BMCR 2009.07.21

Response: Frangoulidis on Kirichenko on Stavros Frangoulidis, Witches, Isis and Narrative: Approaches to Magic in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses

Response to 2009.06.33

Response by

I would like to thank very much Alexander Kirichenko for the time he spent in reading and reviewing my recent book. However, there are a few comments I wish to make regarding the subject matter of the book and my authorial approach and intentions.

Following J.J. Winkler, the reviewer opts for a narratological reading in which the voices of the writer and of Lucius as narrator and actor are intertwined in the narrative of the Golden Ass.1 In his brilliant work, Winkler discusses the multiplicity of Lucius’ roles and voices within the text. Unlike narratological approaches, I decided to take an entirely different tack and concentrate exclusively on the different attitudes characters display towards magic, either in embedded tales or in the main plot, inasmuch as this approach can offer us new insights towards our understanding of the complex dynamics of the work.

From the very outset, my intention was to highlight Lucius’ comparatively good fortune as victim of magic when compared to that of all the other characters in the novel. The intratextual approach pursued in my work further led me to suggest that the novel’s final book may be read as a second Metamorphoses, rewritten from a positive perspective. This reading of similarities and contrasts among characters in the various inserted tales and episodes has further shown, I believe, the predominantly didactic aim of the narrative. My reading of the Metamorphoses does not, of course, rule out the possibility of other dimensions (comic, ironic, satiric, etc.), which may emerge from other approaches; but the book yields findings based on the intratextual approach I chose to adopt from the very beginning.

Last but not least, as explained in detail in the book, I attempted to situate the narrative of the Golden Ass in relation to the genre of the ideal Greek novels precisely because the Latin novel both follows and alters the dynamics of the plotline of those novels. It is true, of course, that the narrative of the Golden Ass also incorporates features from other genres, such as epic, tragedy, comedy, elegy, etc., but these have already been the subject of thorough investigation by several scholars, myself included.2


1. J.J. Winkler, Auctor and Actor. A Narratological Reading of Apuleius’s Golden Ass (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1985).

2. E.g. ‘Epic Inversion in the Tale of Tlepolemus / Haemus’. Mnemosyne 44 (1992) 60-74; also ‘New Comedy in Apuleius’ Tale of Cupid and Psyche’. In Stavros Frangoulidis, Handlung und Nebenhandlung: Theater, Metatheater und Gattungsbewusstsein in der römischen Komödie (Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler, 1997) 145-177.