Unless you’re planning on majoring in the classics, news of the discovery of a method to decode previously unreadable texts from early A.D. centuries raises the possibility of a a 20 per cent increase in the number of great Greek and Roman available. From Independent News & Media (UK) :
For more than a century, it has caused excitement and frustration in equal measure – a collection of Greek and Roman writings so vast it could redraw the map of classical civilisation. If only it was legible.
Now, in a breakthrough described as the classical equivalent of finding the holy grail, Oxford University scientists have employed infra-red technology to open up the hoard, known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and with it the prospect that hundreds of lost Greek comedies, tragedies and epic poems will soon be revealed.
…The previously unknown texts, read for the first time last week, include parts of a long-lost tragedy – the Epigonoi (“Progeny”) by the 5th-century BC Greek playwright Sophocles; part of a lost novel by the 2nd-century Greek writer Lucian; unknown material by Euripides; mythological poetry by the 1st-century BC Greek poet Parthenios; work by the 7th-century BC poet Hesiod; and an epic poem by Archilochos, a 7th-century successor of Homer, describing events leading up to the Trojan War. Additional material from Hesiod, Euripides and Sophocles almost certainly await discovery.
Oxford academics have been working alongside infra-red specialists from Brigham Young University, Utah. Their operation is likely to increase the number of great literary works fully or partially surviving from the ancient Greek world by up to a fifth. It could easily double the surviving body of lesser work – the pulp fiction and sitcoms of the day.That last paragraph got me to wondering… Two thousand years from now when some enterprising scientist discovers the secret to decoding a unearthed pile of VHS tapes from the goo they’ve become, will Three’s Company take it’s place in the pantheon of ancient classic?