Transactions of the American Philological Association
Volume 138, Number 2, Autumn 2008
pp. 411-450 | 10.1353/apa.0.0015
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.