Book 4: Aithiopika by Heliodorus

Book 4 of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, Aithiopika by Heliodorus, was slightly more difficult to find than the last text, but I did finally locate a copy in Google Books at under the title The Greek Romances of Heliodorus, Longus and Achilles Titius with the story titled “The Ethiopics; or The Adventures of Theagenes and Chariclea.” I had at least heard of this text, but reading it was new for me.

I began my reading somewhat prejudice in that I have read on the 1001 Reads blog at that this story was much like the last, and I really couldn’t say that it was my favorite so far. And, it really was a lot like Callirhoe or Chaireas and Kallirhoe as the 1001 Books refers to it. It is similar in that the plot focuses around two lovers who are constantly being separated (sold as slaves). As 1001 Reads points out, though, it is more complex in its storytelling using some pretty complex flashbacks to tell much of the story.

While I was searching for the original text, I found this great website called the Petronian Society Ancient Novel Page ( They have summaries of ancient novels, including both Chaireas and Callirhoe and Aithiopika by Heliodorus or what they’ve translated as “Ethiopian Story.” The summary goes book by book and includes all major details, actions, and characters. Anyone reading this summary would find that they could then claim familiarity with the story. In that light, then, I am not going to summarize it here.  

I think it was included in 1001 Books because of its age not its merits, but I can’t read minds.  I don’t think I’d really recommend you rush right out to read this, not when there are so many better books in the world. Its narrative strategies and its use of discord through miscommunication or lack of understanding (characters speak at least four different languages) are slightly interesting, so if you are bored, it’s available, and it doesn’t cost anything but time!

Happy Reading!


Leave a comment

Filed under 1001 Books

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s