the golden ass

The Metamorphoses, or The Golden Ass: A Transformative Title

By David Bicknell

The most famous work of Apuleius, The Metamorphoses, is more commonly titled The Golden Ass, though the extant manuscripts of this novel are entitled The Metamorphoses. This is the title, which itself is an allusion to Ovid’s work of the same title, given to the novel by Apuleius. (For information about other things that influenced Apuleius’ The Golden Ass, click here.) The title The Golden Ass was first attributed to the novel by St. Augustine of Hippo in his Civitas Dei.[i] In the Civitas Dei, Augustine states that Apuleius gave The Metamorphoses the subtitle Asinius Aureus (The Golden Ass).[ii] Throughout the years, Augustine’s proposed subtitle has become the moniker that the novel is best known by, as well as the one used for this website.


[i] Augustine, Civ. Dei 18.18.

[ii] Cf. Winkler, John J. Auctor & Actor: A Narratological Reading of Apuleius’ Golden Ass. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1985.



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