'The (Un)happy Romance of Curleo and Liliet'. Xenophon of Ephesus, the Cyropaedia and the birth of the 'anti-tragic' novel


  • Andrea Capra


In part 1, I argue that in Roman Greece Panthea and Abradates’ novella from the Cyropaedia was so extraordinaraly famous that Xenophon of Ephesus must have borrowed and allusively adapted their names so as to give sprechende Namen to his novel’s heroes (‘Anthea’ = ‘Flora’, ‘Abrocomes’ = ‘Delicate hair’). In part 2 and 3, I explore the intertextual potential of such a reference. Echoes from the Cyropaedia prove an important ingredient of Xenophon’s novel, helping define its fictional status in and against the background of its classical model. In part 4 I turn to the names themselves, arguing that Xenophon felt the need to hellenise his character names, which suit very well his implicit ‘revision’ of  Panthea’s novella.

Andrea Capra, 6 March 1971, Italy
Institutional Affiliation: University of Milan (Lecturer)
Research: Plato, Xenophon Ephesius
Publications relevant to ancient narrative:
2003. ‘Dialoghi narrati e dialoghi drammatici in Platone’ in M. Bonazzi – F. Trabattoni, Platone e la tradizione platonica, Milano: Cisalpino, 3–30.
2008. ‘L'efebo divino e l'incarnato della bella: Due note al testo di Senofonte Efesio (1.2.8 e 5.12.3)’, ACME 61, 277–282.
2008. ‘Plato’s Hesiod and the Will of Zeus. Philosophical Rhapsody in the Timaeus and the Critias’, in G. Boys–Stones – J. Haubold, Plato and Hesiod, Oxford: Clarendon, forthcoming.
2008. ‘Xenophon’s ‘Round Trip’: Geography and Narrative Technique in the Ephesiaka’, paper accepted for ICAN 2008.