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Apuleius: Cupid and Psyche

8. Close Reading – 5.22-23

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About this Lecture


In this module, we provide a close reading of Book 5, Sections 22-23 ("Tunc Psyche … mutatur" and "Quae dum… avolavit") focusing in particular on: (i) what is happening at this point in the next; (ii) the distinctive construction of an adjective with two genitives of description (corporis et animi … infirma); (iii) the figure of Fatum ('Fate'); (iv) the symbolism of the lamp; (v) the 'transformation' of Psyche into a man (sexum … mutatur); (vi) the bilingual wordplay based on the Greek and Latin words for soul (animo Psyche); (vii) the importance of curiositas to the characters of both Psyche and Lucius; (viii) Apuleius' of parataxis (rimatur atque pertrectat et … miratur); (ix) the metaphorical reading of Psyche pricking her finger on Cupid's arrow; (x) the wordplay on Cupid's name (in Amoris incidit amorem, cupidine flagrans Cupidinis); (xi) the theme of jealousy, here applied to the lamp itsef; (xii) the structure of the final sentence, which ends with the main verb, avolavit ("he flew away"); (xiii) what happens in the rest of the Cupid and Psyche story – has she learned her lesson?; (xiv) the rich afterlife of Cupid and Psyche in art, sculpture and literature; and (xv) some suggestions for further reading.


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 – 5.22-23 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Panayotakis, C. "Apuleius: Cupid and Psyche – Close Reading – 5.22-23." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 19 Feb 2021,

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