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“The New Sappho” actually comprises a group of papyrus fragments, quotations, and testimonia for Sappho’s poetry dating back more than two millennia.Scholars who were amazed to learn that Sappho had “composed a new poem” when Edgar Lobel published it a half-century ago—she had, after all, been dead for over 2600 years—would have been even more surprised at finding the same fragmentary poem’s missing line-ends, conjecturally and limpingly supplied by scholars since Lobel, now actually supplied by another papyrus manuscript of the same poem, overlapping but preserving the other ends of the lines, that appeared as late as 2004.
This change to a deceptively similar style of script is a subtle and easily overlooked one, but a change of which we can be certain.
It is all the more notable, in that it accompanies the transition to a poem that neither Sappho nor any Lesbian poet from antiquity could have written.
καὶ γάρ π̣[ο]τ̣α̣ Τίθωνον ἔφαντο βροδόπαχυν Αὔων10 ἔρωι φ̣ ̣ ̣α̣θ̣ε̣ιϲαν βάμεν’ εἰϲ ἔϲχατα γᾶϲ φέροιϲα[ν, ἔοντα̣ [κ]ά̣λ̣ο̣ν καὶ νέον, ἀλλ’ αὖτον ὔμωϲ ἔμαρψε χρόνωι π̣ό̣λ̣ι̣ο̣ν̣ γῆραϲ, ἔχ̣[ο]ν̣τ̣’ ἀθανάταν ἄκοιτιν.
⊗ 3 ἔμοι δ’ ἄπαλον πρίν] West ἔμοι Snell: κέκαρφ’ Gronewald-Daniel δ’ Di Benedetto: μὲν Snell ἄπαλον Gronewald-Daniel πρίν Di Benedetto: μοι Gronewald-Daniel π̣οτ̣’ [ἔ]ο̣ντα Gronewald-Daniel 4 ἐπέλλαβε, (perhaps too short) or κατέϲκεθε, λεῦκαι δ’ West: διώλεϲε Di Benedetto: ὄγμοιϲ(ιν) or ὄγμοι δ’ ἔνι Gronewald-Daniel λεῦκαι Hunt δ’ Lobel: τ’ Hunt ἐγ]ένοντο Hunt ἐκ Π not preserved here): φ̣ ̣ ̣α̣θ̣ειϲαν West: δ̣έ̣π̣α̣ϲ̣ εἰϲάμ- Gronewald-Daniel: λ̣α̣[λ]ά̣γ̣ειϲαμ Janko βάμεν’ articulation West: εἰϲαμβάμεν’ Gronewald-Daniel, although εἰϲομβάμεν’ would be required in the Aeolic dialect φέροιϲα[ν Stiebitz on Π“(several words missing) the violet-rich Muses’ fine gifts, children, (several words missing) the clear-voiced song-loving lyre: (several words missing) skin once was soft is withered now, (several words missing) hair has turned white which once was black, my heart has been weighed down, my knees, which once were swift to dance like young fawns, fail me.
those quoted by Athenaeus) were signaled in this later manuscript as belonging to a separate poem, or to a continuation of the “Tithonus Poem” entirely unknown, as far as we can tell, to the editors and writers of the Cologne manuscript.