Illusions and vanishing acts: Homeric recension, athetesis, and magic in P. Oxy 412 (PGM XXIII).
Even when considering P. Oxy 412 in the context of the Kestoi, scholars have only recently shifted focus from the first part of the papyrus, indeed the only part included in the PGM collection. Despite Jean-Rene Vieillefond's (1970) contextualization of the papyrus within the extant Kestoi fragments, (5) before Martin Wallraff et al.'s carefully compiled edition of the Kestoi in 2012 the most recent edition of the papyrus was by Terence DuQuesne (1991), who focused almost exclusively on its supposed display of Egyptian mysticism. Francis C. R. Thee's (1984) study of the Kestoi fragments equally focuses on the issue of magic and, in a rare and significant literary treatment of the papyrus, Ahuvia Kahane (1997, 322) states conclusively: "The 'logic of magic' is at the heart of P. Oxy. 412. What most voces [magicae] are to language [sc. senseless utterances which signify sounds rather than concepts], P. Oxy. 412 is to epic."
Beyond the recent textual work of Jurgen Hammerstaedt (2009) and the contextualizing perspective of Wallraff et al. (2012), I contend that the relationship between P. Oxy 412 and Homeric epic is more sophisticated than earlier approaches have suggested. It deserves detailed attention not only from scholars interested in Africanus's Kestoi and ancient magic but also from those interested in ancient conceptions of Homer and textual-literary criticism. In the first section of this paper, I explore how the (pseudo-)scholarly frame that Africanus appends to his version of Odyssey 11 frames this and the standard Odyssey text as competing, parallel recensions of the same Homeric story. I argue that by inverting, revising, and extending the 'rules' of Hellenistic textual criticism, Africanus plays with the idea of what his text should be seen to represent, of what any text of the Odyssey should be seen to represent, and so restructures the reader's sense of epic textuality. The use of 'magic' to highlight this is particularly pertinent, as I discuss in the subsequent section, since this context allows Africanus to establish a further tension between the inherited Hellenistic approach of textual delimitation and the freer, more fluid approach to Homeric textual material found in contemporary ritual practice. Rather than a passive response to Homer's changing position in the third century CE, therefore, I ultimately claim that P. Oxy 412 as a fragment of the Kestoi uses the changed position of Homer to both propose and demonstrate the impact of such a perspective on the very notion of what it means to read Homeric epic at that time.
Edition as Illusion
In the second column of P. Oxy 412, Africanus's subject matter shifts from a retelling of Odyssey 11.34-51 to something of an editorial commentary on that same passage. Although this part of the papyrus generally receives little discussion, it in fact provides a crucial framework for the text as a whole, guiding a reader's interpretation of the preceding verse passage. For now that he has reproduced a version that diverges greatly from the standard post-Hellenistic text of the Odyssey, Africanus uses this passage to establish his own authority as an editor and critic, undermining the work of his Hellenistic predecessors. Against this background, it becomes clear that Africanus's revision of his Odyssean text is a direct response to Hellenistic ideas of textual criticism, specifically as it reevaluates the athetesis by Zenodotus and by Aristophanes of Odyssy 11.38-43. Not only does Africanus's text reject this critical assertion, but it also inverts the rules of how such critical assertions should be signaled on the page. Africanus therefore challenges the reader to reconsider how they might understand the relationship between the poetic material they can physically read and their impression of what the full text of the Odyssey should constitute.
After his interpolation of a twenty-six-line hexametric invocation to raise the dead, a passage that relies heavily on non-Homeric, non-Greek mysticism, Africanus changes voice from Odysseus's and concludes his eighteenth [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]:
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (6) Et cetera. So, with this how it is, either the poet himself kept back the extra part of the invocation from the rest for the integrity of his composition, or else the Peisistratids, in the process of stitching the rest together, decided these verses were out of sequence with the poem and cut them out. I recognize [dagger] ... [dagger] (7) in that I have gone further to bring together the full, swollen creation here. You will find the complete text I propose in the ancient archives of my ancient home colony, Aelia Capitolina in Palestine, as well as those of Nysa in Caria, and you will find up to Book 13 in Rome, near the Alexandrian baths in the Pantheon's beautiful library, which I have personally established for the Emperor. (8)
Over the course of this commentary, Africanus sets up the relationship between himself and the original author of the poem he is presenting, presumably Homer, in order to position himself within the history of Homeric scholarship. He does this first by establishing the interpolated invocation as a 'genuine' piece of the author's original poem, working with this assumption from the first line onwards as he speaks assuredly about [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] as the passage's source, and only questions when and by whom this extra text was excised from the Odyssey as it has become known. Either, the reader is told, the original poet himself censored the passage ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), or later editors, the Peisistratids, removed the lines prior to later publication ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). Contrary to one common reading of this papyrus, there is no doubt Africanus's text is original. (9)
In this way Africanus asserts his editorial authority as the restorer of Homer's autograph draft. At the same time, he also sets himself up against the traditional school of textual scholarship. 'The Peisistratids,' accused by name here, are generally considered to be the direct biological offspring of Peisistratus, who, in Cicero's words, primus Homeri libros confusos antea sic disposuisse dicitur, ut nunc habemus (is said to be the first man have ordered the books of Homer out of the jumble they were in before into the manner that we have today). (10) Certainly Pseudo-Plato makes reference to one of Peisistratus's sons, Hipparchus: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (who was the oldest and wisest of Peisistratus's children, who also published many other beautiful works of great minds, and was first to provide this country with the poetry of Homer). (11) However, it is not the case that the Peisistratids were identified and discussed in antiquity to such an extent that this is the only available reading of Africanus's comments. Instead--and more plausible given how the passage continues--we can see the Peisistratidae as a group set up in comparison with the Homeridae, either in nominal parallel or in mocking contrast, such that what becomes important here is not any biological relationship with Peisistratus, but an ideological fellowship of ordering, limitation, and censorship, continuing through history to Africanus's contemporary world. As the Homeridae repeat Homer's words, the Peisistratidae, it might be suggested, uncritically echo their founder's activities, and it is this sort of critic from any era with whom Africanus takes issue.
