Delusion and dream in Apuleius' Metamorphoses

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Considering the absence of any ancient systematic approach to the reading of the novel, this paper turns to ancient dream hermeneutics as a valuable field of reference that can provide the theoretical framework for studying the ancient novel within its own cultural context. In introducing dream interpretation as one of the ancient novel's creative sources, this essay focuses on Apuleius' Metamorphoses. It explores the dream logic in Apuleius' novel by turning to such authorities as Heraclitus, Plato, Cicero, Artemidorus, and Macrobius, whose characterization of the phenomenon of dreaming sheds light on specific narratological trtaits of the Metamorphoses. It argues that the lower dream category, the insomnium (or the enhupnion), provides a notion of textuality that can clarify the traditional status of the Metamorphoses as a marginal work of art. In contrast to divinely sent symbolic dreams, it is primarily the insomnium - conceived as a by-product of the lower functions of the soul - that lends psychological force to Apuleius' fiction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-284
Number of pages38
JournalClassical Antiquity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Classics


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