Heliodoros’s “Sources”: Intertextuality, Paternity, and the Nile River in the Aithiopika


Kharikleia, the heroine of Heliodoros’s Aithiopika, shares with the novel a tripartite identity; she is a metaphor for the incorporation of multiple literary models into a single text. Heliodoros sets up the Nile river as a figure for the heterogeneity of both heroine and book. The implication is that the discovery of the source of the Nile will mean the discovery of a single, true identity. Ultimately, however, the figure of the Nile casts doubt on whether genealogy, as the search for a point of origin, is a useful way of understanding the nature of hybrid entities such as Kharikleia and her text.