This becomes apparent as Africanus proceeds to actively engage with the historical tradition of Peisistratean scholarship as a contemporary issue. In particular, as Africanus advises where his full edition ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) might be found, he locates his work in the traditional institutions where a Peisistratidean version of the text might be accessed. He not only refers to "official (not personal!) archives," as Kahane (1997, 320) notes, but also makes sure to mention the libraries' antiquity, not least telling the reader that they can find his my full edition [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and so too in Nysa and Rome. These are old libraries in old provinces, which thus confer the same authority on Africanus's text as Peisistratus's antiquity confers on editions following his practice. Africanus's edition, his readers understand, has been awarded and deserves state-sanctioned preservation as much as the canonical versions; his edition is comparable with these editions and must be considered in relation to them.
Is it at all likely that any version of the Odyssey as divergent from the canonical form as Africanus's would have found its way into official libraries of the mid-third century CE? Perhaps not. (12) At the same time, it is not the case that any sarcasm a reader inevitably assumes in this passage should be taken to dissolve Africanus's statements of all meaning. Instead, what can be seen in Africanus's envoi is an agenda, a suggestion of context in which his Odyssean passage should be understood, namely, the tradition of Homeric textual criticism. Even with its obtusely untraditional interpolation, the verse passage preceding this commentary is in this light presented for reading as if it were a divergent edition of Homer, more than anything else. The choice to reproduce one of the Odyssey's most expressly fantastical and magical scenes is an important one, as I discuss in the next section, but it is crucial to note that the principal framework P. Oxy 412 provides for this passage's interpretation is not ritual invocation, as the PGM edition of the papyrus would suggest, nor any generalized, mythic conception of the Odyssean narrative, but specifically the epic text of Odyssey 11 and the recension of Homeric verse.
If we appreciate this framework, then it is possible to reread the opening part of Africanus's Odyssean passage in a more nuanced way. Although this is the most 'traditional' part of the passage, consisting of lines that are both standardly Homeric and standardly belong to this part of the Odyssey, it is not the case that this passage remains un-manipulated or even agrees with the standard tradition of this text. Rather, the passage undermines the received critical decisions on the passage and plays with the reader's expectations of what form the text will take. This anticipates Africanus's further interpolations and prepares the reader to accept this much greater distortion of the typical Odyssey 11.
The verse section of P. Oxy 412 begins with thirteen lines of Odyssean material: 11.34-43 in lines 1-10, and then 11.48-50 in lines 11-3. These lines describe Odysseus's preparation for his descent into the Underworld, 11.48 adjusted so that the two sections connect and the second half of 11.50 rewritten so as to introduce the invocation that follows afterwards:
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] So, after I had asked for mercy from those tribes of dead with prayers And supplications, I took the sheep and slit their throats Over the ditch, and the murky black blood flowed. The spirits that pass Out of the dead's bodies gathered up out of Erebus: Married girls and unmarried boys, miserable old men, 5 Delicate maidens fate had given fresh sorrow And many men who had been wounded by bronze-pointed spears, Men killed in battle, who were wearing their bloodied armor. The crowd was pressing around the ditch, from one side then another, Raising a terrifying din--I was sick with pallor. 10 But then I pulled my sharp sword from my thigh And stood, not letting the dead's flitting faces Come near the blood. And in response I told them this ...
On first appearances, there is nothing startling about these lines. This seems intentionally so, since there is no extrapoetic indication in the passage that changes have been made from the standard text of the Odyssey. The alteration of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in line 11 (Od. 11.48) even works to disguise the 'missing' lines of 11.44-7, allowing the sense to flow more naturally between lines 10 and 11 as Odysseus adversarially takes up his sword against the Underworld's spirits. However, against the framework of textual criticism established in the papyrus's closing passage, the athetesis of 11.44-7 becomes not only a striking critical decision, but a very pointed one. It must, after all, be read against the standard Hellenistic views on this passage transmitted by the scholiastic commentary; in the scholia these lines are accepted without remark, describing Odysseus's call on his friends to offer sacrifices to Hades and Persephone. Instead, at 11.38 (here line 5), there is a note about an alternative athetesis, reading as follows:
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Married girls and unmarried boys] these six lines were athetized by Zenodotus and Aristophanes as asymphonic against the rest.
