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Apuleius: Cupid and Psyche

7. Close Reading – 5.11

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About this Lecture


In this module, we provide a close reading of Book 5, Section 11 ("Interea Psychen … mortalem"), focusing in particular on: (i) the elaborateness of Apuleius' prose; (ii) the context of 5.11 in the wider story – what has happened up to this point?; (iii) the possible allegorical readings of this passage; (iv) the extent to which the narrative includes the value judgements of the narrator; (v) Apuleius' use of hypotaxis to add texture and variety to his prose, combining ablative absolutes with present participles; (vi) the character of Cupid; (vii) the use of military language to describe Fortune's 'attack' on Psyche, and the parallels with Fortune's attacks on Lucius; (viii) Apuleius' style: compound verbs (praecaves), neologisms (lupulae), oxymoron (non videbis si videris), pleonasm (ergo igitur) and polyptoton (infantilis … infantem); (ix) the theme of vision of blindness; (x) the link between the description of the sisters as "witches" (lamiae) and the actual witches that Lucius has encountered earlier in the text; (xi) Cupid's limited powers of prophecy; (xii) the character of Psyche: her 'simple innocence' (simplicitas), 'tender-heartedness' (teneritudo) and her 'curiosity' (curiositas); and (xiii) the links between Psyche at this point in the story and the story of Lucius generally.


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 - Close Reading – 5.11 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Panayotakis, C. "Apuleius: Cupid and Psyche – Close Reading – 5.11." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 19 Feb 2021,