Cover: Poetry as Initiation: The Center for Hellenic Studies Symposium on the Derveni Papyrus, from Harvard University PressCover: Poetry as Initiation in PAPERBACK

Hellenic Studies Series 63

Poetry as Initiation

The Center for Hellenic Studies Symposium on the Derveni Papyrus

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Product Details


$24.95 • £19.95 • €22.50

ISBN 9780674726765

Publication: April 2014


296 pages

6 x 9 inches

5 halftones, 1 line illustration

Center for Hellenic Studies > Hellenic Studies Series


The Derveni Papyrus is the oldest known European “book.” It was meant to accompany the cremated body in Derveni Tomb A but, by a stroke of luck, did not burn completely. Considered the most important discovery for Greek philology in the twentieth century, the papyrus was found accidentally in 1962 during a public works project in an uninhabited place about 10 km from Thessaloniki, and it is now preserved in the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki.

The papers in Poetry as Initiation discuss a number of open questions: Who was the author of the papyrus? What is the date of the text? What is the significance of burying a book with a corpse? What was the context of the peculiar chthonic ritual described in the text? Who were its performers? What is the relationship of the author and the ritual to the so-called Orphic texts?