Rather than what a scholarly reader might expect to see from this passage of the Odyssey, the reader of P. Oxy 412 is confronted by two distinct critical choices. The first is the unmarked inclusion of lines that the famous Hellenistic scholars Zenodotus and Aristophanes would have preferred to reject from the text (11.38-43), and the second is the subsequent removal of four lines following those (11.44-7). Given the argument in the scholia--that Odyssey 11.38-43 is aoupcpcovov with the following lines--Africanus's revision of the passage to include 38-43 but athetize 44-7 reads as a response to Zenodotus's and Aristophanes' observations. Perhaps, this part of P. Oxy 412 suggests, the Hellenistic scholars' sense of asymphony in this passage should be attributed not to 11.38-43, but to 44-7 and those lines' disconnect with the ones preceding.
More significantly, Africanus appears to display awareness of this scholarly commentary in his closing statements on this verse passage (which will go on to interpolate a brief passage of Iliadic incantation before a piece of hexametric 'magic' between Odyssey 11.50 and 11.51). As quoted above, P. Oxy 412 offers the comment [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] between the hexameter and Africanus's closing prose passage; this comment is understood by different editions of the papyrus alternatively as a final moment of interstitial commentary on the text and the first part of the closing statement of the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. (14) On the papyrus it is presented as part of the second column, but in either case, this comment appears to act as a throwaway gesture either towards the rest of Odyssey 11 or else the rest of the epic in toto, translating as a brief 'and so on' or even 'etc.'--yet even this short phrase indicates a very different outlook from that of the Hellenistic scholars. While Zenodotus and Aristophanes set up their athetized lines against the rest of their surrounding passage, comparing them [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], admissive use of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (and the rest) suggests that his text is open to wider inclusions, rather than self-effacing. By presenting an alternative athetesis for the passage and changing the words he uses to talk about the relationship between the verses in the poem, Africanus directly engages with Zenodotus's and Aristophanes' concerns only to put them aside, setting the stage for his text and textual approach to become radically permissive.
Such an approach to the text of Homer can be seen as contrary to a number of guiding principles established by ancient critics. As Yun Lee Too explores in her monograph, The Idea of Ancient Literary Criticism (1998), the notion of discriminating between competing ideas was essential to the practice of ancient critics, such that "Literary criticism in antiquity is either about preventing confrontations and hostilities by silencing the 'other' unwanted discourse(s), or else it is itself the scenario of these confrontations and hostilities" (1998, 12). This has the result, specifically in Hellenistic Alexandria, that "Scholarship seeks to authenticate and so to distinguish contemporary textuality from a past textuality" (1998, 129). Africanus certainly rejects the earlier conventions of scholarship in this part of his eighteenth [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], and indeed seems to stage something of a confrontation between the earlier, Peisistratean practice and his own. Rather than silence "unwanted discourse," however, he resurrects previously athetized lines--both those reported in the scholia and, in his invocation ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ... [if the poet himself kept back the extra part]), unreportedly so. As he positions himself in the discourse and history of textual criticism, Africanus asserts his own sense of "contemporary textuality" and of how a reader should understand an edition of the Homeric Odyssey to relate to that broader received notion of Odysseus's story. This notion of textuality does not discriminate or delimit the text offered in the past, but rather expands upon it, introducing additional material that in turn is attributed to the original author. Indeed, Africanus plays the part of the 'disreputable' interpolator ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]: as Rudolf Pfeiffer [1968, 114] suggests to be the exact opposite role from the legitimate editor [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) precisely to undermine Hellenistic ideas of what roles editors and texts should play.
Such new editorial practice forces the reader to extend their impression of what form the epic text might be understood to take as a whole. More than this episode alone, after all, Africanus's commentary makes its reader call to mind the rest of the Odyssey as a poem, suggesting that additional material ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) should be seen as part of the poem represented on the page and will be found in the text's archived form, presumably a full edition of the Odyssey. Yet even as Africanus invokes the idea of this text, he does not present it as material poetry and leaves the reader to question what form that material might take. At line 44 in the papyrus, Odysseus ends the description of his invocation with the conventional line of Odyssey 11.51: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. This marks Africanus's interpolation as an insertion after 11.50, which was the last Odyssean verse at line 13 of P. Oxy 412. It is therefore possible to understand [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] simply as the rest of the Odyssey, progressing conventionally from this point. Yet the reader must also question how likely this is to be the case. If Africanus's edition diverges so greatly from the standard text at 11.34-51, then is it likely he will allow the rest of the poem to retain its canonical form? Presumably not, and thus this means that the form of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is decidedly uncertain.
This is the most radical aspect of Africanus's critical practice, because by inviting the reader to think about the form of this text they cannot see, Africanus not only contravenes the rules of the respectable [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], but fully inverts the norms of athetesis as editorial practice and textual phenomenon. As Franco Montanari (1998, 6) comments in his discussion of Hellenistic ekdotic practices, the locus of Hellenistic critical practice was the page and visible text: athetized lines "must have been present in [Zenodotus's] base text" in order to be marked as spurious for readers, who would then note this in scholia. (15) Hellenistic athetesis can therefore be said to constitute the process of asking a reader to artificially ignore and reject certain lines that are nonetheless included in the text they are reading. Africanus's critical practice, on the other hand, does the opposite: it asks readers to supply a notional sense of the text that has not been included in the printed edition he presents in P. Oxy 412.
