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The work, written in an imitation of pure Attic dialect , shows an uncommon mastery of narrative technique and plot development. In spite of its amplitude, its complexity, and its large cast of characters, the story never becomes confused. Through flashbacks, the appropriate linking of accessory episodes, and surprises intervening at the right moment, the tension of the narrative is never relaxed. The characterization, however, is rather weak. The Aethiopica was popular with Byzantine and Renaissance critics because of its good entertainment value and high moral tone and was used as a model by the Italian poet Torquato Tasso and the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes.

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What is more surprising, however, is that Theagenes claims that Achilles was an Aenianian and that he himself is one of his descendants. The disparity between the limited relevance of the Aenianians in the ancient sources and the grandiose claims made by Theagenes has not been left unremarked by scholars: according to Whitmarsh and De Temmerman , Heliodorus carefully crafted it so as to emphasize the arbitrariness of many a genealogical reconstruction and to present his protagonist as untrustworthy. As I will show in this paper, however, the situation is not so straightforward. The Aenianians are here said to descend from the Myrmidons, the very people Achilles led to Troy. Since Charicleia, the female protagonist of the Aethiopica , is a fair-skinned Ethiopian who grows up in Greece persuaded of being Greek, scholars have argued that Heliodorus presents identity not as the result of innate traits determined by birth but as the product of human culture and the performance of a role Whitmarsh , ; De Temmerman ,

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Heliodorus of Emesa

Roman numerals designate book and chapter of the original text. The daughter of Hydaspes and Persina, King and Queen of. Ethiopia, was born white IV. Persina, fearing lest this explanation should not satisfy the jealousy of her husband, exposed the child, who was saved II. With the child he found and preserved a ring and other jewels IV. He had her reared by shepherds.


Ethnicity and Genealogy in Heliodorus’ "Aethiopica": Theagenes Reconsidered

According to his own statement, his father's name was Theodosius and he belonged to a family of priests of the sun. The 5th-century Socrates of Constantinople identifies the author of the Aethiopica with a Heliodorus, bishop of Trikka , but the name Heliodorus was a common one. In the 14th century, Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos expanded this narrative, relating that the work was written in the early years of this bishop before he became a Christian and that, when forced either to disown it or resign his bishopric, he preferred resignation. Most scholars reject this identification. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The Ancient Novel. The Aethiopica of Heliodorus and the Historia Augusta.

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