October 29, 2013

The Golden Ass by Lucius Apuleius (Review)

Title: The Golden Ass
Author: Lucius Apuleius
First published: 158
Add it: Goodreads, The Book Depository
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

If you are not a literature major, don't read this book! It's a repulsive mix of Decameron, myths, witch stories and religious preaching. The only beautiful part in The Golden Ass is the story of Cupid and Psyche, which is so unlike everything else, that I suspect Apuleius has stolen it from some earlier source. So if you can, try to find this story separately and enjoy it without its miserable surroundings.

The plot is quite well-known: a curious protagonist Lucius, who is very interested in witchcraft, tries some magic ointment and turns into an ass. He has to live in this form for around a year, and the novel is composed of his misfortunes while serving different masters and various stories he has heard during this year. Goddess Isid finally saves him, and the last part of the book is the glorification of her and her cult. Doesn't sound too bad, eh? But it is! This canvas is filled with violence, repulsive sex (yes, incest and intercourse with animals (I don't remember the correct English name for this and am afraid to google) included), lavatorial humour, and so on... I soooo did not expect this from such a renowned classic. And you don't get any warnings about this anywhere. So now I warn you, and if you are bothered by the above mentioned topics, as I am, avoid this book.

This is a short review, but that's just all I have to say about it :)

In my book:


  1. Gah! I never would've guessed. Blarrg.

    1. Not what you would expect of a classic, right? With all the praising reviews...

  2. I had heard that this one was pretty Roman (as in decadent and icky), but I didn't figure it would be that bad. I'm very glad to know that I can safely skip it.

    1. Decadent and icky are the right words. Glad to be of some help and to save you some nerves! :)

  3. I remember reading Decameron in university and although I found it highly interesting experience, it's not something I'd pick up for everyday reading enjoyment... So I would probably skip this one as well.

    1. I remember Decameron was rather entertaining and never as bad as The Golden Ass... True, some stories in Decameron are... indecent, but nothing atrocious. And there is a great number of really nice stuff there too, unlike The Golden Ass, which has only one tolerable story in it.


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