I just finished reading Aithiopika by Heliodorus. I can’t believe I’ve already made it through 20 books! Before I get to my thoughts on Aithiopika, I’d like to quickly go through some highlights and lowlights of the first 20 for me.
Weirdest Premise: Ada. Incest in some kind of parallel world? Really?
Most Bizarre Act of Revenge: Pooping outside someone’s window, in L’Abbe C.
Most Bizarre Activity: Encrusting a turtle with gems to see how it brought out the colors of a carpet, in Against the Grain.
Mind-Numbing Series of Sentences: Adjunct: An Undigest. I’m sure it wouldn’t be mind-numbing if I actually GOT THE POINT of the random sentences that formed this book.
Character I Would Not Want to Meet in a Dark Alley: The Worm from the After the Quake story. Yuccckkkk. Yuccckkkkkk.
Now to Aithiopika. This book presented logistical challenges for me. It is available free online. Which is awesome. I also recently got a new phone with souped up Internet capability. Which is also awesome. However, reading a 10 chapter, 300 page-ish book on a 2x3ish inch cellphone screen was horrendous for my eyes. Also, you can’t bookmark where you are online the same way you can on the Kindle, so there was a lot of scrolling around trying to figure out where I had left off. Anyway. I made it through and I can still see.
Aithiopika is a complicated book with a very traditional theme of a man and a woman who want to be together, but life keeps throwing things in their path that keep them from getting married. In their case, it isn’t money or disapproving parents or anything like that that keep them apart. It’s things like getting caught in the middle of a war and taken prisoner, or being captured by a band of thieves, or being nearly offered as human sacrifices. It’s interesting how it’s a contemporary theme but the things that befall the couple are so unbelievably different.
The book was confusing in parts because there are SO many flashbacks. It was also confusing because Heliodorus decided to make most of the male characters’ names start with T. So for the first couple of chapters I couldn’t tell Thyamis from Theagenes. Then later on come the C names. So once I figured out the T’s, along came Calasiris and Charicles and I was Confusedicles. This wouldn’t have been as big of an issue if I were reading this in normal format and could flip back a few pages more easily to figure out who was who. Anyway. This was a really cool read and I enjoyed reading something so old but with relevance, too.