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The Golden Ass (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – June 15, 2008
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About the Author
P. G. Walsh is Professor Emeritus of Humanity at the University of Glasgow.
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THE GOLDEN ASS tells the story of a young rake named Lucius who proves a little too curious about the magic arts and gets turned into an ass for his troubles. After the conversion, Lucius goes through a parade of owners who mistreat him and witnesses all manner of misadventures, sometimes in an active and sometimes in a passive role. The well-known technique of a "story within a story" is also utilized, as Apulius treats us to the story of Cupid and Psyche. It serves as an echo to the main plot, as Psyche similarly pays a price for excessive curiosity. Entertaining and at times ribald, THE GOLDEN ASS can be enjoyed both for its story and for its importance in influencing many classic works to follow, such as THE DECAMERON, DON QUIXOTE, and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.
Although many translations are available, Walsh's seems to hold true to the original without blanching in the face of Apulius's bawdy spirit. The book ends with a curious, moralizing chapter centered on Lucius's conversion to the worship of Isis, but your interest will not waver. Considering its pedigree, THE GOLDEN ASS is worthy of a greater readership among both casual and serious fans of the classics.
The work is espescially recommended for those interested in familiarity with a Heathen mind-set prior to the pervasive monocultural gloom imposed by Abrahamic theo-logies (no Thea was permitted!) since late antiquity. In the ancient world, the very notion of 'one worldwide religion valid for all' would have appeared a mere absurdity. Rather, Lucius, the hero of the story, becomes a participant in various cults corresponding to the unfolding of the phases of his life and his adventures transformed into an ass. The book is indeed a refreshing deep breath of unpolluted air.