Roman Tales in the Ancient World

 

One of the aims, in writing 'The Story of Gracchus', was to produce a 'novel', using 'modern' technology, (the incredibly 'creaky' and unreliable internet) that would, however, be essentially in the style of the stories produced at the time when 'The Story of Gracchus' is set.
To begin with, though, the 'novel', such as it was, was not a popular form in the Ancient world.
The mime, the theatre, the Ludi (Games), of course were all more popular.
The Romans, like most ancient peoples, were fundamentally 'gregarious' - social.
Solitary reading was a predilection only of the highly educated upper classes.
They were so highly educated in Roman times that the upper classes almost all spoke, read and write in Latin (the language of the Romans), and also in Greek.
Only five ancient Greek novels survive complete from antiquity:

Chariton's 'Callirhoe' (mid-1st century), Achilles Tatius' 'Leucippe and Clitophon' (early-2nd century), Longus' 'Daphnis and Chloe' (2nd century), Xenophon of Ephesus' 'Ephesian Tale' (late-2nd century), and Heliodorus of Emesa's 'Aethiopica' '(third century).


Δάφνις καὶ Χλόη
'Daphnis and Chloe', is the only known work of the 2nd century AD Greek novelist and romancer Longus. The story is set on the isle of Lesbos during the 2nd century AD, where and when scholars assume the author to have lived. Its style is rhetorical and pastoral; its shepherds and shepherdesses are wholly conventional, but the author imparts human interest to this idealized world. 'Daphnis and Chloe' resembles a modern novel more than does its chief rival among Greek erotic romances, the 'Aethiopica of Heliodorus', which is remarkable more for its plot than for its characterization. Daphnis and Chloe is the story of a boy (Daphnis) and a girl (Chloe), each of whom is exposed at birth along with some identifying tokens. A goatherd named Lamon discovers Daphnis, and a shepherd called Dryas finds Chloe. Each decides to raise the child he finds as his own (adoption theme. Daphnis and Chloe grow up together, herding the flocks for their foster parents. They fall in love but, being naive, do not understand what is happening to them. Philetas, a wise old cowherd, explains to them what love is and tells them that the only cure is kissing. They do this. Eventually, Lycaenion, a woman from the city, educates Daphnis in love-making. Daphnis, however, decides not to test his newly acquired skill on Chloe, because Lycaenion tells Daphnis that Chloe "will scream and cry and lie bleeding heavily [as if murdered]." Throughout the book, Chloe is courted by suitors, two of whom (Dorcon and Lampis) attempt with varying degrees of success to abduct her. She is also carried off by raiders (abduction theme) from a nearby city, and saved by the intervention of the God Pan (Theme of the intervention of a God). Meanwhile, Daphnis falls into a pit, gets beaten up, is abducted by pirates (Pirate theme), and is very nearly raped. In the end, Daphnis and Chloe are recognized by their birth parents, get married, and live out their lives in the country. As can be seen, many of the themes of this story, apparently common in ancient literature, make their appearance in 'The Story of Gracchus'.
There are also numerous fragments preserved on papyrus or in quotations, and summaries by the Byzantine bishop Photius.
The unattributed 'Metiochus' and 'Parthenope' may be preserved by what appears to be a faithful Persian translation by the poet Unsuri.

