Female Friendships in the Ancient Greek Novels

Mercer, Laura Christine (2023) Female Friendships in the Ancient Greek Novels. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This project examines the female friendships within the Ancient Greek Novels, focusing on four of the five surviving "idealistic" novels (Aethiopica (Heliodorus), Callirhoe (Chariton), Ephesian Tale (Xenophon of Athens) and Leucippe and Clitophon (Achilles Tatius)) as well as Iamblichus' fragmentary Babyloniaca.

In recent years, the Greek Novel genre has gained much scholarly attention for its attitudes towards sexuality and gender. However, the majority of studies on women in this genre have focused predominantly on the heroine or the antagonists at the expense of other female characters. This has resulted in a lack of emphasis on female friendships within this genre, with many scholars overlooking this type of relationship. Even when scholars attempt to address this issue, either it is solely in regards to how the heroine is characterised, certain friendships are deemed not important enough to be included (such as Nausicleia's relationship with Charicleia in the Aethiopica) or they are unfairly critical of any amiable relationships between women in this genre. However, these relationships are important to our understanding of the Greek Novel genre (particularly regarding portrayals of women) and this project aims to demonstrate that these friendships should be studied further and not overlooked.

Examining the portrayal of each individual friendship, a key aim of this project is to categorize the different types of female friendships found within this genre and determine whether any similarities can be found between these relationships. This project will also look at how each individual novelist approaches these relationships and why the authors have such contrasting attitudes towards female friendships (for instance, the large amount of positive friendships in Chariton's Callirhoe contrasts the near absence of female relationships in the novels of Achilles Tatius and Longus). It examines how these friendships fit into the wider ancient literary portrayal of female relationships and how this genre both adopts and differs from it's literary predecessors.

Three types of female friendships are examined: Unequal (between a mistress and slave), Equal (between two women of a similar social status) and the Missed Opportunity. The latter category mainly focuses on Melite’s one-sided attempt to form a friendship with Leucippe when the latter is in disguise (Leucippe and Clitophon) and how the women are isolated from each other within the narrative when the heroine’s true identity is revealed.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Buckland, Carl
Kneebone, Emily
Keywords: Ancient Greek novels, women in literature, female friendship
Subjects: P Language and literature > PA Classical philology
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Item ID: 74008
Depositing User: Mercer, Laura
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2023 04:40
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2023 04:40
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/74008

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