Date of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Paul Murgatroyd


Howard Jones



Committee Member

Daniel McLean


This dissertation is a careful study of characterization in the Cupid and Psyche episode (IV.28 - VI.24) in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses. In general, although the Metamorphoses has been the subject of a good deal of scholarly interest as of late, there has previously been minimal focused examination of characterization in the Cupid and Psyche section. This dissertation therefore represents an important contribution to current scholarship and uses a multi-faceted approach which includes investigation of the characters’ relationships to one another, roles, function, speech, intertextual connections, and questions of genre and authorial technique.

After a brief discussion of preliminaries such as the scope of the study, methodology, and the isolation of the Cupid and Psyche narrative from the rest of the novel, Chapter One examines the minor characters of the episode. The minor characters are defined and then placed into five groups for analysis: the invisible servants, the personifications of the abstract concepts, the floral and faunal characters, the animate object, and the deities. Chapter Two addresses the role of Psyche’s family in the narrative, covering her parents’ small but important contribution and her sisters in their larger role as Psyche’s secondary adversaries. Chapters Three, Four, and Five investigate the characterization of Venus, Cupid, and Psyche respectively. The Conclusion summarizes the larger picture of Apuleius and his approach to characterization and reviews some of his favorite techniques of characterization, as well as his approach to the characterization of females.

McMaster University Library