Improved ass? : Apuleius' metamorphoses in his novel Metamorphoses

Source document: Graeco-Latina Brunensia. 2016, vol. 21, iss. 2, pp. 215-228
Extent
215-228
  • ISSN
    1803-7402 (print)
    2336-4424 (online)
Type
Article
Language
English
License: Not specified license
Abstract(s)
Apuleius' novel Metamorphoses has always been open to various and often contradictory interpretations by scholars. One of the most discussed issues has been the novel's division into two seemingly dissimilar parts – the first ten books containing frivolous stories with comical elements and Book XI (also called the Isis-Book) written in a more serious tone and considered to be conveying a religious or, at least, moral message. The authors of the present paper argue against such a simplified assumption and regard the dividing line between the two parts as a mere illusion. This opinion derives from the figure of the main protagonist, Lucius, who in the last book undergoes a religious initiation into the cult of Isis. The aim of the paper is to show that, although he is finally re-transformed into human shape and even lives a prosperous life afterwards, inside he undergoes no inner change whatsoever and remains the same "ass" as in the beginning of the story, i.e. he is not improved in the end. This rules out the possibility that the novel conveyed any deeper religious message and rather points to another interpretation, namely that Apuleius wrote the novel for an educated readership in the spirit of Platonic dialogues. The authors are therefore convinced that the novel can be fully enjoyed only after a scrupulous and thoughtful reading.
Document
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