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Berossus is not the first name that springs to mind when thinking about Greek prose fiction. He rejects what he calls ‘the falsehoods’ of earlier Greek authors and is generally thought to recount the history of Mesopotamia in an accurate, if rather unexciting, manner. Assyriologists praise his adherence to Mesopotamian chronicle sources and regret the fact that he was never widely read. It may perhaps be possible to argue that Berossus influenced some of the later novelists. He did of course write the original Babyloniaca, long before Iamblichus, and he was the first Greek author to establish a Babylonian authorial persona. Iamblichus seems to have presented himself as a Syrian with a Babylonian education, and, like Berossus, he shows off his knowledge of Babylonian language and customs. Most strikingly, perhaps, Iamblichus asserts that he predicted the Parthian campaign of Verus. Perhaps he was modelling himself on Berossus, who was famous in antiquity for his powers of prophecy. So, there are some affinities between Berossus and later novels, but in tone and conception Berossus is so different that any parallels in detail do not amount to a sustained history of influence. At this fairly basic level Berossus is probably not a missing link in the development of Greek prose fiction from the Hellenistic age to late antiquity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Romance Between Greece and the East
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781139814690
ISBN (Print)9781107038240
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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