Iamblichos’ Babyloniaka, the Greek Novel and Satire


  • Nikoletta Kanavou



Iamblichos’ lost novel of love and horror, as we know it from its Byzantine summary and a few manuscript fragments, is firmly footed in the tradition of the Greek romance, as well as possessing an oriental flair. The present article summarises the similarities of the Babyloniaka (2nd c. AD) to the extant romances and draws attention to a number of hitherto unnoticed points of contact between this novel and Achilles Tatios’ Leukippe and Kleitophon (also 2nd c. AD). It is then argued that, like Achilles’ novel, the Babyloniaka plays with humour and parody in the characterisation of its heroes, its erotic ideology and its exaggerated presentation of the horrific and the supernatural.

Nikoletta Kanavou holds a research fellowship of the German Research Foundation (DFG) at the University of Heidelberg. Her most recent publications include an article on the short fragmentary narrative Panionis (Archiv für Papyrusforschung 64/1, 13-31), as well as a monograph on the fictitious biography of Apollonius of Tyana by Philostratus (Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius of Tyana and its Literary Context, C.H. Beck 2018).