Prologue from The Story of Daphnis and Chloe, A Greek Pastoral
Once while I was a-hunting in Lesbos I happened to see in a grove sacred to the Nymphs the fairest sight I ever saw, a story of love told by a painter’s hand. The grove itself was delightful, rich in trees and flowers and well supplied with streams fed by a single spring which watered the whole glade. But still more charming than these was the painting which showed skill and taste in the unfolding of the love-story, so fair indeed that many a stranger was attracted by its reputation to visit it, some coming to pray to the Nymphs, others to see the picture. It represented women with newly born infants, others wrapping their babes in swaddling-clothes, little children lying exposed and then being suckled by sheep or adopted by shepherds, young lovers plighting vows
of love, an attack by a band of pirates and invasion by a hostile force. While I was gazing on and admiring these and other love scenes in the painting, suddenly I was seized by a longing to write an idyll to describe it. So I found a man to explain it for me and I have written a story in four books, an offering to the god of Love and to the Nymphs and Pan, and a joy for ever to mankind to heal their sickness and soothe their grief, to recall the sweets of love to those that have tasted them and to initiate those who have not into its secrets. For no man has been able to avoid the shafts of Love, nor will be able, as long as eyes can see and beauty reigns. And may the god of Love grant us power to tell the loves of others in all purity of heart.
- Longus, translated by W.D. Lowe
Designed in one movement and three parts, the history of Daphnis and Chloe is that of a sentimental education. Inspired by the Greek novel by Longus, it tells of Daphnis discovering his love for Chloe, the appearance of the seductive and disturbing Lycenion, the cunning of the enterprising Dorcon, the kidnapping of Chloe by Bryaxis and the pirates, the intervention of the nymphs and the god Pan, and the happy ending that brings the young lovers together.*
*Courtesy of the Paris Opera Ballet, published in program for Daphnis et Chloé (2014)