The portrayal of the enslaved woman Fotis in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses exposes the intersection of gender, sexuality, and slavery. Apuleius’ novel allows a window into interactions beyond the relationship of slaveholder and the enslaved person over whom s/he claimed dominium. Centering Fotis in Apuleius’ narrative shows how a discourse of slavery worked: an enslaved woman is made present as a body that may be sexualized and surrounded with fantasies of sex and violence. The sexual episodes of Lucius and Fotis reveal an aesthetic, facilitated by the system of slavery, of consuming bodies, watching bodies consumed by violence, and framing effacement and degradation as romance, an operation of power at the core of chattel slavery.
Keywords:slavery, social death, sight, violence, consent, volition, Apuleius, Quintilian, Roman law
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