P. Herc. 1570 is an unedited papyrus extant in seven pieces that together measure ca. 1.6 m. long; these are contained in five frames in the Officina dei Papiri Ercolanesi “Marcello Gigante” at the Biblioteca Nazionale “Vittorio Emanuele III&rduo; in Naples, Italy. Like many of the Herculaneum papyri, P. Herc. 1570 has remained unedited largely because of the great difficulty with which traces of letters can be discerned on its surface. It was unrolled more than fifty years after its discovery, as one of ca. 1,100 papyri that were unearthed during the excavation of first-century Herculaneum (1752-1754); but it was a mere artifact, at best, for 110 years, before it was first investigated for its literary content; and since that time 90 more years have passed, with little progress in reading its text, until the recent multispectral images of the papyrus-fragments opened a door to substantial new readings. Via these images, the dark letter-strokes can now be seen in dramatic contrast to the dark papyrus-surface, and this formerly ‘illegible’ papyrus can now be edited much more fully.

Pcc. 4-6b comprise the most central part of the roll, and thus reveal the concluding columns of writing for the treatise contained on its surface. On these pieces, ten columns can be seen in breadth and height, and five other columns can be either seen in part or inferred entirely. The parts of these columns that give sense reveal an ethical (economic) treatise that seems to discuss poverty and wealth in light of death, physiologia, friendship, oeconomia, frank speech, respect and contempt, and the necessary vs. the frivolous. Reference is made a few times to Epicurus, and mention is also made of a Phaedrus.

Based on vocabulary and thematic content, and by ‘time-honoured convention,’ this work may be ascribed to Philodemus as one book from his multi-volume work De divitiis, sometimes called De divitiis et povertate, of which P. Herc. 163 contains Book 1 and P. Herc. 209 may contain another. And if the text truly refers to Phaedrus, head of the Garden from 75 BC until 70 BC, then Philodemus is the most likely author; for he lived thirty years after Phaedrus' death and also wrote a vast majority of the works among the Herculaneum papyri.



College and Department

Humanities; Humanities, Classics, and Comparative Literature



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Herculaneum, P. Herc., PHerc., multispectral, Philodemus, CISPE, ISPART