.

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri vol. XLII no. 3010

Scribes and Scholars