(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Longus (LAHNG-uhs), about whose life nothing is known, is the author of Daphnis and Chloe (English translation, 1916), a Greek prose work dated to the late second or early third century c.e. It belongs to a genre (erotici graeci) typified by stories of young lovers who endure separation, supernatural occurrences, and unexpected hardships before being reunited.

Set on the island Lesbos, the work consists of four books. The principal characters are foundlings who experience their own romantic awakenings even as they encounter numerous obstacles. The plot includes kidnapping, war, divine intervention, and romantic interludes. Longus’s writing excels in lush description and a vivid natural imagery reminiscent of contemporary visual arts.

Longus Influence

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

In tone and style, Daphnis and Chloe draws upon the pastoral poetry of Theocritus of Syracuse, while echoing numerous Greek authors such as Homer and Thucydides. Like other works of Greek prose fiction, it is generally thought to have had a wide circulation. The work survived in manuscript form into the Renaissance, when it was first translated into French and other languages. The tale has since inspired a great number of artistic works, including Joseph-Maurice Ravel’s famous ballet.

Longus Bibliography

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Barber, G. Daphnis and Chloe: The Markets and Metamorphoses of an Unknown Bestseller. London: British Library, 1989.

Hardin, Richard F. Love in a Green Shade: Idyllic Romances Ancient to Modern. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000. Discusses the influence of Longus and Daphnis and Chloë on subsequent romance literature. Bibliography and index.

McCulloh, William E. Longus. New York: Twayne, 1970. The best place for the general reader to begin gathering additional information about Longus.

MacQueen, Bruce D. Myth, Rhetoric, and Fiction: A Reading of Longus’s “Daphnis and Chloë.” Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990. Examines the novel from a literary critical perspective; it also includes a valuable bibliography.

Reardon, B. P., ed. Collected Ancient Greek Novels. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989. Allows readers to consider Daphnis and Chloë alongside other novels of ancient Greece and Rome, including Chariton’s The Loves of Chaereas and Callirrhoë, Xenophon’s An Ephesian Tale, and Achilles Tatius’s Leucippe and Cleitophon.