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Literature and Identity in the Golden Ass of Apuleius

Luca Graverini, Benjamin Todd Lee

Publication Year: 2012

Literature and Identity in TheGolden Ass of Apuleius is the first English translation of a work published in 2007 as Le Metamorfosi di Apuleio: Letteratura e identità, by Luca Graverini. The second-century CE novel The Golden Ass, or Metamorphoses, has proven to be both captivating and highly entertaining to the modern reader, but the text also presents the critic with a vast array of interpretive possibilities. In fact, there is little consensus among scholars on the fundamental significance of Apuleius’ novel: is it simply a form of narrative entertainment, or does it represent some sort of religious or philosophical propaganda? Can it be interpreted as a satire of fatuous belief in otherworldly powers, or is it an utterly aporetic text? Graverini begins by setting The Golden Ass in its ancient literary context. Apuleius’ playful defiance of generic conventions represents a substantial literary innovation, but he is also taking part in a tradition of narrative and satirical literature that typically featured experimentation with genre. The interplay of generic elements found in The Golden Ass reflects the complexity of the author’s cultural identity: Apuleius was a Roman North African who had traveled widely throughout the Mediterranean and enjoyed an extensive education in both Greek and Latin. Graverini concludes with a study of the complex interaction of these three dimensions of Apuleius’ identity (African, Roman, and Greek), and investigates what the narrative can tell us about the culture of its readership. These cultural interactions affirm that The Golden Ass aims to delight its readers as well as to exhort them to religion and philosophy. Ben Lee’s superb new translation will make Graverini's groundbreaking study available to a much wider scholarly readership.

Published by: The Ohio State University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. 6-7

Translator’s Note

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pp. vii-viii

Author’s Note to the English Translation

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pp. ix-x

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xvi

For many years now, the Metamorphoses of Apuleius has garnered a remarkable degree of critical attention that, with an ever-increasing emphasis, has demonstrated the highly sophisticated literary nature of the work, as well as its many considerable hermeneutic difficulties. ...

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1. A Sweet Poetics

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pp. 1-50

There are many things we do not know about the ancient novel. For example, we can only make conjectures about the circumstances of its birth or about its audience, not to speak of the dense fog that shrouds the biographies of most of its authors. ...

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2. Old Wives' Tales and Servile Pleasures

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pp. 51-132

We have determined what sort of images and ideas are suggested by the prologue, but it remains to be seen whether we ought to allow ourselves to fall under its spell. For we know by now that the fascination of a sweet voice can be dangerous, something which it might be better to resist. ...

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3. Metamorphoses of Genres

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pp. 133-164

As we have seen, Socratic dialogue and the tradition of Greek and Roman satire offer a good frame of reference for illustrating the seriocomic character of the Metamorphoses. Though they share several similarities, of course, we cannot ignore the pronounced differences between literary genres ...

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4. Greece, Rome, Africa

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pp. 165-208

In the preceding chapters I approached the problem of identity in the Metamorphoses from a literary and hermeneutic perspective, by analyzing specific genre-markers suggested in the text. I then looked at the problem of the cultural context for the novelistic genre. ...


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pp. 209-227

Index locurum

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pp. 228-235

General Index

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pp. 236-239

Back Cover

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p. 257-257

E-ISBN-13: 9780814270264
E-ISBN-10: 0814270263
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814211915
Print-ISBN-10: 0814211917

Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2012