Golden Ass Essay

Good Essays

Golden Ass

Apuleius' Golden Ass, the only surviving novel of the Roman Empire, is a tale of a Greek nobleman devoting his life to the goddess Isis following his transformation to an ass and back. Although a work of fiction, the novel reveals a great deal about religion in Apuleius' society. This information, however, must be viewed with a critical eye. He incorporates stories from Greco-Roman mythology not to affirm their validity, but to reveal their commonness to society. Apuleius insults other religions that are not of the Pantheon with severe viciousness, while the general public may have been more open to them. In the end, he praises Isis and Osiris as the supreme gods while giving first hand account of their righteousness. …show more content…

As the wild boar mutilated the handsome Adonis, the witches and the people of Hypta had disfigured Thelyphron. Other incidents that are similar to stories in myth occur throughout the novel. Like these two incidents, the others also follow the pattern of showing that things occurring in everyday Greek life (having sexual relations with a slave and getting attacked by an angry mob) were nearly synonymous with divine tales.
Following Lucious' transformation to an ass, he takes on a more frontal assault towards the minor religions present in the Roman Empire at the time. He outright calls the eunuch priests that worship the Syrian Goddess frauds. The priests stay
"Where the public were very kind to them: in particular they made a good deal of money by professing to tell fortunes. Between them, these pious frauds composed an all-purpose oracle for the Goddess to deliver by their mouths, and used it to cheat a great many people who came to consult her on all sorts of questions." (Graves, pg. 198-199)

By not revealing the specifics of the religion of the eunuchs, Apuleius leaves open the possibility of applying the fraudulent aspect to other outside religions in the empire. With a short paragraph he discredits several cults in the empire as being money driven and simply not true. It is also evident, however, that the public does not share Lucius' distrust of the foreign goddess. In fact, they appear to be very open to her, and consequently to

Get Access