What are the ethics and morals of the people described in the book The Golden Ass by Lucius Apuleius?

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In order to understand the ethics and morals of the people within The Golden Ass, it is important to focus on the role of magic within this novel.

Firstly, it is quite evident that magic is central to the book's plot. The protagonist , Lucius, travels to Thessaly which...

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In order to understand the ethics and morals of the people within The Golden Ass, it is important to focus on the role of magic within this novel.

Firstly, it is quite evident that magic is central to the book's plot. The protagonist, Lucius, travels to Thessaly which is known for witchcraft. After obtaining magical secrets from a witch's servant by seducing her, he accidentally turns himself into an ass, contrary to his original intention of becoming an owl. From that point on, he experiences many trials and tribulations in relation to being an ass. The mistreatment he experiences at the hands of various mortals is representative of the consequences of using magic. It can be interpreted that the overall message revealed by the use of magic is meant to deter readers from obtaining things for personal gain through immoral means.

On another note, the various hardships Lucius faces due to magic are also very revealing of mortal sin, as these mortals torture him extensively and subject him to their sadism.

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Writing in the second century, the Roman author Apuleius spins a humorous morality tale that highlights human foibles in part through a central character, Lucius, who is turned into an ass. Although he is ultimately able to redeem himself and resume human form, he must undergo a series of adventures involving people who, for the most part, flout social and divine laws. Some, however, just have bad luck, which may have befallen them from ancestors' misdeeds or even divine caprice.

The inappropriate meddling of human beings in the gods' affairs is one of the book's themes. The characters use witchcraft and magic to try to advance their causes, primarily amorous and financial. While some characters are virtuous and try to help Lucius, their bad luck impedes success or even kills them. Most of the people he meets are far from benign, and cruelly torment the hapless ass. Their fates are generally violently inflicted and each is appropriate to the character of their misdeeds.

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That is broad question, but one important moral that is brought up is the danger of magic and the importance of proper views on religion.

The magic question is very interesting, because the Romans were preoccupied with the dangers of magic. They even passed laws about this, because they saw it as so dangerous. And when you look at Greek and Roman literature, magic is always cast in a negative light. For example, Medea is the magical par excellence.

So, think of a culture that fears magic. What type of morality emerges from this type of culture? For one thing, conformity to social norms seems to be important. Anything that is too much outside of the box is shunned.

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