Metamorphosis, go Golden donkey
Lucius Apuleius (approx. 125 - approx. 180 n. e.)
The hero of the novel, Lucius (is it by chance a coincidence with the author's name?!) that travels around Thessaly. On the way, he hears fascinating and scary stories about witchcraft spells, transformations, and other witch tricks. Lucius arrives in the Thessalian city of Gipatu and stops at the house of a certain Milon, who is "full of money, terrible and richer, but stingy as much as everyone is known as a person who is predatory and premature." Throughout the ancient world, Thessaly was famous as the birthplace of magical art, and soon Lucius becomes convinced of this from her own sad experience.
In Milon’s house, he has an affair with a servant, Fotida, who reveals the secret of her mistress to her lover. It turns out that Pamphilus (that is the name of Milon’s wife) with the help of a wonderful ointment can turn into, say, an owl. Lucius is eager to experience this, and Photida finally succumbs to his requests: he assists in such a risky business. But, secretly entering the room of the hostess, she confused the drawers, and as a result, Lucius turns not into a bird, but into a donkey. In this guise he remains to the very end of the novel, knowing only that in order to reverse the transformation he needs to taste the rose petals. But various obstacles stand in his way every time he sees another rosebush.
The newly appeared donkey becomes the property of a gang of brigands (they robbed Milon’s house), who use it, naturally, as a beast of burden: “I was rather dead than alive from the weight of such a load, from the steepness of a high mountain and the length of the way”.
More than once, on the brink of death, exhausted, beaten and half-starved, Lucius involuntarily participates in raids and lives in the mountains, in the den of brigands. There, he listens every day and every night, and he remembers (having turned into a donkey, the hero, fortunately, has not lost his understanding of human speech) all the more and more horror stories about predatory adventures. Well, for example, - the story of a mighty robber, clothed in a bear skin, and in this image penetrated into the house, chosen by his companions for robbery.
The most famous of the novels of the novel, “Cupid and Psyche,” is a marvelous tale about the youngest and most beautiful of the three sisters: she became the beloved of Cupid (Cupid, Eroth) - the treacherous strelovertsa.
Yes, Psyche was so beautiful and charming that the god of love himself loved her. Moved by a gentle Zephyr to the fairy-tale palace, Psyche every night took Eroth into her arms, caressing the divine lover and feeling that she loved them. But at the same time, the beautiful Cupid remained invisible - the main condition for their love meetings ...
Psyche persuades Eros to allow her to see the sisters. And, as always happens in such fairy tales, envious relatives incite her to disobey her husband and try to see him. And during the next meeting, Psyche, long consumed by curiosity, lights the lamp and, happy, happily looks at the beautiful spouse sleeping next to her.
But then hot oil splashed from the lamp wick: “Sensing a burn, God jumped up and, seeing the stained and broken oath, quickly got rid of the embraces and kisses of his unhappy spouse and rose into the air without saying a word.”
The goddess of love and beauty Venus, feeling her rival in Psyche, in every way pursues the chosen one of her arrow-bearing and capricious son. And with a purely female passion, he exclaims: “So he really loves Psyche, my rival in self-styled beauty, the kidnapper of my name?!” And then he asks two nebozhitelnitsy - Juno and Ceres - “to find Psyche who escaped as an explorer,” posing as her slave.
Meanwhile, Psyche, "going from place to place, day and night with anxiety, is looking for her husband, and he is ever more willing if not to caress his wife, then at least with slave prayers to soften his anger." On her thorny path, she falls into the distant temple of Ceres and, by hardworking submissiveness, conquers her favor, And yet the goddess of fertility refuses to give her shelter, for she is connected with Venus by "bonds of old friendship."
He also refuses to shelter her and Juno, who says: "The laws prohibiting patronizing other runaway slaves without the consent of their masters, keep me from this." And at least it's good that the goddesses did not give out Psyche an angry Venus.
Meanwhile, she asks Mercury to announce, so to speak, the universal search for Psyche, announcing her omens to all people and deities. But at that time, Psyche herself was already approaching the palaces of her indomitable and beautiful mother-in-law, having decided to surrender to her voluntarily and timidly hoping for mercy and understanding.
But her hopes are in vain. Venus cruelly scoffs at the unhappy daughter-in-law and even beats her up. Besides, the goddess is infuriated by the very thought of becoming a grandmother: she is going to prevent Psyche from giving birth to a child conceived from Amur: “Your marriage was unequal, and besides, imprisoned in a country estate, without witnesses, to be considered valid, so that an illegitimate child will be born from him, if I let you at all let you inform him. ”
Then Venus gives Psyche three impossible tasks (which later became the “eternal plots” of world folklore). The first of them is to disassemble a huge pile of rye, wheat, poppy, barley, millet, peas, lentils and beans - ants help Psyche to carry it out. Also, with the help of the good forces of nature and local deities, she copes with the rest of the duties.
But in the meantime, Cupid suffered in separation from his beloved, whom he had already forgiven. He appeals to his father Jupiter to allow this “unequal marriage”. The main Olympian convened all the gods and goddesses, ordered Mercury to immediately deliver Psyche to heaven and, holding out her cup with ambrosia, said: “Accept Psyche, become immortal. May Cupid never leave his arms and leave this union forever and ever!”
And a wedding was played in heaven, in which all the gods and goddesses, and even Venus, who had already become a good girl, danced merrily. "It was so properly transferred to Cupid Psyche's power, and when the time came, their daughter was born, whom we call Pleasure."
However, Zeus can be understood: first, he was not completely disinterested, because for agreeing to this marriage he asked Amur to find him on Earth another beauty for love pleasures. And secondly, as a man, not devoid of taste, he understood the feelings of his son ...
This touchingly tragic story Lucius heard from a drunken old woman who was running a house in a robber's cave. Thanks to the preserved ability to understand human speech, the hero turned into an ass and learned many other amazing stories, for he was almost continuously on the way, in which he came across many skillful storytellers.
After many misadventures, constantly changing their owners (mostly evil and only rarely good), Lucius the donkey eventually flees and finds himself once on the secluded Aegean coast. And here, observing the birth of the Moon, rising from the sea, he inspiredly addresses the goddess Selene, bearing many names among different nations: “Lady of the heavens! The image of a wild four-legged one comes from me, give me back to my close ones <...> If any deity drives me with inexorable cruelty, let me at least be given death if life is not given! ”And the royal Isis (Egyptian name of Selena— Moon) is Lucius and points the way to salvation. It is not by chance that this goddess in the ancient world was always associated with all the mysterious actions and magical transformations, rituals and mysteries, the content of which was known only to the initiate.
Adventure novel ends with a chapter on religious sacraments. And it happens quite organically and naturally (after all, it is all the time about transformations - including spiritual ones!).
After going through a series of sacred rites, having learned dozens of mysterious initiations, and finally returning home, Lucius also returned to the judicial activities of a lawyer. But, in a higher rank than before, and with the addition of sacred duties and positions.