In The Golden Ass, the
surprise at the conclusion of the novel involves the recognition that Lucius as the narrator of the novel has presented the complex tales leading to the victory of Destiny over Fortune represented by his initiation into the Isiac rite.
Similarly, when it comes to the Golden Ass, the
'Ernst' part of the 'Scherz und Ernst' equation (combining entertainment and edification) is a slippery concept, because it does not lead many of the contributors to the conclusion that Apuleius has serious intentions in the resolution of his novel (the joyous conversion to Isis once the hero Lucius has sloughed his asinine exterior and become his human self again.
Second-century Roman writer Apuleius is best known for his Metamorphoses or The Golden Ass, the
only Roman novel that has survived to the present, but in his time he was known as, and claimed to be, a serious Platonic philosopher and rhetorician.
He argues that primary sites like monumental narrative paintings were more usually illustrations of Apuleius's Golden Ass, the
source for the first major mythological cycle at the Villa Farnesina in Rome, or of ekphrastic descriptions by Philostratus and Lucian of Greek paintings.