PSI XV 1480: A Performed Hymn to Cybele in Menander’s Theophoroumenē (?)


PSI xv 1480 presents a ritual scene with two hymns dedicated to the goddess Cybele. Notably, between lines 41 and 42, there are two interlinear lines of prose which appear to be stage directions. This article delves into the attribution of PSI 1480 to Menander’s Theophoroumenē and its placement within the broader plot, considering the rich iconographic tradition of the play. The iconography predominantly portrays a musical scene, showcasing actors engaging in dance and playing Cybele’s instruments. Through an examination of vocabulary, metrical composition, and intertextual and intervisual connections, this article elucidates how this scene intertwines elements of ritual and drama. Additionally, the article scrutinizes the content, significance, and positioning of the two interlinear lines within the text. It posits that these lines serve as instructions for an actor performing the hymn to Cybele. Should this papyrus indeed derive from Theophoroumenē, it preserves a remarkable scene in Menander’s oeuvre, offering a rare instance of singing in extant Menander and a notable portrayal of a female character assuming the significant role of singing and embodying a maenad-like persona.