Menander was one of the most popular playwrights of antiquity. Although most of his work was lost during the Middle Ages, one play, Dyskolos, survived almost in its entirety. Its disappearance from an Alexandrian bookshop is the presenting problem in “The Brother,” my latest Miriam bat Isaac short story:

“Miriam! Miriam!” The urgency in Phoebe’s voice rang through the house.

A moment later, my best friend was plunging through the ceiling-high, double mahogany doors of my study. I looked up from my desk and had to remind myself to breathe…. Wringing her hands together, she squeezed out the bitter words. “It’s gone, absolutely gone. Menander’s Dyskolos. The edition Bion brought me from Athens. We’d been keeping it on display in the shop to attract customers."

Like other playwrights of the New Comedy, Menander portrayed everyday life rather than public affairs and is remembered for his maxims, which have become proverbial: For example, “He who labors diligently need never despair, for all things are accomplished by diligence and labor.” But you won’t have to labor diligently to find “The Brother.” Just click here.

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