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It is set on the Greek isle of Lesbos, where scholars assume the author to have lived. Its style is rhetorical and pastoral; its shepherds and shepherdesses are wholly conventional, but the author imparts human interest to this idealized world. Daphnis and Chloe resembles a modern novel more than does its chief rival among Greek erotic romances, the Aethiopica of Heliodorus, which is remarkable more for its plot than for its characterization.
Daphnis and Chloe is the story of a boy (Daphnis) and a girl (Chloe), each of whom is abandoned at birth along with some identifying tokens. A goatherd named Lamon discovers Daphnis, and a shepherd called Dryas finds Chloe. Each decides to raise the child he finds as his own. Daphnis and Chloe grow up together, herding the flocks for their foster parents. They fall in love but, being naive, do not understand what is happening to them. Philetas, a wise old cowherd, explains to them what love is and tells them that the only cure is kissing. They do this. Eventually, Lycaenion, a woman from the city, educates Daphnis in love-making. Daphnis, however, decides not to test his newly acquired skill on Chloe, because Lycaenion tells Daphnis that Chloe "will scream and cry and lie bleeding heavily [as if murdered]." Throughout the book, Chloe is courted by suitors, two of whom (Dorcon and Lampis) attempt with varying degrees of success to abduct her. She is also carried off by raiders from a nearby city and saved by the intervention of the god Pan. Meanwhile, Daphnis falls into a pit, gets beaten up, is abducted by pirates, and is very nearly raped. In the end, Daphnis and Chloe are recognized by their birth parents, get married, and live out their lives in the country.
Lycaenion - woman who educates Daphnis in love-making
Myrtale - Daphnis' foster mother
Nape - Chloe's foster mother
Gnathon - the would-be suitor of Daphnis
Philetas - old countryman who advises the heroes about love; likely named after Philitas of Cos
Until the beginning of the nineteenth century, about a page of text was missing; when Paul Louis Courier went to Italy, he found the missing part in one of the plutei (an ancient Roman reading desk or place for storing manuscripts) of the Biblioteca Laurenziana in Florence. Unfortunately, as soon as he had copied the text, he upset the ink-stand and spilled ink all over the manuscript. The Italian philologists were incensed, especially those who had studied the pluteus giving "a most exact description" (un'esattissima notizia) of it.
Jacques Amyot's French translation is perhaps better known than the original. The story has been presented in numerous illustrated editions, including a 1937 limited edition with woodcuts by Aristide Maillol, and a 1977 edition illustrated by Marc Chagall. Another translation that rivals the original is that of Annibale Caro, one of those writers dearest to lovers of the Tuscan elegances.
The 1987 film The Princess Bride contains similarities to Daphnis and Chloe (for example, in both stories the male romantic lead is captured by pirates). Lawrence Rinder, director of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, attributes the inspiration for the film to Longus.
^It has been suggested that the name "Longus" is merely a misreading of the last word of the title ? in the Florentine manuscript; Seiler also observes that the best manuscript begins and ends with (not ) ?.
Edmonds, John Maxwell (1916). Daphnis & Chloe, by Longus; The Love Romances of Parthenius and Other Fragments. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. ISBN0-674-99076-5. With English translation revised from that of George Thornley.
Reeve, Michael D. (1994) . Daphnis et Chloe / Longus. Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana (Editio correctior ed.). Stuttgart: Teubner. ISBN3-8154-1932-8. Reeve's text is reprinted with the translation and commentary by Morgan (see below).
Turner, Paul (1989) . Longus: Daphnis and Chloe. Penguin Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin. ISBN978-0-14-044059-1.
Gill, Christopher (1989). "Longus: Daphnis and Chloe". In Bryan P. Reardon (ed.). Collected Ancient Greek Novels. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. pp. 285-348. ISBN978-0-520-04306-0.
McCail, Ronald (2002). Daphnis and Chloe / Longus. Oxford World's Classics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN978-0-19-284052-3.
Morgan, J. R. (2004). Longus: Daphnis and Chloe. Aris and Phillips Classical Texts. Oxford: Oxbow Books. ISBN978-0-85668-562-0. With reprint of Reeve's text and a commentary.