Q: Kannada words in a Greek play?

Richard Salomon rsalomon at u.washington.edu
Thu Apr 3 17:14:53 UTC 1997

Some further references and comments on the supposedly Indian language in
Pap. Ox. 413:

	L. D. Barnett, "The Alleged Kanarese Speeches in P. Oxy. 413,"
Journal of Egyptian Archaeology  12 (1926): 13-15. (Criticism of
Hultzsch's Kannada theory).

	P. Shivaprasad Rai, "Sariti: A 2000 year old  bilingual Tulu-Greek
play," International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics 14 (1985): 320-30.
(Unconvincing interpretation of the passages as Tulu.)

I have discussed this matter briefly in "Epigraphic Remains of Indian
Traders in Egypt," International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics 22
(1994): 7-16 (esp. 9-10) (revised and expanded version of article of
the same title in JAOS 111 [1991]: 731-6).  I came to the conclusion that
it is reasonably likely that the passages in question are a rough
imitation of some Dravidian language, but it is unlikely that it can be
identified more precisely than that.  

Richard Salomon

On Tue, 1 Apr 1997, Klaus Karttunen wrote:

> Dear Colleagues,
> the discussion about Danielou started so quickly that nobody has 
> remembered the original question. Leaving Danielou I try to say as much 
> as I can with very few sources at hand.
> In the Greek mimus contained in Pap. Ox. 413 part of the plot is located 
> in India and it contains some sentences given as "Indian language". It 
> was an idea of E. Hultzsch that these could be explained through 
> Kannada, which he, having been long time in South India  working as an 
> epigraphist, probably knew rather well. His attempt was published twice, 
> first in German in the journal Hermes 39, 1904, 307-311, and in English 
> translation in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 1904, 399-405. 
> The problem is that there is a gap of many centuries between earliest 
> documents in Kannada and the Greek papyrus and that his comparisons are 
> not very convincing. It might be that the Indian of the mimus was just a 
> nonsense -- for the audience in Hellenistic Egypt this was as good as 
> real Indian language. From this viewpoint he was well criticized by Otto 
> Stein in Indologica Pragensia 1929, now reprinted in Stein's Kleine 
> Schriften (1985). There is another attempt the Kannada explanation by an 
> Indian scholar published in the QJMS in the 1920s, I think, but I do not 
> have the reference here.
> The text of the Papyrus is most easily found in the Loeb Classical 
> Library Greek Papyri volumes, where it is also translated into English.
> Klaus Karttunen

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