Longus’ “Daphnis and Chloe”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning–a poet I usually adore–calls this Latin story “obscene.” I admit that parts of it border on erotica, which I don’t normally read. Yet I find the story–though I am only on page 95 and therefore not yet finished–affecting. I feel it really does portray the beauty of adolescence. I believe in portraying the clumsiness of two young people who are in love but have never heard much about love, it is almost artless and naïve. I honestly think the more “mature” portrayal of love that Browning does in “The Courtship of Geraldine” is more knowing and less sweet as Daphnis and Chloe. Don’t get me wrong: I love Sonnets of the Portuguese. Yet it is an adult love. It loves of literary polish. Daphnis and Chloe remembers the freshness of the first kiss is like.

I have a story–why do I write so much about a mostly unwritten work?–Once Upon a Time When the World was New–where I try, probably unsuccessfully, to portray Jeffry and Sally’s first love, leading up to an unwanted pregnancy. I guess I see it as “innocence gone wrong” except that I guess if actual sex comes and leads to a marriage, you can’t call it innocence anymore… but they are young and foolish, and in their love perhaps there is an echo of Daphnis and Chloe, though those two took longer to hit the sheets, if only because they allegedly haven’t been told how the body works sexually. As for Jeff–a lifetime can be shaped by a single mistake, a mistake which decides all future choices.

The man I am in love with–whether he loves me or not is another matter–does not like Daphnis and Chloe. He believes Elizabeth Browning about it–Smut! They both point to the fact that the story describes through a villainous character how a woman feels pain and bleeds the first time she has sex. I don’t blame him. I have a harder stomach than most people. He hasn’t read what I have written of Once Upon a Time When the World is New. I hope it is not judged “Smut!” by him also. However, in the meantime, I will finish Daphnis and Chloe. He can’t stop me. There are only 120 pages. I will, however, finish it tomorrow.

Then I shall begin reading The Complete Folktales of A.N. Afanas’ev, Vol. 3. It is 523 pages. Perhaps I can get it read on Friday. Then I shall finish Aurora Leigh and Other Poems on the weekend. I wish I had time to begin The Ring and the Book by Robert Browning, but after all, I will probably want to continue researching for Tales from the Land of the Firebird on the week after next Sunday.

Published by hadassahalderson

I am a professional author who lives in Wichita, KS. I went to Friends University and spent one year at Claremont Graduate University. My published work includes: The Bible According to Eve I-IV and Faust in Love.

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