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Originally appearing in Volume V20, Page 563 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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EVTIVW 1LEFM1 TPEla Ka--co ra 7rpos TIpI KaXXtep--al T1)V beau rou 7r'—) In the long range covered by the Greek papyri the formation of individual letters necessarily varied under different influences; but in not a few instances the original shapes were remarkably maintained. From those which thus remained conservative it is rash to attempt to draw conclusions as to the precise age of the several documents in which they occur. On the other hand, there are some which at certain periods adopted shapes which were in vogue for a limited time and then disappeared, never to be resumed. Such forms can very properly be regarded as sure guides to the palaeographer in assigning dates. We may therefore take a brief survey of the Greek cursive alphabet of the papyri and note some of the peculiarities of individual letters. The incipient form of the alpha which gradually developed into the minuscule letter of the middle ages may be traced back to the Ptolemaic documents of the and century B.C., but the more cursive letter, which was a simple acute angle, representing only two of the three strokes of which the primitive letter was composed, was characteristic of the 3rd century B.C., and seems to have gone out of use within the Ptolemaic period. The development of the cursive beta is interesting. At the very beginning we find two forms in use: the primitive capital letter and a cursive shape somewhat resembling a small n, being in fact an imperfectly written B in which the bows are slurred. This form lasted through the Ptolemaic period. Then arose the natural tendency to reverse the strokes and to form the letter on the principle of n; but still the capital letter also continued in use, so that through the Roman and Byzantine periods the u-shape and the B-shape run on side by side. Analogously the letter kappa, formed on somewhat the same lines as the beta, runs a similar course in developing a cursive u-shaped form by the side of the primitive capital. Delta remained fairly true to its primitive form until the Byzantine period, when the elongation of the head into a flourish led on to the minuscule letter which is familiar to us in the medieval and modern alphabet. Epsilon, the most frequently recurring letter in Greek texts, departs less from its original rounded uncial form that might have been expected. Frequent and varied as its cursive formations are, yet the original shape is seldom quite disguised, the variations almost in all instances arising from the devices of the scribe to dispose swiftly and conveniently of the cross-bar by incorporating it with the rest of the letter. The tendency to curtail the second vertical limb of eta, leading eventually to the h-shape, is in evidence from the first. But in the development of this letter we have one of the instances of temporary forms which lasted only within a fixed period. In the 1st century, side by side with the more usual form, there appears a modification of it, somewhat resembling the contemporary upsilon, consisting of a shallow horizontal curve with a vertical limb slightly turned in at the foot, 1. Its development from the original H is evident: the first vertical limb is slurred, and survives only in the beginning of the horizontal curve, while the cross-bar and the second vertical are combined in the rest of the letter. This form was in general use from the middle of the 1st to the middle of the and century, becoming less common after about A.D. 16o, and practically disappearing about A.D. 200. The letters formed wholly or in part by circles or loops, theta, omikron, rho, phi, in the earlier centuries have such circles or loops of a small size. Just as there is an analogy between beta and kappa in their developments, as already noticed, so also do mu and pi advance on somewhat similar lines. From the earliest time there is a resemblance between the broad shallow forms of the two letters in the 3rd century B.C., and particularly when they adopt the form of a convex' stroke the likeness is very close; and again, in both Roman and Byzantine periods an n-shaped development appears among the forms of both letters. There is also one phase in the development of sigma which affords a useful criterion fot dtio‘e O-Evaneit. fixing the date of documents within a fixed limit of time. In the Ptolemaic period the letter, always of the C-form, is upright, with a flattened horizontal head; in the Roman period a tendency sets in to curve the head, and in the course of the 1st