Heliodorus’s An Ethiopian Story – Theagenes and Charikleia
in European erotic romance
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Heliodorus's complex account of the love, separation, loss and reunion of Theagenes and Charikleia may well be 'the longest comic plot in history'. An Ethiopian Story contains Charikleia's biography from the moment of conception, literally ab ovo. To Renaissance translators, the devotion, self-governance, ethics and morality of Theagenes and Chariklea, coupled with the exemplary kingship of Hydaspes, epitomise the qualities of the ideal representative monarch. Melanchthon's blessing increased the significance of Warschewiczki's edition, and An Ethiopian Story, to generations of philhellene Protestants. The first English appearance of An Ethiopian Story was in James Sanford or Sandford's The Amorous and Tragicall Tales of Plutarch. Heliodorus first appears in English verse in 1591, tucked into the end of Abraham Fraunce's volume of trademark hexameter verse, The Countess of Pembroke's Ivychurch.

European erotic romance

Philhellene Protestantism, Renaissance translation and English literary politics

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