The Academical Ass: Apuleius and the Northern Renaissance
This chapter explores Apuleian influences in the Renaissance. It is argued that controversy was the common denominator of Apuleian influences in the Renaissance. Platonists used Apuleius in their struggle with the Aristotelians; he became a focal point in the bitter debates over Latin prose-style; and he was featured prominently in discussions of the function and value of fiction. The debate over imitative models was no frigid academic exercise — it was a battle to establish the very fabric of intellectual discourse, spoken as well as written. Language is fundamental to thought; style is inextricably linked with character; and Apuleianism was regarded as much as amoral and political threat as an aesthetic one. The decline in Latinity that produced Apuleius is linked by the polemicists with the decay of classical civilization itself; and the contemporary threat to Ciceronian orthodoxy posed by the resurgence of Apuleianism is made analogous.
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