The Poetics of Fiction: Poetic Influence on the Language of Apuleius’ <i>Metamorphoses</i>

S. J. Harrison

in Aspects of the Language of Latin Prose

Published by British Academy

Published in print November 2005 | ISBN: 9780197263327
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734168 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

The Poetics of Fiction: Poetic Influence on the Language of Apuleius’ Metamorphoses

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This chapter describes the role of poetic language in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses, and how that role has been differently perceived in Apuleian scholarship. The Metamorphoses is the Apuleian work in which poetic elements figure most prominently, for which its kinship with poetry through its character as a literary fiction is a primary explanation. The examples discussed come from especially marked moments of the novel’s plot, since it is at such moments that poetic allusion and language are likely to come to the fore, but poeticism is a universal strategy in the Metamorphoses. The chapter also argues that traditional views about poetic elements in the novel as evidence of post-classical Latinity can be superseded by a more positive and contextualized approach which opens up new perspectives on Apuleius’ place in the history of Latin prose. It then addresses a further case in which poetic language contributes to impressive and heightened scenes in the novel, and in which one can see the diction of Apuleian prose not only employing existing poetic terms, but creating new ones by analogy with poetic models.

Keywords: Apuleius; Metamorphoses; poetic language; Latin prose; Apuleian scholarship; poeticism

Chapter.  6430 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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