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rarae fidei atque singularis pudicitiae femina—The Figure of Plotina in Apuleius' Novel (Metamorphoses 7.6-7)

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image of Mnemosyne

The character of Plotina is introduced to the reader in book 7 of Apuleius' novel in a tale told by Tlepolemus (in the disguise of the bandit Haemus) to the band of robbers in order to rescue his kidnapped fiancée Charite. Compared to most of the other female characters in the Metamorphoses this Plotina is quite unique in her chastity and marital devotion, but she also displays manly qualities. In this paper it is argued that Apuleius has chosen the name Plotina for his character on purpose, mirroring the historical model of the wife of the emperor Trajan, Pompeia Plotina, who likewise was a woman of virtue, but whose active involvement in Hadrian's adoption remains an ambiguous trait. In the second part of the paper it is demonstrated how Plotina as an ideal wife also reveals a possible key to Lucius' salvation.

Affiliations: 1: University of Oxford, St. John's College, Oxford OX1 3JP, UK;, Email:


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