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Permanent URL to this publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.5167/uzh-4704

Dümmler, N (2008). Constructing Self: Leucippe's personae in Achilles Tatius' Leucippe and Clitophon. In: International Conference on the Ancient Novel IV; Crossroads in the Ancient Novel: Spaces, Frontiers, Intersections, Lisbon, Portugal, 21 July 2008 - 26 July 2008, 1-13.

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Abstract

Just as Odysseus tries to find a way home to his family, the protagonists of the Ancient Greek Novel are cast away in the whole Mediterranean Sea on their search for a happy ending to their love story. Like their epic predecessor and prototype, they are faced with foreign countries, exotic nature, strange customs and both friendly and hostile people. Thus similar to Odysseus, they have to be polytropoi in both possible meanings: they must wander about in various, fictitious regions of the Ancient World and hence swiftly adapt to alien environments as well as cope with unfamiliar or even dangerous situations. During his adventures Odysseus not only adjusts himself with ease to every new condition, but goes so far as to assume a different persona according to the circumstances and needs, by either denying any identity at all – as Outis in the Polyphemus-episode – or by inventing a new identity – as in the Cretan Lies. Starting from polymetis Odysseus, the aim of this paper is to elucidate a similar play with identities in Achilles Tatius' novel Leucippe and Clitophon, focusing on the surprisingly strong and active heroine: Leucippe is the young and beautiful female protagonist of this romance, stemming from an aristocratic family in Byzantium. The girl thus represents the archetypical Greek parthenos. Nevertheless, Leucippe is not what she seems to be: as the narrative develops, the Greek girl exhibits different personae which she either assumes herself or which are given to her by other characters in the novel. She has to find magical herbs for a love potion as an alleged Thessalian slave, and as an expert in Egyptian spells she cures her companion from a bee sting and thus even provides an opportunity for the first kiss with Clitophon. Because of her beauty and her almost supernatural abilities she is compared to the Greek Selene, the Phoenician Astarte or the Egyptian Isis – she is even perceived as the embodiment of those deities. And after one of her three apparent deaths she is feared as a haunting ghost. Thus, Leucippe's identities range from aristocrat to slave, from Greek to Phoenician to Egyptian, from human girl to haunting ghost to immortal goddess. As cunning Odysseus invented new identities for his needs, Leucippe herself as well as her companions and opponents construct and exploit her new personae for their purposes.This paper will analyse Leucippe's different personae and their function in the plot. In doing so, it will show that the multiple characterisation of Leucippe is typical of Achilles Tatius' play with identities. This changing description, this con- and destruction of the novel's characters, creates an atmosphere of interchangeability, a world where clearly defined roles do not exist, where everybody can re-invent her/himself or be re-invented according to the circumstances. Achilles Tatius' description of the novel's characters therefore reflects the cultural and literary background of the Second Sophistic in which socio-cultural identity was complex and as a concept redefined and explored.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Other), refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Greek and Latin Philology
DDC:470 Latin & Italic languages
480 Classical & modern Greek languages
Language:English
Event End Date:26 July 2008
Deposited On:27 Feb 2009 13:16
Last Modified:09 Jul 2012 03:23
Additional Information:ICAN IV
Official URL:http://www.ican2008.ul.pt/ICAN2008_en/Programme/23_July/IS_162_Nicola_Duemmler.pdf
Related URLs:http://www.ican2008.ul.pt/ICAN2008_en/ (Organisation)
Citations:Google Scholar™

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