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In book eleven, Apuleius presents Lucius as the protagonist in a Platonic conversion story involving a search for the divine Isis, who rewards his journey with initiation into the mysteries, which requires rebirth and renewal, achieving the right order within the realm of stability.(18) The adoration of the divine goddess is the most salient feature of the religious experience portrayed in the book.(19)Some Renaissance translators of Apuleius such as Matte0 Maria Boiardo (1518) and Georges de la Bouthiere (1553) were so offended by the Isiac theophany of book eleven, that they eliminated it, but Beroaldo saw it as the heart of the novel: "The whole of Apuleius is, indeed, full of .
Spenser's double invocation of Isiac myth to represent the embodiment of, and location of, Britomart's transformation reinforces the intentionality of his allusion to Plutarch's version of the myth.
Especially upon a first reading, there is very little (if anything) which prepares the reader for or seems to foreshadow the details of the Isiac climax.
Here many readers have seen in this reunion a clear allusion to the noble white horse of reason from the Phaedrus' well-known allegory of the tripartite soul-chariot (symbolically underlining Lucius' own Isiac redemption), but have been puzzled by the seeming incompleteness of the allusion.
It is indeed the navigium Isidis that the Isiac faithful celebrate after Lucius is transformed (11,16,6-10).
The Christian worship, in the view of many in the second century, is clothed in secrecy and deeds of darkness; the Isiac religion celebrates openly in public parades.
is less straightforward, with additional inserted tales and the unusual Isiac ending, which complicates matters and, instead of answering questions, raises a few more, including the issue of the meaning of the text.
3,15,4) is, on the one hand, contrasted with the blessings of Isiac religion (11,15,1 nec tibi natales ne dignitas quidem uel ipsa, qua flores, usquam doctrina profuit, 'not your birth, nor even your position, nor even your fine education has been of any help whatever to you'), but enables, on the other hand, Lucius' rhetorical and literary success in Rome (11,27,9; 11,30,4).
1), but also how the multiplicity of the ego of the Prologue ought to be kept in mind when reading the character of Lucius the Isiac initiate in Book 11.
A third challenge is to take position in the highly debated issue of Book Eleven, which has led to various, conflicting interpretations, since some scholars view the novel's ending as satirical parody of a religious fanatic, and others as a serious account of an Isiac convert's redemption after his fall, caused by a fatal enslavement to false pleasures and curiosity for unhealthy magic.
But the Isiac cult's requirement for extreme financial sacrifice which has troubled some readers of Apuleius, even at one point makes Lucius himself a doubter of the sincerity of the priests (11.29.3), seemingly giving the reader permission to do the same..
Pointing to the Isiac and Egyptian associations of sundials and time-telling, Beck shows that Lucius/Apuleius playfully weaves together three essential themes: Egypt, Rome, and the Sun.
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