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Aspects of the Language of Latin Prose$
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Tobias Reinhardt, Michael Lapidge, and J. N. Adams

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780197263327

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197263327.001.0001

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

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

(p.273) The Poetics of Fiction: Poetic Influence on the Language of Apuleius’ Metamorphoses
Aspects of the Language of Latin Prose

S. J. Harrison

British Academy

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also argues that traditional views about poetic elements in the novel as evidence of post-classical Latinity can be superseded by a more positive and contextualized approach which opens up new perspectives on Apuleius’ place in the history of Latin prose.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

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