Ostrakon with Lines from Homer’s Iliad


Not on view

Ostraca are texts written on broken pottery, which were employed when parchment was unavailable or too expensive. At Epiphanius a large number of ostraca were discovered in the monastery, including in its rubbish heaps; they record biblical verses, legal documents, sermons, financial accounts, school texts, and letters requesting assistance and prayers. Some reveal that, even at the southernmost border of the Empire, people were still aware of events in the capital, Constantinople.

Ostracon with Lines from Homer’s Iliad
“Sing, goddess, the wrath of Peleus’s son,” the opening line of the Iliad, is written four times, probably as a school exercise in writing cursive Greek. Other lines from Homer are found on other ostraca.

Ostrakon with Lines from Homer’s Iliad, Limestone with ink inscription, Coptic

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