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Achilles Tatius

Ἀχιλλεὺς τάτιος), or as Suidas and Eudocia call him Achilles Statius, an Alexandrine rhetorician, who was formerly believed to have lived in the second or third century of our aera. But as it is a well-known fact, which is also acknowledged by Photius, that he imitated Heliodorus of Emesa, he must have lived after this writer, and therefore belongs either to the latter half of the fifth or the beginning of the sixth century of our aera. Suidas states that he was originally a Pagan, and that subsequently he was converted to Christianity. The truth of this assertion, as far as Achilles Tatius, the author of the romance, is concerned, is not supported by the work of Achilles, which bears no marks of Christian thoughts, while it would not be difficult to prove from it that he was a heathen.


Τὰ κατὰ Λευκίππην καὶ Κλειτοφῶντα

Achilles Tatius' romance is a history of the adventures of two lovers, Cleitophon and Leucippe. It bears the title Τὰ κατὰ Λευκίππην καὶ Κλειτοφῶντα, and consists of eight books. Notwithstanding all its defects, it is one of the best love-stories of the Greeks. Cleitophon is represented in it relating to a friend the whole course of the events from beginning to end, a plan which renders the story rather tedious, and makes the narrator appear affected and insipid. Achilles, like his predecessor Heliodorus, disdained having recourse to what is marvellous and improbable in itself, but the accumulation of adventures and of physical as well as moral difficulties, which the lovers have to overcome, before they are happily united, is too great and renders the story improbable, though their arrangement and succession are skilfully managed by the author. Numerous parts of the work however are written without taste and judgment, and do not appear connected with the story by any internal necessity. Besides these, the work has a great many digressions, which, although interesting in themselves and containing curious information, interrupt and impede the progress of the narrative. The work is full of imitations of other writers from the time of Plato to that of Achilles himself, and while he thus trusts to his books and his learning, he appears ignorant of human nature and the affairs of real life. The laws of decency and morality are not always paid due regard to, a defect which is even noticed by Photius. The style of the work, on which the author seems to have bestowed his principal care, is thoroughly rhetorical: there is a perpetual striving after elegance and beauty, after images, puns, and antitheses. These things, however, were just what the age of Achilles required, and that his novel was much read, is attested by the number of MSS. still extant.


Latin Editions

A part of it was first printed in a Latin translation by Annibal della Croce (Crucejus), Leyden, 1544; a complete translation appeared at Basel in 1554.

Greek Editions

The first edition of the Greek original appeared at Heidelberg, 1601, 8vo, printed together with similar works of Longus and Parthenius. An edition, with a voluminous though rather careless commentary, was published by Salmasius, Leyden, 1640, 8vo. The best and most recent edition is by Fr. Jacobs, Leipzig, 1821, in 2 vols. 8vo. The first volume contains the prolegomena, the text and the Latin translation by Crucejus, and the second the commentary.


There is an English translation of the work, by A. H. (Anthony Hodges), Oxford, 1638, 8vo.

On the Sphere
ascribed to Achilles Tatius

Suidas ascribes to this same Achilles Tatius, a work on the sphere (περὶ σφαίρας), a fragment of which professing to be an introduction to the Phaenomena of Aratus (Εἰσαγωγὴ εἰς τὰ Ἀράτου Φαινόμενα) is still extant. But as this work is referred to by Firmicus (Mathes. 4.10), who lived earlier than the time we have assigned to Achilles, the author of the work on the Sphere must have lived before the time of the writer of the romance. The work itself is of no particular value. It is printed in Petavius, Uranologia, Paris, 1630, and Amsterdam, 1703, fol.

Other works ascribed to Achilles Tatius

Suidas also mentions a work of Achilles Tatius on Etymology, and another entitled Miscellaneous Histories; as both are lost, it is impossible to determine which Achilles was their author.


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