International Journal of the Classical Tradition

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 262–288 | Cite as

Bird in a Human Lap: From Natural Observation to Moral Lesson

  • Balázs Gaál


A charming episode in Longus’s famous novel Daphnis and Chloe depicts how a cicada, chased by a swallow, dropped into Chloe’s lap, seeking refuge there as a suppliant. The event happened when the couple were spending time, as usual, in their idyllic bucolic environment, and Chloe fell asleep for a while in the hot midday hour of the summer. Daphnis was looking at her insatiably, speaking words of admiration to himself, and frightened that the cicadas nearby, with their loud resounding voices, would not let her sleep. The text of the episode goes as follows in a literal translation:

While he [sc. Daphnis] was uttering these words a cicada which was fleeing from a swallow that wanted to capture it fell down into Chloe’s lap. And the swallow which followed was unable to seize it but as it came close through the pursuit it touched the girl’s cheeks with its wings. Not knowing what had happened she, crying out loud, started up from her sleep. But when she saw the swallow still...


Human Hand Small Bird Natural Observation Latin Translation Moral Lesson 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ELTE UniversityBudapestHungary

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