A native of Phenicia from the city of Emessa (Hellenized and predominantly with the Greek population), Heliodor was ordained. It is known: the local synod, believing that “Ethiopica” corrupts the youth, demanded that Heliodorus burn his book publicly or refuse from the priesthood. And Heliodor preferred the latter.
Presumably the events of the novel refer to the fifth or fourth century. BC. e. The original location is North Africa (the Egyptian coast).
Beautiful Harikleya and the mighty handsome Theagen loved each other and secretly engaged. But fate prepared them a lot of hard tests. Young Greeks have to flee from Delph, where they met and met at the Pythian games (the sacred festivities dedicated to Apollo).
At the beginning of the novel they are captured by Egyptian robbers from the militant tribe of bucolus (volopas) and get acquainted with their compatriot – Athenian Kemon. Also prisoner, he becomes not only an interpreter, but also a faithful companion of Theagen and Harikley.
Kemon also had to leave his homeland, fearing revenge of his stepmother unbeknownst to him.
The noble beauty of Theagen and Hariklei is so exalted that the volosts first take them for the celestials. The leader of the bandits Tiamid falls in love with the Hellenes and, traditionally considering her a prey, is going to marry Hariklee.
The son of the Memphis prophet, Tiamid, became the leader of the bandits
And during the described events, as a noble person, he calls the people to a meeting and appeals to his fellow-soldiers for robbery with a request to give him a beautiful Hellenism instead of the prescribed part of the captured wealth: “… not from the need for pleasure, but for posterity will I have this captive – so I decided First of all it is of noble origin, it seems to me, I judge it by the jewels found by her and by the way she did not succumb to the troubles that had befallen her, but she retains the same spiritual nobility as in her former share, I feel in her soul is kind and chaste. When she wins all women with a virtue, if the shame of her eyes causes respect from all who see her, is it not natural that she makes everyone think well of herself? But what is more important than all that has been said: she seems to me to be a priestess of some kind it is God, since to throw off the sacred garments and crown, she even considers it unfortunate as something terrible and unauthorized. I call all present to judge whether there can be a couple more suitable than a husband of the kind of prophets and a girl dedicated to the deity? “
The people approve of his decision. A smart and far-sighted Harikleya also does not contradict. After all, she really is the priestess of Artemis, chosen by lot for a year. And Teagen (whom she gives out for her brother for security reasons) serves Apollo.
Hariklei only asks to wait with the wedding, until they arrive in the city, where there is an altar or temple of Apollo or Artemis, in order to lay down the priesthood there. Thiamid and the people agree with her. Especially since they are preparing to storm Memphis, where to play a wedding will be more decent and worthy than here, in the den of robbers.
But suddenly they are attacked by another, more numerous squad, enticed not only by a rich profit: the remaining in Memphis, Petosirid, the younger brother of Thiomide, is eager to disarm the applicant for the priestly fast, promising him a great reward for his capture. In an unequal battle, Tiamid was captured. And all that is on the island of robbers, is devoted to fire.
Miraculously surviving Theagen and Hariklee along with Kemmon manages to escape (from the cave where they were hiding) from the swampy island of the volost. After another adventure, the Greeks meet a noble old man – the Egyptian Kalasirid of Memphis.
In time, in order not to succumb to temptation (a sudden passion for a beautiful Thracian woman), Kalasirid, the main prophet of the Isis temple in Memphis, goes into voluntary exile and goes to Hellas, the sacred city of Delphi. There he, received affectionately and graciously, gets acquainted with the Hellenistic sages, who see him as a fellow in spirit and knowledge.
One of the Delphic sages Harikle told Kalasirid how in difficult times he also wandered about in different cities and countries. I visited Egypt as well. There, at the Nile rapids, in the town of Catadupa, he mysteriously becomes the adoptive father of the divinely beautiful girl: she was entrusted to him by the Ethiopian ambassador who arrived in the city for talks with the Persian satrap of the rights to possess the Smaragdian mines: because of them the Persians had Ethiopians were a long-standing dispute…
Got Harikl and a few precious objects that were with the girl. On the silk ribbon, Ethiopian script was skilfully woven, from which it appeared: Harikleya was the daughter of the Ethiopian king Guy-dasa and Queen Persina. For a long time they had no children. Finally, Persinna became pregnant and gave birth… a white-skinned girl. And it happened because she before the births constantly admired the image of Andromeda – a mythical princess, saved by Perseus from the sea monster. Namely Perseus and Andromeda, along with other gods and heroes, the Ethiopians considered their ancestors…
Reasonably fearing that, seeing the white child, Gidasp suspected her of treason, Persinna passed her daughter to a reliable person, providing with prudence things that the child could to identify.
