The Sun Chronicle highlights Joel Relihan, a Wheaton College classics professor, who recently finished the first new American English translation of The Metamorphoses of Lucius Apuleius (aka The Golden Ass) by Apuleius in forty years.
“Spending more than a year reading a book word by word tested the patience of Joel Relihan, a Wheaton College classics professor. The end result was the first American English translation of a certain Latin classic in about 40 years … Set in the second century A.D., the story follows a young man whose fascination with witchcraft results in his transformation into a donkey, Relihan explains. The donkey spends a year trying to get the antidote to the spell. Although unfamiliar to most readers, the story is considered one of the “big name Latin classics,” Relihan says.”
“The Golden Ass” is famous for being the only intact full-length Latin novel to survive from ancient Rome to the present day, and equally famous within modern Pagan circles for the speech the goddess Isis gives to Lucius (trapped in the form of a donkey due to meddling in Thessalian magic).
“All the perfumes of Arabia floated into my nostrils as the Goddess deigned to address me: ‘You see me here, Lucius, in answer to your prayer. I am Nature, the universal Mother, mistress of all the elements, primordial child of time, sovereign of all things spiritual, queen of the dead, queen also of the immortals, the single manifestation of all gods and goddesses that are.”
Isis’ speech (here translated by Robert Graves, and included in the essential “The Paganism Reader”) is thought by some modern Pagans and Pagan scholars to be a direct influence on the revival of religious Witchcraft in England, and prefigures many concepts found within today’s Goddess worship communities. A new, easily obtainable, English translation is certainly welcome so that a new generation of students and curious seekers can follow the exploits of Lucius, and hear the words of the Goddess.