Apuleius’ The Golden Ass describes the trials and tribulations of Lucius, a privileged man who’s extreme curiosity leads to his unfortunate transformation into an ass. His journey as an ass leads to a newfound perspective, enlightenment, and eventual salvation. Relihan’s translation is vividly descriptive and allows the modern reader to relate to the tale. Although extremely complex and vulgar at times, The Golden Ass is an entertaining, humorous, and inspiring story which provides valuable insight into ancient Greco-Roman society.
The Golden Ass consists of many stories which are all interconnected. Apuleius weaves folk tales and myths into the main story of Lucius, which draw parallels to the main theme of The Golden Ass. The reader must pay close attention to such tales, particularly that of Cupid and Psyche, as they are important in understanding Lucius’ redemptive journey. Although the format is often difficult to follow, it is crucial to the significance of the story . Lucius’ intense curiosity and inability to control his desires lead to his transformation and all the negative consequences which follow. Apuleius may have been attempting to convey the downfalls of greed and lust, showing that they always lead to trouble.
Lucius’ experiences as an ass are often very funny and explicit. Apuleius’ wit and use of sexual humor provide light-hearted entertainment for the reader. On the other hand, Lucius also lives the inhumane life of a slave after his transformation to an ass. He experiences a way of life he never thought of before his transformation. He is abused and fears for his life on several occasions. This perhaps reveals another moral of The Golden Ass, that is, treat others how you would like to be treated.
The Golden Ass serves as an excellent historical...