Fragment einer Papyrusrolle mit dem Text des 1. Buches der Hellenika von Xenophon. Der Text ist in Spalten angeordnet.

Greek, 2nd/3rd cent. AD, papyrus
G 257 + 24568 + 29781

This scroll on display has land-tax lists on the recto and contains the oldest known manuscript of the 1st book of Xenophon’s Hellenica on the verso.

Until the first publication of the papyrus in 1897, the text of the Hellenica had only been known from the tradition of medieval codes. To the surprise of philologists, mistakes in both spelling and grammar in the medieval codes – previously explained by the long-term tradition of the text – could already be found in the papyrus. However, the text of the papyrus differs in one matter: the division of the Books in the medieval tradition is different. In medieval tradition the first book ends at I 7, 35. In the papyrus it ends at I 5.


In the 7 books of the Hellenica, Xenophon, who lived in the 5th/4th Century BC, describes the Greek history from 411 BC to 362 BC.

This re-cycling of papyrus indicates a private use of the scroll. Furthermore the mixing up of some of the vowels highlights the private purpose of the manuscript.

However, the scribe made an effort to achieve an aesthetic caption as indicated by steady columns, a harmonic typeface and filling elements at the end of some lines.

The upper edge of the papyrus, which tapers towards the end of the text, now has a silhouette-like pattern, as the papyrus was attacked by pests when it was rolled up.

In our database entry you will find further literature references and a digitalisation of the object.

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