The Metamorphoses of Lucius Apuleius, usually referred to as The Golden Ass (Asinus aureus), is the only ancient Roman novel in Latin to survive in its entirety. The protagonist of the novel, also called Lucius, is at the end of the novel revealed to be from Madaurus, the hometown of Apuleius, so there are many elements which can be read as autobiographical.
The plot revolves around the protagonist’s curiosity and insatiable desire to see and practice magic. While trying to perform a spell to transform into a bird he is accidentally transformed into an ass, which leads to a long journey, both literal and metaphorical, full of stories. He finally finds salvation through the intervention of the goddess Isis, whose cult he joins.
The sixteen illustrations by Jean de Bosschère, eight black and white, four in full colour, and four in four colours, demonstrate his trademark stark style, perfectly complementing the no-nonsense text.
This version of The Golden Asse is William Adlington’s famous 1566 translation. It was published by The Bodley Head in a limited numbered edition of 3,000 copies.