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3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  283 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Chariton's "Callirhoe," subtitled "Love Story in Syracuse," is the oldest extant novel. It is a fast-paced historical romance with ageless charm.

Chariton narrates the adventures of an exceptionally beautiful young bride named Callirhoe, beginning with her abduction by pirates--adventures that take her as far as the court of the Persian king Artaxerxes and involve shipwreck
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published December 15th 1995 by Harvard University Press (first published 50)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,156)
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Evan Leach
Which book is the world’s earliest novel? That question will probably never be definitively answered, but Callirhoe may have the best claim of any text out there. Callirhoe is one of seven novels surviving more or less intact from western antiquity: two Roman ones (The Golden Ass and the Satyricon) and five in Greek*. There are other texts hovering around the margins that could be added to this list, most of them very fragmentary, but the seven listed here are the big ones. The brilliant Satyric ...more
May 03, 2015 Zadignose added it
Shelves: 01st-century
Old? Yes. A novel? Yes. Good? ... Yes!

This book is, to some extent, a prototype of soap operas, lurid romances, and damsel-in-distress stories. It engages in some hyperbolic absurdities and plot contrivances. Characters often launch into laments in order to summarize the plot development and drive home how incredibly unfortunate they've been. Callirhoe, the heroine, is more admirable than any of the men, including Chaereas, who are enchanted by her. Notably, it's the men who do most of the weepi
Encore un excellent roman grec! Je suis bon public pour ce genre de fiction. Tous les éléments qu'on attend s'y trouvent: un couple incroyablement beau, une passion sans limites, du thumos et de l'épithumia, les péripéties et des contretemps fâcheux, des torrents de larmes, des voyages en Asie, en Europe et en Afrique, des pirates cruels et cupides, des dieux jaloux qui jouent avec nos héros mais se laissent fléchir par leurs malheurs, des réductions en esclavages, des félons sans scrupules, des ...more
I wonder if Chariton was the Sidney Sheldon of his day. This book had it all and was a great romp through the 1st century Mediterranean and Asia with a large cast of characters, exotic locations, plots, double-crossings, life, love, death, you name it. Buried alive after an accidental blow from Chaereas, our Sicilian heroine Callirhoe is found by pirate tomb-robbers and carried off to Ionia where she is sold into slavery. Dionysus falls in love with her and tries everything to woo her, but she o ...more
This is probably more like a mini-analysis, as I do not discuss some of the other important ideas in the novel. Copy-pasta'd from my university paper.


Chaereas and Callirhoe is a rewarding novel owing to its strengths in carrying out its themes and strong character development of the multiple casts. One central theme practiced throughout the entire novel is the emotions, and its reliability in guiding one’s situations and behavior. Chaereas undergoes interesting character growth in terms
3 down, 998 to go. I actually found this one interesting, and readable. More than the telling of the story, it's circumstance was also an experience for me. This is, allegedly, the first novel ever written, and it's quite a ride to see where and how it all began, and to hold in my hands the first scrabblings and attempts to communicate in this forum. It's quite a thing to see how dialogue was formerly written. The translation is a beholding unto itself as well. I read the version where "f"s stil ...more
It was very Romeo & Juliet meets The Odyssey. I liked it.
Not everything was better in the Olden Days. Like dentistry. Or novels. Chariton's Callirhoe: Love Story in Syracuse is one of the oldest novels that has survived almost extant. On one hand, it's quite exciting. There are pirates, love triangles, wars and courtroom scenes aplenty. On the other hand it's deeply silly. Practically every male who crosses paths with the titular character falls desperately in love with her. Everyone runs frantically hither and tither around the Mediterranean and Midd ...more
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Daniel Abboud
Oh man. Callirhoe gets kicked in the diaphragm, buried alive, revived, kidnapped, sold, finds out she's pregnant with her supposedly dead lover's child etc etc... and all because she's the most beautiful girl in the world. Great story.
Kaitlyn Utkewicz
I surprisingly really enjoyed this! Being one of the first novels ever written, I was so impressed with Chariton's ability to keep my attention for his entire story. Talk about an ego trip for Callirhoe though - a whole war was fought for her! It must be terribly annoying to have every man who looks at you fall in love with you. And yet, she was not really depicted as a character to pity. Instead, she exhibits her strength and kindness, especially at the end after Chaireas wins the battle for th ...more
Apr 23, 2011 James is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a little disappointed: in the first 30 or so pages I've already bumped into a couple of typos (especially frustrating for literature written in dead languages).

