Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bettany Hughes on the Sappho Papyrus


At the end of January 2014 Bettany Hughes commented that she had seen the new Sappho papyrus fragments. This was in preparation for her Sunday Times article that appeared on 2 February. In that piece it was claimed:
The elderly owner of our new Sappho papyrus wishes to remain anonymous, and its provenance is obscure (it was originally owned, it seems, by a high-ranking German officer), but he was determined its secrets should not die with him.
Yet now Dirk Obbink has rejected this in an interview published on 23 January 2015.
Obbink characterized Hughes' story as a "fictionalization" and an "imaginative fantasy."
Who is telling the truth here? Or have Hughes and Obbink both presented (perhaps unwittingly) separate 'fictionalised' accounts? What makes the collecting history presented by Obbink more trustworthy? What is the authenticated and documented collecting history for the papyrus?

Can we believe that the fragments came from the Robinson collection? Has Obbink provided sufficient compelling evidence?

And why did it take from 2 February 2014 to 23 January 2015 for Obbink to reject Hughes' account?

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