[St. Pachomius Library]

Achilles Tatius

Date uncertain.
A fairly typical Hellenistic intellectual in most respects, Achilles Tatius lived sometime between the II and IV Centuries. He was probably educated in Alexandria and seems to have been interested in astronomy, philosophy, and literature. He is mostly famous as the author of a far-fetched romantic adventure novel, Leucippe and Clitophon, quite the page-turner (or roller) with exotic locations, amazing plot-twists, and an abundance of sex and violence. According to the Suda, he eventually became a Christian and, indeed, the bishop of an unnamed see. For some reason, modern historians reject this part of his biography as a fabrication meant to preserve his works into a more pious age. That is possible, but certainly there have been plenty of risqué novelists who were or became religious, and plenty of early bishops who started out as pagan philosophers. One suspects that modern writers on the subject are uncomfortable with the idea that so thoroughly worldly an author might have had a spiritual side after all.

All known ancient biographical sources (as of 1955) may be found in the Stockholm edition of Leucippe and Clitophon cited below. In the first decade of the XXI Century, a sudden interest in the "ancient Greek novel" seems to have arisen in scholarly circles, and much additional research on Achilles is doubtless in progress even now.

Norman Hugh Redington


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