Chariton, Callirhoe

LCL 481: 1

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Introduction

Introduction

The Author’s Date

In his opening sentence, wherein he describes his theme as a Love Story in Syracuse, the author identifies himself as Chariton of Aphrodisias and his employer as Athenagoras. Of the author’s identity nothing is known for certain: inscriptions containing his name and that of Athenagoras but telling us no more have been discovered on the modern site of Aphrodisias. Of the author’s date, however, more can be said. At first, because of his pronounced differences from the other novelists (his work was the last major novel to come to light, editio princeps 1750), he was thought to be the latest. As a result Erwin Rohde, then the foremost authority on the Greek novel, stated that Chariton’s work was “scarcely to be placed before the beginning of the sixth century [a.d.], at the very earliest in the closing years of the fifth” (p. 489 = p. 5223); but Wilhelm Schmid in an appendix to the third edition of Rohde (p. 610) dated it “at latest towards the end of the first century b.c.”

This volte-face is correct, or essentially correct. The chief criterion confirming an early date is language. Chariton writes in an educated κοινή, showing no trace of

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.chariton-callirhoe.1995