From what I gather, we alrady have the text of Sappho's Hymn to Aphrodite (alias Sappho 1, the only poem we have complete) complete and uncontroversial (save for the bit in cruces, τίνα δηὖτε πείθω / ἄψ σ' ἄγην, which the P.Oxy. doesn't seem to help settle). I found an image of that papyrus:

[image of papyrus][]

It only gives a few letters in the middle of lines. So am I right in my impression that this papyrus was, as far as our knowledge of the poem goes, utterly useless, or were there any controversies in the text as reported by Dionysus of Halicarnassus in Περὶ συνθέσεως ὀνομάτων (aka De Compositione Verborum) that I am not aware of and that were settled by deciphering the papyrus and identifying it as Sappho 1?


According to Campbell (see note to this poem), one line of this papyrus reads .]ψ σ. ἄγην[. It should be this line:

enter image description here

In this, I can clearly see ÁΓΗ, surrounded by what has the looks of a C…N. But where is the psi? I cannot find any trace of it in there. Since the psi would be like THE contribution of this papyrus to our knowledge of the poem's text, suggesting the ἄψ σ' found on B.A. and Greek Wikisource, the question now becomes: how did the psi pop up? Can anyone see it in the image? Was something done to the papyrus that made it appear clearly? If so, what?

Update 2

One small contribution, besides the one in the other update (if the psi was actually there), is that, from what Bergk says, all codices had a zeta in ὐπαζεύξαισα, whereas the papyrus clearly has a sigma-delta cluster in the line ]MYΠ̣ ϹΔ€.

Update 3

M.L. West (more info about him here) limits the importance of that psi by attributing it to a possible correction from the following line, and seems to favor Edmonds' solution from the critical note he offers.

enter image description here

  • @AlexB didn't even look at who the author was, so it's definitely a "this guy" to me :). Let's see that name… Just edited to put it in. Never heard of him before. I'm afraid I do not have time to read whole books about this subject. After all, I have to graduate in Maths next February.
    – MickG
    Jul 3, 2017 at 21:06
  • Buona fortuna! 🎓
    – Alex B.
    Jul 3, 2017 at 21:29
  • @AlexB Grazie. Luckily I have some time on my hands now because only one exam is missing and for the thesis I have tons of time, so I've been Sappho-ing these days to get ready for my blog posts. For now, I have posted Sappho Campbell 31 / Edmonds 2, which I plan to update by a little extension to the critical note, Hector and Andromacha and [cont…]
    – MickG
    Jul 3, 2017 at 21:32
  • […cont] "three epigrams and a mourning song", but I plan to post basically all of Sappho, with due critical notes, because a long time ago I translated basically all of Sappho's poems into poems in Latin, English and Italian (I had way more time back in High School :) ), and that will definitely be part of «Artistic Translations of Poetry and Songs». That is what spawned a ton of recent questions by me. I have some time, but definitely not enough to read whole books for this blog :).
    – MickG
    Jul 3, 2017 at 21:34
  • Enjoy those posts btw!
    – MickG
    Jul 3, 2017 at 21:35

1 Answer 1


One contribution this papyrus certainly gave is at l. 9.

ll. 8-10 in the papyrus

The middle line in the image reads ΜΥΠ̣ ϹΔ€, giving us a σδ cluster, whereas the manuscript tradition, according to Bergk's note, is unanimous on having a ζ there.

The other possible contribution, which I am fairly skeptical about, is "the psi issue". The corrupted l. 19 can be seen in the papyrus as:

l. 19 in the papyrus

Now to me that reads ̣ CÁΓΗṆ, with the C compressed and the N half-cut, and the vestige being more of a blank space. Others have seen a psi in that space, leading to the transcription "ψ̣ σ' ἄγην" and hence the reading "ἄψ σ' ἄγην". I tried to see the psi in the image, and all I got was:

enter image description here

I for one believe this is far too close to the sigma to actually be what was written there. There is something like a mini-psi far down in a sort of subscript placement, but that can hardly (IMHO) be considered an actual letter. So I'm very prone to discarding this psi idea. For other reasons, M.L. West, a very famous linguist I only found out about when I found that link, discards it. This reading, however, is accepted by many (Greek Wikisource, BA, Campbell, these guys).

That just about wraps it up, because the rest of the text was already uncontroversial before this papyrus, AFAICT.

Bonus: papyrus transcription

Here is how I read this papyrus:

ΙΚΙΛ  ̣  ̣  ̣
̤  ̣Λ̤  ̣́  ̣ΛΟ̤  ̣
 ̣ΥϹΙΟΝΗ̤Λ̤  ̣
ỌϹΔΙΑΜ€̣Ϲ̣  ̣  ̣
Ρ̤€ΟΤΤΙ  ̣[.]  ̣
A̤I̤N̤  ̣ΛΑI̤


I also realized this papyrus:

  • Dispels Edmonds' dual ὤκεε στρούθω with its double sigma, though one sigma is very doubtful;
  • Dispels any μειδιάσαισ' idea with its clear ΗΔΙΑϹ.

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