Week 9: narrative in the Metamorphoses
1. Pimping the plot: Milesian tales in Apuleius
1.1: What are (or were) Milesian tales?
- ‘Aristides’, author of lost Milesian Tales (Milesiaka).
- Date: perhaps c. 100 BC? (Or earlier: Hägg.)
- Question of ‘sources’ is unanswerable; perhaps cf. Artemidorus’ Oneirokritika? (last week’s lecture).
- Not to be confused with P. Aelius Aristides (Hieroi Logoi mentioned in last week’s lecture).
- Latin translation in early C1 BC by L. Cornelius Sisenna, a Roman historian (predecessor of Sallust) and orator (Verres’ defence lawyer).
- Shocking the Parthians: Milesiaka at Carrhae: Plutarch, Life of Crassus 32.4-6.
- A single fragment of Aristides’ Greek original survives.
- ‘Milesian tales’ defined by references in other texts: e.g. Ovid, Tristia 2.443-4.
- Apuleius, Met. 1.1.1 (‘sermone isto Milesio’): “stitching together” and possible implications for Aristides’ structure (framing narrative?). Cf. 4.32.6
- Ps.-Lucian, Amores 1: Aristides as internal audience? Cf. narrative frames (esp. openings) of ‘ideal’ Greek novels: Longus, Achilles Tatius.
1.2: ‘Milesian’ themes
- Extra-marital sex. (Bowersock (1994) 124: “lost lubricities”.)
- Death, sorcery and the uncanny: cf. ghost stories in Phlegon of Tralles, Book of Marvels.
1.3: Milesian tales in the ancient novel
- Ps.-Lucian, Onos (NB similarities of story to Apuleius’). One (sophisticated) Milesian tale containing others?
- Petronius’ ‘Widow of Ephesus’ (Satyricon 111-12).
- Petronius’ ‘Pergamene Boy’ (ibid. 85-7).
- Longus: one long Milesian tale? (sex, magic)
- Possible structural comparator: ekphrasis.
1.4: Apuleius’ use of inset tales
- Best known episode: Cupid and Psyche.
- Who narrates? (Quis ille?)
- Milesian … or Platonic? Cf. utopian narratives and allegories in (e.g.) Republic and (esp.) Symposium.
- Apuleius as excerptor and “stitcher together”: Florida
- Apuleius as Milesian fabulist(?) / erotic educator: Eroticus (probably cf. ps.Lucian Amores).
- Apuleius, Metamorphoses: one very long Milesian tale? A meta-Milesian tale?