As a pastoral prose romance, Longus' Daphnis and Chloe is something of an anomaly in a genre dominated for centuries by verse. Yet the work is quintessential pastoral, less because of its shepherd protagonists than because of the author's narrative strategy, with its mixing of genres and the cool distance it establishes between character and reader. Crucial in establishing this distance is the author's emphasis on the pastoral scene as artifact, a crafted work to be viewed and admired by the connoisseur.
The stress on artifact appears from the start. Rather than plunging his readers into the story or vouching for the veracity of what is to follow by presenting himself as an eyewitness or participant, Longus identifies himself, in a narrator's preface, as a sophisticated outsider, and informs his readers that what they are about to read is an extended ekphrasis, a literary description of a work of visual art:
Hunting on Lesbos, I saw in a grotto of the Nymphs the most beautiful spectacle (theama) I have ever seen: a painted picture (eikona graptēn), a tale of love (historian erōtos).
The narrator's first words identify him as a hunter rather than a shepherd, no matter how literary. In fact he ranges himself alongside the urban gentlemen holiday-makers and hunters whom his readers will soon meet within the frame of the story (the Methymnean youths, the young master Astylos whose very name proclaims his urban identity — astu is the word for city) and whose aesthetic values they undoubtedly share.