Author: Lucius Apuleius
Translator: Matteo Maria Boiardo
Venice: Nicolo daristotele da Ferrara & Vincenzo de Polo da Venetia, 1519, 2d ed. (1st ed., 1518)
Printed book with woodcut illustrations; 5 7/8 x 3 15/16 x 13/16 in. (15 x 10.5 x 2 cm)
The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1956 (56.608.1)
Boiardo's popular translation of Apuleius' Metamorphoses (also known as The Golden Ass), which originated in the Ferrarese court in the 1470s at the request of Ercole I d'Este, was only supplanted in 1549, when a new translation by Agnolo Firenzuola appeared.
The late classical work of Apuleius tells of the misadventures of a young man who, attempting to use magic in order to fly, is accidentally transformed into an ass. In this illustration, poor Lucius is punished for having escaped from the robbers who stole him. The narrator (Lucius) tells us that he would have been beaten to death if not for the malodorous aftermathsuggested in cartoon fashion in this illustrationof the vegetable feast he had enjoyed during his brief period of freedom.