No Success like Failure: The Task of the Translator in Apuleius' Metamorphoses


  • Richard Fletcher


This contribution contrasts the roles of the narrator-translator in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses and De deo Socratis. Utilising theoretical conceptions of the indebted subject of translation (ideas of the failure of translation and the egotism of the translator) in Benjamin, de Man, and Derrida, it shows how, unlike the necessary translatability of philosophical language for the interpres of the De deo Socratis, the narrator-translator of the Metamorphoses revels in the untranslatability of the name of his sacred office (the pastophori). This emphasis on the failure of translation enacts the narrator’s prestige as an initiate and, in turn, trumps the bilingual egotism of the translator figure of the Prologue.

Richard Fletcher is Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University. He is currently in the process of becoming the author of a book called The Impersonation of Philosophy: Apuleius’ Platonism.