Sarah Parker

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Professor Paul Murgatroyd


This thesis examines Apuleius' techniques and employment of setting, ecphrasis and characterization in the tale of Cupid and Psyche . Although some scholarly work has been done concerning Apuleius' narrative style, it has largely excluded this story and focused rather upon the larger framework of the Metamorphoses . This study is both a re-evaluation of earlier scholarly conjecture as well as a new interpretation and more detailed examination of these narrative devices within a much overlooked segment of Apuleius' novel. The first two chapters comprise an extensive analysis of the author's use of setting and ecphraseis with particular focus upon the following: the structural impact of and the manner in which these two elements are integrated within both Cupid and Psyche and the Metamorphoses as a whole (for example, parallels, links and prefiguration), their vividness or otherwise and how this is portrayed, the methods by which Apuleius employs setting and descriptions to colour mood and atmosphere and point up analogies and/or antitheses, as well as the significance which the two aspects play in conveying major semes and thematic threads throughout the narrative. The latter two chapters focus upon Apuleius', methods of characterization, including an examination of the minor and principal characters' actions, spoken words and thoughts, authorial intrusions and judgements, set descriptions, the significance of names or their absence, antitheses and/or analogies between characters and between characters and their environments. Characters' roles and narrative functions are also examined at length. The analyses have been undertaken in conjunction with both modern narratological methods and traditional classical methods of text analysis. This dissertation furthers knowledge about Apuleius' narrative techniques, and demonstrates his careful attention to structure, style, the impact of characters and the importance borne by set descriptions. It also contributes, therefore, to our knowledge of the ancient novel and narratology in general.

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