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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

The Greek Papyri                        257
tion to the poet's friends to attend a solemn but joyous rite to
which Aphrodite is invoked—
'Where is a lovely grove of apple-trees and altars therein smoking with
frankincense; there too cool water plashes through the apple boughs, with
rose trees all the place is shaded and from the dancing leaves deep sleep
steals down; there a meadow where horses graze is rich with the flowers of
spring and sweet is the scent of the dill. Hither corne, O sovran Aphro-
dite and at the dainty feast pour out the nectar mixed in cups of gold.'
From this scene to the parched land of Egypt is a far cry and
many a reader by the waters of the Nile must have remembered
Zion; but its presence in Egypt is at once a measure of the
strength of Hellenism and an explanation of it.
These are a few of the more important accessions that we owe
to the papyri; to give any but the most cursory description of
them would take us far beyond the limits of this essay.1 The
majority of the finds are small and, as papyri were torn down
rather than across, more often yield a row of broken lines than
a few complete ones; but even a small fragment inay have a
contribution to make. So a small and nearly contemporary frag-
ment of the grammarian Harpocration supports an emendation
of Sauppe's in a speech of Lysias, confirms a quotation of some
anthropological interest from the comic poet Theopompus
which had been needlessly emended, and, for the first time, puts
a citation from the historian Ephorus in its proper place in his
work; and all this in some twenty-five incomplete lines. To take
two instances of dramatic texts somewhat more substantial but
small enough: a single parchment sheet at Berlin from *Ihe
Cretans of Euripides has restored to us Pasiphae's sophistic but
spirited apologia for her crimes, while from an Oxyrhynchus
papyrus we learn the plot of Cratinus' comedy Dionysalexandros^
1 An alphabetical list of those published before 1923 will be found in
C. H. Oldfather's Tbe Greek Literary Texts from Greco-Roman Egypt: since
then all texts of importance are recorded in the annual bibliography in Tbe
Journal of Egyptian Archaeology.
4473                                                           S