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Achilles Tatius (1), Greek novelist

(see novel, greek) from Alexandria (1), author of ‘The Story of Leucippe and Cleitophon’ (Τὰ κατὰ Λευκίππην καì Κλειτοφῶντα‎) in eight books. Shown by papyri to be circulating by the mid-2nd cent. ce, it probably dates from the preceding decades. Of three other works ascribed to Achilles by the Suda two are lost (an Etymology and a Miscellaneous History of Many Great and Illustrious Men), and the ascription of that partly preserved, On the Sphere, is debated. The Suda's story that later he became a Christian, and even a bishop, is probably false. Achilles varies patterns common to the genre: the enamoured couple elope and survive shipwreck, attacks by pirates and brigands, and complicated adventures in Egypt; they are eventually re-united in Ephesus after Leucippe has passed a chastity-test (cf. heliodorus (4)). The story is presented as Cleitophon's autobiographic narrative, told to the writer in a temple grove at Sidon (cf. longus). Unusually (but again cf. Longus) he succumbs (once) to the advances of a suitor, the married Ephesian Melite. Melodramatic effects include false deaths (three times Leucippe ‘dies’ and comes to life) and Achilles shares Heliodorus' and Philostratus' fondness for learned digressions, some remote from his theme (e.g. on the phoenix, 3. 25, and the elephant, 4. 4.), others making important if oblique contributions, like the ekphrasis of the painting of Europa (1. 1) and the debate on the respective attractions of homosexual and heterosexual love (2. 35–8). His diction atticizes (see asianism and atticism), though not consistently; his short, asyndetic sentences, sometimes of equal length and similar rhythm (isokola) class him with Gorgias (1), ‘Asianic’ orators, and contemporaries like Polemon (4), Longus, and Aelian while a sophistic background is reflected in his characters' readiness to declaim. Ancient and modern critics alike have found him hard to evaluate. Some see his strained effects as humorous parody, but his attention to emotions and character-development is commended as realistic, and he handles sex explicitly enough to attract charges of pornography. Photius (Bibl. cod. 87, cf. Anth. Pal. 9. 203) praised Achilles' style but condemned his licentiousness; most moderns, uncertain how to evaluate him, prefer Longus and Heliodorus.


Editio princeps

Heidelberg 1601. preceded by Latin translations (Della Croce, 1544 (partial), 1554 (complete).Find this resource:

    Standard edns

    E. Vilborg (ed.), Leucippe and Clitophon (1955).Find this resource:

      J. P. Garnaud (ed. and trans.), Le roman de Leucippé et Clitophon (Budé, 1991).Find this resource:


        F. Jacobs, De Leucippes et Clitophontis amoribus libri octo (1821).Find this resource:

          E. Vilborg, Achilles Tatius: Leucippe and Clitophon (1962).Find this resource:

            Y. Yatromanolakis, Leukippē kai Kleitophōn (1990).Find this resource:

              English translations

              The best are by T. Whitmarsh (2001)J. J. Winkler in B. P. Reardon (ed.), Collected Ancient Greek Novels (1989).


              S. Gaselee, trans. Achilles Tatius. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1917, p. xvi.Find this resource:

                Of numerous translations into modern languages since 1546, many are listed in

                Note esp. K. Plepelits (ed. and trans.), Leukippe und Kleitophon (1980) (long introd. and comm.).Find this resource:


                  J. N. O'sullivan, A Lexicon to Achilles Tatius (1980).Find this resource:


                    E. Rohde, Der griechische Roman u. s. Vorläufer, 3rd edn. (1914), 498 ff.Find this resource:

                      W. Schmid, Realencyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft , 245–247, s.v. ‘Achilleus Tatios’ 1.Find this resource:

                        W. von Christ, Geschichte d. griechischen Literatur, rev. W. Schmid and O. Stählin, 2/26, 1046 ff.Find this resource:

                          A. Lesky, A History of Greek Literature (1966), 865–6.Find this resource:

                            E. L. Bowie, Cambridge History of Classical Literature 1 (1985), 692–694Find this resource:

                              ( = paperback 1/4 (1989), 132–4).

                              H. Sexauer, Der Sprachgebrauch des…A. Tatius (Diss. Heidelberg, 1899).Find this resource:

                                H. Rommel, Die naturwissenschaftlich-paradoxographischen Exkurse bei Philostratos, Heliodoros und Achilleus Tatios (1923).Find this resource:

                                  T. Hägg, Narrative Technique in Ancient Greek Romances (1971).Find this resource:

                                    T. Hägg, The Novel in Antiquity (1983).Find this resource:

                                      G. Anderson, Eros Sophistes (1982), 23–32.Find this resource:

                                        G. Anderson, Ancient Fiction (1984).Find this resource:

                                          S. Bartsch, Decoding the Ancient Novel (1989).Find this resource:

                                            H. Morales, Vision and Narrative in Achilles Tatius’ Leucippe and Clitophon (2004).Find this resource:

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