Since Daphnis and Chloe is a work of fiction, modern criticism has paid little attention to the topographical details of Lesbos which Longus scatters through his work. Today a preoccupation with biographical or topographical realism in literature is out of fashion, and Longus's world has in any case been described, by one of his most percipient modern critics, as ‘un monde des plus irréels’. Yet just as Longus's women reveal a striking blend of fictional romance and social realism, so the background to his narrative, however much adorned with items of baroque fancy, nevertheless remains solidly based on the geography and ecology of Lesbos itself. The cave of the Nymphs, with its grotto, its spring, and its clutter of statues, may derive from the pastoral property-closet; but Longus's description of Mytilene agrees with those given by Strabo and Pausanias, and many other details—the trailing vines, the wine, the flourishing orchards, the prevalence of hares for hunting—suggest familiarity with the terrain. The description in the proem of the grove of the Nymphs, thick with flowers and trees and watered by a single spring, at once calls to mind the site of the great temple at Mesa, in the Kalloni plain. Most striking of all, since often used as evidence for Longus's ignorance of Lesbos, is his vivid description of a heavy snowfall, much at odds with later travellers' accounts of the climate's perennial mildness. But in the winter of 1964, when I was living on the island, snow lay three feet deep in the chestnut forest above Aghiassos, while Methymna was icebound, with frozen taps and sub-zero temperatures, for ten days, so that all the eucalyptus trees outside the schoolhouse died. The worst winter in living memory was that of 1953/4; the mountains are frequently snowbound. Longus, like Alcaeus, who also describes such conditions, knew what he was talking about.