Rather than speculative commentary suggested to the reader, furthermore, Africanus's practice of athetesis itself builds on this sense of absent text as it occurs without commentary or signal. Unlike the text of Zenodotus as Montanari describes it, no future reader would be able to work out from P. Oxy 412 alone what has been removed, since all that remains of Africanus's vanished lines is the sense of their absence in the reader's mind. This is also true of the lines he alters. Regarding the final amendment made to P. Oxy 412's Odyssean lines at line 13, Kahane (1997, 327-8) comments that "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is a typically Odyssean expression," which might have served the same purpose as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Od. 11.50); "but Africanus, in his own feeble way, seems compelled to strip Homer of as much as possible, while still retaining a semblance of Homer." This impression of Kahane's is worth crediting, because it shows how the difference between Africanus's text and the text it replaces is strongly apparent. Rather than use an 'Alexandrian footnote' (16) or Zenodotean, Alexandrian sigla, (17) Africanus does not explicitly refer to alternative editions, presenting his text and its differences alone; he leaves the reader to notice for themselves which parts of the standard Odyssean text are missing.
No longer a fixed text that must be ordered and categorized into canonical and athetized lines for a reader's comprehension, Africanus uses his critical technique to construct the Homeric text of P. Oxy 412 as something much more fluid. The Odyssey is represented as a text undergoing and open to the process of revision, which, as Sean Alexander Gurd (2012, 6) discusses in his recent book on the subject, introduces a sense of flux, change, and plurality. (18) More than the tension between the Peisistratean, Hellenistic standard text of the Odyssey and P. Oxy 412, Africanus constructs a tension between the text fixed on the page and any notion of Odyssey 11 as a stable, intractable work. In this way, when the reader is ultimately invited (ironically) to imagine Africanus's completed edition--told in the direct second person, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (You will find the complete text I propose in [these libraries])--the possibilities are intangible as they are endless, and purposefully so.
The practice of textual criticism has increasingly been understood as a political practice, rather than a neutral, self-contained activity, (19) and what can be seen from Africanus's treatment of Odyssey 11 is how extreme differences of textual ideology can be expressed through minor editorial actions. The most extreme of Africanus's critical decisions, however, remains to be analyzed, namely, his twenty-seven-line interpolation between Odyssey 11.50 and 11.51. This is the focus of the next section, in which I discuss the cultural background informing Africanus's radical textual politics.
So, what does Africanus do with the sense of flux and possibility that he introduces into the text of Odyssey 11? As this section will explore, P. Oxy 412 opens up the question of what Odysseus actually said in the Underworld and what form his invocation took, supplying the information lost in the athetesis of 11.44-7. Still following Hellenistic precepts of recension, the answer initially takes the form of straightforwardly Homeric, Iliadic dialogue. As the invocation diverges further from the familiar, however, Africanus introduces specific contemporary tensions that surround the status of Homer in ritual practice, between narrative and extracted aphorism as well as between the quasi-sacred state of Homeric verse and its free combination with new material. This puts pressure on the traditional ideals of textual criticism.
Since 1931, if Oxy 412 has been included in the Papyri Graecae Magicae, (20) a collection of Greek material relating to mystical practices, including short incantations and longer religious rites, such as the famous "Mithras Liturgy" of PGM IV, (21) and well exhibiting the generalizing and somewhat vague nature of the term magic when used in relation to the ancient world. (22) Often published alongside the Demotic papyri collected in the same manner, (23) the PMG texts display a variety of stylistic features, including the use of voces magicae (words and vocalizations that are beyond translation) but also elements of graphic poetry, such as diagrams and the formation of words into shapes on the papyrus page. (24) Most important for this discussion, however, are the extensive number of Homeric quotations that can be found in the collection. It is against this background that P. Oxy 412 has come to be included in the PGM.
We should not assume that Karl Preisendanz (1931) considered the whole of P. Oxy 412 to be a magical papyrus. While Hans Dieter Betz (1986) offers the full text in English translation, Preisendanz includes in his Teubner edition only lines 22-36, notionally the invocation Odysseus makes in the Underworld to raise the spirits of the dead. Yet in the full text this part of the papyrus also includes an initial, Iliadic moment of prayer and original pseudo-Odyssean narrative. It is important to read this part of the papyrus in full rather than in extracted sections, since this part of P. Oxy 412 does not directly record or enact a ritual incantation in a religious or otherwise mystical context, as many other texts in the Papyri Graecae magicae do. (25) As discussed above, Africanus's text is explicitly fragmented from his encyclopedic Kestoi, where it is framed as a piece of Active poetry with scholarly commentary. The invocation must be taken in this context--as a suggested addition to the text of Odyssey 11 that follows from the more fluid sense of textuality Africanus has established in his initial treatment of 11.34-50. It is not inserted abruptly, after all, but embedded into a text that steadily diverges further and further from the norm:
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (He said what had to be done) "O rivers, O earth, O you of the Underworld 15 Who punish finished mortals, whoever forswears oaths, Be our witnesses and bring off our spell. I've come here to divine how I might get back to that country, Yes, Telemachus's, whom I left in his nurse's embrace, My son." This, after all, was the best way to do the invocation. 20 (He narrates how the invocation goes) "Hear me, wise and watchful Anubis, who aims well, [dagger] ... [dagger] Come forever, thief; be here, chthonic Zeus with your fine hair; Receivers of this prayer, bring its cause to pass 25 Here, Hades and Chthon, unfailing fire, Helios, you Titan. Come, also, Yahweh and Phtha and Phre [dagger] omososo [dagger] Nephtho, much respected, you too--and Ablanatho, who offers many blessings. You who shake the earth, Kareie girded with flaming serpents; Abraxas, great divinity, known for the name of the cosmos, 30 Its axis and its pattern and those icy lights the Bears scatter down-- Come, yes, and Phren, whose power is that much greater than mine [dagger] ... [dagger] O Birth and Death and Fire, burning beautiful, Come Isis of the earth, and of the sky, who rules over 35 Our dreams--and Sirius, who ..." This is the sort of thing I said as I stood over the ditch-- Because I remembered quite well what Circe had advised me to do, That witch who knows every medicament the wide world has to offer-- But then a huge wave swelled up from the lion-taming Acheron, 40 Cocytus and Lethe and the great Polyphlegethon, And a host of dead came round to stand with me over the ditch. The first spirit to arrive was that of Elpenor, my comrade.
