The Derveni Papyrus: A New Edition with Introduction, Text, Translation, and Commentary


ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowships , ACLS Fellowship Program


Classical Studies

Named Award

ACLS Barrington Foundation Centennial Fellow named award


This new edition of the Derveni papyrus presents the most important new evidence since the Renaissance for the philosophical and religious enlightenment that occurred in the Athens of Socrates. Carbonized in a pyre near Thessaloniki in ca.330 BCE, the papyrus was found in 1962 but published only in 2006. It contains an allegorical and etymological interpretation of a scandalous poem ascribed to Orpheus and used in the mysteries of Dionysus. Its author argues that the poem is in fact an account of the creation of the world in terms of the materialist physics of Anaxagoras. The damaged opening portion contains interpretations of the rituals of the mysteries, including sacrifices to the Furies, and quotes Heraclitus and Parmenides. New images show that the first edition is seriously flawed. The edition that is under way relies on 10,000 digital microphotographs taken with a new method, and offers a full introduction, translation, and commentary.