The Love Motif in Chariton’s “an Ephesian Tale”and Xenophon’s “Chaereas and Callirhoe”

Topics: Lust, Greek language, Ancient Greek Pages: 2 (857 words) Published: October 8, 2008
Ancient Greek novels share a multitude of thematic elements: god-like beauty, oracle predictions, erotic love, ruthless pirates, world travel and many others. They also feature related characters and settings. In the novels studied thus far in class, I find the most powerful motif is the love the two main characters share. This love tests and changes them throughout their journey both in relation to themselves, but also in the way the reader sees them. In most ancient novels, love plays major roles. Everything else that happens comes and goes, but the love between the main heroes endures and is there till the end, being it a happy or a sad one. In many cases, love described in ancient novels is not love in the sense of finding one’s soul mate, at least in the beginning. It is more a sexual lust triggered by the surreal beauty of the hero or the heroine. At first look, C&C and ET can strike as exaggeratedly emotional, surreal, and the main protagonists obsessed with their beauty more than sentimental love. Their love is not like any other, it is not ordinary. From the moment they meet the attraction is so strong that they have no choice other than to pursue the other or die. This first impression can shift as soon as we take into consideration the beliefs of ancient Greeks regarding love and beauty. ET begins with a portrayal of the male hero, Habrocomes. He is handsome beyond words, even to the brink of narcissism: “everything that was regarded beautiful he despised as inferior"(ET 1.1).He did not even recognize Eros as a god and believed that he does not have any power over him or his destiny. At this stage, Habrocomes seems ignorant and superficial. His view of beauty was actually as a reflection of himself. He did not have to look outside to see beauty, he was part of it. He saw love only as an aptitude, on the same level with his other skills: “he acquired culture of all kinds and practiced a variety of arts:...
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