As discussed above, this passage acts as an extensive interpolation between Odyssey 11.50 and 11.51 (lines 13 and 43 of the papyrus). It must certainly be classified as what Richard Tarrant (1989, 137) has called "collaborative interpolation," serving no "editorial" purpose "of establishing, correcting, [or] explaining" the other Homeric material. In order to interpret the nature of Africanus's textual elaboration, however, the first thing to note is that this passage is not simply an intrusion of pseudo-Homeric verse that might be presumed original to Africanus, but instead includes three different registers of composition. The first register is Africanus's scholarly commentary, bracketed at lines 14 and 21 and guiding the reader through this new addition to the Odyssey's text, while the third is that of Egypto-mystical ritual invocation more familiar to the magical papyri than Homeric epic. Forging a connection between the earlier Odyssean material and this third mode of discourse, however, is the second register of Homeric cento. In lines 15-7 this accommodates Iliad 3.278-80 as the first three lines of Odysseus's invocation, repurposing Agamemnon's prayer before the moment of single combat between Paris and Menelaus outside Troy.
These three lines play a very important role in the passage. First, they demonstrate and support the critical principles Africanus has already developed in his Odyssean passage, as the very possibility of their inclusion responds to the fluidity and permeability Africanus has introduced to the text of the Odyssey. More significantly, however, these lines extend Africanus's textual principles to address the centonic idea that Homeric verses might be repositioned and reinterpreted according to agendas of composition that diverge from the Iliadic and Odyssean narratives to which they belong.
In both instances, these Iliadic lines act as a more familiar, less controversial intrusion than the invocation that is to come, where Africanus extends his textual argument to suggest that even lines coming from outside any standard Homeric recension, either the Iliad or the Odyssey, might be included within the Odyssean text. However, couched within the text's framework of scholarly criticism, indeed emphasized by the papyrus's two lines of non-hexametric authorial commentary--[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] at line 14 and a [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] at 21--lines 15-7 again respond to the principles of Hellenistic criticism in a nuanced and subtle way. Rather than a wholly unprecedented moment of cento, forcing the verses to support an entirely new genre and narrative purpose, (27) these lines initially seem to uphold a maxim of Homeric recension maintained by none other than Aristarchus, a maxim that Porphyry preserves: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (28) (Since I think it is only correct to clarify Homer through Homer, I drew up [this recension] using his own phraseology, when possible using parallels, otherwise adapting from elsewhere). Although Porphyry (b. 234 CE) was not an exact contemporary of Africanus (d. c. 240), he was nonetheless a contemporary of P. Oxy 412's production circa 2 65, (29) and it is quite plausible that this ideal for critical practice, transmitted by the B scholia, would have been more widely known. In light of this, the interpolation of the Iliadic prayer reads easily as an attempt to construct the papyrus's textual alterations out of Homeric material, and so supplement Odyssey 11 with the appropriate external content. An uncritical reader would be untroubled by the Homeric status of this passage and then potentially persuaded to reinterpret the Iliadic verses by the comment [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in lines 19-20, which reasserts the identity of the speaker in the passage as Odysseus.
As the invocation continues in lines 22-42, however, it is much more difficult to see the interpolation as suitably [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], beyond its use of Greek hexameter, since the verses are not found anywhere in the standard texts of either the Iliad or the Odyssey. And yet, the two approaches Africanus draws together here--Hellenistic textual criticism and third-century CE ritual magic--are not mutually exclusive as might be assumed. On the contrary, I would argue that in P. Oxy 412 Africanus's aim is nothing less than to break down the boundary between these two approaches, responding to Aristarchus's maxim with a less conservative, contemporary understanding of what 'Homer' and the 'Homeric text' had come to constitute.
There are a number of different ways that Homeric verses were used in ancient magic. In late antiquity, the Homeromanteion was used as a divinatory text, including 216 verses that could be consulted on various matters, (30) while Derek Collins (2008a, 211) comments that, with a concentration in the first four centuries CE, "The use of Homeric verses for magical as compared with divinatory or other ends is attested in papyri from Egypt, Second Sophistic literary sources, medical, veterinary, and agricultural handbooks, and in inscriptions [i.e., in practical use] on potsherds, stone amulets, and a gold lamella." (31) Not only was the practice widespread, but it often afforded great importance to very small amounts of textual material. In reference to lead amulets, for example, Christopher Faraone (2011) discusses the way inscribed hexametric charms in the Hellenistic period and later eras closed down what was likely oral practice previously, imbuing the limited number of verses on an amulet with full apotropaic or otherwise supernatural power. (32) As with original hexametric compositions, select verses of Homer that were utilized in this way came to "possess a sacred character unto themselves" (Stoholski 2007, 86).
