Biography of Lucio Apuleyo de Madaura (125-199)

Rhetorical and Roman writer, born at Madaura, near the current Algiers, towards the 125 and died to 180. He/She criticized the customs of his time in the famous satire metamorphoses also known as the Golden ass. Their contents more philosophical works are: De deo Socratis (on the essence of the Socratic daemon), De Platonica et eius dogmate (excerpts from some dialogues of Plato on ethics and physics) and world. In his thought follows the guidelines of the neopythagoreanism, interpreting it more in religious sense than strictly philosophical.

After studying and living in Carthage, Athens and Rome, acquiring a remarkable training speaking and philosophical, he/she returned to North Africa, where he/she held senior religious officials. Of the many works he/she wrote have been preserved as follows: Florida, a selection of their speaking activity; the apology, in which defends itself from charges of magician; two philosophical writings, on Plato and his doctrine, and on the God of Socrates; the translation of a written pseudo-aristotelico; and the novel in eleven books discussed below.

-The plot of the Golden ass

Book I: the protagonist, Lucio, is on track to Thessaly; it locks friendship with two passengers, one of whom, Aristomenes, recounts it the terrifying story of his friend Socrates, dead at the hands of a witch. Lucius comes to the city of Hipata, which is located in house of the miser Milon, who kills her hunger. In the market we are witnessing a comical scene when Lucius goes to buy fish.

Book II: Lucio meets Birrena, a friend of her mother, who invites you to their luxurious home. Birrena warns you that you save Panfila, Milon woman, it is a dangerous sorceress; This does not only excite the curiosity of the protagonist, who seduces the maid Fotis to be able find out more easily of the secrets of his mistress. Home of Birrena tells the macabre story of Telifron; returning home drunk, Lucio believed to stab to death three criminals.

Book III: the following day, when the City celebrates the God of laughter, Lucio shows at the theatre to answer for the deaths. Finally the truth is discovered: the so-called bodies are actually three bottles of wine; with great delight, the public attends this charade. Later, Fotis will tell Lucio details of such deception, related to a magical spell of love. That night Lucio attends secretly to the transformation of Panfila in OWL; He/She wants to experience a similar metamorphosis, but mistakenly Fotis is turned into a donkey, although you can regain his human form if he/she eats some roses. That night has to take refuge in the stable, where is via, beaten by a child and finally stolen by thieves, carrying it is laden with bales.

Book IV: Already in the cave of robbers ass listen to several stories of bandits. Other members of the band come with a young captive, who has been kidnapped on their wedding day; to the cries of the girl, the old that care tells the story of Cupid and psyche. The beautiful psyche, daughter of a King, wakes up with his beauty envy the inquina of Venus, which aims to punish it through his son, the winged Cupid. Her sisters marry early, but his father, obeying the Oracle abandons psyche into a rock, from where the wind carries it to a wonderful Valley.

Book V: it becomes an enchanted Palace, and there, in the darkness of the night, is visited by her husband, which is forbidden to see. Egged on by her sisters, one night approaches a lamp to his mistress, who sleeps beside her, discovering that it is the own Cupid; a drop of boiling oil falls on the shoulder of this one, which wakes up, scolds his psyche and abandoned. The young man, advised by bread and pursued pr Venus, leaves in search of Cupid.

Book VI: Psyche will have to meet three works that are imposed to him by the gods; the fourth consists of lower to Hades and back with a box which contains a mysterious gift, but curiosity is so strong that psyche, against the orders received, opens the box and falls dead. Cupid, who has escaped from the prison in which had locked you her mother, resurrects his beloved and with the help of Jupiter granted immortality. Marriage in heaven will be born Voluptas, pleasure. Thus ends the tale of the old. Lucio has to endure all kinds of humiliations at the hands of the bandits, so when these are absent get escape leading to his loins the young captive. But they are caught again, and bandits decide to give a horrible death to the young woman, trapped alive inside the body of the donkey to remain at the mercy of wild beasts.

Book VII: the next day becomes another one of the criminals, which has that in casa de Milon is Lucio liable for theft narrated in Book III. Also brings with it a burly young man, allegedly the head of another band already disjointed; He/She was appointed Chief and he/she advised selling the girl as a slave, what others approve. Lucius discovers that it is actually the fiance's face, name Tlepolemus. Taking advantage of the drunkenness of the bandits Tlepolemus binds them and delivered to the authorities, which make them execute; Lucio receives all kinds of care from the hands of its new owners. But it will soon restart its Calvary, first at the wheel of the mill and then at the mercy of a sadistic lumberjack; This dies accidentally, but are accused of this ass and decides castrating him and kill him.

