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Contextualising Apuleius

Week 7: contextualising Apuleius

1. A Latin ‘sophist’ … or a fabulist on the make?

  • Apuleius’ Greek sources.
  • Apuleius as ‘sophist’, declaiming at Carthage: Florida.
  • A provincial made good: Metamorphoses proem.
  • A cosmopolite surrounded by hicks: Apology.

Other extant work:

  • De deo Socratis (cf. Plutarch De genio Socratis).

Lost works included:

  • Collections of speeches (Florida is a ‘best-of’).
  • Light verse (Ludicra).
  • De proverbiis.
  • Didactic prose texts: De medicaminibus, De arboribus.
  • Eroticus (also didactic?).
  • Hermagoras (‘another novel’, says OCD3).

Ps.-Apuleiana include:

  • Physiognomonia.

Further reading:

H. J. Mason, ‘Fabula Graecanica’, reprinted in Harrison (ed.) (1999).
K. Dowden, ‘The Roman Audience of The Golden Ass’, in Tatum (ed.) (1994).~
S. J. Harrison (2003), Apuleius: A Latin Sophist.

2. Apuleius, Lucian, and the Greco-Roman Other

  • Theorising ‘the Other’.
  • Novels from the margins?
  • Apuleius as self-conscious outsider.
  • Apuleius as anti-Atticising ‘Asianist’.
  • Lucian as anti-Sophist.

Lucian and the Other:

  • De Dipsadibus.
  • De Dea Syria.

Some further reading:


H. G. Nesselrath, ‘Lucian’s Introductions’, in D. A. Russell (ed.) (1990) Antonine Literature.

Novels and the margins:

S. A. Stephens, ‘Who Read Ancient Novels?’, in Tatum (ed.) (1994).
J. S. Romm, ‘Novels beyond Thule’, in Tatum (ed.) (1994).

Also by Romm, and highly recommended: The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought (1992).

Apuleius’ novel as social document of a (largely absentee) Roman administrative and judicial order:

Fergus Millar, ‘The World of the Golden Ass’, JRS 71 (1981) 63-75: reprinted in Harrison (ed.) (1999).