Archeological Poetry Discovery/Glastonbury’s Poetry – Poetry News Roundup June 26th

We begin the week with a look at an incredible archaeological discovery with a poetry connection, and we also look at poetry at Glastonbury.

Virgil Poem Found on Amphora

Archaeologists have found what they are terming an “exceptional “  discovery. A fragment of amphora which was discovered in the municipality of Cordoba by members of OLEASTRO, which is a collaboration between three universities (Cordoba, Seville and Montpellier), had written text on it.

The Roman era jar, or amphora, is believed to have contained oil and have originally come from Betica, a Roman province. It dates back around 1,800 years. It is not unusual for vessels from this particular era to be engraved with information. It was routine for them to have details relating to quantities, producers and taxes. This shard, however is different and contains a much larger amount of text.

Further examination of the shard has revealed that the writing is a verse by Virgil, who is considered to be the greatest poet of the Golden Age of Rome. This is the first occasion that a verse from the poet has been discovered on a commercial vessel of any kind. Virgil’s poetry was used to help children learn to read.

The vessel itself is not unusual as the area where the archaeologists are searching is considered to have been one of the “nerve centres” for the production of olive oil at the time.

The words engraved on the shard read “S vais avoniam glandemm arestapoqv tisaqv it.” Once they had been translated, it was evident that they were, in fact, from the seventh and eighth verses of a poem written in 29BC. Titled The Georgies, the poem was dedicated to the topics of agriculture and living in the countryside.

The theory put forward by the researchers is that the verse was never actually intended to be seen; it was written on the lower part of the amphora. The engraving is skilled and likely the work of someone who was more skilled than was the tradition for those who manufactured the vessel.

Poetry at Glastonbury

This weekend has seen thousands of individuals flock to the Glastonbury Festival for a music-filled couple of days. However, there has also been some poetry tucked in amongst the more musical acts to take to the many stages.

On Saturday, a group of NHS workers took their place on the Pyramid Stage to help celebrate the 75th anniversary of the health service (which falls on 5th July.) Performing alongside the poet Mike Chambers a group of doctors, nurses and physiotherapists performed a poem specially written for the occasion.

There was also an appearance of a poem written by Lemn Sissay, commissioned originally for the University of Manchester to mark the poet’s last year as its chancellor. The poem appeared during a set by Leftfield.

The Festival has featured a Poetry & Words stage for several years, and each year looks to showcase a range of work by poets and spoken word artists in order to offer something a little different to festival goers.

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