Turbela in Apuleius’ Novel

The contribution deals with the word turbela and its stylistic coloring: after Plautus (meaning ‘disturbance’) it is attested in the writings of Apuleius and other late authors. Nevertheless, there is no consensus among the researchers concerning its semantic and stylistic characteristics in the Metamorphoses: even if it is a borrowing from Plautus, it has a different meaning (‘a crowd’) and may not be a colloquialism. In support of it being borrowed, one may refer to Apuleius’ fondness for Plautine vocabulary and the testimony of Festus, who also points at the archaic nature of the word. The changing of meaning does not pose a serious problem, as it can be explained by the possibility of a metonymic transfer and Apuleius’ avocation of using wordplays and redefining semantic meaning. The article also discusses the spelling issue, evident in many cases of words in -ela. Confusion between abstract nouns in -ela and diminutives in -ella can be discovered early in antiquity, so there is no opportunity to make a distinction between turbela and turbella. The idea of the colloquiality of the suffix -ela and possible diminutive meaning of the word are deemed unjustified: in most instances, the context does not suggest that turbela is to be regarded as a diminutive, and words in -ela are attested in a number of writings where colloquial words would seem improper.

Dubova S. Turbela in Apuleius’ Novel