So, grown and bloomed in Delphi Harikleya devotes herself to Artemis. And only a flushed love for Theagen helps the beautiful priestess to renounce eternal virginity. She agrees to become a bride. Yes, so far only a bride, but not his wife. It is such a chaste love at the level of embraces and kisses – the spiritual core of the whole novel.
Kalasiridu in a dreaming dream Apollo and Artemis instructed to take care of the beautiful couple and return with them to their homeland: “… be a companion to them, consider them on a par with their children and bring them from the Egyptians back and forth as the gods like “.
There is another motivating spring of the plot: Kalasirid, it turns out, is the father of the noble priest-robber Tiamid and the treacherous Petosyrid.
Meanwhile, Harikle in Delphi dreams to give Harikley for his nephew Alkamena. But the girl is even disgusted with the sight of him. She loves only Theagen.
Obeying the commands of the gods and his own desire, Kalasirid (incidentally, it was he who helped Teagene and Hariklee to open up to each other), along with the beautiful betrothed, escapes on a ship from Hellas to Egypt…
Tiamid after cruel trials and fights finally returns to Memphis, and Kalasirid hugs involuntarily reconciled sons, the eldest of whom deservedly takes the place of a prophet in the temple of Isis…
Meanwhile, defeating the army of the Persian satrap Oroondat, the Ethiopians led by Gidaspom give the merciful world to the vanquished, capturing untold treasures. And the most important of their trophies was the god-like couple: for the second time Teagen and Harikley became prisoners. But Ethiopians look at them with adoration: beauty conquers all regardless of the way of life and skin color. However, next to the beautiful neighbors terrible: Theagen and Harikley should be sacrificed to the gods of the victors.
But the girl piously believes that when the long-awaited meeting takes place, the parents will not renounce the daughter even for the sacred customs of their people.
… The winners and captives are already in the Ethiopian capital Meroe. Still not knowing anything, Persinna is struck by the sight of a beautiful Hellenka: “If it had been possible to survive the only time I conceived and the sadly lost daughter, she would have been, perhaps, as old as this.”
Boldly ascends Harikley to the flaming altar. And the fire retreats, testifying of its integrity. Theagen also proved its purity. And then, against this beautiful and at the same time horrible sacrifice, the sages – heminosophists first rise up, and then the whole people.
Harikleya unexpectedly requires a trial for all: it is permissible to sacrifice strangers, but not local women! And then he presents a precious bandage with the history of his birth and the ring of Hydaspa himself.
The immediately present sage Sisimitra admits that he, being the Ethiopian ambassador in Egypt, gave the small Harikley to the Greek Harykl. Here the servants bring a picture depicting Andromeda and Perseus, and everyone is shocked by the similarity of the real and mythical princesses.
But the fate of Theagen has not been decided yet. He brilliantly withstands two unexpected tests: he tames the mad bull sacrifice and wins in a duel of the huge and boastful Ethiopian fighter. Harikleya finally reveals to her mother that Theagen is her husband. And Sisimitr recalls that the gods also express their will quite definitely: they instilled fear and confusion in the horses and bulls facing the altars and thus made it clear that they completely rejected the victims, considered to be perfect. And he exclaims: “Let us therefore proceed to the more pure victims, abolishing human sacrifices for ever!” And concludes: “And I associate this couple with laws of marriage and allow them to unite for birth!”
Then, already fully enlightened and softened, Gidasp pins the crowns of the young and the sacred crowns – the signs of the priesthood (before they were worn by him and Persinna). And here are the final words of the novel: “The Ethiopian story about Theagen and Hariklee was obtained from the Ethiopian epic, composed by the Phoenician from Emesa, the Helios family, the son of Theodosius Heliodorus.”