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The Golden Ass (Penguin Classics) Paperback – January 1, 1999

17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Lucius Apuleius (2nd Century AD) was a North African fubulist who Latinized the Greek myths and legends. He travelled widely, visiting Italy and Asia, where he was initiated into numerous religious mysteries. He drew on the knowledge he gained about the priestly fraternities to write the Golden Ass, which Cupid and Psyche is extracted from. 

E.J. Kenney is Emeritus Kennedy Professor of Latin in the University of Cambridge. His publications include a critical edition of Ovid's amatory works. He is a Fellow of the British Academy.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (January 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140435905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140435900
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Apuleius' great work is not read enough. As the story of an libertine who is unfortunately changed into an ass unfolds, we see a satire unfold that provides both entertainment and a biting commentary of life in the ancient Greco-Roman world. The book shows you the great distance between us moderns and the ancients, but what is likely to surprise you the most is precisely the opposite: those ways in which we are so similar.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Johannes Platonicus on July 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
Lucius Apuleius was one of the main representatives of North African Platonism during the second century (AD). He wrote works ranging from philosophy and medicine to poetry and rhetoric. Apuleius is best known for his remarkable collection of tales, The Golden Ass or Transformations. It is a playful satire containing the use of many different genres, much like one would find in the Mennepian satires of Petronius, Seneca, Fulgentius, or Macrobius. It is a complex and enthralling work in which interpretation is always open-ended. Apuleius' use of allegory, his exceptional talent for imagery, and his rhythmic and often poetic prose, make this text a challenge and a joy to read at the same time. The Golden Ass is definitely a masterpiece of Latin literature and can also argue of being the world's first novel.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 10, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a riveting classic. I couldn't put it down. The language and style is as good today as when it was created, and the pace is well set. However the ending is somewhat anti-climactic.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Greg Deane on August 18, 2013
Format: Paperback
The Golden Ass is a ribald story with a clown for a protagonist, transformed into an ass. Lucius lacks Homeric heroism, nor the pious devotion of Hesiod; though "The Golden Ass" is a religious tale; it is an amusing treatment of the syncretic nature of Roman religion, when the pantheon expanded in line with the borders of the empire. There are no admirable characters, anticipating the sly hedonists of Boccaccio's "Decameron", set in Greece which had been reduced to a Roman province.

The story offers insights into the lives of ordinary Romans and Greeks rather than the rulers and patricians and plutocrats, and is in the tradition of the plays of Plautus and Terence, but is original in its similarity to a novel, and a work that is more focused on amusing rather than edifying with uplifting role models. But the work still offers reflections from an esoteric, religious, if not pious, and philosophical mind, as Lucius strives to reverse the black magic that has enchanted him, and gain access to the realm of the Elysium.

Apuleius was born in a Roman colony in Africa. His father was a municipal magistrates who bequeathed 2 million sesterces, enabling him to study in Carthage, the leading city in the West after Rome; attend the Academy at Athens and become learned in the scholarly Greek language, and versed in philosophy and literature; and travel to Egypt to familiarise himself with its culture and religion. He was thus equipped as a polymath, benefiting from the Pax Romana under the troubled Severan dynasty, though at this time deep fissures were appearing the empire's fabric.

The central character, Lucius, is a merchant traveling to Thessaly, a region where witchcraft is widespread, in the tradition of Medea.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By G. L. Patterson on May 15, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Using this book as one of William Shakespeare's classical sources, I wrote my major English essay using comparisons between this book and Bottom in "A Midsummer Night's Dream." As a source, the book was excellent as a source but also a very enjoyable read. This book has been added to my personal library.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By cmaitland on May 7, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A delightful tale about a young man who gets mixed up with drugs and sex. A rare novel from the time period.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By 349055903 on July 24, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
very good book.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Anna Sulikowska on November 5, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Quite an entertaining classical read.
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