Aspects of Apuleius' Golden Ass, Volume II: Cupid and Psyche. A Collection of Original Papers 9069801213, 9789069801216

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Table of contents :
Dowden - Cupid and Psyche. A Question of the Vision of Apuleius
O'Brien, M. C. - 'For every eatter in its mortal dress': Love, the Soul and her Sisters
James, P. - The Unbearable Lightness of Being: Levis Amor in the Metamorphoses of Apuleius
Harrison, S.J. - Some Epic Structures in Cupid and Psyche
Smith, W.S. - Cupid and Psyche Tale: Mirror of the Novel
Van Mal-Maeder, D.-Zimmerman, M. - The Many Voices in Cupid and Psyche
Pinkster, H. - The use of narrative tenses in Apuleius' Amor and Psyche
Brodersen, S. - Cupid's Palace - A Roman Villa
Mattiacci, S. - Neoteric and elegiac echoes in the tale of Cupid and Psyche by Apuleius
Panayotakis, S. - Slander and Warfare in Apuleius' Tale of Cupid and Psyche
Keulen, W.H. - A Bird's Chatter: Form and Meaning in Apuleius' Metamorphoses 5,28
De Jong, J.L. - Il pittore a le volte è puro poeta. Cupid and Psyche in Italian Renaissance Painting
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Aspects of Apuleius' Golden Ass, Volume II: Cupid and Psyche. A Collection of Original Papers
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ISBN 90 6980 121 3

Copyright © Egbert Forsten, Groningen

Ben Hijmans et Rudi van der Paardt

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be

in studiis Apuleianis valde curiosis gratas gratias meminerunt huius libri editores

reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmilled, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or othenvise, withouz the prior writlen permission of the publisher.

Preface This volume arises out of the sessions of the 'Groningen Commentaries on Apuleius' group, who are at present working on the commentary on Cupid and Psyche. During our discussion of various chapters of Cupid and Psyche it became increasingly evident that we should single out some aspects of this part of Apuleius' novel for separate treatment, not least because, in the course of their work on these chapters, some members of the group had already encountered aspects which deserved fuller treatment than could be given in a lemma of the commentary. We then decided to invite contributions from other colleagues who we knew were researching various aspects of the tale. Some of the articles published here were first presented as papers during an inspiring 'Cupid and Psyche day' of the 19th Groningen Colloquium on the Novel in 1996. With these points of departure in mind, it will immediately become clear that this volume should in no way be considered a replacement for the solid anthology edited by G. Binder and R. Merkelbach published in 1968. A glance at the general bibliography and references in the footnotes of the articles shows that many authors in our volume acknowledge their debt to that anthology, on whose foundations they build. Another debt owed by Apuleian scholarship is to Carl Schlarn, who has left us a number of influential studies. In this volume his work on Platonica in the Metamorphoses of Apuleius (Schlam 1970) is renewed by the contribution of O'Brien. She studies Cupid and Psyche as an explanation, in the mode of platonic myth, of Apuleius' discourse theory. To Schlarn we also owe some thorough overviews and assessments of the scholarly search for the sources of Apuleius' myth, both in the eighth chapter of his 1992 monograph and in his contribution in GCN 5 (1993), 64-73. In the latter he confidently asserts: "The Apuleian tale created rather than preserved a myth of Cupid and Psyche"; and in his monograph (Schlam 1992, 90) he remarks: ''The focus of our thinking about the Apuleian narrative should shift from where it came from to where it is going." Schlam would, however, certainly have welcomed the way in which, in this volume, the question of 'where the Apuleian narrative came from' is raised once again by Dowden, who opens our eyes to the philosophical



