The Golden Ass

Sex with animals….now that is a taboo.  There are reports of people having intercourse with animals in the news on a fairly regular basis.  I read that Craigslist is used to find a specific type of animal.  Dogs, sheep, horses….I wonder if you can request certain breeds.  Oh, wait…those people on Craigslist were arrested.  Bestiality is not a new taboo as humans have always had animals and eventually domesticated pets in their home.  It is often misspelled as “beastiality” as I did,  and my spell-checker quickly corrected me.  Those practicing this are referred to as Zoophilia, and there all kinds of levels to determine if you are a Zoophile.

Here is a little bit of bestiality from centuries ago.

Women in the Roman Empire basically held two roles through out the story, “The Golden Ass”.  Based on the novel, their role was a wife or slave and  to be subservient to all men.  The wives were also treated as slaves by their husbands.

Taking each of these two roles in the story, it will be clear how unappealing it was to be a woman in the Roman Empire.  A man named  Milo had a wife who’s name was Pamphile and they owned a slave, Photis.   While the wife had power over Photis, she was still regarded as a slave to her husband.  When Lucius joined them in their dining area, Milo waved his wife off their couch to his feet and Lucius took her place.  Pamphile does not become upset or angry,  she knows she must obey her husbands wishes.  Lucius had no hesitation in taking her seat because men were considered above women.  ( 15)

While lodging with Milo, Lucius can’t pass up the opportunity to have wild sex with Pamphile’s slave, Photis. (28)  As a slave, Photis was just an object to her owners.  Being a guest of Milo, Lucius freely takes advantage of Photis for his sexual pleasures.  Photis and slaves of this time period did the general housework.  Photis was also  ordered to assist in setting Lucius up for the Festival of Laughter (47) and sent to acquired items for potions, such as hair. (49)  Anything their master or his wife requested was expected to be carried out.

Wives and mothers were expected to uphold the family.  In “The Golden Ass” they fail terribly.  Instead of holding bonds with their husbands and children they ruthlessly look out for only themselves.  A wife who falls in love with her step-son and is jilted by him is portrayed as a murderer. (191)   A baker’s wife was said to be ugly, evil, and blasphemous.  She ignored her husband and spoke back to him often.  She had an affair and basically threw it in his face.  A good wife honors her husband and would never be involved in an affair.  Cast out from her role as wife, she takes the step of murdering her husband then fleeing. (182) 

During his travels, Lucius, over hears conversations and stories with his large donkey ears.  One story, told by an old hag in cahoots with thieves is, “Cupid and Psyche”.  The hag is telling a tale to console a kidnapped girl who is being held for ransom.   The girl is from an upper class family and the thieves hope to make a fortune in receiving a reward.  (72)  The girl was treated as a slave and meant nothing to her kidnappers other then money.  She was from a good family and about to marry an upstanding man. She even showed kindness and showed grace to the hag!

In the hags story, Psyche is a young girl who begins receiving attention and followers due to her amazing beauty.  She is married to the son of a goddess and has everything she wants in life, including a baby on the way.  Her two sisters are married and hate their husbands.  In anger and jealousy of Psyche’s life they use their slaves to help them plan to assassinate their innocent sister.   (86) 

Lucius, the ass, is introduced to an upper class woman who is well-known and respected in the area.  This responsibility to hold a superior role is crushed when one learns, she just wants to screw the jackass.  Holding the role of upper class does have some advantage, as they could not force her to perform a live donkey show. (207-208) This woman at one point became pregnant and delivered a daughter.  Though instructed to kill the baby, she tries to respect her husband’s wishes and passes her child onto another family.  Unfortunately, the wife of this family was certain the new daughter was after her husband.  Now out of jealousy, she murderers her adopted daughter in a gruesome fashion, only to learn, the hated child truly was her husband’s sister.  Though the wives try to serve their husbands in some aspects, in the novel they are portrayed as wicked and unfaithful spouses. (165,176,181,191) 

Back to the donkey show, the human owner of Lucius was greedy and enjoyed making money off his donkey.  The entire community was seeking out a suitable person to perform with Lucius.  That lucky girl was a condemned woman, who otherwise would just have been killed.  She was found guilty of being a murdering whore by a jury of her peers.  Ironically, Lucius who had no issue with bestiality before, suddenly doesn’t want to perform with this wicked woman.  In his eyes, he is still above this female prisoner, who is being forced to perform sexual acts with a donkey. (216) 

While the novel did have a few good woman characters the majority were bad.  They practiced witchcraft, did not honor their husbands or attend to their children properly.   The female characters that were shown as good were goddesses.    Each step in a characters life was somehow guided by such goddesses as Lady Fortune and Good Faith.  The lesser goddesses pale in comparison to Queen Isis.  This motherly goddess answers the prayers of a jackass!   She was kind and lent her ear to hear of his journeys, trapped in the body of an ass.  She shows favor to Lucius by transforming him back to human form during a parade. (235)   With his transgressions forgiven, he becomes a cherished member of professional society and devotes his life to worshiping his Queen Isis.

Through out this story of an ass, the women are always treated as lower class, even lower than a donkey.   The women fail their roles as wives or mothers.  The story is outrageous, but given the treatment of women in that time period, it is believable.  Men did not cherish their wives or slaves.  Any female was subject to use by men for their sexual needs.  A daughter’s could be cast into the trash with no feeling.  If found to be an adulteress, a woman would be tortured and killed.   Men would find another wife, or pay for a new one.  The only promising female role in the Roman Empire found in this story was that of a goddess.  If you weren’t a goddess, you were basically just some man’s bitch.

Apuleius, Lucius; Graves, Robert (Trans.) (1950). The Golden Ass. Penguin Classics, Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 0-374-53181-1



05/22/13 Update:  There must be daily searches for donkey show…and Google sends them to this post.  Funny huh?

…well, if you were looking for donkey sex shows, here are some interesting photos…

donkey1 Donkey-show-image mexican-donkey-show


  1. Anonymous says:

    Because it is true, if you’re not a goddess your a bitch, simple. Any questions?

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