The Representation of Slavery in the Greek Novel : Resistance and Appropriation book cover
1st Edition

The Representation of Slavery in the Greek Novel
Resistance and Appropriation

ISBN 9781032337647
Published June 14, 2022 by Routledge
256 Pages

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Book Description

This volume offers the first comprehensive treatment of how the five canonical Greek novels represent slaves and slavery. In each novel, one or both elite protagonists are enslaved, and Owens explores the significance of the genre’s regular social degradation of these members of the elite.

Reading the novels in the context of social attitudes and stereotypes about slaves, Owens argues for an ideological division within the genre: the earlier novelists, Xenophon of Ephesus and Chariton, challenge and undermine elite stereotypes; the three later novelists, Longus, Achilles Tatius, and Heliodorus, affirm them. The critique of elite thinking about slavery in Xenophon and Chariton opens the possibility that these earlier authors and their readers included literate ex-slaves. The interests and needs of these authors and their readers shaped the emerging genre and not only made the protagonists’ slavery a key motif but also made slavery itself a theme that helped define the genre.

The Representation of Slavery in the Greek Novel will be of interest not only to students of the ancient novel but also to anyone working on slavery in the ancient world.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Degradation and Resistance

1. Ephesiaca: Enslavement and Folktale

2. Callirhoe: Narratives of Slavery Explicit and Implied, Told and Retold

3. Two Novels About Slavery

4. Daphnis and Chloe: Slavery as Nature and Art

5. Slavery and Literary Play in Leucippe and Clitophon

6. Aethiopica: Love and Slavery, Philosophy and the Novel

Afterward: Conclusions Summarized and Two Points of Speculation

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William M. Owens is Associate Professor of Classics at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. His research focuses on the representation of social institutions, practices, and ideologies in ancient literature, in particular comedy and the novel.


"This is not the first book one should read on the Greek novel, but it is a necessary one... Altogether, the book well illustrates the centrality of slavery to the Greek novel, and shows how the ancient Greek novel became a cultural entrepot through which new comedy, Roman comedy, and other genres came to be appreciated in the Greek-speaking world under Roman rule." - Phoenix