Syene as face of battle: Heliodorus and late antique historiography

  • Alan J. Ross


Although it has long been recognised that Heliodorus imbues his novel with verisimilitude via intertextual engagement with earlier historians, particularly Herodotus, this article argues that Heliodorus looked to contemporary, late antique exponents of historiography to provide stylistic models for his narrative of the siege of Syene in Book 9 of the Aethiopica. Conversely, this article also demonstrates that some historians, particularly Ammianus Marcellinus, composed their narratives of historical sieges based upon narrative topoi, and not exclusively, as has sometimes been suggested, on their personal experience of battle.

Alan J. Ross currently holds a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship at University College Dublin. Previously he completed a doctorate at the University of Oxford and held a postdoctoral fellowship in South Africa. His research focuses mainly on late antique historiography and he has a forthcoming monograph on Ammianus Marcellinus.