Isis and the Golden Ass

Rhakotis

The Egyptian mysteries in the novel of Apuleius

Parades and festivities were important parts of religious expression in the ancient world. The religion of Isis was no different. 

Background

The Golden Ass (or Metamorphoses) is an ancient novel. It is from a genre commonly called Milesian Tales. These were overarching stories linking episodic events very similar to Picaresque novels. Other famous examples, from a much later period, might include Boccaccoo’s Decameron, Sterne’s Tristram Shandy or even Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The best version is the Robert Graves’ translation. It also preshadows post-modernism. Written by Apuelius Lucius, the book tells the tale of Lucius, a man about town who is turned into a donkey by magic. As a donkey he travels around different parts of the Roman world experiencing the world as an animal would. Some of the tales in the book are fantastical, but as a donkey…

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