Against this background, it becomes clear that Africanus's revision of his Odyssean text is a direct response to Hellenistic ideas of textual criticism, specifically as it reevaluates the athetesis by Zenodotus and by Aristophanes of Odyssy 11.38-43.
However, against the framework of textual criticism established in the papyrus's closing passage, the athetesis of 11.44-7 becomes not only a striking critical decision, but a very pointed one.
By presenting an alternative athetesis for the passage and changing the words he uses to talk about the relationship between the verses in the poem, Africanus directly engages with Zenodotus's and Aristophanes' concerns only to put them aside, setting the stage for his text and textual approach to become radically permissive.
This is the most radical aspect of Africanus's critical practice, because by inviting the reader to think about the form of this text they cannot see, Africanus not only contravenes the rules of the respectable [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], but fully inverts the norms of athetesis as editorial practice and textual phenomenon.
Rather than speculative commentary suggested to the reader, furthermore, Africanus's practice of athetesis itself builds on this sense of absent text as it occurs without commentary or signal.
Oxy 412 opens up the question of what Odysseus actually said in the Underworld and what form his invocation took, supplying the information lost in the athetesis of 11.44-7.
For although the meaning and use of the critical signs in this papyrus is not entirely clear (and may not have been to the person who put them so liberally on this papyrus or its ancestor), it is most likely that the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] here, as usually, denotes athetesis. It appears that someone compared this papyrus or its ancestor with a Vulgate text, did not find this line or found it obelized, and put the critical sign in the margin.
As regards athetesis, they are to some extent recoverable.