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The Role of the Ekphrasis in Plot Development: The Painting of Europa and the Bull in Achilles Tatius' Leucippe and Clitophon

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This article examines the effectiveness of the ekphrasis of Europa and the bull which is placed at the beginning of Achilles Tatius' Leucippe and Clitophon, in order to shed light on its role in the development and progression of the plot in the novel. Although some critics have discussed the ekphrasis' anticipatory effectiveness with regard to the main characters, Leucippe and Clitophon, nevertheless much more can be said about the function of the set-piece description as a tool for foreshadowing events which transpire for the hero and heroine. In addition, this article demonstrates that the ekphrasis depicting Europa and the bull is not limited to prefiguring the actions of the main narrative as previously believed, but seems to act as a template for the plots of all of the mini-episodes that occur in the novel. By way of a table at the end of this article I present the template and the features common to the Europa-ekphrasis and to each of the mini-episodes in order to illuminate further the set-piece description's anticipatory effectiveness.

Affiliations: 1: Brock University, Department of Classics, St. Catharines, ON, Canada, L2S 3A1


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