Classics@1: New Epigrams Attributed to Posidippus of Pella

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The focus of this first issue of Classics@ is the new Posidippus papyrus of some 112 epigrams, which has evoked keen interest recently among scholars of Greek poetry. The new epigrams were first published in 2001 as Posidippo di Pella: Epigrammi (P. Mil. Vogl. VIII 309), Papiri dell' Univeristà degli Studi di Milano - VIII, by LED - Edizioni Univeritarie di Lettere Economia Diritto for the University of Milan. Edited by Guido Bastianini and Claudio Gallazzi, with the collaboration of Colin Austin, this lavish edition is comprised of two volumes. The first contains diplomatic transcription, edited text and scholarly commentary. The second consists of a scanned color reproduction of the original papyrus, 16 infrared photos of the papyrus enlarged by 40%, and two CD's with images of the papyrus, one of each column in black and white and one of the entire papyrus in color. This first edition, or editio princeps, was followed in 2002 by a second edition, edited by C. Austin and G. Bastianini, Posidippi Pellaei Quae Supersunt Omnia, also published by LED, which contains all of Posidippus' extant verse, with facing Italian and English translations.

Already this poetry has been the subject of a preliminary discussion at the American Philological Association (APA) Annual Meeting in January 2002 (standing room only) and an international colloquium - seminar held at the Center for Hellenic Studies in April 2002, and international conferences held at Milan, Florence and Cincinnati. There will certainly be more such discussions, and this issue of Classics@ can help to bring an even wider group of participants to the conversation.

Some timely new questions have emerged about the papyrus. For example: what proportion of the Posidippus papyrus can be attributed to the "real" Posidippus, and what proportion needs to be relegated to the category of "pseudo-Posidippus"? Such questions are not easy to settle in an academic culture where access to the editio princeps, the first published edition of the papyrus, is difficult and where secondary literature is slow in arriving at a critical mass of reasoned opinion.

Here, then, is a striking example of the value of on-line publishing. The guest editors of the first issue of Classics@ have constructed an in-progress working document of the Posidippus text first established by Bastianini-Gallazzi in the Italian editio princeps. While based ultimately on the editio princeps and, partly, on the editio minor, this text continues to be re-thought in light of ongoing restorations proposed in publications and general communication among Classics scholars. In this case, the emerging reality proves to be different from the dichotomy of Posidippus vs. pseudo-Posidippus that suggested itself to most observers at the time of the APA meeting. From the cumulative evidence of ongoing restorations, it becomes ever more evident that the real challenge in this case is not to distinguish between better and worse poetry, corresponding to the real and the would-be Posidippus, but between better and worse restorations. The better the restorations, such as those of Gronewald, the more one can see the consistency of quality in the poetry. Without the ongoing re-examination of the text by way of electronic documentation, the scholarly verdict on the value of the Posidippus papyrus may harden too early into set views that inhibit the kind of rethinking needed as important new evidence and interpretations continue to be brought to light.

This on-line text, therefore, is an invitation to all readers to do this very kind of re-thinking. The guest editors of this issue of Classics@, Benjamin Acosta-Hughes, Elizabeth Kosmetatou, Martine Cuypers, and Francesca Angiò, will continue to update the project.