BAR 39:04, Jul/Aug 2013
Daphnis and Chloe in the Garden of Eden
We often consider how Biblical religions affected one another, but less often how Biblical religions may have influenced what we sometimes call pagan cultures. Indeed, it can be said that by the time Christianity became a licit religion in the fourth century, its narrative was not entirely foreign to the pagans of the Roman Empire.
A case in point is the pagan love story of Daphnis and Chloe, influenced, at least in part, by the Biblical story of the Garden of Eden—and by the intercessory role played by Christ the Son before God the Father.
Written in about 200 A.D. by the Greco-Roman author Longus, who appears to have come from the island of Lesbos, Daphnis and Chloe is a pastoral romance that is overwhelmingly pagan. In his preface Longus dedicates the work to “Love, the Nymphs and Pan.” Other pagan deities appear or are referred to. The protagonists celebrate a Festival of Dionysius, and the god Pan saves the heroine from abduction. But as we shall see, the story also has its Biblical connotations.