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And this seems to be borne out for the unusually abrupt conclusion of the “Tithonus Poem” by the presence of a in the Cologne manuscript at this point.
“The New Sappho” actually comprises a group of papyrus fragments, quotations, and testimonia for Sappho’s poetry dating back more than two millennia.
Scholars who were amazed to learn that Sappho had “composed a new poem” when Edgar Lobel published it a half-century ago—she had, after all, been dead for over 2600 years—would have been even more surprised at finding the same fragmentary poem’s missing line-ends, conjecturally and limpingly supplied by scholars since Lobel, now actually supplied by another papyrus manuscript of the same poem, overlapping but preserving the other ends of the lines, that appeared as late as 2004.
In both manuscripts there follow the verses held in common by the two manuscripts, called below (in the absence of ancient testimony for a title) the “Tithonus Poem.” After these, in Cologne a series of verses follow that cannot be by any Lesbian/Aeolic poet (for they are in a meter that admits a series of more than two successive short syllables); in Oxford there follow verses which are certainly of Sapphic pedigree, since Athenaeus quotes them (in a defective form partially garbled in our medieval manuscripts) and attributes them to the poetess.
In the text below, the former is called “Continuation 1” (its priority reflecting the fact that it is witnessed by the earlier manuscript), and the latter “Continuation 2.”The terms “New Fragment,” “Success Poem,” and the Continuations 1–2 will become better understood at a later stage of this book, as they are more fully explained by the contributions below.
A site in the Fayum, the rich agricultural oasis southwest of Cairo, and the only area in Egypt known certainly to evidence the practice of using recycled papyrus for decorative funerary art, may be assigned as the provenance.
Sappho’s authorship of verses in the Cologne fragments is secured by their overlap with the Oxford manuscript of Sappho in fr.
58: Cologne supplies the earlier portion of the lines (not preserved in the other papyrus), Oxford supplies the ends of the lines, while the two manuscripts overlap for a thin strip of several centimeters in the middle.
A new set of verses, referred to below as the “New Fragment,” however, appears before the verses about Tithonus in the Cologne manuscript, entirely different from those in the Oxford one (termed below “Success Poem”) and that stand here in modern editions of Sappho.
Much debate and discussion focuses on considerations of division, whether at the beginning and ending of poems, or on possibilities for the grouping of verses transmitted by both manuscripts into poems, and, of course, the “vexed problem of the ending” (as one of the anonymous press-readers for this volume put it, mildly).
It therefore seemed useful, in the critical edition offered below, to represent graphically these lectional signs as they occur in one or both manuscripts at the left edge of the columns of writing.
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