Yet it is not enough to simply suggest that 'Homer' could mean 'magic' at the time of El Oxy 412's composition, because the dynamics of this tradition were naturally more complicated, and it is important to appreciate the precise effects of this on the text involved. In contrast with any urge towards textual stability that might be found in Hellenistic criticism, Homeric verses used in magic were, significantly, not necessarily interpreted or used as if they had come from their immediate Iliadic or Odyssean contexts. Instead, following strong centonic principles, their original narrative purpose was superseded by the ritual purpose to which they were put. An example of this can be seen in PGM XXIIa. 11-4:
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. When carried with a magnet or even said aloud, this acts as a contraceptive: "If only you would never give birth and die without conceiving." It needs to be written on a fresh piece of papyrus, then bind it up with mule hair.
This papyrus, PGM XXIIa, presents a list of various short healing spells, the two before this addressing menstrual pain and the subsequent one elephantiasis after a brief lacuna. (33) In discussion of this contraceptive incantation, Collins (2008a, 216-7) comments on the way Iliad 3.40, Hector's curse on Paris, is actively reinterpreted to read [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] as 'without offspring,' rather than 'unborn,' and furthermore [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] not as 'unmarried,' but as 'without sexual union,' such that there are "two levels of meaning at work in this verse, as if the situation of the woman seeking help were envisaged in two stages: desiring to avoid sexual union ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and desiring, should that first condition not hold, to avoid conception ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])" (2008a, 217). Although I prefer a reading of 'without conception' for [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], as my translation indicates, and suggest that Collins's reading of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] as 'without offspring' should focus on birth rather than pregnancy, the point remains. Ignoring both the semantic sense of the Homeric verse and the irony of its origins as a curse which inevitably has no effect on Paris in Iliad 3, PGM XXIIa's contraceptive spell appropriates the Iliadic text for its own end. It abstracts the line from its place in standardized, critical texts and recontextualizes that verse to stand alone.
At the same time, we cannot say that the 'Homeric' status of this verse has been entirely stripped away. On the contrary: the authority of this Iliadic material is only emphasized by its use as the spell's focus, and that authority must come from the verse's association with the author it conversely confers authority upon. It was only the Homeric epics, after all, which were used for such ritual purposes (Collins 2008b, 104), and while I would like to avoid "the commonplace assertion we often find comparing Homer to scripture," (34) it is difficult to understand the corpus of Homeric magic as something that does not depend on a quasi-holy status for the Iliad and the Odyssey. In these incantations and in Homeric magic more broadly, it must be remembered that it is not the narrative of the Homeric epics being venerated, but the Homeric words, phrases, and verses as poetic units. There is no special power in the order or collation of verses, as it might be said that traditional modes of recension seek to assign; but the poetry as 'stuff' is nonetheless sacred, and sacred for being Homeric.
With the power of their poetry none the worse in this fragmented state, verses from the Iliad and the Odyssey are able to sit alongside other magical utterances without any adverse effect. This is important, since it follows contrary to any anxiety about 'diluting' the Homeric text, as Aristarchus's maxim articulates. Instead, the Homeric verses retain their authority no matter the company they keep, as can be seen from PGM IV, which contains the so-called Mithras Liturgy (lines 475-829). (35) In his discussion of this religious document, Mark Stoholski (2007, 86-7) comments on the Homeric quotations surrounding the text of the ritual and emphasizing their purpose as sacred charms rather than literary ornamentation; he argues that they form something of a symbiotic relationship with the liturgy, ritually supplicating Homer as the Mithras initiate supplicates his god. In a magical context, then, it must be understood that Homeric verses not only draw authority from their status as Iliadic or Odyssean material, conferring power to the ritual in which they are included, but are fully embedded into wider systems of ritual, gaining authority and power through their combination with other sacred or mystic material. The textuality of Homeric magic is fluid and reciprocal, sharing authority between its various elements even as authority is drawn from different sources, such as the Homeric epics or the 'foreign' nature of voces magicae. (36)
It is against this background, and this particular sense of textual fluidity, that Africanus challenges the exclusionary axioms of Hellenistic critical recension, and questions fundamentally how it might be possible to maintain textual boundaries such as to clarify Homer through 'Homer' alone. Since it is possible to embed a fragment of the Iliad into a ritual otherwise consisting of un-Homeric material, then such an invented invocation in turn can be included in the contemporary text of the Odyssey, which must be understood as something flexible and permeable to this sort of interpolation.
It is no coincidence that Africanus stages this confrontation, as he does, between traditional and contemporary notions of Homeric textuality at the boundary of the Odyssean Underworld. Although narrative context is not necessarily an important component in ritual quotation of Homer, Africanus's new critical edition of the Odyssey is naturally still concerned about this, a concern that can be seen as the nonstandard text of P. Oxy 412 continues. Here the ritual composition of lines 22-36 is set up in pointed juxtaposition with Odysseus's continuing narrative of 37-43, thereby emphasizing that Africanus's textual approach is one founded in and necessitated by the magical ritual Odysseus has been told to undertake. Most explicitly Odysseus's narration of the spell ends with a reminder to the reader of magic's role in the Odyssey, and specifically this scene:
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] This is the sort of thing I said as I stood over the ditch-- Because I remembered quite well what Circe had advised me to do, That witch who knows every medicament the wide world has to offer-- But then a huge wave swelled up from the lion-taming Acheron, 40 Cocytus and Lethe and the great Polyphlegethon, And a host of dead came round to stand with me over the ditch. The first spirit to arrive was that of Elpenor, my comrade.
