Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




Dr. Aara Suksi


While the prominence of sight and spectacle in the extant ancient Greek novels has long been noted, the spectacular culture within which they were produced - the visually voracious world of the Roman empire - has not been given the attention it deserves. This thesis examines Chariton's Chaereas and Callirhoe and Heliodorus' Ethiopica in the context of Roman imperial culture and its obsession with both seeing and being seen, and its delight in blurring the boundaries between artifice and reality. These obsessions influenced how the ancient reader perceived the novel, while providing a wealth of metaphorical language and imagery at the author's disposal. Chariton's Callirhoe struggles to assert her reality in the face of artifice: that is to say, she desires not to be an object of the gaze, while the crowds that surround her refuse to stop looking. Heliodorus, on the other hand, breaks down the boundaries between artifice and reality completely and celebrates the artificiality of reality in Charikleia, who is derived from a painting.



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