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be one. It is also well known that many Christian saints lived a riotous life before their conversion. Apuleius’s work contains both poles of these opposites and sheds new light on this fundamental problem.9 Another source of difficulty which troubles most commentators is that, ignoring the psychology of the unconscious, they suppose that Apuleius consciously introduced all the symbolic allusions present in the novel. This, as I said earlier, does not seem probable. I am convinced that Apuleius intentionally slipped in many symbolic ideas, but that others flowed unconsciously from his pen. Where Apuleius consciously placed certain symbolic motifs in his story, one could be justified in treating them allegorically, in the Platonic sense of the term: as a profound philosophical significance hidden beneath the symbolic image.10 In support of this thesis, Merkelbach remarked that Apuleius attributed significant names to almost all of his characters. Similarly, it was certainly by design that he chose to transform Lucius into an ass, for Seth, the enemy of Isis and Osiris, was frequently represented in this animal form. To live the life of an ass thus signifies, as Merkelbach emphasizes, enduring “a life without Isis.� But from the fact that certain symbolic elements have been consciously introduced in his story, one need not deduce that Apuleius wrote this novel without the inspiration of the unconscious. The contribution of the unconscious to this work is all the more probable since we know that he experienced a profound religious conversion. As the word indicates, conversion signifies a sudden and radical change of personality, as was the case with Saint Paul and Saint Augustine.11 Such changes are abrupt only in appearance, and thanks to depth psychology, we can watch their preparation in the unconscious. It is a common occurrence in analytical practice to see the appearance in dreams of symbolic themes tending toward a psychic development often not realized for several months, or even years. In certain cases of neurotic psychic dissociation, it is common for a subject to lead two lives: the one conscious, on the surface, and another which is secretly developed on a deeper unconscious level. Conversion corresponds to the moment at which the two unite. Jung thought very highly of The Golden Ass and several times suggested that I look at it more closely. I must say that at first I did not know how to approach it. I understood from the outset that all parts of the book were absolutely essential and inseparable and that, thanks to the key of Jungian psychology, a coherent interpretation was possible. But somehow I did not

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Marie Louise Von Franz - The Golden Ass of Alpulius  

Marie Louise Von Franz - The Golden Ass of Alpulius  

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