Life

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Achilles Tatius (uh-KIHL-EEZ TAY-shee-uhs) was a sophisticated Greek writer from Alexandria, who lived during the second century c.e. Little is known about his life, but papyri show that his novel Leukippe and Kleitophon (English translation first published in 1597) was written by the late second century. The Suda, a Byzantine lexicon compiled at the end of the tenth century, identifies the author as a native of Alexandria and lists various other writings, now lost.

Leukippe and Kleitophon, a love story replete with adventures—torture, shipwrecks, pirates—is notable for its comic rewriting of romantic motifs, its psychological realism, and its resilient heroine. After a brief introduction, the novel, eight books long, is narrated entirely from the limited first-person perspective of the hero Kleitophon. Kleitophon seeks advice on how to woo, Leukippe runs away to spite her mother, and Kleitophon is unfaithful to his beloved. The novel includes descriptions of Alexandria and the lighthouse on the Pharos island. The Suda claims the author ended up a Christian and a bishop, although that is doubtful.