Nothing is known of his life, and all that can be said is that he probably lived at the end of the 2nd or the beginning of the 3rd century AD. It has been suggested that the name Longus is merely a misreading of the last word of the title AeafliaK&v epuriK&v \\6yoi d in the Florentine manuscript; Seiler also observes that the best manuscript begins and ends with Xo7ot> (not \\oyyov) iroiHtviKuv.
If his name was really Longus, he was probably a freedman of some Roman family which bore it. Longus's style is rhetorical, his shepherds and shepherdesses are wholly conventional, but he has imparted human interest to a purely fanciful picture. As an analysis of feeling, Daphnis and Chloë makes a nearer approach to the modern novel than its chief rival among Greek erotic romances, the Aethiopica of Heliodorus, which is remarkable mainly for the ingenious succession of incidents.
Daphnis and Chloë, two children found by shepherds, grow up together, nourishing a mutual love which neither suspects. The development of this simple passion forms the chief interest, and there are few incidents. Chloë is carried off by a pirate, and ultimately regains her family. Rivals alarm the peace of mind of Daphnis; but the two lovers are recognized by their parents, and return to a happy married life in the country. Daphnis and Chloë was the model of La Sireine of Honoré d'Urfé, the Diana enamorada of Montemayor, the Aminta of Tasso, and The Gentle Shepherd of Allan Ramsay. The celebrated Paul et Virginie is an echo of the same story.
See J Dunlop's History of Prose Fiction (1888), and especially E Rohde, Der griechische Roman (1900). Longus found an incomparable translator in Jacques Amyot, bishop of Auxerre, whose French version, as revised by Paul Louis Courier, is better known than the original. It appeared in 1559, thirty-nine years before the publication of the Greek text at Florence by Columbani.
The chief subsequent editions are those by G Jungermann (1605), JB de Villoison (1778, the first standard text with commentary), A Coraes (Coray) (1802), PL Courier (1810, with a newly discovered passage), E Seiler (183.5), R Hercher (1858), N Piccolos (Paris, 1866) and Kiefer (Leipzig, 1904), WD Lowe (Cambridge, 1908). AJ Pons's edition (1878) of Courier's version contains an exhaustive bibliography; There are English translations by G Thorneley (1733, reprinted 1893), CV Le Grice (1803), R Smith (in Bohn's Classical Library), and the rare Elizabethan version by Angel Day from Amyot's translation (ed. J Jacobs in Tudor Library, 1890). The illustrated editions, generally of Amyot's version, are numerous and some are beautiful, Prudhon's designs being especially celebrated.