- Michele Valerie Ronnick
Heliodorus, a.k.a. Heliodorus of Emesa in Syria, was a writer of Greek fiction. His novel, the Aethiopica, is the oldest of the extant Greek romances. The title is derived from the opening and closing scenes of the story, which takes place in the Ethiopian kingdom of Meroe. Little is known about Heliodorus’s personal life, but his writing shows us that he was steeped in the literature of his day and thoroughly acquainted with Greek authors, including Homer and Euripides. According to his own words, his father's name was Theodosius, he was Phoenician, and he belonged to what he called “the race of the sun.”
Three ecclesiastical historians, Socrates of Constaninople, Salminius Hermias Sozomenus from the fifth century c.e., and Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopoulos from the fourteenth century, report that the author of the Aethiopica was once bishop of the Thessalian city Tricca These sources which are today viewed skeptically ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Thought.