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Ancient Greek Novels

Ancient Greek Novels: The Fragments: Introduction, Text, Translation, and Commentary

Susan A. Stephens
John J. Winkler
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 558
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  • Book Info
    Ancient Greek Novels
    Book Description:

    The recent discovery of fragments from such novels asIolaos,Phoinikika,Sesonchosis, andMetiochos and Parthenopehas dramatically increased the library catalogue of ancient novels, calling for a fresh survey of the field. In this volume Susan Stephens and John Winkler have reedited all of the identifiable novel fragments, including the epitomes of Iamblichos'Babyloniakaand Antonius Diogenes'Incredible Things Beyond Thule. Intended for scholars as well as nonspecialists, this work provides new editions of the texts, full translations whenever possible, and introductions that situate each text within the field of ancient fiction and that present relevant background material, literary parallels, and possible lines of interpretation.

    Collective reading of the fragments exposes the inadequacy of many currently held assumptions about the ancient novel, among these, for example, the paradigm for a linear, increasingly complex narrative development, the notion of the "ideal romantic" novel as the generic norm, and the nature of the novel's readership and cultural milieu. Once perceived as a late and insignificant development, the novel emerges as a central and revealing cultural phenomenon of the Greco-Roman world after Alexander.

    Originally published in 1995.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6338-9
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE (pp. ix-xii)
    Susan A. Stephens
  4. LIST OF PAPYRI (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. ABBREVIATIONS (pp. xv-2)
  6. General Introduction (pp. 3-20)

    Conventional wisdom has it that English writers in the eighteenth century—Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding—invented the literary form we know as the novel, and that long fictional works in prose before that date were something else, usually called “romances.” Though it may be true that in writing for an expanding and newly dominant middle class those writers produced the set of literary conventions labeled “realism,” the tradition of long prose narrative with complex plots and richly developed characters is at least seventeen centuries older than that. The restriction of the term “novel” to the eighteenth century’s subclass of lengthy...

  7. Part I: Novel Fragments
    • Ninos (pp. 23-71)

      Ninosholds a pride of place among the Greek novel fragments for its double primacy as the oldest in time of writing (early first century CE) and the first to be discovered and published in modern times (1893). Four papyrus fragments now exist: A (five columns), B (three columns), and D (a very small scrap) belong to the same Berlin roll; C is a single column from a different roll. In addition, there are two pavement mosaics depicting Ninos gazing at a woman’s portrait, one from a wealthy litterateur’s house in Antioch, the other in Alexandretta. These latter represent scenes...

    • Metiochos and Parthenope (pp. 72-94)

      Although it survives today in only two fragmentary columns,¹Metiocbos and Parthenopeboasts a diverting and polymorphousNachleben. Lucian testifies to its popularity as a subject for female impersonators (De salt.§2); there are two floor mosaics from Antioch-on-the-Orontes, one depicting Metiochos accoutered as a Roman officer, the other showing Metiochos and Parthenope sitting back to back, with heads turned towards each other,² a small ostracon purports to contain a letter from Metiochos to Parthenope (see below); a suitably altered version of the novel made an appearance in Coptic as the martyrdom of St. Bartanuba (Hägg 1984); and finally there...

    • Metiochos and Parthenope? (pp. 95-100)

      Little remains of the text to which P. Oxy. 435 belongs beyond a few names and a tantalizing mention of marriage andparthe[. Grenfell and Hunt supposed it to be history, but Fuhr suggested that it was “romance.” Zimmermann, restoring the name Parthenope in lines 6–7, attached the fragment to the novel ofMetiochos and Parthenope. Maehler and Ziegler have rejected this on the grounds that the connection is too tenuous. Of course, the restoration itself is uncertain, and although Parthenope’s travels from Samos to Naples may well have led her to stop in Corcyra, which lies along her...

