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The Golden Ass

The Golden Ass

Translated by Sarah Ruden
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    The Golden Ass
    Book Description:

    With accuracy, wit, and intelligence, this remarkable new translation ofThe Golden Assbreathes new life into Apuleius's classic work. Sarah Ruden, a lyric poet as well as a highly respected translator, skillfully duplicates the verbal high jinks of Apuleius's ever-popular novel. It tells the story of Lucius, a curious and silly young man, who is turned into a donkey when he meddles with witchcraft. Doomed to wander from region to region and mistreated by a series of deplorable owners, Lucius at last is restored to human form with the help of the goddess Isis.

    The Golden Ass, the first Latin novel to survive in its entirety, is related to the Second Sophistic, a movement of learned and inventive literature. In a translation that is both the most faithful and the most entertaining to date, Ruden reveals to modern readers the vivid, farcical ingenuity of Apuleius's style.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15478-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. BOOK 1
    (pp. 1-20)

    1. Okay, let me weave together various sorts of tales, using the Milesian mode as a loom, if you will. Witty and dulcet tones are going to stroke your too-kind ears—as long as you don’t turn a spurning nose up at an Egyptian papyrus scrawled over with an acute pen from the Nile. I’ll make you wonder at human forms and fortunes transfigured, torn apart but then mended back into their original state.

    Now to my preface. Who the heck am I, you’d like to know. Briefly: my ancient stock is from Attic Hymettus and the Ephyrean Isthmus and Spartan...

  5. BOOK 2
    (pp. 21-45)

    1. No sooner had the night dissolved and the Sun formed a new day than I emerged from sleep and my bed simultaneously: I was, in my high-strung way, ordinarily overly curious about everything rare and marvelous, and now, I recalled, I was staying in the central district of Thessaly. The enchantments used in witchcraft, which the whole world sings of to the single tune of notoriety, had their birthplace here. And the story told by my estimable companion Aristomenes began on this spot, in this city! In any event, I just couldn’t wait: I was eagerly prying around, examining every...

  6. BOOK 3
    (pp. 46-65)

    1. Dawn, her rose-colored arm shaking the reins over horses decked out in scarlet medallions, had just launched her chariot into the sky when Night ripped me from peaceful sleep and turned me over to Day. My soul seethed as I remembered my crime of the evening before. What could I do? Well, I folded my legs against my body and intertwined my fingers to hook my poor palms over my knees, huddle on my lowly bed, and sob exuberantly. Law courts and trials were flashing through my head . . . then the verdict . . . and finally the...

  7. BOOK 4
    (pp. 66-91)

    1. Round about the middle of the day, when a flaming sun was stoking everything up, we stopped in a hamlet at the home of some old people, their connection to the bandits plain from the moment of our arrival, with the exchange of kisses and the prolonged chatter. (I could understand what was happening, though I was only a donkey at the time.) The bandits took a number of articles—the fruits of robbery, as they seemed to indicate in whispered asides—down from my back and bestowed them on their hosts. And now they put us, relieved of our...

  8. BOOK 5
    (pp. 92-114)

    1. “Psyche was lying comfortably on a stretch of delicate greenery, a veritable bed of dewy grass. With her immense agitation calmed, she fell gently asleep. But she was soon refreshed by an adequate dose of rest and got up again, peaceful within. She saw a grove planted with lofty trees, and a fountain with its glassy, pellucid fluid. In the heart of the grove, where the fountain rose, was a royal mansion, built with divine skill by superhuman hands. When you first entered it, you recognized this as the resplendent, delicious retreat of some god. The paneled ceiling was carved...

  9. BOOK 6
    (pp. 115-136)

    1. “Meanwhile, Psyche was busy with a variety of runnings about and flingings of herself in all directions. Fixated day and night on tracking her husband, the more troubled she was in her mind, the more she desired, if not to soothe him with a wife’s sweet-talk, then at least to propitiate him with a slave’s debased entreaties. Seeing a temple at the top of a far, steep mountain, she said, ‘For all I know, my master is passing his time there.’ She headed toward it at an accelerated pace; her unabating hardships had weakened her, but now hope and longing...

  10. BOOK 7
    (pp. 137-158)

    1. When the darkness was tossed off like a cloak, and the day grew white with light, and the pure glow of the Sun’s racing chariot illuminated the land far and wide, there arrived a man who belonged to the robbers’ band, as was revealed by his and their mutual civilities when they saw each other. Seating himself in the entranceway of the cave, he was panting from his journey, but when he had recovered his breath, he gave news to the company, as follows:

    “As to the home of Milo of Hypata, which we recently sacked, we’re safe—we can...

  11. BOOK 8
    (pp. 159-184)

    1. At cockcrow a young man came from the nearby city. I recognized him as a slave of Charite, the girl who as my fellow captive of the bandits had gone through trials as terrible as mine. Sitting by the fire among a crew of his fellow slaves, he gave news of her uncanny, shocking destruction and the disaster for the entire household.

    “You horse combers and shepherd roamers and cowhands! Our poor little Charite has gone down to the shades. It was a hard, hard fall for her, but she didn’t fall alone. I want you to know the whole...

  12. BOOK 9
    (pp. 185-218)

    1. Thus that iniquitous executioner outfitted his nefarious hands for my destruction. But the near-looming presence of such a fearsome peril prodded my wits into prompt action. My choice took only a moment’s consideration: I would evade immediate slaughter by running away. At once I broke the rope that tethered me and hurled myself away with unsparing hoofbeats, concatenated volleys of kicks acting as the guarantors of my escape. I dashed down the nearest colonnade and, hardly breaking stride, launched myself into the dining room where the master of the establishment, along with the goddess’s priests, was dining on the sacrificial...

  13. BOOK 10
    (pp. 219-247)

    1. What became of my master the gardener the next day, I have no idea. As for me, the soldier who’d gotten such a magnificent asskicking for his distinguished arrogance took me out of the stable and led me away, as no one told him he couldn’t. He brought luggage that belonged to him out of his own quarters (Iassumed), loaded it on me, and started me down the road in full martial regalia and equipment. For I bore a helmet that glittered forth in its splendor, a shield that shot its blazing light far and wide, and even a...

  14. BOOK 11
    (pp. 248-272)

    1. Sometime during the first watch of the night, I awoke in sudden terror. The full orb of the Moon was shining with an immoderate brilliance as it emerged from the sea swell. The dim night’s secret silence was my chance.

    I was convinced that this first-ranked goddess evinced especial majesty and power: human affairs were altogether governed by her providence—and not only pastoral and feral beings but even lifeless things were quickened by the sovereign favor of this deity with her bright might. All bodies in the earth, sky, and sea grew in accordance with her additions and then...