Any reader of the Odyssey must hesitate before they try to make distinctions between the relative scale and sense of the poem's fantastical and religious elements, particularly when reading the poem from the perspective of the third century CE, (37) but it is certainly the case, nonetheless, that Odysseus's act of summoning the dead in Odyssey 11 is one of the poem's most striking supernatural moments. In this passage, Africanus emphasizes this aspect of the scene but also ties it into the broader theme of magic to be found in the Odyssey's narrative. As Odysseus 'remembers' Circe and her [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (38-9), the reader is reminded that the ritual invocation Odysseus has just completed is not out of place in the Odyssey, but corresponds to the spells and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] which appear throughout the epic, such as in episodes with Circe (herself referred to as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] at Odyssey 10.276) and perhaps most famously when Helen drugs her and Menelaus's guests in Odyssey 4.219-232. Indeed, it is Circe's speech itself at 10.521-37 which provides the space for this invocation: the command that Odyssey should pray to the gods ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Od. 10.533) in order to contact Teiresias demands fulfilment in Odyssey 11. Since lines 11.46-7, the traditionally accepted response to 10.533-4, have been athetized in the first part of Africanus's text, the demand for a response creates a gap in narrative logic that the ritual text expands to fill. A great sense of unfamiliarity has been established in P. Oxy 412's invocation, as the expected gods of Greek epic, those of the Greek pagan pantheon, are successively juxtaposed against gods of the wider Mediterranean world and Egypt in particular; and yet, through this link to Circe, the reader is encouraged to recognize the connections between the 'magical' mode of the invocation and the standard narrative of the Odyssey, which embeds the interpolation into the unfolding text.
The interpolation that P. Oxy 412 proposes between Odyssey 11.50 and 11.51 notionally plays by Hellenistic rules of textual criticism, using known Homeric material to elucidate and expand upon text already accepted as canonical. However, in order to answer the question of what Odysseus would have intoned while sacrificing in the Underworld, Africanus goes beyond the Iliad, the only appropriate source outside the Odyssey for Alexandrian scholars, in order to find parallels in the magical tradition. Here Homeric verses are used in a mutually reciprocal relationship with other literary material, a model of Homeric textuality that Africanus follows. On one level, P. Oxy 412 asserts that this new material is Homeric, referencing the way 'Homer' has been repurposed as magical incantation, and presents a method for reading Homer which incorporates wider cultural practice and the burgeoning late antique principles of cento. On another, Africanus's interpolation is pointedly uncanonical, coexisting with traditional Homeric verses in accordance with the precepts of magical discourse so as to force its reader to accept the unstable and permeable nature of contemporary Homeric textuality.
Ahuvia Kahane (1997) argues that P. Oxy 412 is a dislocated application of "the logic of magic" to the epic text, (38) and it is certainly true that the piece depends upon wider contemporary culture and the practice of magic within it. But Africanus's text is far from "dislocated," "a distanced reflection of Zeitgeist" (Kahane 1997, 323, 330). Instead, it is firmly placed within the post-Hellenistic critical tradition, supplying known precepts with contemporary reinterpretation in order to actively overturn the values they were once used to bolster. 'Homer,' according to Africanus's recension, is no longer represented by a closed text within a conservative canon, but an open text at the center of a more fragmentary, material-based tradition, where the Homeric text enjoys a looser relationship with the epic narrative it represents. (39)
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(1.) In Preisendanz 1931, but also in supplementary editions such as Betz 1986; cf. Grenfell and Hunt 1903 for its original publication amongst other Oxyrhynchus papyri.
(2.) For a more extensive introduction to the Kestoi, see Wallraff et al. 2012, which provides images of the papyrus on pp. 221-4.
(3.) For discussion of magical concerns in the Kestoi, see Wallraff 2009 and Wallraff et al. 2012, xxvii ff.
(4.) See Adler 2009, 2. On the place of magic and religion in the Kestoi, see Wallraff 2009.
(5.) Vieillefond 1970, 277ff. See Wallraff et al. 2012, lxxviii-lxxix for discussion of this edition.
(6.) This text follows Hammerstaedt 2009, notably taking [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] for Vieillefond's (1970) [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] after Grenfell and Hunt 1903 in the fourth line. The colon after [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is, however, my own addition for ease of sense.
(7.) The line is too corrupt to make a reasonable interpretation.
(8.) This and all subsequent translations are my own.
(9.) See Wallraff et al. 2012, xxxvii-xxxviii on the frequently transmitted assumption (e.g., Grafton and Williams 2006, 20) that this passage describes Africanus's discovery of a rogue Odyssey text in his perusal of library archives.
(10.) Cicero, De or. 3.137. See Collins 2008b, 105 for an example of this uncritical assertion of the Peisistratids as a group of "Athenian tyrants"; cf. Betz 1986, ad loc.
