Xenophon’s Ephesiaca: a Paraliterary Love-Story from the Ancient World [Hardback]

Aldo Tagliabue (Author)

ISBN: 9789492444127 | Published by: Barkhuis | Series: Ancient Narrative Supplements | Volume: 22 | Year of Publication: 2017 | Language: English 243p, H240 x W170 (mm) NO

Xenophon’s Ephesiaca: a Paraliterary Love-Story from the Ancient World


After many decades of neglect, the last forty years have seen a renewed scholarly appreciation of the literary value of the Greek novel. Within this renaissance of interest, four monographs have been published to date which focus on individual novels; I refer to the specialist studies of Achilles Tatius by Morales and Laplace and those of Chariton of Aphrodisias by Smith and Tilg. This book adds to this short list and takes as its singular focus Xenophon’s Ephesiaca. Among the five fully extant Greek novels, the Ephesiaca occupies the position of being an anomaly, since scholars have conventionally considered it to be either a poorly written text or an epitome of a more sophisticated lost original. This monograph challenges this view by arguing that the author of the Ephesiaca is a competent writer in artistic control of his text, insofar as his work has a coherent and emplotted focus on the protagonists’ progression in love and also includes references to earlier texts of the classical canon, not least Homer’s Odyssey and the Platonic dialogues on Love. At the same time, the Ephesiaca exhibits stylistically an overall simplicity, contains many repetitions and engages with other texts via a thematic rather than a pointed type of intertextuality; these and other features make this text different from the other extant Greek novels. This book explains this difference with the help of Couégnas’ view of ‘paraliterature’, a term that refers not to its status as ‘non-literature’ but rather to literature of a different kind, that is simple, action-oriented and entertaining. By offering a definition of the Ephesiaca as a paraliterary narrative, this monograph sheds new light on this novel and its position within the Greek novelistic corpus, whilst also offering a more nuanced understanding of intertextuality and paraliterature.

Reviews & Quotes

"...an original and compelling interpretation of Xenophon’s love story, with insights on some of its most puzzling passages. It is written for fellow scholars of the novel, but remains accessible enough to be assigned to undergraduates."
Jacqueline Arthur-Montagne
Bryn Mawr Classical Review (19/11/2018)

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