cod. 1000324

Academic year 2018/19
1° year of course - Second semester
Academic discipline
Papirologia (L-ANT/05)
Filologia, linguistica e letteratura
Type of training activity
30 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

Aim of the course is to provide basic notions about Papyrology with reference to bibliographical tools and to methods and perspectives of study of the papyri as original artefacts and as sources for historical and literary studies. The course leads the students to material and palaeographical analysis of the written product, and to the contextualization and critical fruition of the preserved text (either document or literary text), allowing for the acquisition of competences in the comprehension and use of the historical-documentary and philological-literary sources in context.

At the end of the course, the student is expected to:

(a – knowledge and understanding) know and understand the role of Papyrology in the ancient studies, especially its peculiar contribution to the studies of Graeco-Roman history and literature;

(b – applying knowledge and understanding) apply the general notions learned to individual cases of papyrus texts, and vice versa (contextualization); be able to read and utilize the critical editions of papyrus texts;

(c – making judgements) be able to utilize critically the documentation on papyrus as a basic source to ancient history and literature;

(d – communication skills) recognize and describe with the correct technical vocabulary the main typologies of papyrus texts and their content, formal, and context features;

(e – learning skills) develop methodologies, skills and sets of knowledge useful for the learning of Classics disciplines.


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Course unit content

Course title: Books and written documents from Graeco-Roman Egypt: historical and cultural perspectives.

The course offers an overview of the writing and publishing activities in the Hellenistic and Roman Egypt through the papyrological documentation, with a particular focus on the ancient everyday writing materials (papyri, ostraca, tablets, parchments); on the history of book products and typologies; on the texts as historical, literary, cultural, and scientific sources. A selection of significant texts will be presented and commented in translation.

Full programme

The origins of the Greek writing before Egypt: from magic to sophistic publishing. Alexandrine philology. Books and documents in the 4th century BC. Books and documents in the Ptolemaic age. Books and documents in the Roman and late-antique age. From the roll to the roll: the tomoi synkollesimoi. Papyrus leaflets: pittakia and bound notebooks. The ancient reuse of papyrus. From the roll to the codex. Book lists and book circulation. Guided training to transcription and interpretation of papyrus documents.


Manual: N. Reggiani, Papirologia: la cultura scrittoria dell’Egitto greco-romano, Parma: Athenaeum 2018.

Reference bibliography:

P. Parsons, La scoperta di Ossirinco. La vita quotidiana in Egitto al tempo dei Romani, Roma: Carocci 2014.

R.S. Bagnall, Papiri e storia antica, ed. by M. Capasso, Roma: Bardi 2007.

G. Cavallo, La scrittura greca e latina dei papiri. Una introduzione, Roma: Serra 2008.

H. Blanck, Il libro nel mondo antico, ed. by R. Otranto, Bari: Dedalo 2008.

E.G. Turner, Papiri greci, ed. italiana a cura di M. Manfredi, Roma: Carocci 2002.

M. Cursi, Le forme del libro. Dalla tavoletta cerata all’e-book, Bologna: Il Mulino 2016.

T. Dorandi, Nell’officina dei classici. Come lavoravano gli autori antichi, Roma: Carocci 2007.

N.B. The students who cannot attend the classes shall add two of the cited readings to the manual, according to the following scheme. “Beni Artistici”: Blanck and Settis. “Lingue Straniere”; “Scienze dell’Educazione”; “Studi Filosofici”; “Lettere curr. Moderno”: Cursi and Turner; “Comunicazione e Media”: Cursi and Puglia; “Lettere curr. Classico-archeologico”: Blanck and Dorandi; “Lettere curr. Storico”: Parsons and Bagnall.

Teaching methods

Frontal classes with PowerPoint slides. Guided practice exercises of transcription and interpretation of texts on papyrus. Study materials provided in class and then available on line (platform Elly and the course’s website).

Assessment methods and criteria

Oral examination (interrogation). It will be verified the knowledge of the main features of the texts presented and commented in class (in Italian translation), of the historical-cultural contexts discussed during the course, and of the reference manual. For the students who cannot attend the lessons, the examination will focus on the manual and the additional readings as indicated above.

The examination will comprise one question about the manual (evaluated from 1 to 10 points), one about the topics presented in the classes (from 1 to 10 points), one about a topic to be selected by the student either from the manual or from the class topics. The final result, expressed in thirtieths, is made of the sum of the three partial results.

To be evaluated are: (a) the ability to understand and re-elaborate critically the specific issues of the discipline; (b) the ability to orient among the topics and the central themes of the discipline; (c) the ability to present and contextualize efficaciously the notions learned; (d) the correct formal exposition of the topics.

A fail is determined by the substantial lack of the abilities expressed by the evaluation indicators listed above; a pass (18-23/30) is determined by an acceptable level of the evaluation indicators listed above; middle-range scores (24-27/30) are assigned to the student who produces evidence of a more than sufficient level (24-25/30) or good level (26-27/30) in the evaluation indicators listed above; higher scores (from 28/30 to 30/30 cum laude) are awarded on the basis of the student’s demonstration of a very good or excellent level in the evaluation indicators listed above.

Other information

Beside the regular classes, optional seminar activities of transcription and edition of unpublished Greek papyri from Tebtunis will be organized. The papyri belong to the collection of the Center for the Tebtunis Papyri, Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley.