A New Origin Story for the New Sappho

Variant Readings

The Sappho papyrus published by Professor Dirk Obbink has obscure origins, as many have noted and as I’ve discussed here before. Professor Obbink has provided two quite different accounts of how he came to publish the papyrus. Each of these two accounts actually have a few variations, but we need not go into that here (if you’re interested, see the recent Eidolon article for a good overview of the state of affairs). And this is to say nothing of the complications caused by Scott Carroll’s claims regarding the Green Collection Sappho fragments. But I digress…

To recap: According to Professor Obbink’s first version of the story, presented in an interview with Bettany Hughes for an article in The Times published on 2 February 2014, an anonymous owner “had material from an ancient Egyptian burial in his possession. He’d noticed that scraps of the cartonnage (the Egyptian equivalent of papier-mâché…

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