Reception of Apuleius’ Cupid and Psyche from 1600 to Today


Apuleius’ tale of Cupid and Psyche has been popular since it was first written in the second century AD as part of his novel Metamorphoses or the Golden Ass. This story of the love between the mortal princess Psyche (or “Soul”) and the god of Love, their secret meetings, separation and final union in eternal love and marriage has fascinated readers as early as Fulgentius and as recent as Emily C.A. Snyder, readers who themselves produced their own responses to and versions of the story.

Often treated as a standalone text, Cupid and Psyche has given rise to treatments as diverse as plays, masques, operas, poems, sculptures, paintings and novels, with a huge range of diverse approaches to the text. The early reception of the novel as a whole has been treated in depth by Robert H.F. Carver: The Protean Ass: The Metamorphoses of Apuleius from Antiquity to the Renaissance. Oxford 2007 and Julia Haig Gaisser: The Fortunes of Apuleius and The Golden Ass: A Study in Transmission and Reception. Princeton 2008, but both volumes cover only up to the seventeenth century. During the last 400 years, however, the reception of Cupid and Psyche has blossomed in rich and ever varied responses throughout the Western world.

Project website