In 1992 a mummy of suitably mysterious, not to say suspicious, provenance was brought to the attention of several classicists at the University of Milan. The chest-covering of the mummy, who has since disappeared, was made of papier-mâché formed from discarded papyrus, the ancient equivalent of old newsprint. As the scholars carefully retrieved and examined this papyrus, which is extant, they were astounded to find that it contained nearly an entire book of short epigrammatic poems by Posidippus of Pella (the attribution is almost universally accepted), a native of Macedon who lived in Alexandria around 270 BC.

Now the sands of Egypt have not been especially kind of late to the Muses of Greece. Early in the last century, they could be counted on to yield a fairly regular harvest of half a dithyramb of Pindar, a scene from Sophocles, a mime by Herodas. But in the past forty years, they have proved far less...

 
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