From Philosophising Ass to Asinine Philosopher: Satire in Book 11 of Apuleius' Metamorphoses
The major question in the study of Apuleius’ Metamorphoses concerns the interpretation of Lucius’ religious conversion in Book 11. For the past thirty years scholars have put forward interpretations that discern satire in this conversion. As yet, however, there has been no comprehensive examination of the merits and drawbacks of each approach that offers a systematic deconstruction of the essential themes in relation to Books 1-10.This study argues that there is a fundamental flaw in the current approach to satire in Book 11. This is caused by trying to read it as a satire on priestly deception and religious gullibility, just as in the presentation of the priests of the Syrian goddess and their followers in Books 8-9. The key difference between the scenario presented in Books 8-9 and that in Book 11 is that the latter includes god-sent dreams. This thesis shows that, depending on whether one interprets Lucius’ dreams as divine visions or as meaningless delusions, the ultimate responsibility for the conversion rests with the priests or the gods. Both alternatives are explored separately. It emerges that a more coherent interpretation of satire in Book 11 can be found when the gods and their relationship to Lucius is the focus rather than the priests. Consequently, Apuleius is shown to have a philosophical motive driving his satire in addition to his desire to entertain.
Advisor: Garthwaite, John
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Classical Studies
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Apuleuis; Metamorphoses; satire; Book; 11; Golden; Ass
Research Type: Thesis