They recognized me, and each of them clung to my hand. The lovely longing for lamentation came over us, and the house echoed terribly to the sound, and even the goddess took pity, and she, shining among goddesses, came close and said to me: "Son of Laertes and seed of Zeus, resourceful Odysseus, go back down now to your fast ship and the sand of the seashore, and first of all, drag your ship up on the land..."
This tiny papyrus fragment, broken on three sides, preserves a passage from the Odyssey by Homer. Believed to have been composed in the 700s B.C., the Odyssey tells the story of the hero Odysseus's return from the Trojan War. This passage describes the moment when Odysseus frees his companions, who had been held under a spell by the sorceress-goddess Circe.
Sheets of papyrus, made from the fibers of the papyrus plant that grew in Egypt, were the main writing material in the ancient world. From the form of the letters used in this text, scholars can date this papyrus copy of the Odyssey to the first century B.C. Additional writing, possibly a commentary on a later section of the Odyssey, covers the back side of the fragment.