Daphnis is fifteen years old, Chloe thirteen.
They are drawn to each other and long to make love. But no one has told them what love is, nor do they know how to accomplish the physical act.
Round their predicament Longus weaves a fantasy which entertains and instructs, but never errs in taste. The hard toil and precariousness of peasant life are here, but so are its compensations – revelry, music, dance, and storytelling. Above the action brood divine presences – Eros, Dionysus, Pan, the Nymphs – who collaborate to guide the adolescents into the mystery of Love, at once a sensual and a religious initiation.
Daphnis and Chloe is the best known, and the best, of the early Greek romances, precursors to the modern novel. Admired by Goethe, it has been reinterpreted in music and art by Ravel and Chagall.
I can recall precisely where I was when Daphnis and Chloe opened in my hands like a flower: sitting on my father’s couch, my back to the window and the sun all around. Suddenly I felt the force of...Read more