The Golden Ass

The Golden Ass

The Golden Ass

The Golden Ass

Synopsis

Apuleius's Golden Ass is a unique, entertaining, and thoroughly readable Latin novel--the only work of fiction in Latin to have survived from antiquity. It tells the story of the hero Lucius, whose curiosity and fascination for sex and magic results in his transformation into an ass. After suffering a series of trials and humiliations, he is ultimately returned to human shape by the kindness of the goddess Isis. Simultaneously a blend of romantic adventure, fable, and religious testament, The Golden Ass is one of the truly seminal works of European literature, of intrinsic interest as a novel in its own right, and one of the earliest examples of the picaresque. This new translation is at once faithful to the meaning of the Latin, while reproducing all the exuberance of the original.

Excerpt

1 What I should like to do is to weave together different tales in this Milesian mode of story-telling and to stroke your approving ears with some elegant whispers, as long as you don't disdain to run your eye over Egyptian paper inscribed with the sharpened point of a reed from the Nile. I want you to feel wonder at the transformations of men's shapes and destinies into alien forms, and their reversion by a chain of interconnection to their own. So let me begin! Who is the narrator? Let me briefly explain: my antique stock is from Attic Hymettus, the Ephyrean Isthmus, and Spartan Taenarus, fertile territories established for ever in yet more fertile works of literature. In those regions, in the initial campaigns of boyhood, I became a veteran in Attic speech. Later in Rome, as a stranger to the literary pursuits of the citizens there, I tackled and cultivated the native language without the guidance of a teacher, and with excruciating difficulty. So at the outset I beg your indulgence for any mistakes which I make as a novice in the foreign language in use at the Roman bar. This switch of languages in fact accords with the technique of composition which I have adopted, much as a circus-rider leaps from one horse to another, for the romance on which I am embarking is adapted from the Greek. Give it your attention, dear reader, and it will delight you.

2 I was on my way to Thessaly to transact some business. My family on my mother's side hails from that region, and the prominence lent to it by the famous philosopher Plutarch, and later by his nephew Sextus, lends us esteem. I was riding on my home-bred horse, which is pure white in colour. After we had crossed high mountain tracks, slippery paths in the valleys, dew-laden pastures, and churned-up ploughlands, I dismounted, for the horse was now tired, and I too needed to invigorate myself by walking, for I was saddle-sore. I

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