From the hand of Dioscorus of Aphrodito, sixth-century Coptic lawyer and poet, we have the only autograph poems to come down to us on papyrus from the late ancient world. Both the poetry he wrote for special occasions and the documents he produced in his legal career, in Greek and Coptic, reflect the major preoccupations of Dioscorus' society and his age: the nature of Byzantine imperial government, the patronage of the powerful elite, and the spirituality of the Egyptian Christian church. Thanks to residence in Egypt and many years of work with the original papyri, Leslie S. B. MacCoull is able to present a comprehensive picture of Dioscorus and his times. Through detailed analyses of the documents and poems, some previously unknown, she leads us to a fresh perception of the Coptic culture of Byzantine Egypt. She reveals the man and his world as inheritors of and contributors to the Egyptian-Classical-Christian fusion of society and intellectual life that gave birth to Gnosticism and the Desert Fathers. Dioscorus of Aphrodito epitomizes the little-known cultural flowering of late antique Egypt, which is now seen not as a place of sterility and decadence, but as the home of a strikingly original and creative culture whose subsequent eclipse still remains unexplained.