A Test Case: 'Athenians at Plataea?'

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This papyrus fragment (P.Oxy 3965 fr.1, imaged here at 150dpi) contains part of a previously unknown epic poem by Simonides about the Greeks’ victory against the Persians at Plataea. As you can see, its condition isn’t great: the papyrus is fragmentary and full of holes, and parts of the ink are quite worn. Disagreement continues over one important issue of interpretation: did Simonides put the Athenians in his poem?

Since the text is so scrappy, this question boils down to: is one disputed word (of which only traces of the end survive) “man]tios” — meaning a Spartan seer mentioned elsewhere in the text — or “Kekro]pos” — a reference to Kekrops, a figure of Athenian myth?

It all depends on whether the remains represent tau-iota, or pi. We tried using digital imaging to explore both possibilities.

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