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Introducing the Metamorphoses

Week 7: introducing the Metamorphoses

1. Apuleian seriousness? Novels of conversion and pathos

Introduction: the ancient novel as religious document? (Swain (ed.), introductory survey)

The ancient novel and ‘aretalogy’:

  • Supernatural crushes.
  • Miraculous deliveries from peril. (‘Cures’?)
  • Happy endings.
  • Inscriptions and offerings in cult centres.

‘Religious’ ancient novels (more or less):

1. Jewish novellas, esp.:

  • Joseph and Aseneth.
  • The Book of Judith (famous Holofernes scene).

2. Demotic Egyptian texts, esp.:

  • Horus and Seth.

Perhaps cf. the encomiastic (ps.-)biographical novels, e.g.:

  • Sesonchosis Romance.
  • Xenophon, Cyropaedia.

Initiations in the Metamorphoses:

  • Philosophical initiation: Platonism (cf. De Deo Socratis?).
  • Erotic initiation: Cupid and Psyche (cf. Longus?).
  • Katabasis: Cupid and Psyche (cf. Petronius…and Virgil?).

Some additional reading

DeFilippo, ‘Curiositas and Apuleius’ Golden Ass’, in Harrison (ed.)
Finkelpearl, ‘Psyche, Aeneas, and an Ass’, in Harrison (ed.).
Hägg p.101ff on ‘The Novel as Mysterientexte?’.
Hägg p.154ff on the early Christian novels.
Merkelbach, ‘Novel and Aretalogy’, p.283ff in Tatum (ed.).
Tait, ‘Egyptian Fiction in Demotic and Greek’, p.203ff in Morgan and Stoneman (edd.).
Wills, ‘The Jewish Novellas’, p.223ff in Morgan and Stoneman (edd.).

2. Apuleian irony? Narrating the Metamorphoses

2.1: Style

  • ‘African Latin’: Apuleian diminutives and the question of tone.

2.2: Narrating persona(e)

  • Lucius “of Madaura”: patrimony, gloria studiorum and ‘referential humour’ at Metamorphoses 11.27. (And earlier?)

2.3: Dreams

“When he has had a dream he visits the interpreters of dreams, the soothsayers, the augurs, to ask to what god or goddess he should pray, and will be initiated into the Orphic mysteries. He will of a certainty be one of those people who sprinkle themselves with sea-water on the shore…”
—Theophrastus, Characters 16: The Superstitious Man.

Dreams in the ‘ideal’ Greek novel:

  • A demotic Egyptian novel in Greek translation(?): The Dream of Nectanebo.
  • (Plenty of Greek examples…)

Within a wider literary frame:

  • Homer, Iliad 1 (Agamemnon’s dream) and Odyssey 19.562-7 (significant vs. insignificant dreams).
  • Vergil, Aeneid 6.893-6 (Gates of Horn and Ivory).
  • Cicero, Republic (‘Dream of Scipio’) and De Divinatione (1.39-65, 2.119-48).

Within a wider cultural context:

  • Artemidorus, Oneirokritika (‘Dream Interpretation’).
  • Aelius Aristides, Hieroi Logoi (‘Sacred Discourses’: advice from Asclepius).
  • Macrobius, On Dreams (commentary on Cicero’s dream sequence).

Non-predictive dreams:

1. enhypnia processing the day’s leftovers

2. phantasmata random junk while waking/falling asleep

Predictive dreams:

1. oneiroi symbolic dreams (need interpretation)

2. horamata prophetic visions

3. chrematismata advice from a god

Some further reading:

C. A. Behr (1968), Aelius Aristides and the Sacred Tales.
E. R. Dodds (1957), The Greeks and the Irrational ch.4.
R. T. van der Paardt, ‘The Unmasked “I”’, 237ff in Harrison (ed.).