    • Antonius Diogenes: The Incredible Things beyond Thule (pp. 101-157)

      Three papyrus fragments have been claimed for Antonius Diogenes’ novel: P. Oxy. 3012,PSI1177, and P. Mich. inv. 5. The first two may certainly be assigned to this novel on the basis of character names common to them and toThe Incredible Things. The third is an elaborate magician’s speech, which Reyhl (1969: 14–20) thinks was uttered by the villainous Paapis in the early books. This is a very attractive conjecture, and we are tempted to accept it; but without external corroborative evidence like a name, we hesitate. We have discussed it separately. In addition to these,...

    • Antonius Diogenes? (pp. 158-172)

      At first glance the surviving story in the so-called Herpyllis fragment is relatively straightforward ego-narration: there are two main characters, who are stopping either with friends or with hospitable strangers, and they are about to begin a journey on two different ships: the woman on a larger vessel, the man on a smaller one. The pilots of these ships argue about weather conditions, but decide to sail in spite of the signs of a rising storm. The narrator—a man—and a woman speak their farewells, then each sets off on his own ship. The bulk of the column is...

    • The Love Drug (pp. 173-178)

      P. Mich. inv. 5 opens with the speaker describing his or her magical powers in affected and incantatory language. Apparently the speaker’s companion has consulted this magic practitioner because a fair apparition has visited his daughter, and she has fallen in love with it. Although the incantatory style of the opening can be paralleled in the magic papyri, its extreme elegance guarantees that this piece is to be located in a literary genre. Also, as E. R. Dodds argues (1952: 135), claims to cure love abound in magic texts, so that the magician’s confession of helplessness in the face of...

    • Iamblichos: Babyloniaka (pp. 179-245)

      The extraordinary plot of Iamblichos’sBabyloniakais summarized by Photios in codex 94 of hisBibliothēkē. If there were any suspicion that the patriarch was capable of pulling our leg, this would be the place to exercise it. According to him, the hero and heroine roam throughout the Near East pursued by two eunuchs whose noses and ears have been cut off. They encounter bees with poisoned honey, a Lesbian princess of Egypt, a cannibalistic brigand, look-alike brothers named Tigris and Euphrates who happen to be exact doubles for the hero, and a rather dignified farmer’s daughter whom the heroine...

    • Sesonchosis (pp. 246-266)

      The legend of Sesonchosis was a staple of Greek lore about Egypt from at least the fifth century B.C.E.¹ Its subject is an Egyptian king, variously named,² who comes to stand in Greek versions of the Egyptian past as their greatest military leader, a conqueror of both Asia and Europe whose deeds surpass those of Cambyses and rival Alexander’s. Several pharaohs from several dynasties have been conflated to produce both the name and the achievements. The historical original must have been Senwosret I of the Twelfth Dynasty, who added Nubia to Egypt and pushed into Syria, with accreted elements from...

    • Kalligone (pp. 267-276)

      The raw dramatic power of theKalligonefragment is evident, in spite of numerous ambiguities. Its force may even be somewhat enhanced for us because the situation that motivates it remains mysterious. The column opens with Kalligone entering a tent in a destructive fury, which is explained by one Eubiotos to those at hand as her reaction to some distressing news she has received about the Sauromatians. Since the tent distinctly suggests a military atmosphere, we may guess that the Sauromatians are involved in a war, probably as allies of Eubiotos in a distant field of operations. What relation does...

    • Antheia and a Cast of Thousands (pp. 277-288)

      TheAntheiafragment begins with a scene in a temple, with what seems to be a description of its functions and cult objects. The narrative shifts at line 16 to a woman entering (or leaving) a small town or fortress. (The Greek word,polichnē, is ambiguous.) She is concealing something in the folds of her garments. The second column contains a dialogue between two unnamed persons, at least one of whom is male. One tells the other about a bewildering series of events, naming seven characters in fourteen lines. The column breaks off with speaker A remarking—appropriately—“the rest...

    • Chione (pp. 289-302)

      In November 1898, Ulrich Wilcken was offered for sale in Thebes a stack of parchment pages that the seller claimed had belonged to a monastery in upper Egypt. They were Coptic sermons, according to his co-worker Heinrich Schaefer, and late ones at that—so he had little interest in them until he noticed some traces of Greek under-writing. From the pile he purchased seven palimpsest leaves and then spent what he later recalled as the happiest days of his trip drifting in his felucca on the Nile, retrieving the (as he put it) fine, light-yellow uncial letters from under the...

