(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

On the Greek island of Lesbos, a goatherd named Lamo one day finds a richly dressed infant boy being suckled by one of his goats. Lamo and his wife, Myrtale, hide the purple cloak and ivory dagger the boy wore and pretend he is their own son. They name him Daphnis. Two years later, a shepherd named Dryas discovers an infant girl being nursed by one of his sheep in a cave of the nymphs. This child also is richly dressed. Dryas and his wife, Nape, keep the girl as their own, giving her the name Chloë.

When the two children are fifteen and thirteen years old, they are given flocks to tend. Daphnis and Chloë play happily together, amusing themselves in many ways. One day, while chasing a goat, Daphnis falls into a wolf pit, from which he is rescued unharmed by Chloë and a herdsman she summoned to help her. Daphnis begins to experience delightful but disturbing feelings about Chloë. Dorco, a herdsman, asks permission to marry Chloë but is refused by Dryas. Disguising himself in a wolf skin, Dorco shortly afterward attempts to seize Chloë. Attacked by the flock dogs, he is rescued by Daphnis and Chloë, who innocently think he was merely playing a prank. Love, little understood by either, grows between Daphnis and Chloë.

In the autumn some Tyrian pirates wound Dorco, steal some of his oxen and cows, and take Daphnis away with them. Chloë, who hears Daphnis calling to her from the pirate ship, runs to aid the mortally wounded Dorco. Dorco gives her his herdsman’s pipe, telling her to blow upon it. When she blows, the cattle jump into the sea and overturn the ship. The pirates drown, but Daphnis, catching on to the horns of two swimming cows, comes safely to shore.

After the celebration of the autumn vintage, Daphnis and Chloë return to their flocks. They attempt in their innocence to practice the art of love, but they are not successful. Some young men of Methymne come to the fields of Mitylene to hunt....

(The entire section is 794 words.)