Papyrology and Ancient Literature

Timothy Renner

in The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199843695
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

Papyrology and Ancient Literature

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  • Classical Studies
  • Greek and Roman Papyrology
  • Historical Archaeology



This article discusses literary and subliterary papyri; papyri and Egyptian literature; the study of Greek literature; and papyri and Latin literature. The texts inscribed on these materials are the source for the longest and most important Egyptian literary compositions known from the Pharaonic and Hellenistic periods. “Subliterary” papyri include papyri containing texts such as commentaries, lexica, and grammatical treatises, which are in some sense ancillary to the study of the major genres and have traditionally been so regarded. Hieratic and demotic papyri, including wooden writing boards and ostraca, are responsible for our knowledge of most of the Egyptian texts that contain narrative tales and fables, instructions or precepts, and love poetry. Meanwhile, the body of ancient Greek literature continued to expand on the basis of papyrological evidence.

Keywords: literary papyri; Greek literature; Latin literature; Egyptian Literature; papyrological evidence

Article.  9171 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Greek and Roman Papyrology ; Historical Archaeology

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