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The Golden Ass

by Apuleius

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,732762,338 (3.85)274
With accuracy, wit, and intelligence, this remarkable new translation of The Golden Ass breathes new life into Apuleius's classic work. Sarah Ruden, a lyric poet as well as a highly respected translator, skillfully duplicates the verbal high jinks of Apuleius's ever-popular novel. It tells the story of Lucius, a curious and silly young man, who is turned into a donkey when he meddles with witchcraft. Doomed to wander from region to region and mistreated by a series of deplorableand#160;owners, Lucius at last is restored to human form with the help of the goddess Isis.The Golden Ass, the first Latin novel to survive in its entirety, is related to the Second Sophistic, a movement of learned and inventive literature. In a translation that is both the most faithful and the most entertaining to date, Ruden reveals to modern readers the vivid, farcical ingenuity of Apuleius's style.… (more)
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» See also 274 mentions

English (59)  Spanish (9)  Italian (3)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Catalan (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (76)
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
It was of great benefit to read Books 1-6 of Apuleius in the magnificent translation of J. Arthur Hanson. For a practicing neo-platonist, or a kin to ancient folk by heart and spirit this books conveys many trophies with plots that could easily be turned into stanzas of quotable wisdom-literature. I'm preparing myself to read the second volume alongside with Fletcher's 'Apuleius' Platonism' which is an extremely interesting support-mechanism for fully and duly understanding Master Apuleius' thought. ( )
  Saturnin.Ksawery | Jan 12, 2024 |
"The Golden Ass" is the world's oldest novel, written by a Roman named Apuleius in about the year 160 C.E. Apuleius was a philosopher and author, who wrote other stories as well. The novel is about a man named Lucius (the narrator of the story) who is transformed by magic into a donkey!

It is very funny and quite bawdy at times and can be enjoyed at that level. But, it is also a story about animal cruelty and abuse. At the start of the story Lucius mentions in passing that he is related to the Greek philosopher and historian Plutarch, well known (then and now) for his biographies of famous historical figures, but he was also a staunch animal rights activist and vegetarian. This should give a hint to the tone of the book.

Lucius, who maintains his human mind but cannot speak, knows what he needs to do to return to human form (eat roses), but because of various circumstances he does not get the opportunity to do so. As a poor donkey he is captured, sold, overburdened with heavy loads, forced into labor, beaten, tortured, abused, and almost killed by various cruel and sadistic citizens and slaves. The story also shows the extreme cruelty performed on slaves, who at times are chained and forced to to work alongside Lucius the donkey in a grain mill that runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He does, of course, escape the situation because after all, he did write the tale.
After the story, there are two essays, one by translator Ellen Finkelpearl and one by the editor, Peter Singer. Singer is a well-known animal rights activist and has written several books on the subject. He notes that in that time period most people did not consider it cruel to mistreat animals (or slaves sadly), but also says that in our current times we mistreat and abuse FAR more animals now than in those days, mostly due to the animal factory farms. (Singer writes that when people secretly have videotaped the mistreatment at the farms, Congress did not pass laws to protect animals, they made it a crime with serious consequences to film the mistreatment!). Singer also reminds readers that Apuleius has Lucius turns into an ass, then considered one of the lowest forms of animal life, rather than an animal like a noble eagle, a lovable dog, or a brave lion. But of course, the story would not be about abuse if he did so...
This edition of the book (from Liveright Press in 2022) is an abridgement from the original Latin, which contained several stories within the novel (including the famous "Cupid and Psyche") but are not included in this book and are not part of the story-line about Lucius anyway. This is a nice translation of the novel and is easily readable.
And make sure that you read the two essays also, they help give nice insight into the book.
( )
  CRChapin | Jul 8, 2023 |
A collection of tales, mostly of the damages caused by adulterous and otherwise wicked women, collected together as being heard or experienced by the "author" while he was transformed into an ass. The occasional tale features brigands or lascivious man as misfortune's agent. The longest tale, Psyche's, is the exception if one excludes Venus from the company of adulterous and otherwise wicked women because she's a goddess, is rather boring as Psyche just wanders about being an utter dishrag and the very architecture tells her what to do next. ( )
  quondame | Jan 22, 2023 |
Reason read: African challenge (North Africa),Reading 1001.
This is the only ancient Roman novel to survive. It is full of story of goddess/gods and mythology and very full of sexual content. Proof that there is nothing new under the sun. The narrator is changed into an ass and the story is an adventure as seen by the ass (Reminds me of Balaam and the Ass in the Bible).

