Stephen J. Harrison
This chapter considers the biography, literary career, and literary output of the second-century Platonizing Latin writer Apuleius, born in Roman North Africa in the 120s ce and recorded as active in Carthage and Africa Proconsularis in the late 150s and 160s. In particular, it examines the key features of his two most important surviving works, the Apologia or Pro Se De Magia, a forensic oration of self-defense against charges of magic and other offences, delivered in the late 150s in court at Sabathra, and the Metamorphoses or Golden Ass, a spectacular picaresque fiction concerning the adventures of the young Greek Lucius, who is metamorphosed into a donkey but later becomes an official in the cults of Isis and Osiris. It is shown overall that Apuleius’s literary profile matches those of contemporary Greek sophists and can be usefully described as sophistic.
J. R. Morgan
This chapter discusses the novels of Chariton and Xenophon of Ephesus. Both are engaged with central concerns of the Second Sophistic, in particular that of elite Greek identity. Chariton’s novel (composed in the second century and connected with the sophist Dionysius of Miletus) demonstrates the same empathetic recreation of the classical past as sophistic declamation, and defines the Greekness of his protagonists in antithesis to a Persia configured to enable the exploration of the contemporary accommodation of the Greek elite to Rome. In his vision, paideia is a central constituent of Hellenic identity, enacted through an important third character, who represents an older erotic paradigm in contrast to the romantic heroes. Xenophon’s novel (probably an epitome), on the other hand, uses a contemporary setting to explore the nightmare of the loss of social status and control over one’s own person.
The History of the Latin Language by Friedrich Stolz remains a solid product of historical-comparative linguistics. It has two blind spots, both dependent on its method: it privileges the evolution of Latin over its characteristics; and it sacrifices literary language to the advantage of aspects such as the rustic, the vulgar, and dialects. In the system of morphology and syntax, the bipolarity of Latin is evident, especially in the verb. As far as nouns are concerned, Greek is more modern. The eight cases of Indo-European languages are reduced to five, while Latin continues the ablative and significant traces of locative. Just as the Latin language has substituted Indo-European apophony with its own apophony, so it happened to verbal aspect. The history of the Latin language is not over with the end of the Roman Empire. Uprooted from its historical humus, Latin survives as a superstrate, in a tiresome compromise between the rigidity of original structures and the pressure of new cultural experiences.