Eloquentia ludens – Apuleius' Apology and the Cheerful Side of Standing Trial

Stefan Tilg

Abstract


This paper tackles Apuleius’ playfulness in the Apology from a metaliterary angle: it analyzes a web of references to playful eloquence in the first chapters after the exordium and reads these references as an implied stylistic-rhetorical programme that sets the tone for the whole speech. One very important aspect of this programme is its redefinition of eloquence as outspokenness (e-loquentia). This strategy gives Apuleius the opportunity to assert his innocence by representing himself exactly as a witty, charming, and playful speaker. It can be shown how Apuleius’ programme takes its cue from neoteric poetry and a general outlook on literature and life that is expressed in it. Similar key terms and motifs occur in a number of significant points throughout the speech, which confirms the programmatic nature of the initial discussion of playful eloquence. At the end, it is briefly considered in which way Apuleius’ programme might go beyond the immediate purpose of reclaiming his innocence in court, for related ideas can indeed be found in Apuleius’ whole œuvre and a broader strand of entertaining literature, from preneoteric poetry to the Roman novel to the poetae novelli of Apuleius’ own day.

Stefan Tilg studied Classics at the Universities of Innsbruck (Ph.D. 2003) and Siena. He worked in a Neo-Latin project at Innsbruck University before taking up a post as "Assistent" at the chair of Latin of the University of Bern in 2003. He is currently working on books on Chariton and Apuleius, for which he was granted scholarships from the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Center for Hellenic Studies of Harvard University at Washington, DC. He now pursues these projects at Corpus Christi College, Oxford.


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