260 *The Greek Papyri That some of our earliest texts are both slovenly and eccentric might seem a reason for doubting the general soundness of our tradition; but we should note that these texts are relatively few in number, that they mostly come from one or two village sites and so may be regarded as 'provincial5 texts not necessarily repre- sentative of the best then in existence; further, that several of them are anthologies and in. all ages anthologies are notorious corrupters of texts, and finally that (except in the case of Homer) their eccentricity has been exaggerated—there are several quite 'normal' texts of this age. But when all this is said, a real difference remains between the early and the late texts, and the explanation of the change is to be found in Alexandria. The deep influence exercised by the scholars of the Museum and Library at Alexandria in establishing the texts and often the authenticity of classical works has always been recog- nized; now the papyri, and above all the papyri of Homer, allow us to observe this influence at work. In the earlier papyri we find marked divagations from the received text and not merely in single words; whole lines are omitted or more commonly added (though these new lines are as a rule 'repeats' from other parts of the poems and make little or no difference to the context); in one Odyssey papyrus there are as many as nine additional lines out of seventy. That this 'eccentric' text is inferior to the received tradition is clear; it is equally clear that in the third century B.C. the text of Homer was in a confused and fluid state, at any rate in Egypt. But after about the middle of the second century B.C. these eccentric texts tend to disappear and in the several hundred papyri of Homer later than this the text is in all essentials that of the medieval manuscripts, is in fact far closer to them than in the case of any other author; indeed, the Homeric papyrus of the Roman period is rarely more than a witness to the poet's popularity. There can be little doubt that this is due to the skill and thoroughness with which the Alexandrian scholars did their work.