(11.) Plato, [Hipparch.] 228B.
(12.) The precise nature of an 'official' library from this time might be extensively debated, however. On just some of the personal politics involved in library-building at this time, see the introductory chapter of Grafton and Williams 2006. On the usage of libraries in the Empire more generally, see Johnson 2013, as well as the papers in the same volume.
(13.) This text follows Wallraff et al. 2012, with my own translation.
(14.) E.g., Grenfell and Hunt (1903) and Hammerstaedt (2009) include [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in Africanus's closing comments, while Vieillefond (1970), Betz (1986), DuQuesne (1991), and Wallraff et al. (2012) attach it to the end of the hexameters, before the start of the envoi.
(15.) Original emphasis. Cf. Pfeiffer 1968, 115: "Zenodotus did not suppress the lines of which he doubted the genuineness, but left them in the context, marking them, however, on the margin with the obelus; he disclosed his own opinion and enabled the reader to check it"; also Montanari 2011, 2-3 for a recent reiteration of these views. This is significantly contrary to Wallraff et al.'s (2012, 27 note 2) commentary on the athetesis.
(16.) See Hinds 1998, 1-5, in reference to Ross 1975, 78.
(17.) See Pfeiffer 1968, 115 and Montanari 1998, 6-7 and 2011, 2-3.
(18.) Cf. Grafton and Williams 2006, 12 on the role-changing that book formats had to play in a reader's sense of textual flux at this time.
(19.) See principally Too 1998 for in-depth study of ancient literary criticism as politically engaged material. See also Most 1998; also Gumbrecht 1998 on text editing as "a multi-layered process of choosing'" (240), as well as Nunlist 2009, 6: "There is, especially from an ancient point of view, no clear-cut distinction between literary criticism and rhetoric." The pressures of allegorical interpretation on ancient material are also well explored by Lamberton 1986 and Struck 2004. On ancient interpolation as a practice that goes beyond neutral, "editorial" functions into a creative and "collaborative" exercise, see Tarrant 1989.
(20.) In Preisendanz 1931, 150-1 as PGM XXIII.
(21.) On the relationship of this papyrus to Homer, see Stoholski 2007.
(22.) Comprehensive discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this article, but extensive consideration of magic's place in antiquity can be found in the opening two chapters of Collins 2008b and throughout Janowitz 2001, which argues convincingly that the boundary between "religious" and "magical" ritual practice in the ancient world was subjectively constructed in order to demarcate social groups. The "Homeric magic" to which I refer in this paper consists of any ritual request for supernatural intervention or guidance, whether addressed to a deity or otherwise; that includes the use or quotation of verse from either the Iliad or the Odyssey.
(23.) E.g., Betz 1986, which includes English translations of both the Greek and Demotic texts.
(24.) For an overview of these technopaignia, see Luz 2010, 213ff.
(25.) See Kahane 1997, 322-3 on the papyrus as a "dislocated magical text." For an overview of the religious-mystical purpose of the magical papyri as a collection, see Betz 1986, xliv ff.
(26.) Again, this text follows Wallraff et al. 2012, with my own translation.
(27.) For contrast, see Usher 1998 and Bazil 2009 on centos that Christianize the Homeric text, in particular the Empress Eudocia's Christianizing Homerocentones.
(28.) See Schrader 1880, 297.
(29.) See Vieillefond 1970, 277-8; cf. Wallraff et al. 2012, xxxiii.
(30.) See Karanika 2011; cf. Schwendner 2002.
(31.) Collins 2008a, 211; equivalent remarks in Collins 2008b, 105.
(32.) Cf. Faraone 1996 on the broader history of inscribed hexameters as magical practice.
(33.) See Preisendanz 1931, ad loc.
(34.) Pace Zeitlin 2001, 202: "The fact is that Greek culture never developed the notion of a sacred book, whose authority would rely on its status as divine revelation and on its textual claims to unvarying truth."
(35.) One of the longest contiguous passages in the PGM, the Mithras Liturgy is summarized by Stoholski 2007, 69 as follows: "The Liturgy opens with an opening prayer, then describes the ritual in what is by far the longest portion of the text, and closes with instructions for preparing and performing the ritual. The aim of the Liturgy is to furnish a revelation for its practitioner, guiding him through a complex series of divine realms in the presence of the highest god who is affiliated with the noetic sun, referred to as Helios Mithras." Most importantly for this discussion, the ritual includes the use of a number of Iliadic quotations at its very end in lines 821-4 and as written in PGM IV is preceded and succeeded by Homeric charms, in lines 467-74 and 830-4. See Betz 1986, ad loc. and Stoholski 2007, 71-2.
(36.) For an overview of the "hocus-pocus" nature of the voces magicae, see Brashear 1995, 3434ff. Although Brashear does not address the authority these "made-up" utterances confer on the rituals in which they are included, it is possible to appreciate the place they would have in sacred ritual as determinedly esoteric devices, which would require initiation to use correctly.
(37.) For extensive discussion of the complex relationship between magic and religion in the first centuries CE, see Janowitz 2001. Cf. Wallraff 2009 for the staging of this issue within the Kestoi.
(38.) See Kahane 1997, 322-3 in particular.
(39.) I would very much like to thank the editor and the referees of Helios for their generous remarks; I benefitted greatly from them throughout this article.
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