The Greek Novel and Greek Identity
The key point about the rhetors and sophists with whom I finished the last chapter is that they and their audiences spent much of their time living in the same composite Greek world of the past. This imaginary world, where subject and object and past and present were seamlessly joined, was a vital component of a completely new genre of Greek literature that flourished in the second sophistic, the Greek novel. It is to the implications of this new arrival for the contemporary meaning of the past that I now turn.
Several varieties of prose fiction survive from the ancient world. My concern here is not with folktale or fairy stories but only with the novel, which is marked out by its unmistakable combination of abstract form and lived experience. A number of long prose fiction texts from the first three centuries AD (and possibly later) can be classified as novels. They form a homogeneous group in terms of content, and for this reason they are susceptible of close analysis for what they tell us about their authors' and readers' likes, dislikes, and expectations. The major surviving works of Achilles Tatius ( Leucippe and Clitophon), Chariton ( Chaereas and Callirhoe), Heliodorus ( Ethiopian Story), Longus ( Daphnis and Chloe), and Xenophon of Ephesus ( Ephesian Story)--the so-called 'ideal' Greek novels--are joined by two novels known for the most part from lengthy summaries ( Antonius Diogenes' The Incredible Things beyond Thule; Iamblichus' Babylonian Story) and by several fragments of novels (notably the longer pieces of Lollianus' Phoenician Story, the Metiochus and Parthenope, the Ninus, and the shorter remains known as Antheia, Apollonius, Calligone, Chione, Iolaus,