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Bookrolls and Scribes in Oxyrhynchus

Bookrolls and Scribes in Oxyrhynchus

William A. Johnson
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    Bookrolls and Scribes in Oxyrhynchus
    Book Description:

    Lying now under the sand 300 kilometres south of the coastal metropolis of Alexandria, the town of Oxyrhynchus rose to prominence under Egypt's Hellenistic and Roman rulers. The 1895 British-led excavation revealed little in the way of buildings and other cultural artefacts, but instead yielded a huge random mass of everyday papyri, piled thirty feet deep, including private letters and shopping lists, government circulars, and copies of ancient literature.

    The surviving bookrolls - the papyrus rolls with literary texts - have provided a great deal of information on ancient books, ancient readers, and ancient reading. Examining only those texts that survive in full form in medieval manuscripts, William Johnson has analysed over 400 bookrolls to understand the production, use, and aesthetics of the ancient book. His close analysis of formal and conventional features of the bookrolls not only provides detailed information on the bookroll industry - manufacture, design, and format - but also, in turn, suggests some intriguing questions and provisional answers about the ways in which the use and function of the bookroll among ancient readers may differ from modern or medieval practice. Meticulously erudite, this work will be of great importance to all papyrologists, classicists, and literary scholars.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7151-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-ix)
  3. [Illustration]
    (pp. x-x)
  4. Terminology, Conventions, and Sigla
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    Bookrolls, by which I mean papyrus rolls containing literary texts, survive in fragmentary form in many thousands of examples from antiquity.¹ Yet the bookroll qua book, as an artefact that speaks in detail to the production and use of classical literature in its original context, has received surprisingly little attention. Even as codicology has become a mainstay of medieval studies, voluminology, so to speak, remains almost wholly neglected among classicists. For anyone with strong interests in ancient books, ancient readers, and ancient reading, a host of basic questions remain unanswered. A very few examples: What was the nature of the...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Scribes in Oxyrhynchus: Scribal Habits, Paradosis, and the Uniformity of the Literary Roll
    (pp. 15-84)

    Before any sort of statistical analysis can be attempted, prior questions at once confront us. To what extent are the particular features of a bookroll the result of scribal habit and the conventions of the time, and to what extent are these features governed by the exemplar from which the copy is made? When a scribe copies from his exemplar, what exactly does he copy? Is it the letters only, or does he copy also the punctuation? Do orthographic features likeiota-adscript derive solely from the model, or does the scribe regularize the usage as he goes? As for the...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Formal Characteristics of the Bookroll
    (pp. 85-230)

    The aesthetic of the codex depends upon the page.¹ Each double page presents itself separately to the reader, the columns of text forming a central block framed by the white space of the outer, top, and bottom margins. From an aesthetic point of view, the problems of design have to do with the proportions of this central block and how the block is situated. Should the rectangle of writing be wide or narrow, tall or squat? Are the margins proportionate to that rectangle? Is the block of text correctly positioned, that is, should the margins be the same all around,...

  9. APPENDIX 1 Papyri Included in the Sample
    (pp. 231-250)
  10. APPENDIX 2 Addenda and Corrigenda to Editions in the Sample Sets
    (pp. 251-336)
  11. APPENDIX 3 Resolution of Ambiguous Reconstructions
    (pp. 337-340)
  12. Glossary
    (pp. 341-344)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 345-356)
  14. Subject Index
    (pp. 357-360)
  15. Index of Papyri
    (pp. 361-372)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 373-374)
  17. Illustrations
    (pp. 375-414)