counterpart of Odysseus. The young lovers, inevitably present, of course, in a Greek romance, were perhaps to occupy a place in the plot comparable in importance to that of Telemachus in the Odyssey,--a similar position to that actually taken by the hero, Theagenes, whose place in the story is subordinate to that of Calasiris as well as that of Chariclea. The story was chiefly to be concerned with the adventures met with by these characters, sometimes together, sometimes separated from one another, during their longdelayed return home. It is reasonable to suppose that the most conspicuous imitations of the Odyssey which we now find in the work were thought of at an early stage in the development of its plan. This must be true also of the motivation of these imitations through the prophecy. But as the plot was developed in greater detail, and many suggestions from the Greek tragedies, Herodotus, and earlier romances, were worked in, the one priestly guardian was evidently split up into three characters, the heroine became the person of greatest importance, and the plot in general diverged farther and farther from its original model.16

Now that we have gained a general conception of the extent of Heliodorus' imitation of other works, let us see whether any original elements remain, and, if so, what conclusion we can reach as to their character and importance.

The most conspicuous characteristic of the plot of the Aethiopica is its extreme complication. The relations in which the characters stand to one another are involved, and the chronological order is constantly departed from in the narration. A good example of the complicated relations among the characters can be found in the part played by Thyamis. This character, first introduced as a pirate chief, captures the young lovers and falls in love with the heroine. After the escape of the young people he reappears and recaptures the hero from the Persian forces. Still later it is disclosed that he is the son of the important character Calasiris. It is such complicated relationships as this which make the constant departure from the chronological order necessary.

* In his final adjustment of the relations and relative importance of the old priest and the pair of lovers, Heliodorus may have been influenced by Iamblichus' Babylonica, in which the lovers meet part of their adventures under the protection of Soraecus, the just judge. (Photius 94; cf. Rohde, op. cit., pp. 361-381.)

But in spite of the complication, unity and clearness have not been sacrificed. Unity is preserved by the concentration of attention upon the fortunes of Chariclea, and those of Calasiris and Theagenes, whose lives are closely interwoven with hers. On the whole, little extraneous matter is introduced. Short learned or descriptive digressions occasionally occur, and, in Book IX, we find rather lengthy accounts of a siege and a battle, which might well have been shortened or entirely omitted. Cnemon's story, too, is in part unconnected with the main plot. Everything else bear3 directly on Chariclea's story. Heliodorus has one curious habit which bears upon his careful preservation of the unity of his story. He delights in introducing matter which seems to be unrelated to his plot, only to surprise the reader by revealing its close connection later. For example, when Cnemon finishes his story the reader thinks of it as merely an interlude, and never expects Thisbe, a minor character in it, actually to come into personal relation with the chief characters of the main plot. She soon does so, however, unwittingly saving Chariclea's life by her presence in the pirates'


Complicated plots naturally tend toward obscurity, but the Aethiopica is an exception. The plot is absolutely clear in Heliodorus' mind, and is clearly and skilfully presented by him. The careful, attentive reader has no difficulty in following the thread, and Heliodorus was doubtless justified in counting upon such readers in his own day. Where the reader is in any danger of becoming confused, Heliodorus constantly takes pains to avert this danger by such devices as the occasional interruption of a character who is telling a long story, in order to keep before the reader's mind the circumstances under which it is being told.

But the most admirable characteristic of the novel is the skilful way in which the reader's interest and curiosity are aroused and retained. The story begins with a striking scene, vividly described from the point of view of the pirates who are its spectators. After his interest has been captured in this way, the reader's curiosity is played upon throughout the early part of the novel, during which the identity of the hero and heroine are kept concealed while they are plunged into one thrilling adventure after another. The element of suspense is used with great skill and effectiveness here and throughout the novel.

