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Lucius, however, takes over an attitude from Apuleius: he wants to explore this whole darkness without committing himself. This feature which Lucius displays in the very first scene is his main problem: his absolute determination not to commit himself personally to his adventures, which is naturally wrong. Either one keeps out of it, but then one does not experience anything, or one studies it honestly and then one gets involved. One cannot study anything without getting involved inwardly. That is the case even in science. The effect of this story, toward which Lucius keeps an aestheticizing literary attitude, does not help. One sees so clearly what always happens—it just creeps up on him from behind. On the road Lucius relaxes and lets his horse feed. Then he meets two men, one of whom is Aristomenes, the traveling merchant of honey and cheese who has just joined up with another commercial man going the same way. One must imagine what traveling meant when there were neither trains nor police. Robbers could steal all your possessions and you could be sold as a slave at the next market and not be able to protect yourself. Even Plato once had to be bought back by his friends from the slave market. Traveling was therefore very dangerous. What helped was a widespread belief that travelers were under the protection of Zeus and Hermes and that murdering them would bring bad luck to the murderer. In such conditions travelers liked to join up to defend themselves together in case of need. In this way Lucius joins the two men and finds them in the middle of a fierce discussion. Aristomenes tells his companion what had happened to him and the latter refuses to believe it. The man who believes in miracles and witchcraft is for very real reasons the traveling salesman in cheese and honey, for these form a sacred food in many mystery cults, especially in those of the Great Mother in the Dionysian, Eleusinian, and Orphic mysteries. For you either drank milk and honey at sunrise or had your tongue smeared with a little honey, which meant that you were inspired.5 Poets were thought to have eaten honey, the divine food of the gods, which made you perfect and gave you a subtle spirit. Cheese is solidified milk and has also to do with the mother cult. In ancient times people would know about such things, and a honey and cheese merchant would believe in magic. The merchant tells his story, the one which the other man did not want to believe, and that is the first “inserted� story in the book. For reasons which I presented in the introduction, we should interpret the story as a dream, as an inspiration of the unconscious. The cheese and honey merchant goes to the market and finds an old man in

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Marie Louise Von Franz - The Golden Ass of Alpulius  

Marie Louise Von Franz - The Golden Ass of Alpulius  

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