This book examines the comic and philosophical aspects of Apuleius'
, the ancient Roman novel also known as The
. The tales that comprise the novel, long known for
their bawdiness and wit, describe the adventures of Lucius, a man
who is transformed into an ass. Carl Schlam argues that the work
cannot be seen as purely comic or wholly serious; he says that the
entertainment offered by the novel includes a vision of the
possibilities of grace and salvation.
Many critics have seen a discontinuity between the comedic aspects
of the first ten tales and the more elevated account in the
eleventh of the initiation of Lucius into the cult of Isis. But
Schlam uncovers patterns of narrative and a thematic structure that
give coherence to the adventures of Lucius and to the diversity of
tales embedded in the principal narrative. Schlam sees a single
seriocomic purpose pervading the narrative, which is marked by
elements of burlesque as well as intimations of an ethical
As Schlam points out, however, the world of second-century Rome
cannot easily be divided into the sacred and the secular. Such neat
distinctions were largely unknown in the ancient world, and
Apuleius' tales are a part of a tradition, flowing from Homer, that
addressed both religious and philosophical issues.
Originally published in 1992.
A UNC Press Enduring Edition -- UNC Press Enduring Editions use the
latest in digital technology to make available again books from our
distinguished backlist that were previously out of print. These
editions are published unaltered from the original, and are
presented in affordable paperback formats, bringing readers both
historical and cultural value.