In the ancient world of Thessaly, a young adventurer betrays a priestess of the White Goddess and is turned into an ass. How he resumes human form makes up this tale abounding in lusty incident and bawdy wit. In all of literature, there are few books with the vitality of THE GOLDEN ASS. Here is Robert Graves's masterful translation from the ...
In the ancient world of Thessaly, a young adventurer betrays a priestess of the White Goddess and is turned into an ass. How he resumes human form makes up this tale abounding in lusty incident and bawdy wit. In all of literature, there are few books with the vitality of THE GOLDEN ASS. Here is Robert Graves's masterful translation from the original Latin.
The Golden Ass is a bildungsroman. Lucius as a young man uses women like toilet paper. They are disposable objects. They are good for sex and useful as domestic appliances until they become inconvenient or he tires of them.
By and by his behavior offends The Goddess. She teaches him his lesson by transforming him into an ass, in which manifestation he is used by all and sundry in every conceivable manner. People steal him, work him nearly to death, starve him, buy him, sell him, you get the picture. Lucius learns what it is to be nothing but a convenience, and the experience is not pleasant.
After a whole series of terrifying, madcap adventures, Lucius learns his lesson and The Goddess changes him back into human form. As a man again, now having experienced his epiphany, he becomes a pillar of The Goddess's temple and a virtuous man -- by pagan lights.
Bible bangers who think Christianity is some kind of new and original religion -- if they think about what's actually happening in The Golden Ass (and most probably don't read at that level) -- are properly shocked by the story of Lucius. He sins. He repents. He is reborn. He is baptized. He becomes a useful servant of The Goddess, and he does all of these things without the assistance of Mr. Jesus Christ just as many pagans did during the thousands of years that passed before the Christian era.
So the whole truth is that all of Christianity was lifted from one or more of the pagan sects that proliferated before the Christian era. There was nothing new about Christianity, including the virgin birth, the miracles, the martyrdom, the resurrection, the ascension and the reappearance -- all of those pillars of the Christian faith figured in various pagan sects for many centuries before the birth of Christ.
Aside from its entertainment value (which is considerable), then, the true worth of 'The Golden Ass' today should be obvious to any modern reader. 'The Ass' is great stuff and we are lucky it survived an era in which so many other great books passed out of all knowledge.
Alibris, the Alibris logo, and Alibris.com are registered trademarks of Alibris, Inc.
Copyright in bibliographic data and cover images is held by Nielsen Book Services Limited, Baker & Taylor, Inc., or by their respective licensors, or by the publishers, or by their respective licensors. For personal use only. All rights reserved. All rights in images of books or other publications are reserved by the original copyright holders.