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The Derveni Papyrus
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Book description

This is a comprehensive study of the Derveni Papyrus. The papyrus, found in 1962 near Thessaloniki, is not only one of the oldest surviving Greek papyri but is also considered by scholars as a document of primary importance for a better understanding of the religious and philosophical developments in the fifth and fourth centuries BC. Gábor Betegh aims to reconstruct and systematically analyse the different strata of the text and their interrelation by exploring the archaeological context; the interpretation of rituals in the first columns of the text; the Orphic poem commented on by the author of the papyrus; and the cosmological and theological doctrines which emerge from the Derveni author's exegesis of the poem. Betegh discusses the place of the text in the context of late Presocratic philosophy and offers an important preliminary edition of the text of the papyrus with critical apparatus and English translation.


‘Gabór Betegh has done a brilliant job. His book provides his readers with a Greek text and an intelligent translation that does not hesitate to go its own way … Thanks to Betegh's careful and thorough book, an important text has finally become much more accessible …’

Source: The Times Literary Supplement

‘This is the first book-length study of this text since 1997… Betegh has made a major contribution to understanding both the thought of the Derveni author and the Orphic poem.’

Source: Bryn Mawr Classical Review

‘This is a remarkable book … the debate Betegh‘s book stimulates as well as the answers he has given will inevitably lead to greater understanding of this puzzling text.’

Source: Rhizai

‘The Derveni Papyrus is a rich text and … there is no doubt that it will continue to prove controversial and hard to understand. But Betegh has given us a commentary that matches the text‘s richness.’

Source: The Heythrop Journal

'… his work contributes greatly to unravelling its difficulties.'

Source: Common Knowledge

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