century, by the side of the old stiffer form of the letter, another more cursive one appears, in which the head is drawn down more and more in a curve, C' C'. This form is in common use from the latter part of the 1st century to the beginning of the 3rd century. The cursive form of tau, in which the horizontal stroke is kept to the left of the vertical limb, without crossing it, is one of the early shapes of the letter. The formation of the letter Xi in three distinct horizontal strokes is characteristic of the Ptolemaic period, as distinguished from the later type of letter in which the bars are more or less connected. Lastly; the early Ptolemaic form of the w-shaped omega is noticeable from having its second curve undeveloped, the letter having the appearance of being clipped. Literary Hands.—Literary papyri written in book-hands, distinct from the cursive writing which has been under consideration (and in which literary works were also occasionally written), may be divided into two classes: those which were produced by skilled scribes, and therefore presumably for the market, and those which were written less elegantly, but. still in a literary hand, and were probably copied by or for scholars for their own use. Standing at the head of all, and holding that rank as the only literary papyrus of any extent which may be placed in the 4th century B.C., is the famous lyrical work of Timotheus of Miletus, entitled the Persae, which has already been referred to and of which a section of a few lines is here reproduced: . AIN-A- r4U r1AI7E'NALN'E'AA T'F1`~~'~'-1`~NEve. 1`tllaMA a=oYt MPYPat'ACAIa, r6 NaE't4TA&E'ahr1i AAM F'f E'AA AAArf rat' rN 7 TE me NT ET ?As (—µa fbaro SE KUµalvw--v O•Elplac re vaes EXX-- re r7aav vtwv 7ro?Ua--a%ouo-c,u 7.c 7rvpos Se ae$a--S o vo ra SE aAyri--a a µEs EXAaSa r7yav--yvvm 71Ev r€rpao—) The hand, as will be seen, is rather heavy and irregular, but written with facility and strength, and, though the papyrus, perhaps, is not to be classed among the calligraphic productions for the book market, it must rank as a well-written example of the literary script of the time. Capital forms of letters which afterwards assumed the rounded shapes known as uncial are here conspicuous. The exactly formed alpha, the square epsilon with projecting head-stroke, the irregular sigma, the small theta and omikron are to be remarked. Indeed, the only letter which departs essentially from the lapidary character of the alphabet is the omega, here a half-cursive form but still retaining the principle of the structure of the old horse-shoe letter and quite distinct from the w-shape which was soon to be developed. Of this type of writing are also the two non-literary documents already mentioned above, viz. the " Curse of Artemisia " at Vienna, and the marriage contract of the year 311–310 B.C., found at Elephantine. In the latter the sigma appears in the rounded uncial form. By rare good fortune important literary fragments were recovered in the Gurob collection, which yielded the mostancient dated cursive documents of the 3rd century B.C., so that, almost from the beginning, we start with coeval specimens of both the cursive and of the book-hand, and we are in a position to compare the two styles on equal terms, and thus approximately to date the literary papyri. Palaeographically, this is a matter of the first importance; for while cursive documents, from their nature, in most instances bear actual dates, the periods of literary examples have chiefly to be decided by comparison, and often by conjecture. The literary fragments from Gurob fall into the two groups just indicated, MSS. written for sale and scholars' copies. Of the former are some considerable portions of two works, the Phaedo of Plato and the lost Antiope of Euripides. Both are written in carefully formed characters of a small type, but of the two the Phaedo is the better executed. As the cursive fragments among which they were found date back to before the middle of the 3rd century B.c., it is reasonable to place these literary remains also about the same period. Their survival is a particularly interesting fact in the history of Greek palaeography, for in them we have specimens of literary rolls which may be fairly assumed to differ very little in appearance from the manuscripts contemporary with the great classical authors of Greece. Indeed, the Phaedo was probably written within a hundred years of the death of the author. In the facsimile (fig. 7) of a few lines from this papyrus here placed before the reader, the characteristics of the Ptolemaic cursive hand are also to some extent to be observed in the formal book-hand: tfw'er-c E 1L rcAsrfl ~••T