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?
Ioanna Papadopoulou is CHS–EU Fellow in Interdisciplinary Research, Information Technology, and Publications at the Center for Hellenic Studies and Researcher at the Université Libre de Bruxelles.
Leonard Muellner is Professor of Classical Studies at Brandeis University and Director of Information Technology, Collections, and Publications at the Center for Hellenic Studies.