Chaireas and Kallirhoe- Chariton   Leave a comment

 

Chariton of Aphrodisias was the author of an ancient Greek novel probably titled Callirhoe; based on the subscription in the sole surviving manuscript, though it is regularly referred to as Chaereas and Callirhoe. which more closely aligns with the title given at the head of the manuscript). From analysis of the scroll, the novel is thought to have been written in the mid 1st century AD, making it the oldest surviving complete ancient novel.

In addition, it is original in that is uses a historical background and some elements of Greek mythology. Kallirhoe is frequently compared to Venus and Chaereas to numerous heroes. As the fiction takes place in the past, using genuine historical figures who interact with the plot. This book may be understood as the first historical novel. Xenophon of Ephesus and Heliodorus of Emesa later attempted a similar type of book.

Kallirhoe is the most beautiful girl in her town, and has men lining up to marry her. However, she sees handsome Chaireas and they both fall in love, the author claiming it is due to the involvement of Cupid.

After their marriage, the rejected suitors are angry and plot to get their own back. However, it goes terribly wrong. Kallirhoe is kidnapped and sold as a slave in a distant land. Chaireas initially believes her dead. They have very dramatic struggles which cover most of the ancient world; until they can be finally reunited.

It is a good easy read, despite being so old. It is worth reading just for curiosity value. You will not be disappointed.

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Posted January 5, 2018 by dianne7 in book review

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