(SCENE: A street in a part of Attica that is not specifically identified in the preserved portions of the prologue or elsewhere in the play, but passing references indicate that it was most probably Eleusis or a neighbouring deme. In lines 176–271 one character describes events that he has just witnessed at Eleusis, and the same deme is mentioned at 57 in a puzzlingly mutilated context which may or may not imply that it was the dramatic setting. Two houses at least are visible; Smikrines owns one, Stratophanes lodges in the other.)
(The first two fragments (III, IV.A) of the Sorbonne papyrus contain portions of a divine prologue (vv. 1–19, 20–34), followed by the opening lines of a scene introducing in all probability Malthake and another woman. It is uncertain whether this divine prologue opened the play (like Pan’s in the Dyskolos) or whether it was preceded by one or more scenes involving human characters (as e.g. in Aspis, Heros, Perikeiromene). The identity of the prologue speaker is also uncertain, but in a play highlighting incidents at Eleusis and mentioning its priestess (v. 258) the most appropriate divinity would be one of the local cult goddesses. Demeter and Calligeneia have been suggested,1 but in a
play whose heroine was kidnapped as a young girl (vv. 2, 354–357) an apter choice might perhaps be Persephone, herself the victim of a celebrated abduction.
It is impossible to say how much of the prologue has been lost before v. 1; part only of the play’s exposition survives, and the extensive gaps and severe mutilation in the papyrus throughout the first half of the play make much of the earlier dramatic action unknown and undivinable. In view of this it may be useful to prefix to text and translation a brief account of the known dramatic antecedents and the problems that the textual gaps cause.
Kichesias’ daughter Philoumene was kidnapped when four years old, along with the slave Dromon and an elderly woman (probably the girl’s nurse), by pirates at Halai in Attica (Sik. 354–57, cf. 2–3); this could have been either Halai Aixonides or perhaps more probably Halai Araphenides.2 The extant text does not reveal whether this was Philoumene’s home, or whether she was on her way to