Courtesy of the Imaging Papyri Project, Oxford

COMIC RELIEF. While the Oxyrhynchus Papyri are perhaps best known for revealing a number of fragments from previously unknown gospels, equally important are hundreds of literary papyri that preserve some of the great works of the classical world. The discarded scraps found by Grenfell and Hunt show that the libraries of Oxyrhynchus were once filled with the epics of Homer, the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides, and the plays of Sophocles and Euripides, among many others. For the more leisurely reader, there were even illustrated editions of popular mythological tales. In this papyrus recounting the first of the twelve Labors of Heracles, the Greek text is accompanied by cartoon-like pen and ink drawings of the Greek hero’s confrontation with the ferocious lion of Nemea.