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Apuleius: Cupid and Psyche

6. Allusions and Intertexts

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about some of the literary allusions in the tale of Cupid and Psyche, focusing in particular on: (i) the folkloric elements of the story, e.g. the ugly sisters (cf. Cinderella), a jealous stepmother (cf. Snow White), a husband who isn't what he seems (cf. Beauty and the Beast), etc.; (ii) the extent to which Psyche resembles the heroines of Greek tragedy and the women we find in Ovid's Metamorphoses and Heroides; (iii) the preponderance of images of Cupid and Psyche in ancient art and iconography; (iv) the influence of Platonist philosophy, particularly on the nature of the soul (Greek: psyche) and its desire to participate in the divine; (v) the extent to which the wrathful Venus resembles Juno at the beginning of Virgil's Aeneid; and (vi) the extent to which Apollo's description of love (Greek: eros) draws on the characterisation of love in Plato's Symposium.


In this course, Professor Costas Panayotakis (Glasgow University) explores the story of Cupid and Psyche in Apuleius' Metamorphoses. In the first module, we provide a brief introduction to Apuleius and his Metamorphoses, before turning in the second and third modules to the genre of the Metamorphoses, its title(s) – including its more famous 'unofficial' title, The Golden Ass – and its overarching structure. After that, in the fourth module, we think about the Greek original on which Apuleius' text is based, before turning in the fifth module to consider the (unusual) final book of the novel, in which Lucius becomes a priest of Isis. In the sixth module, we think about some of the many literary allusions in Apuleius' text – including the echoes of Virgil, Ovid and Greek Tragedy. Finally, in the seventh and eighth modules, we go through two sections of the set text line by line, providing close reading and analysis – 5.11 and 5.22-23.


Costas Panayotakis is Professor of Latin at Glasgow University. His research interests are on Latin fiction, especially of the Neronian period, and on Roman comic theatre of the Republic. He is currently working on a critical edition of the fragments of Fabula Atellana and a translation and commentary on the sententiae of the Syrian mime-writer Publilius.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Panayotakis, C. (2021, February 19). Apuleius: Cupid and Psyche - Allusions and Intertexts [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Panayotakis, C. "Apuleius: Cupid and Psyche – Allusions and Intertexts." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 19 Feb 2021,