Reading Diktys: The Discrete Charm of Bogosity

  • Ken Dowden


This piece seeks to clarify the ways in which Diktys’ Ephemeris may be read, and show how the interest of an apparently jejune work may be re-established.  By dating it, and the inventive Ptolemy Chennos, to the end of the first century AD, we can see it as an idiomatic, ludic, work of a ‘New Mythography’, rather than as a lonely outrider of the novel.  The asserted truth of Diktys’s account is in later receptions not always taken as literally as it seems, until finally it reaches the extremes of encyclopaedic fact amongst early literate Slavs and of historical fiction amongst modern readers of ancient narrative.  At the end, we can see the place of Antonios Diogenes too, if dated around AD 100, in the learned environment of Ptolemy and Diktys.

Ken Dowden is Professor of Classics, and Director of the Institute of Arch-aeology and Antiquity, at the University of Birmingham.  He writes on Greek mythology (Uses of Greek mythology, Routledge, 1992), religion (European Paganism, Routledge, 2000; Zeus, Routledge, 2006), on historians – usually of Greek mythic times – for the Brill New Jacoby, and on many aspects of the Latin and Greek novels, particularly Apuleius and Heliodoros, often in the pages of Ancient Narrative