The Spell of Achilles Tatius: Magic and Metafiction in Leucippe and Clitophon


  • Ashli J.E Baker


In this article I examine the complex role of magic in Achilles Tatius’ Leucippe and Clitophon and argue that Achilles discredits magic as supernaturally powerful by depicting magical practices as ineffectual, resulting in unintended consequences, or as the basis for dramatic, narrative, or rhetorical manipulation and deception.  I further suggest that by doing so Achilles transfers the world-changing powers of magic to persuasive language, thus opening the door for a metaliterary reading in which the author asserts that the most potent “magic” is sophistic rhetoric and he himself the foremost “magician.”

Ashli J. E. Baker is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.  Her research specialties include the ancient novel - particularly Apuleius’Metamorphoses and Achilles Tatius’ Leucippe and Clitophon - and ancient magic.  She is also interested in Roman Imperial literature more generally, especially the work of Ovid and Lucian.  She is currently working on a monograph about Apuleius’ MetamorphosesFlorida, and Apology.