Book VIII: The ass listen to the story of the tragic death of Carita: a such Thrasyllus, fallen in love with her, Tlepolemus kill on a hunt, though it looks like an accident. Carita dreams receives the visit of the deceased, who tells him what happened; He/She draws on false pretenses to Thrasyllus, sleeps it, drilling her eyes and commits suicide at the graveside of her husband; Thrasyllus is later left to starve. The servants of the House fled taking with him the ass, that goes into the hands of a few mendicant priests of the Syrian goddess, vicious and perverted that also suffer various mishaps, like a cook who wants to become a ham one leg after several incidents.

Book IX: Later you want you sacrificing suspecting have rabies, but once you get more RID. The priests are imprisoned for stealing a Cup in a temple and Lucio passes through the hands of new masters: a Baker who died attacked by the ghost of his wife and a gardener that unrepentant curiosity of this donkey will play a dirty trick, going to prison.

Book X: Lucius goes to a house in which attends a new dramatic story: women of the owner falls in love with her stepson, before the negative of this decides to poison him but mistakenly that dies is his own son; later a doctor will discover that the poison was not provided but a sleeping pill, so the boy is making a comeback and the stepmother is banished in perpetuity. Lucio is purchased by two brothers, cooks in the service of the Thiasus, and leverages to stoke up food, but is discovered and master, delighted the unusual abilities of the ass, takes him with him to Corinth. There a rich woman is captivated him and surrenders without rebozo to bestiality; When Thiasus discovers it, he/she plans to Lucio to pair you with one sentenced to death in the Amphitheater, in view of the public. Lucio, terrified, manages to flee.

Book XI: You reach a beach and night invokes divine help; the goddess Isis, which gives tips to regain his human form and engage your service appears. In the city a priest of the goddess offers you a wreath of roses, and to the amazement general Lucio regains his humanity. After reunited with his friends Lucio is initiated into the mysteries of Isis, whose service will be from then on.

-About the work

There is an important issue that arises when analyzing the novel of Apuleius: its relationship with the Greek short story entitled Lucio or ass and preserved among the works of Luciano Samósata, although its paternity is quite dubious. This story has basically the same story as Apuleius, only in a much more concise way and with a completely different, funny sign final; also missing some stories interspersed as the Cupid and psyche or the face and Tlepolemus. The most likely hypothesis points to the Greek work, Luciano or another author, was later condensed to become what we know, and that meanwhile Apuleyo collected such novel - as he/she says at the beginning of his work, "fabulam Graecanicam incipimus"- and added episodes and stories on their own, as well as the end of moralising and mystical sign.

All this explains the Golden ass, as befits a basically satirico-picaresca novel, with many elements of parody, is narrated in first person by the own Lucio. But Apuleius used as Roman custom the contaminatio or mixture of various genres in his work: so are stories of witches, spicy and terrifying milesias stories and the most admired part of his novel, the story of Cupid and psyche, which is originally a folktale with many parallels in other cultures, but which here is framed in a mythological environment and also with an undoubted philosophical background, neoplatonic cutting (psyche means "soul" in Greek), apart from the implicit parallel between the curiosity of psyche and the own Lucio.

The Satyricon, with which it has many points in common, unlike in the Golden ass adventures of Lucius charged sense moral of expiation, that of his own curiosity, and learning that Isis will result in the revelation of the goddess. This end in book XI has been occasionally as an additive most of Apuleius the Greek original, without getting all make a coherent whole; but somehow this mystical end is which gives a meaning to all the painful adventures of Lucius, to its pilgrimage through a world so brutal as the novel.

The work of Apuleius became soon famous, as witnessed by numerous writers of late latinity (centuries IV - VI: San Agustín, Marciano Capela, Cassiodorus, etc.). In the modern age its "rediscovery" came from the hand of Boccaccio, who gave a manuscript of the work at Monte Casino in 1355 and copied it from his hand, imitating also some of their stories. In 1465 he/she appeared the first impression of the Latin text, which would be soon translated into different European languages; his biggest success had it in Italy and in Spain thanks to the Italian of Firenzuola (1550) and Castilian Diego López de Cortegana versions (1513, reprinted many times). Apart from specific influences in many Renaissance and Baroque authors, its greater significance lies in the role played in the genesis of the Spanish picaresque novel, from the Lazarillo de Tormes to Guzmán de Alfarache.


L. Rubio, in the "library classic Gredos", nº 9, Madrid, 1978, with introduction and bibliography. J. M. Royo, Madrid, Cátedra, 1985. Reissue of the Renaissance version of Cortegana López by C. García Gual, Madrid, Alianza, 1988, with extensive prologue.