Other Greek novels open in poleis, before swiftly shunting their protagonists out of them and into the adventure world. Why does Achilles Tatius' Leucippe and Clitophon open in a house (with no sign of any political apparatus), and stay there for almost one quarter of the novel? This article explores the cultural, psychological, and metaliterary role of the house in Achilles, reading it as a site of conflict between the dominant, patriarchal ideology of the father and the subversive intent of the young lovers. If the house principally embodies the authoritarian will of the father to order and control, it nevertheless provides the lovers with opportunities to re-encode space opportunistically as erotic. The house cannot be reconstructed archaeologically (Clitophon is too flittish a narrator for that), but it is nevertheless clearly divided into different qualitative zones—diningroom, bedrooms, garden—each of which has its own psychosocial and emotional texture, its own challenges, and its own resources. Achilles' modelling of the house may reflect Roman ideas of domestic aristocratic display, and perhaps even the influence of Roman literature (particularly love elegy).
Domestic Poetics: Hippias' House in Achilles Tatius
I am grateful to audiences in Berkeley, Cambridge, and Paris for comments on this paper, and particularly to Jas Elsner, Ailsa McDermid, and CA's anonymous referees for invaluable advice.
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Tim Whitmarsh; Domestic Poetics: Hippias' House in Achilles Tatius. Classical Antiquity 1 October 2010; 29 (2): 327–348. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/CA.2010.29.2.327
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