cod. 23767

Academic year 2024/25
3° 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.


Course unit content

Course title: "The Greek papyri and ancient medicine"

The course aims at providing a perspective on the medical theories and practices of ancient Mediterranean (Egypt, Greece, Rome) through the direct witness of the documentary, literary and paraliterary papyri came down to us. A selection of significant texts will be presented and commented in translation.

Full programme

1. General introduction to Papyrology.
2. The origins of Greek writing and the earliest papyri.
3. Introduction to ancient medicine.
4. Medicine and religion in the papyri.
5. Pharmacology: recipes and receptaria on papyrus.
6. The case of the Tebtunis temple medical library.
7. The case of the Anonymus Londinensis.
8. Medical questionnaires and catechisms on papyrus.
9. Anatomy and mummification.
10. The papyri of surgical content.
11. Environmental diseases and plagues in the papyrus witnesses.
12. Papyri of gynaecological content.
13. The reports of the public physicians on papyrus.
14. Medicine and magic in the papyrus texts.
15. The medical papyri and the rise of the codex format in the late antiquity.


Manual: N. Reggiani, "Papirologia: la cultura scrittoria dell’Egitto greco-romano", Parma: Athenaeum 2019.

Reference bibliography:

N. Reggiani, "I papiri greci ed Erodoto: per un percorso diacronico e interculturale", Parma: Athenaeum 2020.
E.G. Turner, "Papiri greci", ed. it. a cura di M. Manfredi, Roma: Carocci 2002.

A.K. Bowman, "L’Egitto dopo i Faraoni", Firenze: Giunti 1997.

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. it. a cura di M. Capasso, Roma: Bardi 2007.

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

L. Del Corso, "Il libro nel mondo antico. Archeologia e storia (secoli VII a.C. - IV d.C.), Roma: Carocci 2022.

N.B. The students who are not able to attend the classes are required to study the manual and two readings of their own choice among the indicated reference bibliography.

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 (Elly platform).

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 classes, the examination will focus on the manual and the additional readings as indicated in the bibliographical section 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

Side activities of transcription and edition of unpublished papyri, or of digital encoding of papyrus data and metadata are available for the students at their own request.