    • Chione? (pp. 303-313)

      P. Berol. 10535(=P² 2631) and P. Berol. 21234 are two fragments from the same roll. The former was first edited by F. Zimmermann in 1935; the latter fragment was identified by H. Maehler and edited by M.Gronewald in 1979, who placed it immediately below the second column of 10535. Interpretation of the events depends in part upon the accuracy of his placement. The first column appears to contain a discussion between one man, called “leader” (hēgemōn), and a group. Details are difficult to sort out, but this man seems to be recounting military adventures. He refers to “our” in...

    • Lollianos: Phoinikika (pp. 314-357)

      Fragments of thePhointkikarecall Spencer Tracy’s classic remark about Kathenne Hepburn inPat and Mike: “There’s not much meat on ’er, but what’s there is cherce.”¹ The now pitifully mangled fragments include the appearance of a ghost, a deflowering, human sacrifice, cannibalism, and a masquerade in white and black costume that takes place at midnight, events that have inspired interpretations as sensational and as controversial as the material itself.

      The central question raised by these fragments is how to assess the relative importance of religious and literary parallels. Can this text be regarded as a document in reconstructing religious...

    • Iolaos (pp. 358-374)

      Iolaosmixes together conventionally incompatible items—mystical and vulgar, noble and obscene, verse and prose. The plot at the point where the papyrus begins seems to be that suggested by E. R. Dodds in a footnote to Parsons (1974), namely that a young man of sound body tries to gain access to a woman by pretending to be a religious castrato. Although the general tenor seems provisionally clear, the details remain obscure. The prose narrative before and after a verse inset of Sotadeans describes the action of at least two characters—one character who learns and subsequently teaches ineffable things...

    • Daulis (pp. 375-388)

      The scene is Delphi. A dramatic and powerful exchange is taking place between one Daulis, leader of a barbarian army, and a prophet of Apollo whom Daulis intends to kill in an attempt to rid the world of the charlatanry of selling oracles. Daulis embellishes his threat with rhetorical intensity and grim detail, promising to pour out a libation of the prophet’s blood to Ares (II. 1–4). The prophet counters with an equally baroque prayer, climaxing in a triple (or quadruple) anaphora in which Daulis is imagined as a sacrifical offering of the Furies (III. 16–22). The fragment...

  8. Part II: Ambiguous Fragments
    • Apollonios (pp. 391-399)

      What we have of theApollomosconsists in two small fragments, the larger of which opens at the Persian court, where the queen (basilts) is present, “adorned with a beauty suitable to the gods.” The king offers a toast first to Dionysios, then to Apollonios, after which the fragment breaks off. The smaller fragment, marked as Column 14, contains a scene between Apollonios and a woman, who may be the queen. From the vocabulary, it appears that one party—probably the woman—is desirous of an assignation later that evening, whereas the other may be trying to dissuade. The banquet...

    • Tinouphis (pp. 400-408)

      Tinoupbisis a tantalizing scrap of a narrative that involves a prophet apparently condemned for adultery but saved by the trickery of the executioner. There are three male characters—Tinouphis, Sosias, and Magoas—and an unknown number of females—the adulteress(?), the referent for a feminine participle in line 16, and Isias. Tinouphis is a magician (magos) who would seem to be identical with the prophet mentioned in line 14 and the “king’s savior” of line 5. Though unattested, his name is clearly Egyptian in form (see below, line 16 note). Sosias is a name most familiar from New Comedy,...

    • The Apparition (pp. 409-415)

      The Apparitionis apparently a tale of sin and retribution, with overtones of the story of the rich man found in the New Testament (line 18: “feasting when I should have . . .”). Characters include the unnamed narrator, his companions, and the subject of his story, who speaks at lines 10–11 and 16ff. This last character has a vision (“he saw a god”) that the narrator and his audience may or may not share, though they are affected by the terror. The fragment ends with the god departing, or the man who experiences the vision dying, or both....

