Online Introduction

Xenophon’s Ephesian History

This is one of the oldest prose romances we have today. The Greek writer, Xenophon of Ephesus, wrote it around the second century A.D. It has been hugely popular for 2000 years, which accounts for its survival. This is not surprising since Catholicism heavily suppressed all pagan books, much nonreligious literature, and science. Anything looked good to people whose only other reading matter was theological quibbling. The story and its themes have also been much imitated since it was written.

Relatively short, pervaded with pagan religious customs, it is your basic adventure story with faith, honor, virtue and persistence overcoming all obstacles.

The manuscript of this classic work was lost for 1500 years or so and so is a fairly recent discovery, recovered during the early Renaissance. This is the first English translation. It was not re-translated again until recently. This version is free.

The online text is the second edition, but the reprint I used was illegible, infuriatingly, in many parts. So I collated these spots with the third edition, fortunately also available, in those gaps which could not be read. Be very wary about purchasing one of the mass reprints scanned from old texts, they can be hideous. If another edition had not been available online, (also difficult to use), the gaps would have made this version alone pretty useless.

In addition, I think there is a missing page in all the editions. At the bottom of the pages, in the style of that time, the first word at the top of a page is printed at the bottom of the preceding page. The words do not match at the bottom of page 32. This is the only place were this occurs. The sense thus provided is intelligible but not ideal and the possibility of a missing page or paragraph or sentence seems likely. Since I do not understand Greek or Latin, I am unable to verify this with the original Greek or the Latin translations that are now online. Hopefully, I can find somebody to help sort this out.

[Update, July 23, 2012: Kind and smart Andrew Smith (who has a great site on ancient Greece and translates significant Greek inscriptions and texts for the rest of us,) has double-checked and there is no missing text. There goes my brief bit of euphoria at possibly adding something to the history of translations!]

I have left inconsistent spellings intact, which I usually fix. If I get another edition, then the changes can be noticed between editions, if any. There were a few obvious typos which I did correct and these can be found in the source code for the page.

It is still a decent story, so get started below.