Αἰθιοπικά Aethiopica
'The Ethiopian Story' - or 'Theagenes and Chariclea'. is an ancient Greek romance or novel. It was written by Heliodorus of Emesa and is his only known work. The Aethiopica is indebted to the works of Homer and Euripides. The title is taken from the fact that the action of the beginning and end of the story takes place in Ethiopia. The work is notable for its rapid succession of events, the variety of its characters, its vivid descriptions of manner, and of scenery, and its simple, elegant writing style. But what has been regarded as most remarkable is that the novel opens in the middle of the story ("in medias res"), and the plot is resolved by having various characters describe their prior adventures in retrospective narratives or dialogues, which eventually tie together. Homer utilized this technique in both his epic poems 'Odyssey' and 'Iliad'. This feature makes the Aethiopica stand out from all the other ancient Greek romances. Chariclea, the daughter of King Hydaspes and Queen Persinna of Ethiopia, was born white because her mother gazed upon a painting of the naked Andromeda just after her rescue by Perseus while Chariclea was being conceived (an instance of the theory of Maternal impression). Fearing accusations of adultery, Persinna gives her baby daughter to the care of Sisimithras, (adoption theme) a gymnosophist, who takes the baby to Egypt and places her in the care of Charicles, a Pythian priest. Chariclea is then taken to Delphi, and made a priestess of Artemis. Theagenes, a noble Thessalian, comes to Delphi and the two fall in love. He runs off with Chariclea with the help of Calasiris, an Egyptian who has been employed by Persinna to find Chariclea. They encounter many perils: pirates,(Pirate theme - again), bandits, and others. The main characters ultimately meet at Meroe at the very moment when Chariclea is about to be sacrificed to the gods by her own father. Her birth is made known, and the lovers are happily married.
 Ἐφεσιακά
Τὰ κατὰ Ἄνδειαν καὶ Ἀβρακόμην - (The Ephesian Tale of Anthia and Habrocomes) by Xenophon of Ephesus is an Ancient Greek novel written in the mid-2nd century CE. In the city of Ephesus, Habrocomes, an attractive, cultured, and arrogant young man of 16, and Anthia, an attractive and chaste young woman of 14, fall helplessly in love with each other after briefly meeting at the festival of Artemis. But because each is afraid to reveal this love to the other, they suffer miserably. Their families, in the hopes of curing them, consult the shrine of Apollo at Colophon. The soothsayer predicts that Habrocomes and Anthia will undergo travails involving pirates, tombs, fire, and flood, but their condition will improve. In an effort to avert such evils, the parents arrange that the lovers will quickly be married to each other and then sent to Egypt for their safety. En route to Egypt, Habrocomes and Anthia pledge that if they ever became separated they would remain faithful. When their ship stops at Rhodes, it attracts the attention of a crew of Phoenician pirates (Pirate theme), who plunder it, set it aflame, and take Habrocomes and Anthia captive. The pirates convey them to Tyre. Their captain, Corymbos, falls in love with Habrocomes, and his fellow pirate Euxinos falls in love with Anthia. Corymbos and Euxinos agree to each talk persuasively to the love object of the other, encouraging cooperation. Habrocomes and Anthia both say they need more time to think before deciding. Later Anthia is shipwrecked and captured by robbers and sold to the Cilicians (slavery theme). Some time later, Anthia is sold into slavery for a second time. There is also a homosexual subplot. It is all somewhat confusing, but very exciting.
The Greek novel, as a genre, began in the first century CE, and flourished in the first four centuries; it is thus, ironically, a product of the Roman Empire.
The exact relationship between the Greek novel and the Latin (Roman) 'novels' of Petronius and Apuleius is debated, but both Roman writers are thought by most scholars to have been aware of and to some extent influenced by the Greek novels.


 'Satyricon Liber'

Petronius Satyricon
 Trimalchio's Catamite
Encolpius and Asciltos
The 'Satyricon', or 'Satyricon liber' ('The Book of Satyrlike Adventures'), is a Latin work of fiction believed to have been written by Gaius Petronius. The 'Satyricon' is an example of Menippean satire, which is very different from the formal verse satire of Juvenal or Horace.
The  'Satyricon liber' was written at the same period when the events in the 'Story of Gracchus occur (during the reign og the Emperor Nero).
The work contains a mixture of prose and verse (commonly known as prosimetrum); serious and comic elements; and erotic and decadent passages.
As with the 'Metamorphoses' (also called 'The Golden Ass') of Apuleius, classical scholars often describe it as a "Roman novel", without necessarily implying continuity with the modern literary form.
The work is narrated by its central figure, Encolpius, a former gladiator.

to be continued.......






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