The protagonist, Lucius, at the end of the novel, is revealed to be from Madaurus, the hometown of Apuleius himself. The plot revolves around the protagonist's curiosity and insatiable desire to see and practice magic. While trying to perform a spell to transform into a bird, he is accidentally transformed into an ass.

It really is a series of stories such as stories about Cupid and Psyce. An episodic picaresque novel and reminding me of the other picaresque novels found on the 1001 books list. ( )
  Kristelh | Jan 6, 2023 |
In a nutshell - this is a story about a man who gets turned into an Ass, spends some time as a beast of burden, than has a religious epiphany and is turned back to a man.

I liked it. However, the ending was a bit too rapturous as Lucius discovers religion, however, I found it interesting that religious ferver is the same, regardless of age or religion. Its pure comedy, as Lucius goes from one problem, to another, with his way of becoming human again always just out or reach. ( )
  TheDivineOomba | Nov 24, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 59 (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 (301 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Apuleiusprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Graves, RobertTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Adlington, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Annaratone, ClaudioEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ayrton, MichaelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ģiezens, AugustsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blake, QuentinIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Braarvig, JensIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carlesi, FerdinandoEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Darton, F. J. HarveyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
David, IsmarCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gockinga, RenéIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grant, MichaelEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hagreen, PhilipIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hanson, J. ArthurEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunink, VincentTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kenney, E.J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lindsay, JackTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marziano, NinoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Matoses, RafaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mørland, HenningTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Murray, WebsterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Page, T. E.Editorsecondary 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
Terzaghi, NicolaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vendrell, SalvadorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vliet, Johannes van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walsh, P.G.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whibley, CharlesIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
The world grows stranger as we stare,
with vortices of maddening change.
How understand what we unbare
as through the ragged scene we range?

When transformations mock control
and the split atom is our all,
what monstrous faces crowd the soul.
The seed's corrupted by our fall.

It seems that Apuleius guessed
the curious things that happen when
the gap is widening betwixt
reality and the minds of men.

Now Isis cannot save us; yet
the answer's truly here explained:
redemption from the faceless threat,
and earth regained.
J. L.
Dedication
TO RANDALL SWINGLER
--Lindsay edition
First words
We generally know little of the life of an ancient author if he did not happen to play some part in the political scene.
--Introduction (Lindsay translation, 1960)
In this Milesian Tale, reader, I shall string together a medley of stories, and titillate your agreeable ears with a merrily whispered narrative, if you will not refuse to scan this Egyptian paper written with a subtle pen of Nilotic reeds.
--Preface (Lindsay translation, First Midland Book edition 1962)
Business directed me into Thessaly.
--Body text (Lindsay translation, First Midland Book edition 1962)
Quotations
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.’
Last words
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Disambiguation notice
This is translations of Apuleius' Metamorphoses (the Golden Ass), including editions that include both a translation and the Latin text. Please do not combine with Latin-only editions or with other works by Apuleius.
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With accuracy, wit, and intelligence, this remarkable new translation of The Golden Ass breathes new life into Apuleius's classic work. Sarah Ruden, a lyric poet as well as a highly respected translator, skillfully duplicates the verbal high jinks of Apuleius's ever-popular novel. It tells the story of Lucius, a curious and silly young man, who is turned into a donkey when he meddles with witchcraft. Doomed to wander from region to region and mistreated by a series of deplorableand#160;owners, Lucius at last is restored to human form with the help of the goddess Isis.The Golden Ass, the first Latin novel to survive in its entirety, is related to the Second Sophistic, a movement of learned and inventive literature. In a translation that is both the most faithful and the most entertaining to date, Ruden reveals to modern readers the vivid, farcical ingenuity of Apuleius's style.

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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.
(piopas)
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