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The Golden Ass by Apuleius

The Golden Ass (1469)

by Apuleius

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (44)  Spanish (5)  Dutch (2)  Italian (2)  Danish (1)  All languages (54)
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
'The Golden Ass' is one of the earliest intact novels. Along with the more fragmentary 'Satyricon' it is our only significant window into Latin literary prose. The two have very different styles and being the only survivors of a vast canon I can only imagine what was lost and its hard to judge if this book is a typical or outstanding example of its kind. but I can see the influences that this work had on early novelists such as Cervantes where the narrative is broken up frequently with traveler's stories and folktales, the dangers of curiosity, and wordplay. It's practical sense of humor and disregard for rules I see as simply human. The novel becomes serious near the end as our narrator, Lucius, is inducted into the sacred mysteries of the Isis cult. Other aspects of Latin culture give this novel a sensibility very different from the comparatively recent 17th and 18th centuries.

This is an invaluable work and I can see its charms, but as with many of the early novels in English I grew tired of the digressions. The main plot is Lucius' transformation into an ass after stealing a witch's magic ointment. The novel is also social comedy in his comments about his stingy host, conversations, and (of course) the habits of women. The story frequently makes aside into stories, tales of witchcraft and bravery and the story of Cupid and Psyche makes up a large portion of the novel.

Much of Lucius and his culture is human, but it was hard for me to empathize with him during his struggles. An interesting artifact - I think I'd be more interesting in reading abut this work than in reading this again. ( )
1 vote ManWithAnAgenda | Mar 6, 2019 |
Fantastic read. A blend of ancient myth and reality, not sure which one is stranger. Just the fact that it was written long before Medieval times is mind boggling ( )
  Firewild | Jan 3, 2019 |
The tales of Lucius Apuleius, whose adventures form the framework for storytelling at each of the locations along his journey, and there are many. Early in the tale, Lucius, because of his curiosity about magic, is transformed into an ass. As he is passed from owner to owner, he suffers beatings and cruelty and constant threats of death, but he is somehow within earshot of the stories he tells, most of which have to do with cuckoldry, and are humorous, although the punishments to the unfortunate, especially if they are slaves, are extreme. The most well-known of the tales is the Tale of Cupid and Psyche. At the end, however, Lucius is transformed back into human form, and becomes a devoted initiate into the cults of Isis and Osiris, and also has a career as a successful barrister.

Robert Graves' translation is both readable and entertaining. The wry telling of the unfortunate but sympathetic narrator's adventures invites the term picaresque, although that particular designation for novels came much later. It's easy to see the influence of Lucius on world literature. This work from the 2nd century AD seems to have influenced Chaucer, and Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream ia perhaps the most well-known instance of a human turning into an ass. Other borrowers include Milton, Boccacio, Cervantes, Dekker, Kyd and Kafka.

The description of Isis, the Mother Goddess, is adoration itself: "so lovely a face that the gods themselves would have fallen down in adoration of it." Long thick hair falling in ringlets, crowned with a garland of flowers, and a disk on her forehead, held by vipers. A multi-colored linen robe; and a black mantle covered with stars. Her left hand holds suspended a boat-shaped gold dish, and on the handle there is an asp ready to strike. She is accompanied by all the perfumes of Arabia. She tells Lucius, "I am Nature, the Universal Mother, mistress of all the elements, primordial child of time, sovereign of all things spiritual, queen of the dead, queen also of the immortals, the single manifestation of all gods and goddesses that are. My nod governs the shiny heights of heaven, the wholesome sea breezes, the lamentable silences of the world below." Perhaps an invocation of Graves' White Goddess? ( )
  deckla | Oct 27, 2018 |
signed by quentin blake
old mill stucco paper bound by kozel in full indian goatskin. ( )
  Drfreddy94 | Jul 17, 2018 |
"...I was obliged to face the mortifying fact that I had been transformed not into a bird, but into a plain Jackass." - Book V: Lucius is Transformed

Tales of comedy, drama, tragedy, incest, fratricide, bestiality; Apuleius' Metamorphoses contains a wide variety of tales, and is the earliest source for the myth of Cupid & Psyche.

Graves' translation was very readable.
"I did not leave the kitchen until I had taken a careful look at her from head to foot. But for the moment I need only write about her head; the truth is that I have an obsession about hair. Whenever I meet a pretty woman, the first thing that catches my eye is her hair; I make a careful mental picture to carry home and brood over in private. This habit of mine I justify on a sound logical principle; that the hair is the most important and conspicuous feature of the body, and that its natural brilliance does for the head what gaily coloured clothes do for the trunk. In fact, it does a great deal more. You know how women, when they want to display their beauty to the full, shed their embroidered wraps and step out of their expensive dresses, and proudly reveal themselves with nothing on at all, aware that even the brightest gold tissue has less effect on a man than the delicate tints of a woman's naked body. But - and here you must excuse a horrible idea which I hope nobody will ever put into practice - if you shaved the head of even the most beautiful woman alive and so deprived her face of its natural setting, then I don't care whether she originally floated down from sea-foam like the Goddess Venus - I don't even care whether she were Venus herself, with every one of the Graces and Cupids in attendance, Venus dripping with precious balsam and fragrant as cinnamon, and with the famous girdle of love clasped about her waist - the fact is, that her baldness would leave her completely without attraction even for so devoted a husband as the God Vulcan.

