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date: 07 March 2021

novel, Greeklocked

  • Ewen Bowie


Extended prose narrative fiction is a latecomer to Greek literature. It is first recognizable in a lively account of the Assyrian king Ninus' courtship of a 14-year old *Semiramis, preserved on a papyrus dated by a document on its verso to earlier than ce 100–1 and by its script to between 50 bce and ce 50. Its composition need not be earlier, though some conjecture c.100 bce. Of the five novels to survive complete, *Chariton (like *Metiochus and Parthenope, known from papyri and oriental descendants) probably belongs to the later 1st cent. ce, though a date as late as *Hadrian is possible; *Xenophon(2) to the first half of the 2nd cent., and *Achilles Tatius (1) to the 2nd; *Longus is perhaps late 2nd or early 3rd cent. ce, while both early 3rd and late 4th cent. ce are claimed for *Heliodorus(4).

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