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Can an Ass Convert? Lucius' Prayer to Isis as the Beginning of his Self-Transformation in Apuleius' Metamorphoses, Compared to Augustine's Theory of Grace

At the end of Apuleius' novel (Met. 11), Lucius-the-ass acknowledges for the first time that he might be guilty of having offended a deity and even accepts that he could have deserved to die (Met. 11,2,4), whereas, during the previous books, he was only complaining about the bad and blind fortune under which he suffered and did not realise his own responsibility (Met. 7,2,4; 9,1,5). In stark contrast to what has happened so far in the novel, these instances of suddenly recalling his human faculty of reason, of the desire to escape the world of 'sin' and the concession of possible guilt, impressively mark the beginning of a complete self-transformation within Lucius' still human soul. Apuleius portrays Lucius' prayer to the regina caeli as a true conversion by making Isis instantly reveal herself (personally and by name) in answer to his prayer: Lucius' turn to her has been accepted.

Paying attention to the fact that Lucius is praying in response to the apparition of the moon – which, as the reader is soon going to learn, is a symbol of Isis (Met. 11,3,5) –, one could argue from hindsight that Isis may have prompted his prayer. However, already at the end of book 10, Lucius had begun to change his mind from his former 'asinine views' (e.g. Met. 2,6, cf. Drews 2009: 468-474).

Is Apuleius depicting a kind of cooperation between the goddess and the 'human soul within an asinine body'? Is Lucius' conversion initiated totally by himself? Does Isis make exclusive claims on Lucius at the end of book 11? Can the interaction of god(dess) and man in Apuleius in any way be compared to Augustine's teaching of prevenient grace and his defence of free will, when, for instance, he narrates that his liberum arbitrium had to be "evoked" (i.e. by Christ, conf. 9,1,1)?

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