What joy it is to see hair of a beautiful colour caught in the full rays of the sun, or shining with a milder lustre and constantly varying its shade as the light shifts. Golden at one moment, at the next honey-coloured; or black as a raven's wing, but suddenly taking on the next pale blueish tints of a dove's neck-feathers. Give it a gloss with a spikenard lotion, part it neatly with a finely toothed comb, catch it up with a ribbon behind - and the lover will make it a sort of mirror to reflect his own delighted looks. And oh, when hair is bunched up in a thick luxurious mass on a woman's head or, better still, allowed to flow rippling down her neck in profuse curls! I must content myself by saying baldly that such is the glory of woman's hair that though she may be wearing the most exquisite clothes and the most expensive jewellery in existence, with everything else in keeping, she cannot look even moderately well dressed unless she has done her hair in proper style."
—Book II: At Milo's House ( )
  EroticsOfThought | Feb 28, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
Valuable for those who have wit to understand it.
Le "Metamorfosi" si prestano a diverse chiavi di lettura: fino alla fine del decimo libro sembrano un romanzo realistico con elementi magici, avventurosi ed erotici. L'undicesimo e ultimo libro, però, è per toni e temi estremamente diverso da tutti gli altri: se nei primi dieci il romanzo è di una velocità travolgente, vivo come poche opere classiche, nell'ultimo, invece, è denso, criptico e oscuro, ma ugualmente affascinante; l'undicesimo libro sconvolge la prospettiva realistica e l'opera diventa la storia dell'iniziazione religiosa e della redenzione spirituale del protagonista. Le peripezie del curioso Lucio possono essere viste come il percorso ascensionale dell'anima umana; l'opera come un moderno bildungsroman (romanzo di formazione). Le due chiavi di lettura, in definitiva, si integrano e al romanzo d'intrattenimento si aggiunge un messaggio di salvezza spirituale che Apuleio voleva lasciare a contemporanei e posteri.
La lingua e lo stile dell'opera sono originali e piuttosto chiari; sono presenti delle tendenze virtuosistiche tipiche dell'epoca, che si traducono in un grande uso di figure retoriche; diversi sono anche gli influssi stilistici dall'oratoria. In ogni caso lo svolgimento della trama resta comprensibile.

» Add other authors (344 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Apuleiusprimary authorall editionscalculated
Adlington, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ayrton, MichaelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ģiezens, AugustsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Braarvig, JensIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carlesi, FerdinandoEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Darton, F. J. HarveyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Graves, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hagreen, PhilipIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hanson, J. ArthurEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunink, VincentTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kenney, E.J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marziano, NinoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Matoses, RafaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mørland, HenningTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Quintáns Suárez, ManuelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Relihan, Joel C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rieu, E. V.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roncoroni, FedericoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schwartz, M.A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vendrell, SalvadorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walsh, P.G.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whibley, CharlesIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Business once took me to Thessaly, where my mother's family originated; I have, by the way, the distinction of being descended through her from the famous Plutarch.
Cupid and Psyche (I)
'Once upon a time there lived a king and queen who had three very beautiful daughters.'
Now Cupid being more and more in love with Psyche, and fearing the sudden austerity of his mother, returned again to his tricks, and did pierce on swift wings into the heavens, and arrived before Jupiter to declare his cause: then Jupiter alter that he had eftsoons embraced his dear relation and kissed his hand, began to say in this manner:

‘O my lord and son, although thou hast not given due reverence and honour unto me as thou oughtest to do, but hast rather soiled and wounded this my breast (whereby the laws and order of the elements and planets be disposed) with continual assaults of terrene luxury and against all laws, yea even the Julian law, and the utility of the public weal, hurting my fame and name by wicked adulteries, and transforming my divine beauty into serpents, fire, savage beasts, birds, and bulls. Howbeit remembering my modesty, and that I have nourished thee with mine own proper hands, I will do and accomplish all thy desire. But still thou shouldest beware of spiteful and envious persons, and if there be any excellent maiden of comely beauty in the world, remember yet the benefit which I shall shew unto thee, by recompense of her love towards me again.’
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This is TRANSLATIONS of Apuleius' Metamorphoses (theGolden Ass). Do not combine editions including Latin texts or other works by Apuleius.
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Book description
Apuleio, africano di Madaura, fu fondamentalmente estraneo alla cultura latina tradizionale ed è anche l'autore latino più sperimentale, sia nell'opera che nella vita. Roma per lui fu soltanto una tappa del suo continuo peregrinare. Superiore a tutti nell'arte del 'pasticcio' linguistico e stilistico, con "L'asino d'oro" scrive un'opera che suscita ancora perplessità per la sua composizione. Il narratore è Lucio che narra la sua trasformazione in asino e che alla fine del romanzo ritornerà persona, quando riuscirà a divorare una corona di rose portata in corteo da un sacerdote di Iside.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140435905, Paperback)

Lucius, a young man whose fascination with witchcraft leads him to believe he can be transformed into a bird, instead becomes a donkey. Whirled off by robbers, he embarks on a series of adventures and misadventures. Confronted eventually with the prospect of a stage performance where he is supposed to demonstrate his sexual prowess with a woman, he is overwhelmed by a religious vision and is finally initiated into the cult of the goddess Isis.

It has been long disputed whether Apuleius meant this last-minute conversion seriously or as a final comic surprise and the challenge of interpretation continues to keep readers fascinated by this work. Apuleius’ Golden Ass is the most continuously and accessibly amusing book that has come down to us from classical antiquity.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:05 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

After Lucius is transformed into an ass because of his curiosity and fascination for sex and magic, he suffers a series of trials and humiliations before being transformed back into human shape by the kindness of Isis.

» see all 4 descriptions

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