and religious discourses very much alive in the intellectual circles in which Apuleius participated, and against the background of which he created the tale of Cupid and Psyche. In our forthcoming commentary we give much attention to the integration of Cupid and Psyche into the whole of the Metamorphoses. The reader of this volume will notice that in many of the essays collected here the central tale of Apuleius' novel is not studied in isolation, but as an integral part of the eleven books of the Metamorphoses (especially by Smith and James, but also by Dowden, van Mai-Maeder/Zimmerman, Keulen and Panayotakis). A number of articles presents recent findings in matters of intertextuality (Mattiacci, Harrison, Smith) and interdiscursivity (Dowden, O'Brien). Other articles explore aspects of a narratological nature (Van Mai-Maeder/ Zimmerman), or employ insights of modem linguistic theory to shed light on Apuleius' structuring of the narrative of Cupid and Psyche (Pinkster). Archeological finds prove to be helpful in shaping our ideas on how contemporary readers would view the description of Cupid's palace (Brodersen). Some articles single out special passages whose rich imagery deserves elaborate treatment (Keulen, Panayotakis). On the whole, the subjects covered in the articles collected here and outlined above reflect the choices which the group has made for its commentary. Although the reception of Apuleius' tale in visual art will in our commentary figure only occasionally in notes, we are glad to present in this volume one contribution on this subject by our Groningen colleague Jan de Jong. He investigates the creative way in which some Italian Renaissance painters handled the tale of Cupid and Psyche in their works. Most often they did not render the story literally, but purposefully 'translated' the hwnor and ingenuity of Apuleius' text into their own medium, just as writers, including Apuleius himself, often 'translate' works of art into literary descriptions of them. In this collection of papers on aspects of Cupid and Psyche by different authors the reader will at times be confronted by diverging perspectives on the tale or its various episodes. It has never been the aim of the editors to smooth out such differences. The tale of Cupid and Psyche is like a multi-faceted diamond and it will continue to provoke varied interpretations depending on the angle from which it is viewed. In 1978 Ben Hijmans and his younger colleague Rudi van der Paardt published a collection of original papers on 'Aspects of Apuleius' Golden Ass'. In the years since then this has proved to be an important and influential collection, consulted not only by all the specialists involved in Apuleian studies but also by a much wider circle of readers. We are, as in so many other ways, following the lead of the editors of 'Aspects 1978' in presenting here a second volume of



'Aspects of Apuleius' Golden Ass'. We unanimously decided to dedicate this new volume, now devoted entirely to aspects of Cupid and Psyche, to Hijmans and van der Paardt, thereby acknowledging our great debt to these two scholars. Because of other obligations they are no longer active members of the commentary group, but both are still taking a strong interest in Apuleian studies. During the past decades they not only placed the work of the Groningen Apuleius group on the map of international studies on the ancient novel, but also encouraged the present members of the group, who now try to carry forward the commentary work in their spirit. The special form of group discussion developed over the years around the 'Groningen Commentaries on Apuleius' was established by them and continues to be inspired by them. We dare to hope that this second volume of 'Aspects' too will find its way to a wide circle of readers. We feel privileged in always being able to rely on the support and interest of Egbert Fors ten, the publisher not only of our series of 'Groningen Commentaries on Apuleius', but also of the first volume of' Aspects of Apuleius' Golden Ass' (1978) and of the Groningen Colloquia on the Novel. A unique form of cooperation has grown up between him and our research group over these many years and it is with particular pleasure that we now present this volume as its latest, but certainly not last, product. We also would like to thank RoelfBarkhuis, who with great accuracy and thoroughness has taken care of the practical execution of the elegant design of this book, in close communication in every way with Egbert Forsten and ourselves. The editors would also like to thank Justa Renner, the administrator of the Centre for Classical, Oriental, Medieval and Renaissance Studies (COMERS), for lending us the financial support through which this publication was made possible.

