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April 20, 2005

"Holy Grail" of Ancient Texts Now Being Read

Via Archaeoblog:

For more than a century, it has caused excitement and frustration in equal measure - a collection of Greek and Roman writings so vast it could redraw the map of classical civilisation. If only it was legible.

Now, in a breakthrough described as the classical equivalent of finding the holy grail, Oxford University scientists have employed infra-red technology to open up the hoard, known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and with it the prospect that hundreds of lost Greek comedies, tragedies and epic poems will soon be revealed.

In the past four days alone, Oxford's classicists have used it to make a series of astonishing discoveries, including writing by Sophocles, Euripides, Hesiod and other literary giants of the ancient world, lost for millennia. They even believe they are likely to find lost Christian gospels, the originals of which were written around the time of the earliest books of the New Testament.

On the one hand, I'm very happy to see progress being made in any science.

On the other hand, I sort of feel bad for the children of the future, who will be forced to read more crap by Sophocles and Euripedes.

Imagine being told in tenth grade they'd discovered a sequel to Beowulf, or the "lost chapters" of the Canterbury Tales. If you were a teenager on the edge, wouldn't you just hang yourself at that point?

Seriously. I considered that option myself numerous times while reading Ivanhoe. The only thing that kept me from riding the .45 Express to Oblivion was the nagging feeling that it was the coward's way out.

And also, someone gave me their Cliff's Notes.

Sometimes the ethical duty of a scientist is to consider the consequences of his work and, if it is likely his work will result in horrors untold, abandon it posthate.

Via The Perfect World.

And While You're "Down There" Update: If you love/hate the movies like me, you might want to check out this thread on the worst movie lines of all time.


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posted by Ace at 11:52 AM

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