Author: Ellen Finkelpearl
Product Code: 7141
ISBN: 978-0-86516-714-8
Publisher: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers
Pages: 198
Availability: In stock
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Read less than it deserves at the undergraduate level, Apuleius' Metamorphoses tells the story of Lucius the ass-man and his encounters with sex, magic, robbers, storytellers, slaves, and finally the Goddess. From the cruel mockery of the Festival of Laughter to the sweet tale of Cupid and Psyche, from adventures that question human-animal boundaries to the profoundly spiritual conclusion, Apuleius constantly mingles the serious and comic, the bizarre and surreal with the quotidian details of ancient life.

The selections in this Reader are designed both to represent the variety characteristic of the Metamorphoses and to create a coherent narrative of the life and trials of Lucius (and Psyche). Attention is also given to the cultural milieu of its author (second century CE Roman North Africa).

Special Features

  • Introduction to Apuleius’ life and works, and to the Metamorphoses’ background, interpretation, and style
  • 660 lines of unadapted Latin text selected from Apuleius’ Metamorphoses, BOOK 1: 1.1.1–1.2.1 • BOOK 2: 2.1.1–2.2.1; 2.6–7 • BOOK 3: 3.1.1–3.2.5, 3.2.7–9, 3.8.1–4, 3.9.5–3.11.6; 3.21.1–3.22.5; 3.24–26 • BOOK 4: 4.4–5; 4.28.1–4.30.3 • BOOK 5: 5.11.3–4; 5.22–23 • BOOK 6: 6.20–21; 6.23.5–6.24.4 • BOOK 9: 9.12.2–9.13.5 • BOOK 10: 10.16.7–10.17.6 • BOOK 11: 11.1–2; 11.5.1; 11.5.3–4; 11.13; 11.15.1–3; 11.27.9; 11.30.3–5.
  • Notes at the back and complete vocabulary
  • Appendix on Latin prose rhythm
  • One map and four illustrations


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Review by: Joel Relihan, Wheaton College - February 21, 2014

Let me say at the outset that Ellen Finkelpearl was the outside reader for my translation of The Golden Ass (Hackett 2007) while it was in progress, and graciously provided a jacket blurb for the finished product.

It is a real boon to Apuleian studies that a critic of such stature as Ellen Finkelpearl has turned her attention to the creation of an upper-intermediate-level reader for the Metamorphoses. It is a work of stunning compression. She has isolated crucial passages rather than continuous pieces (no robber's stories, no tales of adultery) and then connected these passages in her Commentary with summaries of the missing portions, discussing the chosen passages with at least as much attention given to interpretation of story as to elucidation of language: for example, the half-page devoted to "What exactly was a pastophor?" (p. 110). In short, she offers a reading of The Golden Ass, instructed and enlivened by enough questions of interpretation that the students who use it are forced to grapple with the whole. She refers with great confidence and intelligence to a wide range of up-to-date studies; the Introduction's 28 pages (over four of which are devoted to Suggested readings) are commendably full, engaging, and enlightening. This is a valuable book and one which deserves to be widely used. The question is, how best to use it? I will describe what you get, and then suggest how the instructor, taking advantage of the fruits of compression, may expand upon this work for full classroom benefit

The approximately 6oo lines of text derive from the 1968 edition of Helm's Teubner, with 25 variations, more than half of which correspond to the text of Robertson's Bude edition. Zimmerman's 2012 Oxford edition appeared too late to be mentioned. The Latin is nowhere rewritten, and although orthography and punctuation are altered in the aims of clarity, why not add exclamation points? (See, e.g., 9.13 in Zimmerman's text: quales illi muli senes vel cantherii debiles!) In all, 23 passages, ranging from 8 to 54 lines, are newly and cleanly set over 31 pages; 77 pages of the Commentary follow, so that the text is not interrupted by' facing or footnote material; then 45 pages of Vocabulary follow a simple map. The passages include the Preface, Photis cooking (but not her hair) in Book 2, the bodies in the theater at the Festival of Laughter in Book 3, the metamorphosis in Book 3, scenes from Cupid and Psyche (the revelation of Cupid in Book 5, the descent to and return from the Underworld and the wedding banquet in Book 6), the slaves and the asses at the mill in Book 9, the ass as banquet companion in Book 10, and the skeleton of Book 11 (his prayer, Isis' response, the anamorphosis, the priest, the "man from Madauros," the conclusion).

A few reservations. One could object that in fact too much attention is paid in the commentary to vocabulary at the expense of grammar. I noted nine references to the Oxford Latin Dictionary and only six to Allen and Greenough. But there is still this problem, though it is one shared by all student-centered readers: the vocabulary entries are too schematic, focusing more on meaning than on use. In general, the vocabulary could have been more detailed in matters of transitive, intransitive, absolute, and reflexive verb meanings and uses, instead of relying of the student's intuition. For example: at 4.28 (p. 16), we have attiguas regionesfama pervaserat; at 4.29 (p. 17), provinciasque plurimas fama porrecta pervagatur. Pervado is in the vocabulary as "to spread;" pervagor as "to wander about." Both given meanings are intransitive, but both uses are transitive. At 3.2 (p. 7), we read angiportum insistimus, but insisto is glossed as "to halt, come to a standstill;" at 3.8 (p. 8), the black-robed women in the Festival of Laughter are described se lugubriter eiulantes, while eiulo is glossed as "to shriek, wail." Further, particular meanings that are argued for within the Commentary ought to be present in the vocabulary as well. One example: the Commentary at 3.11 (p. 10), parem gratiam memini, and at 9.13 (p. 26), gratas gratias . . . memini, notes that the phrases are equivalent to gratias agere, but memini is simply glossed as "to remember."