Maaike Zimmerman and Stelios Panayotakis

Contents K. Dowden (Birmingham) Cupid and Psyche: A Question of the Vision of Apuleius


M. O'Brien (Maynooth) 'For every tatter in its mortal dress': Love, the Soul and her Sisters


P. James (Milton Keynes) The Unbearable Lightness of Being: Levis Amor in the Metamorphoses of Apuleius


S.J. Harrison (Oxford) Some Epic Structures in Cupid and Psyche


W.S. Smith (Albuquerque) Cupid and Psyche Tale: Mirror of the Novel


D. van Mai-Maeder and M. Zimmerman (Groningen) The Many Voices in Cupid and Psyche


H. Pinkster (Amsterdam) The use of narrative tenses in Apuleius' Amor and Psyche

I 03

S. Brodersen (Mi.inchen) Cupids Palace-A Roman Villa (Apul. Met. 5,1)


S. Mattiacci (Siena) Neoteric and Elegiac Echoes in the Tale of Cupid and Psyche by Apuleius


S. Piinayotakis (Rethymno/Groningen) ll'.oJJ,\:t· Slander and War Imagery in Apuleius' Tale of Cupid and Psyche (Apul. Met. 5,5-5,21)




W.H. Keulen (Groningen) A Bird's Chatter: Fonn and Meaning in Apuleius' Met. 5,28


J.L. de Jong (Groningen) 'II pittore a le volte epuro poeta ': Cupid and Psyche in Italian Renaissance Painting (with an appendix, illustrations and a specialized bibliography)


General Bibliography


General IEdex


Cupid & Psyche A Question of the Vision of Apuleius Ken Dowden Birmingham

Apuleius' Sincerity

There is no doubt that the author of the Golden Ass professed Platonism. This is not something which we need to read out of his text, as we might in the case of Heliodoros (Dowden 1996). We know that the real Apuleius propagated Platonic ideas in his Carthaginian period, that he translated the Phaedo, knew his Platonic texts - and other philosophical texts - in detail and generally, as Hijmans has shown 1, saw Platonism and philosophy as a way of life, a bios. Perhaps the likeliest assumption is that he adopted Platonism, taking it to his heart in some way, at that formative stage of his education, in Athens. This gives us a lifelong portrait of Apuleius philosophus Platonicus. It begins in Athens and continues through his Roman period, where I have argued that he wrote the Golden Ass in the early 150s (Dowden 1994 ); it then goes on past the phi/osophus fonnonsus ('pretty philosopher') of Oea, onward to the megastar of Carthage and the author of surely authentic books de Platone to Faustino filio ('On Plato - to his son 2 Faustinus'). Yet, Platonism in the novel lies outside the mainstream of modem criticism and is perhaps cffsagreeable to a 'stakeholder' culture where individual readers cease to be educated by literature (or 'the Greek achievement') and prefer to engage democratically in its activities. These shifts in focus may indeed have the advantage of constantly renewing our literature and describing what these works can do for people of our age, but there is also ~ttendant danger of e~cluding Apuleius' own design from his novel. On some theories this may not


1 Hijmans 1987,passim but e.g. 396-7, 416-7, 422, and esp. 470, a compelling vision. 2 'This is what the Latin says though scholars h.ave tried to evade the obvious meaning and to allege, for instance, a fictional addressee - see Hijmans 1987, 414 for more information.


