9-3 | Play in and around the Ancient Novel


Play in and around the Ancient Novel

Stephen E. Kidd


The episodic structuring of ancient novels gives rise to the impression that they are not a serious genre in contrast to other genres like tragedy. Episodic plots tend to imply a playfulness not bound to causality but instead a spontaneity that includes the freedom to reinvent themselves. The author argues that novels like Longus’s Daphnis and Chloe, Lucian’s True History, and Xenophon’s Ephesian Tales share an episodic plot structure, even if they are not all similarly playful in tone or content. For that reason, appreciating the aesthetic effect of such episodic structures not only allows us better to understand these novels and their reception but also helps explain the nature of both seriousness and play. Key words: causality in the ancient novel; episodic plot in the ancient novel; playfulness in the ancient novel; seriousness in the ancient novel