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Apuleius and DramaThe Ass on Stage$
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Regine May

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199202928

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199202928.001.0001

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Cupid and Psyche: A Divine Comedy

Cupid and Psyche: A Divine Comedy

(p.208) 9 Cupid and Psyche: A Divine Comedy
Apuleius and Drama


Oxford University Press

This chapter attempts to link the tale of Cupid and Psyche with drama. It shows that Apuleius includes both comic and tragic elements in the same plot, and by doing so directs his readers’ sympathies in different directions. The alignment of Psyche with tragic heroines allows the reader to feel her sufferings with her, but at the end the marriage and the birth of her child is the just reward of a sympathetic character in comedy. Venus becomes less terrifying once she drops the attitude of the vengeful deity in order to scold like a common matron and aligns herself with comic stereotypes. Cupid’s passivity is more easily understood as that of the comic adulescens, and the sisters of Psyche, too, gain from theatrical characterization.

Keywords:   tragedy, drama, comedy, Amphitruo, Plautus, tragicomedy, Apuleius

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