Reading the Text

The next several pages will give a close-up look at lines 24-33 of the Seneca fragment. Do not expect to be able to read every letter of each line; the text is over sixteen hundred years old and has suffered a fair amount of weathering and damage. For your benefit, we have included some tools to assist you in reading the text:

The Alphabet Pop-up Window

If you need to refer to the alphabet of the manuscript, click on the link to open a new window with the various letter forms. Don't be surprised to see some minor variation between different instances of the same letter, but you can expect that the general shape will be the same for the same hand.

The Highlighted Text Option

Each line of text is presented as a digital image of the original manuscript. If you are having difficulty identifying the letters or separating words, click on the "Show Highlighted Text" button, which will illuminate the text in various colors. This can be helpful in identifying the shape of abraded letters and for separating different words (This manuscript is written in scriptio continua, which means that there are no spaces between words. Some punctuation does exist, but it is used infrequently).


Each line is accompanied by a transliteration which can be shown by clicking on the "Show Transliteration" button. This transliteration is the version of the text that is published by papyrologists. It contains the letters and punctuation of the original text as well as various symbols used by papyrologists to explain various aspects of the text. Below is a brief explanation of a few of these symbols:

[ ]

a break in the text (lacuna); the text is supplied by the editor

< >

a mistaken omission by the scribe

[[ ]]

letter or letters deleted by the scribe

. . .

(underdot) indicates an uncertain reading

Accompanying Notes

Each line is accompanied by notes which point out any special peculiarities of that line. Also, the full text of each verse from Seneca is provided, showing the relative position of the fragment within that line. Since the text is fragmentary, often the transliteration will only provide unintelligible letters, not whole words. The full text of each verse helps put the transliteration in a grammatical syntax.

Next: Line 24

Copyright 2004 The Regents of the University of Michigan.
Reading the Papyri is produced by the University of Michigan Papyrus Collection
These pages designed and written by Terrence Szymanski. email: