Chariton, Callirhoe

LCL 481: 30-31

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1. Χαρίτων Ἀφροδισιεύς, Ἀθηναγόρου τοῦ ῥήτορος ὑπογραφεύς, πάθος ἐρωτικὸν ἐν Συρακούσαις γενόμενον διηγήσομαι.

Ἑρμοκράτης ὁ Συρακοσίων στρατηγός, οὗτος ὁ νικήσας Ἀθηναίους, εἶχε θυγατέρα Καλλιρόην τοὔνομα, θαυμαστόν τι χρῆμα παρθένου καὶ ἄγαλμα τῆς 2ὅλης Σικελίας. ἦν γὰρ τὸ κάλλος οὐκ ἀνθρώπινον ἀλλὰ θεῖον, οὐδὲ Νηρηΐδος ἢ Νύμφης τῶν ὀρειῶν ἀλλ᾿ αὐτῆς Ἀφροδίτης [παρθένου]. φήμη δὲ τοῦ παραδόξου θεάματος πανταχοῦ διέτρεχε καὶ μνηστῆρες κατέρρεον εἰς Συρακούσας, δυνάσται τε καὶ παῖδες τυράννων, οὐκ ἐκ Σικελίας μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐξ Ἰταλίας καὶ 3ἠπείρου καὶ ἐθνῶν τῶν ἐν ἠπείρῳ. ὁ δὲ Ἔρως ζεῦγος ἴδιον ἠθέλησε συμπλέξαι. Χαιρέας γάρ τις ἦν μειράκιον εὔμορφον, πάντων ὑπερέχον, οἷον Ἀχιλλέα καὶ Νιρέα καὶ Ἱππόλυτον καὶ Ἀλκιβιάδην πλάσται τε καὶ


Book 1.1

Book 1

1. I, Chariton of Aphrodisias,1 clerk of the lawyer Athenagoras, am going to relate a love story which took place in Syracuse.

Hermocrates, ruler of Syracuse, victor over the Athenians,2 had a daughter named Callirhoe, a marvel of a girl and the idol of all Sicily. In fact her beauty was not so much human as divine, not that of a Nereid or mountain nymph, either, but of Aphrodite herself. Reports of this incredible vision spread far and wide: suitors came pouring into Syracuse, potentates and princes, not only from Sicily, but from Italy,3 the continent,4 and the peoples of the continent. But Love5 wanted to make a match of his own devising. Now there was a certain youth named Chaereas, whose handsomeness surpassed all, resembling the statues and pictures of Achilles and Nireus6 and Hippolytus

  • 1In identifying himself in the opening sentence Chariton follows the lead of Herodotus and Thucydides.
  • 2In 413 b.c.; alluded to 1.1.13, 1.11.2, and elsewhere.
  • 3I.e. Magna Graecia.
  • 4Referring to the Balkan peninsula.
  • 5Eros in Greek (Latin Cupid), Aphrodite’s child, and represented as her ever-active agent.
  • 6The handsomest of the Greeks at Troy after Achilles (Homer, Iliad 2.673f).
DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.chariton-callirhoe.1995