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Greek Identity and the Athenian Past in Chariton: The Romance of Empire

Steven D. Smith
 

Series: Ancient Narrative Supplementum 9

ISBN-13: 9789077922286

Publication year: 2007

Publication type: Book

Pages: IX, 282

Cover: Hardcover

Format: 175 x 245 x 22 mm; 704 g

Price excl. VAT: 80.00

Price incl. VAT: 84.80

"I, Chariton of Aphrodisias, secretary of the rhetor Athenagorus, shall relate a love story that took place in Syracuse." Thus begins the earliest of the canonical Greek romances, the 1st century CE historical novel known as Callirhoe. Chariton's erotic tale is about the constancy of love in a world where virtue is always in danger of being corrupted. Chaereas and Callirhoe fall in love, but then are tragically separated after the heroine, believed dead, is buried alive. Each is eventually sold into slavery in the East, and Callirhoe herself contemplates the abortion of her unborn child when she is forced to marry a man she does not love. Hero and heroine are finally reunited in the foreign city of Babylon, only to be plunged into a war between Persia and Egypt.

Classical Athenian historiography, philosophy, oratory, myth and drama were all integral in shaping this timely work of fiction set in the years following Athens' doomed Sicilian Expedition (415-413 BC). Chariton's novel is more, though, than just a romanticized representation of a famous episode from Greek history. The novel is clearly meant to be read for pleasure, but it also has a political edge. By imaginatively redeploying Athenian literature and political discourse in the construction of his fictional world, Chariton gives voice to contemporary concerns about freedom, tyranny, the ever-expanding meaning of Greek identity, and the role of Greek culture in a world dominated by Rome. This is a book that will be of value to anyone interested in Greek literature, the classical tradition, and the complex relationship between art and empire.

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Contents

Acknowledgements IX

1 INTRODUCTION: QUESTIONS AND CONTEXT 1
   1 What is Hermocrates Doing in a Love Story? 1
   2 History and Empire in the Novel 6
   3 Narratology and Focalization 13
   4 Callirhoe and Chaereas 18

2 CULTURE AND EMPIRE IN REPRESENTATIONS OF ATHENS 23
   1 Cultural Capital & Military Golden Age 24
   2 Democracy and Tyranny 32
   3 A Figure for Rome 43

3 CHARITON'S ATHENS: MAKING MEN, WOMEN, AND STATES 50
   1 Syracuse 51
   2 Callirhoe 64
   3 Theron 73
   4 Dionysius 76
   5 East & West, Tyranny & Democracy 80
   6 Chaereas Among the Egyptians 87
   7 The New Power Couple 94

4 ATHENIAN MYTH AND DRAMA 99
   1 Theseus and Ariadne 99
   2 Menander and the Influence of Athenian Drama 104
   3 Euripides 111
   4 Sophocles 117

5 ATHENIAN LAW, RHETORIC, AND IDENTITY 120
   1 Lysias and Forensic Oratory 120
   2 Citizens, slaves, and torture 127
   3 Asianism & Atticism: Blurring the Lines 134
   4 A Panegyric Discourse? 140
   5 Demosthenes and Aeschines 145

6 HISTORIOGRAPHY AND EMPIRE 153
   1 The Prologue 153
   2 Novel Approaches to Thucydidean Historiography 155
   3 Xenophon's Legacy: Persia and Power in the Athenian Imagination 163
   4 Paradigms of Empire and The Invasion Motif 176
   5 Rome and the Imagined World 192

7 CHAEREAS AND ALCIBIADES 199
   1 The Paradigm of the "Great Individual" 202
   2 "Parallel Lives" 212
   3 Eros, Philosophy, Politics 225
   4 Conclusion 244

8 BIBLIOGRAPHY 249

9 INDICES 265
   Index locorum 265
   General Index 274

Reviews

"Steven Smith's book on Chariton looks at every aspect of the evocation of Athens, and Athenian culture in Chariton. The book contains interesting thought and deep familiarity with and engagement with the secondary literature." John Birchall in Scholia Reviews (2008), 17, 28.

- Koen de Temmerman, Mnemosyne 63 (2010), 465-478
- Orlando Poltera, Museum Helveticum 66 (2009), 241
- Johanna Akujärvi, BMCR 2008.03.25. The full review is found at http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/2008/2008-03-25.html.

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