Ken Dowden

Cupid & Psyche

matter, but it is surely an analytic truth that it should matter to any student of the ancient world. In any case, it will be seen that this biographically derived world-view and 'mythology' informs the text. was Ap:n]eius like? He seeas_to m~gt~Victorian', if not so stiff. When, as a sophist, he performs his Platonic pieces, ~--~tancls hi a position of authority in front of his audience, dictating views. Most exactly, he perpetuates the master-pupil relationship, or extends the guru-disciple relationship, of Athenian philosophers to the Gelliuses and Apuleiuses of the young cultural elite. More impressionistically, he resembles one great Victorian expression of authority - the conductor wielding the newly-invented baton before an internal audience (the orchestra) and the audience proper. In the world of Gellius and Lucian it was the job of self-professed philosophers to lead and guide their audiences, as we can see from Gellius' pilgrimage to the hut (ashram?) of Peregrinus outside Athens and from Lucian's vitriolic testimony to the very special character of Peregrinus. If, then, we find areas of Apuleius' novel where religious and philosophi3 cal issues are in some way raised, what interest might Apuleius have in these ideas- and what interest should we ourselves take in them? Cupid and Psyche, the structural equivalent of Aeneas' katabasis (descent to the underworld), is the crucial point for this decision. Perhaps it is a 'folk-tale', a popular story of some sort engagingly incorporated into high literature, or perhaps we should pay attention to the hellenistic literary colour and enjoy this souvenird'Apollon;us. Though Fehling exploded the idea of Grimm-style folk-tale in Apuleius 4 i_!_is doubtless true that ~~ori~~ h~llenistic approaches uncover something of valuejn the text. At the samP-time botlrn.P.W-9~]:°es conform to nwdem critical culture and both evade the question of meaning. E~en,-howevei; if"ilPlatonic dimension is admitted in Cupid a~ Psyche, will we be prepared to talk of more than just another colour on Apuleius' palette, part of the 'literary texture' and surface gloss? That restrictive approach, comfortable for our irrev~tent if aesth~~ age, is IllSlll~ ruinger, maybe, of disparaging Apuleius, COIIlQllJ:!fient ~-d the faith he- and others of his age - lived by 5.

It is a convenient fiction, which scholars of religion now challenge, that the faith of the pagan Roman aristocracy was in some way less than that of the emerging Christian competition 6 • Apuleius the committed Platonist is not an isolated phenomenon: I have drawn attention elsewhere to the similarities between Justin, who slipped from Platonism to Christianity, and Apuleius and also to the conflict between Justin and that Roman establishment to which Apuleius was personally attached (Dowden 1994, 429-30). Fronto sniped at the Christians in the course of an oration in the Senate and Marcus Aurelius had no time for them and their martyrs ( 11.3.2). Christians were found so offensive that we can be sure of the depth of pagan conviction 7 • Despite the indiscriminacy of characterising a whole age at once, we can still affirm that the age in which Apuleius lived was one which was particularly concerned to reassert traditionaloand historic values - the resurrection of the vocabulary ofEnnius and Plautus is not so very different from Herodes Atticus declaiming on the theme of Nicias in Sicily (Philostratus, Vit.Soph. 574). Faced with the challenge of new developments, notably in religion and philosophy, Antonine intellectuals could either incorporate the new into authorised traditional discourse or, if as in the case of Christianity this was impossible, reject it outright. One feels the force behind that rejection in the case of the Miller's Wife (9,14) whose monotheism is firmly attached to herffagitia ('crimes' - so Apuleius is no Pliny) and also in the case of the Dea Syria (8,27), a cult firmly rejected also by Floros. Conversely however, Isis is accommodated into appropriate discourse through that ambitious myrionymity (11,5, which nevertheless is careful to exclude the Dea Syria) which reached out through the figure of the moon ultimately. to a philosophical divinity. So too the priest Mithras is a deliberately dissonant note to emphasise the broader a licabili of ~en correc y un ers o m establishment language. To sum up my rather general argument so far: we should not be tempted by priorities in modern criticism or by our own personal disinclinations to cast aspersions on the commitment of Apuleius to Platonic philosophy. His was a committed age on whose firm rocks Justin and other Christians shipwrecked themselves.


3 ~losophy and religion are scarcely separable; cf. Hijmans 1987, 397 and n.7, and Dowden 1996, 2~ (on Heliodoros). ~-----------4 Fehling 1977.

5 Why exactly does Kenney 1990b, 193 n.59 feel it necessary to argue that Apuleius need not? have studied his Phaedrus very closely or approve the idea that 'a vague knowledge of Eros in the Pnaedrus' was just part of the rhetorician's stock-in trade? And why does Edwards 1992, 93 feel it necessary to distance Apuleius from the world of Gnostic ideas and to dub him 'only an occasional philosopher'? Would we say such things to Apuleius' own face? For a sensitive and balanced ~~~~s~~l!t2f thena~e ~d _depthof Apuleius' Platonism and how b.eacquired it -now see Sandy 1997, 22-36 and eh.

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