    • Goatherd and the Palace Guards (pp. 416-421)

      The narrator ofPSI725 is apparently a goatherd (lines 5–6) who has witnessed or partaken in events in a palace (line 18), and who is quite possibly female. There is mention of someone (sex and species uncertain) with a recent wound closed up in the house. The torches mentioned in line 16 locate the time at night. Depending on the supplement to and translation of line 11, the action may be either a sneaky escape or a violent assault. There seems to be a chase by guards, who have interrupted someone’s activities (lines 14–15). Action breaks off...

    • Nightmare or Necromancy? (pp. 422-428)

      The recoverable plot of P. Mich. inv. 3378 is minimal but intriguing. An apparition urges the narrator to kill himself. This he does, “cheerfully and gladly, as if killing an enemy.” After the narrating-I is dead, he recognizes the apparition as one Severis.

      There are not many situations in which a narrator may say “I died,” but enough exist to situate this piece comfortably in the tradition of Greco-Roman narrative. The dead Elpenor, for example, appears in Odysseus’s trip to the Underworld claiming: “I fell down from the roof, I broke my neck and my soul went down to Hades”...

    • Staphulos (pp. 429-437)

      The insouciant little narrative ofStapbulosbears a superficial resemblance to the story of Moses or Oidipos. An infant named Staphulos (“Bunch of Grapes”) is exposed in a vineyard, discovered and brought to the king, named Dryas (“Oak Tree”), who accepts him and rears him as the heir apparent. His mother, Hippotis (“Horsewoman”), is from Sardis and is some distance from home. She seems either to have been seduced by Dryas or married to him, and to have borne the child Staphulos. Staphulos could equally well be Dryas’s son or the product of a previous liaison. In any case, his...

    • Theano (pp. 438-443)

      Theanois a straightforward, rapidly moving narrative where traumatic events are baldly described, without the evocation of passion found in, for example,KalligoneorChione.The unprepossessing style, lacking variation or ornament, is reminiscent ofStapbulos,an equally puzzling narrative. In the span of twenty-four lines we learn that the child of a woman named Theano had been taken captive; she attempts to recover it, having been informed in a dream by “the goddess” what she should do. There are three or four characters named in the column: the mother, Theano; a woman who seems to be her companion, Eunike;...

    • The Festival (pp. 444-450)

      This fragment appears to be a prose narrative of some kind written in the Attic dialect in a very formal, almost affected style. An unusually high number of rare or poetic words, strings of noun-adjective units with little syntactical variation, and an opacity of expression adorn—or indeed, overwhelm—the relatively straightforward events that are being described. These include an animal sacrifice, followed by an address by an officiating priest or a choral leader to begin the music: basic ingredients of a Greek festival. The following shape can be discerned:

      line 1: the participants (or spectators) have taken their positions;...

    • Inundation (pp. 451-460)

      The intriguing piece in P. Michael. 4 presents an intricate and fanciful description of the annual flood of the Nile in the vicinity of Kanopos, coupled with a lyric account of the generation of new life that results. The geographic details have led editors to suppose that the piece was either scientific or historical in intent, and Merkelbach (1958: 114) even assigned it to Hekataios of Abdera, who is thought to have included a geographical section in his book on Egypt. But Oswyn Murray and Stephanie West, following him, have pointed out that the preciosity of the language is hardly...

    • Initiation (pp. 461-466)

      P. Ant. 18 seems to give us an act of initiation into the mysteries: Triptolemos is invoked (line 3), followed by a rather standard recollection of Demeter and Kore. Apart from this, nothing is certain: the verb in line 5 may be either “I saw” or “they saw”; the whole may be a speech or prayer, or only the opening lines.

      The reconstruction is complicated by the accepted restoration for line 8: all commentators restore “royal victors”(nikēphorous basileis),which is known to be a cult title of the Ptolemies. If correct, this would situate the action in Egypt and...

  10. BIBLIOGRAPHY (pp. 483-504)
  11. INDEX OF PASSAGES CITED (pp. 505-519)
  13. GENERAL INDEX (pp. 525-541)