La femme dans les Métamorphoses d’Apulée : une descente dans l'animalité ?


fr Anthropozoologica 33-34 - Pages 85-92

Published on 01 March 2002

This article is a part of the thematic issue Animal et animalité dans l’Antiquité. Actes du colloque de l’Université Lumière-Lyon II, 24-25 septembre 1998

Woman in the Metamorphoses of Apuleius: a descent in animalism?

The Metamorphoses of Apuleius present a questioning on the human condition and particularly on the place of the man compared with the animal and the divinity in the universe. The analysis of the notion of animalism is developing both in the main story, by the metamorphosis of Lucius in ass, and in most of secondary tales where women have a dangerous power. The link between woman and animal exists, not by the use of terms about animals, but by the use of myths. By framing the story of Lucius with the myth of Diane and Acteon and with the myth of Psyche and Cupido, Apuleius exploits the link which exists between violence, death and sexuality and makes the magician women the symbol of the incontrolated instinct which draws man to the level of animal and finally to death. Lucius becomes the priapic animal that he was in fact wearing in him. But when he refuses the copulation with the criminal women in the amphitheatre of Corinth, he refuses the confusion between human and animal. This drop in animalism is necessary to go up to the divine sphere.


Apuleius, woman, animal, magician, Acteon, psyche.

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