At the level of language and rhetoric, as opposed to interpretation, the Commentary has certain limitations as well as strengths. It is sensitive to physical scene and to rhetorical display (there is an excellent note on the description of the sleeping Cupid at 5.22 [p. 76]). It is careful to point out alliteration, but not rhythm; it identifies neologisms, but does not raise the question of how neologism functions as an agent of meaning; more important, it does not deal as often as it should with questions of word order. Not much attention is given to the variation in verb tenses and what meaning might be carried by Apuleius' over-fondness for the dramatic present tense; certain grammatical structures might have gotten notice (I know that my students would appreciate being reminded why the perfect subjunctive roraverint is used in a result clause at 5.23). It would have been useful if the selections began with a couple of pages illustrating some of Apuleius' characteristic phrases (nee mora cum) and words (prorsus); Apuleius' somewhat eccentric uses of in+ acc. to describe metamorphosis could also have been catalogued up front (they are found individually in the Commentary) and could have made their way into the Vocabulary as well.

How shall the instructor augment this text? Certainly it should be read in conjunction with a complete translation, which will have its own interpretive gambits. And certainly the student's appreciation for Apuleius' style can only be improved by offering different translations of a given passage for comparison. One continuous tale should be offered to illustrate narrative technique. My preference would be the Tale of Thelyphron in Book 2; Finkelpearl herself suggests that her volume be used in conjunction with Ruebel's commentary on the whole of Book I (Bolchazy-Carducci 2000 )-this is why Book I is only represented here by the Prologue. Another potential supplement would be Hayes and Nimis' Lucian's The Ass (Faenum Publishing 2012), where the complete Greek text, with commentary, is augmented by 10 passages from Apuleius, also with commentary, all corresponding to portions of the Greek, only one of which is in Finkelpearl (see my review in Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2012.09.55). It would also be pedagogically sound to encourage students to read these passages aloud as part of the process of determining their emphases, nuances, and meaning; after all, the Introduction does speak of the uses of Apuleius' "incantatory style" (p. x:xxii).

It is a cliche in reviews of this sort to say that quibbles do not detract from the value of the book in question. But this is absolutely the case here and I would not hesitate to use this as the solid center of a reading course on The Golden Ass.

NECJ 41.1 (2014)
Joel C. Relihan
Wheaton College

Review by: Sharon Kazmierski, The Classical Outlook - June 1, 2009
GOOD THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES Bolchazy-Carducci has recently commenced launching the first titles in its Latin Reader series, a new collection of innovative high intermediate and advanced Latin readers, specifically designed for college-level study. Under the expert guidance of series editor Ronnie Ancona, Professor of Classics at Hunter College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York, these small, duodecimo-sized paperbacks are intended to introduce authors and genres to students in upper division undergraduate courses. Written by recognized experts, each book will include approximately 500-600 lines of authentic Latin text, accompanied by a thorough introduction, bibliography of suggested reading, annotated commentary, and full vocabulary. There are currently two volumes available, A Lucan Reader: Selections from Civil war (ISBN 978-0865166615) by Susanna Braund and A Terence Reader: Selections from Six Plays (978-0865166783) by William S. Anderson. According to the Bolchazy website, seventeen additional volumes are currently scheduled to be issued. Upcoming authors include Plautus, Sallust, Cicero, Sueconius, Tacitus, Vergil, Caesar, Martial, Apuleius, and Livy. Topics co be covered include Roman Women, Roman Verse Satire, Latin Epic, and Roman Army. Additional authors and themes are under consideration. The inaugural volume, A Lucan Reader, is an introduction to the Silver Age epic poem (often referred to as Pharsalia) retelling the events of the Civil War between Julius Caesar and Pompey. Rarely studied by third and fourth-year college Latin students, this reader provides the opportunity for advanced undergraduates to sample some difficult but fascinating Latin. Following a detailed and compelling introduction, Braund has selected high interest passages: the causes of the Civil war, Caesar at the Rubicon, the abandonment of Rome, the necromancy of Erichtho, Pompey's visitation by Julia's ghost, and Caesar in Troy. I have never read Lucan, bur now find myself intrigued. The second volume, A Terence Reader, released just this summer, is an introduction to Roman Comedy. Following a consistent format, Anderson's introduction provides essential background for students and a brief history of Roman Comedy. He then proceeds to explain what made Terence's plays unique, original and thought-provoking. Selections in this volume include excerpts from Andria, Heauton, Phormia, Hecyra, Eunuchus, and Adelphoe, followed by commentary to put the passages in context and provide grammatical assistance. There is also a helpful appendix, with information regarding comic meters. Fans of comedy will be happy to know that the next volume in the series, to be released later this year, will be A Plautus Reader: Selections from Eleven Plays (ISBN 978- 0-86516-694-2) by John Henderson. Given the size of these short readers, teachers and professors should find them useful when customizing a course. Professor Ancona notes that they are ideal for use in combination. I observe that they are inexpensive ($19.95) compared to many college textbooks. Instructors can feel free to mix and match authors and themes to suit their curriculum without causing too much damage to their students' bank accounts. Motivated readers of Latin can sample new authors and themes with expert guidance. Secondary school teachers may even wish to challenge their skilled Advanced Placement students after completing the exam, using some of these selections as a follow-up to the anticipated Caesar/Vergil syllabus. To discover more about this intriguing new collection, visit the BC Latin Readers website at http://www.bolchazy. com/readers/ where you can find out more about what will be included in each volume as well as read a short biography of each series author. To see Bolchazy's complete catalog, visit the main website at Questions may be directed to their customer service at You may also write their headquarters at Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc., 1570 Baskin Road, Mundelein, Illinois 60060, Tel, (800) 392- 6453, Fax: (847) 526-2867. -Sharon Kazmierski The Clearing House, Classical Outlook Fall 2009

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