N Arr A), vP-p pi rJ sc M MI-t AnI A,-h i ?tp1–tc A'I'A~-rHNIAEIcEA1"iMrJc'A• Af r•tcAl VA I A. 0rolsFeeAir-eApAlc AF'Y'fc AtI-ciMrEyrI44i'M{-c4c,iI4A i'1 (—oEwv 7raOov0•a de EK TOVTW/L —avaKwp€CV ovoµ µ77 avayK77 xf n7v[O1 ac avrrp' S as eavrrgv au). XEyeCBac Kai aOpoq'EVBac 7rapaKe Xev6o[O]ac 7nareuaV Se tc1)SEYL aX7Wl) The general breadth of the square letters, the smallness of the letters composed of circles and loops, and the particular formation of such letters as pi and the clipped omega, are repeated. But the approach also of many of the letters to the lapidary capital forms, like those in the papyrus of Timotheus, is to be remarked, such as the precisely shaped alpha, and the epsilon in many instances made square with a long head-stroke. This mixture of forms seems to indicate an advance in the development of the book-hand of the 3rd century B.c., as contrasted with the archaic style of the older Timotheus. Of the and century B.C. there are extant only two papyri of literary works written in the formal book-hand, and both are now preserved in the Louvre. The one, a dialectical treatise containing quotations from classical authors, has long been known. The other is the oration of Hypereides against Athenogenes, which is an acquisition of comparatively recent date. The dialectical treatise must belong to the first half of the century, as there is on the verso side of the papyrus writing subsequently added in the year 16o B.c. The period of the Hypereides cannot be so closely defined; but the existence on the verso of later demotic writing, said to be of the Ptolemaic time, affords a limit, and the MS. has been accordingly placed in the second half of the century. While the writing of the earlier papyrus is of a light and rather sloping character, that of the Hypereides is firm and square and upright. Passing to the 1st century B.C., the papyri which have been recovered from the ashes of Herculaneum come into account. 562 Many of them, the texts of which are of a philosophical nature, are written in literary hands, and are conjectured to have possibly formed part of the library of their author, the philosopher Philodemus; they are therefore placed about the middle of the century. To the same time are assigned the remains of a roll containing the oration of Hypereides against Philippides and the third Epistle of Demosthenes (Brit. Mus. papp. cxxxiii., exxxiv.). But the most important addition to the period is the handsomely written papyrus containing the poems of Bacchylides (fig. 8), which retains in the forms of the letters much of the character of the Ptolemaic style, although for other reasons it can hardly be placed earlier than about the middle of the century: >C t.rp-i-t'r 1 N H ri r ocPrr;'R 1nh~+Kb-ctA-4°r -r t- p-as.TeTl+4-4 0I°N7r 1'1,4 f"1Ap"~ I'o-S t E~ArD~111—4 O-Yry.5.e-ra1. Iicarl gore 7rD-t'+oi1-+1140Tf1 t Wetpas avretvwv 7rpos avyas 17rirWKEOS aEXLov TEKVa Svuravoto Avo-Oas 7rap4povos E ayayEty BU OW SE TOL ELKOOL OOUS of vyas 4 OLPLKOTpLXaS) With the latter half of the 1st century B.C. we quit the Ptolemaic period and pass to the consideration of the literary papyri of the Roman period; and it is especially in this latter period that our extended knowledge, acquired from recent discoveries, has led to the modification of views formerly held with regard to the dates to be attributed to certain important literary MSS. As in the cafe: of non-literary documents, the literary writing of the Roman period differs from that of the Ptolemaic in adopting rounded forms and greater uniformity in the size of the letters. Just on the threshold of the Roman period, near the end of the 1st century B.C., stands a fragmentary papyrus of the last two books of the Iliad, now in the British Museum (pap. cxxviii.), which is of sufficient extent to be noted. Then, emerging on the Christian era, we come upon a fine surviving specimen of literary writing, which we have satisfactory reason for placing near the beginning of the 1st century. It is a fragment of the third book of the Odyssey (fig. 9), the writing of which closely resembles that of an official document (Brit. Mus. pap. cccliv.) which happens to be written in a formal literary hand, and which from internal evidence can be dated within a few years of the close of theist century B.C. There can be no hesitation, there-fore, in grouping the Odyssey with that document. The contrast between the round Roman style and the stiff and firm Ptolemaic hands is here well shown in the facsimiles from this papyrus (fig. 9) and the Phaedo and Bacchylides: TT A t A,000k.(O1Arej11Xt'AtA) End of Article: EVTIVW 1LEFM1

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