ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 46 (2009) 287-290 Laura Miguelez Cavero, Poems in Context: Greek Poetry in the Egyptian Thebaid, 200-600 AD. Sozomena: Studies in the Recovery of Ancient Texts, Vol. 2. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2008. xi + 442 pages. ISBN 978-3-11-020273-1. During the Late Roman Empire, Egypt made a significant contribution to Greek poetry, and several sizeable texts from that area have been preserved thanks to the labour of Byzantine scribes. We thus have two very long poems by Nonnus of Panopolis (the Dionysiaca and the Paraphrase of the Gospel of John) as well as Triphiodorus' Sack of Troy and Colluthus' Rape ofHelen. Colluthus is said to have come from Lycopolis, and Triphiodorus' name is typical of Upper Egypt. As for Musaeus, the author of Hero and Leander, some modern scholars believe that he is close to Nonnus and suspect an Egyptian origin, although we have no hard evidence to support that hypothesis. Other noteworthy poets are attested through indirect sources at the same time and in the same area. The Bodmer codices, which also come from Upper Egypt, have yielded in the past two and a half decades the Christian Visio Dorothei, as well as other poems, mainly ethopoeae. Therefore it would seem likely that the Thebaid harboured a school of poetry centered around the dominant figure of Nonnus. At least such has been the assumption among many scholars over the past decades, an assumption which Laura Miguilez Cavero (henceforth LMC) puts to the test. To achieve her purpose, she has collected evidence relating to poetic activity in Upper Egypt, including indirect sources and papyrus fragments, and she has tried to put this information in the wider perspective of what we already know of the Thebaid through documentary papyri. It should be said from the outset that LMC's use of the word "poetry" is limited to hexametric poetry: drama, lyric verses, and elegy do not belong to the scope of her study. This gives the book a certain level of homogeneity, since all the texts discussed, in one way or another, are clearly descendants of the Homeric epics. After a very brief introduction, LMC starts with a catalogue of poets active in Upper Egypt, beginning with those whose works have been preserved by Byzantine scribes (Nonnus, Triphiodorus, etc.). This is followed by a catalogue of all the papyrological evidence regarding hexametric poetry from the third till the sixth century AD, in its essence a convenient update for the hexametric part of Heitsch's Die griechischen Dichterfragmente der romischen Kaiserzeit (first edition 1963). She does not provide the Greek texts, but offers a brief summary of each fragment. It should be noted that this catalogue of papyri
    Top of page Top of page