Utopia and Utopias: a Study on a Literary Genre in Antiquity


  • Marí­lia Futre Pinheiro


This study aims to analize utopia as a literary genre in post-classical Greek literature. In Part I we have defined the concepts of utopia and utopianism. In Part II we have established the main features and topoi of utopia. As a literary genre, we define utopia as a fictional and intrinsically dialectic entity, which holds anthitectical elements: on one side, rationalism, on the other a mythical and poetic vision of the world. Part III is dedicated to the analysis of the two fictional texts which are traditionally considered utopian (Euhemerus’ and Iambulus’ accounts as described by Diodorus Siculus), as well as the description of Meroe in Heliodorus’ Aethiopica. Our aim is to ascertain to what extent they fit into the general normative presuppositions that define utopia’s literary model. Through the comparison of the above mentioned texts, we conclude that utopian literature illustrates the duality inherent to the human nature, which is akin to imagination and reason, dream and reality.

Marília P. Futre Pinheiro is Professor of Greek Language and Literature in the University of Lisbon (Portugal). Her main areas of research are the Greek novel, Comparative Literature and the Classical Tradition. Relevant publications: Estruturas Técnico-Narrativas nas Etiópicas de Heliodoro (PhD diss., 1987); ‘Time and Narrative Technique in Heliodorus’ Aethiopica’ in ANRW, 1998; ‘The Nachleben of the Ancient Novel in Iberian Literature in the Sixteenth Century’ in The Novel in the Ancient World, 1996; ‘Calasiris’ Story and its Narrative Significance in Heliodorus’ Aethiopica’, in Groningen Colloquia on the Novel IV, 1991; ‘Fonctions du Surnaturel dans les Éthiopiques d’Héliodore’ in BAGB, 1991; ‘Aspects de la problématique sociale et économique dans le roman d’Héliodore’ in Piccolo Mondo Antico, 1989; ‘Humour Strategies in the Ancient Greek Novel’ in Laughter Down the Centuries, 1997; ‘The Language of Silence in the Ancient Greek Novel’ in The Language of Silence, 2001. She is the editor of the Portuguese translations of the Ancient Greek Novels.