The Book of Syntipas the Philosopher (BSP) tells the dramatic story of the young son of King Kyros, who is falsely accused by one of the king’s wives of having raped her, and therefore faces capital punishment. This is a fascinating text, due to its intriguing narrative structure (multiple short stories embedded in a frame story) and the dramatic character of the embedded short stories, which frequently are about sex and crime, topics rarely found in Byzantine literature. In two of the oldest witnesses, BSP appears together with a collection of fables usually referred to as the Fables of Syntipas.
Jeffrey Beneker and Craig A. Gibson translate both of Andreopoulos’s texts into readable and lively English, without departing too far from the Greek original. The amusing stories together with insightful remarks on human nature make BSP and the Fables of Syntipas entertaining and also morally edifying reads. (Despite their occasionally frivolous and lascivious [at least to us moderns] content, one must not forget that the manuscript tradition clearly shows that both texts were primarily understood as advice literature.) It is to be hoped that more such texts in equally competent translations will appear soon.
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