In the use of this complicated, skilfully unravelled plot, Heliodorus seems to have been entirely original, although most of the individual episodes of which it is made up are borrowed. Certainly his completed plot is quite different from the simple plan of the Odyssey. And the writers of Greek romances who preceded him developed no really complicated relations among their characters, and told their stories for the most part in chronological order. Almost their only variations from this order occur when it is necessary to follow the fortunes of pursuers and pursued, or of separated lovers, alternately. Occasionally they introduce episodes or tales which have nothing to do with the main plot. The same is true of the earlier narratives of Petronius, Apuleius, and Lucian. Herodotus' plan comes closer to Heliodorus' than does that of any other writer who preceded him. Thus the Aethiopica is our first example of a story with a plot of the complicated type.

Heliodorus deserves the credit also for the invention of a device which is a commonplace in modern fiction, but of which he has given us the only example in ancient literature. As we have already noted, he takes the reader's interest by storm at the very outset of the story, by placing before his eyes a scene of the most melodramatic character. Buckets of blood, a fair maiden in distress, a gallant youth wounded and supposed to be dying,—these striking elements make it almost impossible for the reader to lay aside the book before learning “what happens next."

The enormous development in the technique of story-writing in modern times makes it difficult for us to estimate a Greek romance fairly, as a product of its own time. We must remember that any study of the development of character, or even the introduction of really distinctive characters, was unknown to the writers of these early novels. For the most part the characters are elemental types like those of the New Comedy. The interest depends entirely on what happens to them; on the variety and unexpectedness of their adventures, in which coincidence plays a great part. It would obviously be absurd to attempt any comparison of these works with the unsurpassed masterpieces of the classical period; the difference is well marked by the words “talent” and “genius.”

But the fact that, in spite of the advance in the technique of the novel, the Aethiopica can still be read with interest by those who enjoy a lively story of pure adventure, is surely a proof of considerable merit. And Heliodorus' originality as the first contriver of a complicated plot, his skilful use of this new type of plot, and his invention of the device for capturing the reader's interest at the outset, give his work a place of its own in the history of fiction. It is undoubtedly these original elements that explain the enormous influence of the Aethiopica on later fiction.

Columbia University.



In presenting a brief outline on the force of precedents, T. E. Holland makes the following statements: 1

While in England and in the United States a reported case may be cited with almost as much confidence as an Act of Parliament, on the Continent a judgment, though useful as showing the view of the law held by a qualified body of men, seems powerless to constrain another court to take the same view in a similar case.

The Continental view is an inheritance from the law of Rome; for although Cicero enumerates “res iudicatae” among the sources of law, and the Emperor Severus attributes binding force, in the interpretation of ambiguous laws, to the "rerum perpetuo similiter iudicatarum auctoritas," the contrary principle was finally established by a Constitution of Justin (ian)

There have been of late some symptoms of an approximation between the two theories. While on the Continent judicial decisions are reported with more care, and cited with more effect, than formerly, indications are not wanting that in England and in the United States they are beginning to be somewhat more freely criticised than has hitherto been usual.

Holland is undoubtedly correct in his belief that case decisions were not taken among the Romans as binding precedents. But this was not only so in Justinian's day; it was probably always the case. Holland's reference to Cicero proves nothing, for the passage certainly does not definitely claim binding force for earlier decisions, though it may prove that they exerted influence on judges. The quotation from the Emperor Severus however seems, at first sight, clear enough: 8

In fact the reigning Emperor Severus laid down that where doubts occur owing to the wording of a statute, in such a case custom or the authority of constant decisions given to the same kind of effect ought to have the force of a statute.

1 The Elements of Jurisprudence, 12th edition (1917), pp. 68-70.

* Topica 5; Auctor ad Herennium II, 13. Possibly Cicero's statements are to be explained as that of Severus below. Cf. Pro Caecina XXXIII.

Digest 1, 3, 38, quoting Callistratus (Questions 1).

* Translation of C. H. Munro, whose work is also generally used for quotations from the first six books of the Digest; translations of other passages are my own.

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