The Golden Ass: The Transformations of Lucius

Written over 2,000 years ago, this is the only Latin novel to survive in its entirety. I’m a fan of Robert Graves’ fictional rendition of this era (I, Claudius), so eagerly read his translation. Lucius is the hero of the novel, a nobleman journeying to Thessaly. He lodges with a friend and has a torrid affair with the maid/slave, Fotis, who helps him in his quest to spy the matron of the house turn into an owl night after night. Lucius desires transformation, so Fotis brings him the cream that should turn him into an owl but instead turns him into an ass. Question about whether this was an intentional mistake, because Fotis didn’t want Lucius sleeping with any other ladies in town. The antidote for the spell is to eat roses, so Lucius the ass trots over to munch on some roses but is chased away by dogs and farmers. He ends up stolen by thieves and sets out on his many adventures as an ass with human intelligence.
Posted outside the thieves’ cave, he hears an old woman recite the tale of Cupid and Psyche, the most beautiful woman on earth which arouses Cupid’s mother’s jealousy (Venus). Lucius helps a prisoner escape the cave, they are caught by the thieves, then a new “thief” enters to become their leader, to be revealed as the prisoner’s fiancé. More thefts and killings, interspersed with ribald tales like the woman who hides her lover in a tub, the husband comes home saying he’s sold the tub, the wife quickly says she already has a buyer for the tub who is inspecting it, the lover pops out and says it’s very dirty inside, the husband jumps in to clean it and the wife & lover go at it as the hubby cleans the tub. There’s another interspersed tale about a cheating wife whose husband catches her lover and as punishment, takes the boy to bed with himself instead. There’s a surprising amount of sex in this book, I suppose not so surprising since it is an essential human act.