Books: Toga & Dagger

AN ETHIOPIAN ROMANCE (277 pp.) −Heliodorus−University of Michigan ($4.95).

A band of armed robbers climb a hill near the mouth of the Nile and stare down at an awesome sight. A richly laden but crewless merchant ship is moored near shore, the remains of a banquet lie scattered along the beach, and all around sprawl the bodies of slain men. Only two are alive: a badly wounded young Greek named Theagenes, who is being tended by Charicleia, a girl so beautiful that the brigands think she must be a goddess.

Thus Heliodorus opens his swashbuckling Ethiopica, one of the ancestors of the historical...

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