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Papyri and LAtin Texts: INsights and Updated Methodologies. Towards a philological, literary, and historical approach to Latin papyri

Periodic Reporting for period 5 - PLATINUM (Papyri and LAtin Texts: INsights and Updated Methodologies.<br/>Towards a philological, literary, and historical approach to Latin papyri)

Reporting period: 2021-04-01 to 2022-07-31

The project PLATINUM was aimed to offer a new, enhanced, multidisciplinary approach to Latin texts on papyrus in a bid to examine their potential and provide new insights into their philological, linguistic, literary, historical (both economic and social) and cultural contribution and value, so as to: (1) supply the scholarly community with an updated corpus and philological/linguistic/historical reference tool, the Corpus of Latin Texts on Papyrus (CLTP), 6 vols; (2) afford a new understanding of the textual transmission of Latin classics and seek to assess their impact in various parts of the Roman Empire; (3) make a significant contribution to our knowledge of practices used for learning Latin and for education in the language; (4) produce new research results with regard to linguistic aspects of diachronically marked Latin, particularly in multilingual contexts; and (5) promote knowledge of Roman history and culture.
Scrutinising Latin texts on papyrus from several points of view, the focus was on their substantial contribution to our knowledge of innovations in ancient Roman literature, language, history, and society, especially in the multilingual and multicultural contexts of the Eastern part of the Empire between the 1st BCE and 8th CE.
Coming mainly from Egypt and from the Ancient Near East, but also from the Western Roman Empire, Latin texts on papyrus definitely deserve more scholarly attention not only from papyrologists and paleographers, but also from scholars of Latin language, as well as intellectual and cultural historians of Rome. Latin papyri constantly increased in number through archaeological discoveries. The obsolete bibliography and the considerable number of unpublished texts made the study of Latin texts on papyrus a pioneering and challenging task.
Latin texts on papyrus have long represented a border-line field of study that has not been fully exploited by papyrologists, by scholars of Latin literature and linguistics, or by historians: PLATINUM changed this perspective, putting these texts under the spotlight of classicists, making it emerge their importance and role for culture.
A more thorough study activated an in-depth reflection on ancient multilingualism and multiculturalism. It also revealed the untapped potential of Latin texts on papyrus for renewing our knowledge of the circulation and reception of Latin language and education, as a cultural engine in Mediterranean societies.
The project was mainly focussed on reconstructing forms of the circulation of Latin language and literature and its reflection of Roman society and culture through Latin texts on papyrus. From this perspective, the results flow in different directions:
Eastern products will shed light on the circulation of the Latin language, literature and culture in the Eastern half of the Empire. Latin texts on papyrus coming from the East will make a particularly significant contribution to the reconstruction of ancient education, as many of them come from a pedagogical environment, linked to the teaching of the Latin language and/or law;
Manuscripts from the Western Roman Empire, such as Latin papyri from Herculaneum, will enrich our knowledge of Roman 'libraries'.
Documentary texts from both the West (mainly Ravenna and Northern Italy) and the East will offer new insights into the Roman economy and Roman society, culture and history and the interaction among populations.
The first phase of PLATINUM’s work was mainly focussed on a preliminary census of Latin texts on papyrus, in order to assemble, update and publish critical editions towards a new and more accurate corpus.
It is necessary to underline that several PLATINUM’s activities could not be foreseen, dealing with unpublished (or superficially edited) texts and given the nature itself of discoveries. The discovery of important Latin texts on papyrus has implied to go deeper in some unforeseen fields. Three examples among PLATINUM’s achievements will clarify this statement: 1. first, the discovery of the only-known Latino-Arabic papyrus, an unicum in the Eastern and Western cultural panorama which will stimulate further researches; 2. second, a new edition of P.Tebt. II 686, maybe a new fragment of Cicero’s de re publica (unknown to the manuscript tradition); 3. third, the discovery of Seneca the Elder’s Historiae ab initio bellorum civilium in a Latin roll from Herculanum.
PLATINUM’s team actively and intensively worked in order to publish editiones principes or new editions of already published Latin papyri, in order to highlight their importance in the Latin literary and historical panorama and to collect all of them in PLATINUM’s corpus. In fact, The Corpus of Latin Texts on Papyrus (CLTP), 6 volumes forthcoming with Cambridge University Press, is the major output of the project, and it collects all the texts of its interest, in order to offer scholars a reference corpus and tool.
‘The Corpus of Latin Texts on Papyrus (CLTP)’ includes more than three times as many texts as Robert Cavenaile’s Corpus papyrorum Latinarum (1958) does: the results of the 7-years-work of PLATINUM has given unattended results in terms of quantity and textual typologies of Latin texts on papyrys. Many Latin texts on papyrus stood still unpublished in worldwide collections, and PLATINUM’s team was able to make a recognition of them in order to publish them and highlight their importance for the history of culture and for writing new chapters in the literary and cultural history of Rome.
For the very first time in the history of Classics, a research-team focussed on Latin texts on papyrus, explored their untapped potential, and was able to show the scientific community how fertile and promising this field of research is.
Benefits from this research will not only come to Ancient Historians and Classical Philologists, Literates and Linguists – who will have an updated instrument for their further researches – but also to Historians of Culture, as these documents are a touchable expression of cultural interactions in a multilingual and multicultural Empire between the 1st century B.C. and 8th century A.D.
Many occasions of academic dissemination of PLATINUM’s results have been found, and a series of seminars and important colloquia have been organised within PLATINUM’s activities; some monographs (by the P.I. but also by PLATINUM’s former post-docs) and many articles let PLATINUM’s research-team widespread its work. Non-academic audience has been involved (though workshops, through non-academic lectures, trough an EdX-MOOC course, through a Tweeter-account), as well: PLATINUM aimed to stimulate the reflection on an actual theme as multilingualism and multiculturalism, projecting it in the Roman world. Further details can be found on: https://platinum-erc.it/materializing-platinum/

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