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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter 2018

Narrating Voyages to Heaven and Hell: Seneca, Apuleius, and Bakhtin’s Menippea

From the book Cultural Crossroads in the Ancient Novel

  • H. Christian Blood


According to Bakhtin’s Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, Seneca’s Apocolocyntosis is ‘classical’ Menippean satire (which critics support) and Apuleius’ Metamorphoses is ‘full-blown’ menippea (which critics almost always reject). With an eye toward shedding new light on the problem of Book XI, I offer parallel readings, showing that Metamorphoses could a ‘rewriting’ of Apocolocyntosis. As menippea, Metamorphoses’ contested ending is not an ambiguous horserace between humor or piety. Rather, as Bakhtin’s menippea turns on syncrisis, the rhetorical figure of juxtaposition, the Isis Book is an authorized menippean mixture of humor and piety in which indeterminacy is hard-wired into the novel’s poetics.

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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