The language is paratactic in the extreme, with much avoidance of subordination in both narration and direct speech. This lends a sort of simplistic air to the story, perhaps urging the reader to discount its value, but from a modern perspective, it makes it much easier to read!

The story itself is fine, although predictable. Chariton
Rakkautta, sotaa, mustasukkaisuutta ja juonioa antiikin tyyliin. Hieman pitkäveteinen stoori kertoo kuvankauniista Kallirhoesta ja siitä, mitä tapahtuu, kun nainen on niin kaunis, että lähes kaikki hänet kohtaavat miehet menevät päästänsä sekaisin.
*** 2.5 stars ***

I had to read this book for my Greek class several years ago, of course in ancient Greek. Although it was sometimes hard to understand because of language and expression and not easy to follow because of its complex plot line, it was very interesting to read a novel written about 2000 years ago. It's about a man and a beautiful woman who fall in love but get separated by some dramatic misunderstandings and have a hard time trying to get back to each other. It's a nice read, but
Alexandra Mackay
Ancient Greek novels were really quite silly.
This story from ancient Greek literature follows the complicated romance and marriage of popular Chareas and beautiful Callirhoe. It is a tale full of action, adventure, near death, and true love.

It took a few pages to get into it because I was reading too fast. Once I slowed down and started to savor the story, I really couldn't put the book down.

It had a happy, satisfying ending that made me smile and cheer for the heros!
The novel as a genre being still in its infancy, this very early one offers adventures in abundance, rivalry & chivalry and, of course, a love story. A lot is happening, and narrated without wondering about the reality factor. Well, folks, it is fiction. Anything that can happen and cannot happen, will happen. For me, it was a fast forward moving, very pleasant and ‘wonderful’ read, read on Crete. JM
An early romance novel, with all sorts of complications and people who kept the young lovers apart. Either the translation I read or the story itself seemed very much in the historical romance genre, with the Greek gods added as minor characters. An ok selection for 1001 Books, not difficult to read or heavy in theme.
I am not really in to these ancient books. I have a hard time understanding them..........gotta read the footnotes to find out what's going on. Book number 3 in the "1001 books you must read before you die".
A good story that does get a little confusing and hard to believe. However, having said that its one of the earliest Greek romance novels so can you blame the author for his twists and turns?
The Greeks gave us philosophy, political science, literary theory, mathematics . . .

and high camp.
Mar 29, 2011 Deanne rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone reading the 1001 books you must read before you die
Greek romance written in the first century, enjoyable and fascinating to think that it' about 2000 years old.
Splendid read! First Greek romance novel, filled with literary allusions and interesting imagery.
Kristina Campanelli
Back in the 1700's, it was quite clear that men are the weaker sex!!
So many things to love. Sex gods, pirates, need I say more?
Daniel Stephens
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Chariton, (flourished 1st century ad, Aphrodisias, Caria, Asia Minor), Greek novelist, author of Chaereas and Callirhoë, probably the earliest fully extant romantic novel in Western literature. The romances of Chariton and of Achilles Tatius are the only ones preserved in a number of ancient papyri.
More about Chariton...
Greek Fiction: Callirhoe, Daphnis and Chloe, Letters of Chion  (Penguin Classics) The Loves of Chaercas and Callirrhoe Volume 1 Two Novels from Ancient Greece: Chariton's Callirhoe and Xenophon of Ephesos' An Ephesian Story: Anthia and Habrocomes Два любовни романа The Loves of Chaercas and Callirrhoe Volume 2

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