The Classical Quarterly (New Series)

Shorter Notes

xs1F21 τοxs1FE6 κxs1F71λλος xs1F00πορροxs1F75: A Note on Achilles Tatius 1.9.4–5, 5.13.4*

Oleg Bychkova1

a1 University of Toronto,

The phrase combining the terms κxs1F71λλ0ς and xs1F00πoρρoxs1F75 to my knowledge does not occur anywhere else in the Greek Corpus in the context of contemplating a beautiful beloved. Achilles Tatius (second century a.d.) therefore must be making an allusion to Plato. This can hardly come as a surprise considering that Phaedr. 251, which describes the influence of the appearance of beauty on the soul of the lover, is one of the most famous and widely known Platonic passages. However, the context within which these two allusions to Plato are introduced deserves attention. Adding a certain learned touch to the description of erotic episodes in his novel, Achilles Tatius presents a ‘scientific’ explanation of the mechanism of visual perception. The consistency of both accounts suggests that he draws on some scholarly theory of vision which was part of his general educational background. But, unlike the above mentioned allusions, this theory is hardly Platonic.


* Texts are quoted from the edition of E. Vilborg (Stockholm. 1995). The following editions will also be used: Empedocles, Leucippus, Democritus: Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 6th edn, ed. H. Diels and W. Kranz, vols 1–2 (Berlin, 1951–2); Epicurus: Epicurus. The Extant Remains, ed. C. Bailey (Oxford, 1926), cited as Bailey (1926); Epicurea, ed H. Usener (Leipzig, 1887); Epicuro, Opere, ed. G. Arrighetti (Torino, 1973); Diogenes of Oinoanda: Diogenes of Oinoanda, The Epicurean Inscription, ed. M. F. Smith (Naples, 1993). In addition, the following studies have been consulted: J. I. Beare, Greek Theories of Elementary Cognition (Oxford, 1906); C. Bailey, The Greek Atomists and Epicurus (Oxford, 1928), cited as Bailey (1928).