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Wolff's Synopsis of Heliodorus Aethiopica

Wolff's Synopsis of Heliodorus Aethiopica

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Published by LongusSophista
A detailed synopsis of the plot of Heliodorus' "Ethiopica" or "Theagenes and Chariclea" by Samuel Lee Wolff.
A detailed synopsis of the plot of Heliodorus' "Ethiopica" or "Theagenes and Chariclea" by Samuel Lee Wolff.

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Published by: LongusSophista on Jun 25, 2011
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06/10/2013

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Samuel Lee Wolff’s Analysis of Heliodorus:
 Aethiopica, or Theagenes and Chariclea
(11>)[
 A
,
B
, etc., designate portions of the story for convenience in referring tothem as wholes. Roman numerals designate book and chapter of theoriginal text.]
 A
.The daughter of Hydaspes and Persina, King and Queen of Ethiopia, was born white (IV. viii), her mother at the moment of conception having gazed intently upon a painting of white Andromeda.Persina, fearing lest this explanation should not satisfy the jealousy of her husband, exposed the child, who was saved (II. xxxi) by Sisimithres,an Ethiopian nobleman and gymnosophist, forbidden by his philosophicaltenets to abandon any living thing. With the child he found andpreserved a ring and other jewels (IV. viii), as well as fillets upon whichwere inscribed the reasons for her exposure. He had her reared byshepherds.When she was seven years old (II. xxx, xxxi) he took her with himto Catadupi - the Cataracts of the Nile - upon an embassy committed tohim by Hydaspes. Oroöndates, Viceroy of Egypt under the Great King,was disputing with Hydaspes the title to the City of Philae and to theemerald mines near it on the border between Egypt and Ethiopia.Sisimithres, perhaps fearing the consequences to himself and his wardof the uncompromising claims he must make on behalf of Hydaspes,entrusted the child, with her (12>) jewels and tokens, to one Charicles, apriest of Apollo. As Charicles had recently lost his own wife anddaughter (II. xxix), he had left Delphi to seek consolation in travel, and
 
now happened to be at Catadupi. He accepted the charge (II. xxxii).Sisimithres's prudence was justified by the event, for Oroöndatesordered him out of Catadupi at once on pain of death. [We hear no moreof him till the very end of the story.] With Charicles the child returned toDelphi, received the name Chariclea, and herself became a priestess of Diana (II. xxxiii).
B
. (
a
) When Chariclea had arrived at marriageable age, there came toDelphi two persons - the Memphian Calasiris, a priest of Isis (II. xxvi),and Theagenes - a Thessalian, a descendant of Achilles (II. xxxiv).Calasiris in his temple had been tempted by the charms of Rhodopis acourtesan (II. xxv), and wished to fly from the temptation; moreover,having divined that there would be a deadly combat between his sons,he wished to avoid the fulfilment of the prediction; and, finally, hedeemed Delphi an appropriate place of retirement for one of his priestlycaste (II. xxvi). Theagenes had come to celebrate memorial rites (II.xxxiv) in honor of his ancestor Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles. Having madefriends with Calasiris, Charicles partly told him, and partly by showinghim Chariclea's tokens enabled him to discover for himself (IV. viii), thestory given in A. Further, he requested the wise Egyptian's aid (II. xxxiii)in persuading Chariclea to take a husband, prefer-(13>)-ably Charicles'snephew Alcamenes. But Theagenes and Chariclea had seen each other at the games and ceremonies, and had already fallen in love with eachother (III. v; IV. i-iv). Each now confided in Calasiris (III. xvii; IV. iv, v, x-xiii) ; and an oracle (II. xxxv) and several dreams and divine voices (III.xi; IV. xiv, xvi) predicted their ultimate union, and sanctioned their immediate flight under his protection. While Chariclea therefore upon hisadvice (IV. xiii) feigned consent to her marriage with Alcamenes,Calasiris took passage for the three (IV. xvi) with some Phoenician
 
mariners who chanced to be sailing from Delphi to Carthage. Under hisinstructions Theagenes abducted Chariclea, and joined Calasiris (IV.xvii-xviii), who put the pursuers on a false scent (IV. xix). The threesailed away together (V. i). The lovers agreed (IV. xviii) to remain virgintill their nuptials could be formally celebrated, and meanwhile gavethemselves out as brother and sister, and Calasiris as their father (V.xxvi).
B
. (
b
)The captain of the Phoenician vessel became enamoured of Chariclea (V. xix), and both she and Calasiris deemed it best to feignconsent to the marriage, postponing it, however, till their arrival atMemphis (V. xx). The ship wintering at Zacynthus (V. xviii), our triolodged with Tyrrhenus a fisherman. Though so near Ithaca, theyneglected to pay their respects to Odysseus, whose offended shadeappeared in a vision (V. xxii) to threaten Calasiris. Trachinus, a pirate of the neighbourhood, desired both (14>) Chariclea and the richly ladenship, and confided to Tyrrhenus his plan of attack (V. xx). Tyrrhenuswarned his guests, who at once re-embarked (V. xxi-xxii). NeverthelessTrachinus overtook them, seized the vessel with its freight, and allowingthe Tyrian captain and his crew to depart in the boats, kept our trioprisoners (V. xxiv-xxvi). Upon his offering marriage to Chariclea, sheagain dissembled. A storm drove them to the Heracleotic mouth of theNile, where they landed, and Trachinus prepared for an immediatewedding (V. xxvii-xxix); whereupon Calasiris devised a stratagem. Hepersuaded Pelorus, Trachinus's lieutenant, that Chariclea loved him (V.xxx), and inflamed him with the sight of her in bridal array, so thatPelorus disputed with his captain the distribution of the booty, and, as thefirst to board the captured ship, claimed Chariclea for himself (V. xxxi).The feast turning into a fight, most of the pirates, including Trachinus,

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