'Apuleius and the ' Asclepius'' [i]

Text published in:  Vigiliae Christianae 50, 1996, 288-308

In the corpus of texts by Apuleius, there has been transmitted an Hermetic treatise of considerable length, known as the Asclepius. It is a Latin translation of a dialogue between Hermes Trismegistus and Asclepius on cosmological and theological subjects. The authenticity of this piece has been a matter of dispute for a long time. However, nowadays scholars seem to agree almost unanimously that the Asclepius cannot be attributed to Apuleius, and is of a much later date.

In the present contribution, I will reexamine this question. I will try to show that the arguments commonly used against Apuleian authorship are not sufficient. Though it seems impossible to present conclusive evidence that the translator cannot have been any one but Apuleius, there are several arguments to be adduced in support of such an attribution. These involve both the contents of the piece, and the translator's style, method and idiom. The Asclepius appears to have more in common with Apuleius' works than is presently acknowledged.


The case


The Asclepius has been transmitted among the philosophical works of Apuleius. These include a speech on demonology, De deo Socratis; a summary of the life and the doctrines of Plato, De Platone et eius dogmate; and a translation of a Pseudo-Aristotelic cosmological treatise, De mundo. Another MSS tradition exists for a treatise on logic, known as the Peri Hermeneias. The works for which Apuleius is now more widely renowned, the Metamorphoses, Apology and Florida, have been transmitted in a different group of MSS, which has remained separated from the philosophical works until the 14th century.[ii]

The philosophical works present various difficulties of content and style. Errors, inconsistencies and extreme variations of language have led scholars to question each of these works at some stage.[iii] However, by now the authorship of Apuleius seems certain or at least probable for all of them.

By contrast, the case of the Asclepius has been rather neglected. In fact, the authorship of Apuleius is no longer even discussed seriously. Nock/Festugière (1960) in their edition of the Corpus Hermeticum (published in 1945) briefly and simply state: `il n'est pas possible que cette traduction lui soit due' (277), without adding further proof. Their attitude has been widely followed in modern studies and editions, which sometimes hardly even mention Apuleius' name.[iv] Only a few scholars, feeling less sure, remain dissident here.[v] Considering the growing confidence in Apuleius' authorship of each of the philosophica, and the presence of the Ascl. among them, it seems worthwhile to reopen the case here.

The main arguments against Apuleian authorship of the Ascl. may be summarized as follows. First, in the MSS, the name of Apuleius is missing in the titles and subscriptions. A typical title is INCIPIT ERMU TRISMEGISTON DEHLERA AD ASCLEPIUM ALLOCUTA FELICITER.[vi] In the case of the other works, Apuleius' name is invariably mentioned.

Secondly, in book 8 of his De civitate dei Augustine discusses at great length the demonological theories of both Apuleius' Soc. and the Ascl., but without any indication that the latter was made by the same author. On the contrary, Augustine even notices differences between both works,[vii] thereby implying that Apuleius had nothing to do with the Ascl..

Problems are also posed by another Church Father and fellow North African, Lactantius (ca. 300 A.D.). In his works he refers to the Greek original of the Ascl., commonly known as Logos teleios (`Perfect sermon'), but he does not quote from the Latin Ascl. as we have it. Instead, he cites phrases in Greek and in another Latin translation, possibly his own.

Mainly on the basis of the testimony of Augustine and Lactantius, some scholars have suggested that the Ascl. cannot be dated earlier than the beginning of the 4th century.[viii] A minor point adduced in support of this chronology is a passage from Ascl. 24. Here it is suggested, in the context of an apocalypse, that pagan religion was to be legally forbidden in Egypt. This has been taken as a `vaticinium ex eventu' referring to historical facts of the year 353, or possibly 384-91.[ix]

Furthermore, the Hermetic contents of the Ascl. seem partly incompatible with theories defended by Apuleius elsewhere, which are mainly inspired by the Platonic tradition.[x] The recondite, esoteric Egyptian learning seems out of place in his work.[xi]

Finally, some points of style and vocabulary are adduced. Compared to the style of the Met. or even of the Mund., the Ascl. seems poor in the sort of ornaments typical for Apuleius. For example, literary quotations are missing, and the same seems to be true for enumerations, carefully balanced clauses and various sound effects. Some scholars have pointed to divergent clausula rhythms. Also, several new words appear which do not occur elsewhere in Apuleius' oeuvre, but seem to be of a later date. In particular, words are pointed out which do not reappear before the works of Christian authors.


Some critical remarks


Convincing as these arguments may seem at first sight, each one of them is open to doubt.

To start with the MSS, the fact that Apuleius' name is not explicitly added to the texts, amounts to hardly more than an `argumentum ex silentio'. It might just as well be reversed: in the MSS no one else is named as the author. The Ascl. has been consistently transmitted along with the philosophica of Apuleius, an argument which, as such, speaks in favour of Apuleius rather than against him. Here, one may also note that the work does not occupy a place at the end of the philosophica, which would have suggested that it is an appendix to the rest. Instead, its position seems to vary between different MSS, whereas the best MSS tend to place it between Soc. and Plat..[xii] On a minor note, one may also point to a number of late MSS, which actually do mention the name of Apuleius in either their title or their subscription;[xiii] admittedly, the evidence of such late MSS is rather weak. A stronger argument is given by Hijmans (1987) 411-2: the Hermetic treatises appear to have their own conventions, one of them being manifestly the suppression of the authors' normal name. The treatises in the Corpus Hermeticum are all anonymous. The translator of the Ascl. has simply followed the convention for this `holy book' in omitting his name. This argument can be extended to explain the absence of a personal prooemium, such as Mund. has.[xiv]

Coming to Augustine, the authority of the Church Father seems to be rather overestimated for the present question. That he does not mention Apuleius as author of the Ascl. is only a variant of the same `argumentum ex silentio' noticed above. It does not prove that Augustine's copy of the Ascl. was not attached to the works of Apuleius. In fact, the second half of book 8 of the C.D. attacks Apuleius and `Hermes Aegyptius' exclusively, with quotations from Apuleius' Soc. coming both before and after passages concerning the Ascl.. This would suggest a rather close connection between both texts in Augustine's library.[xv]

The fact that he opposes views of Apuleius and Hermes is not conclusive either. As a systematic thinker, Augustine obviously had different interests from the eclectic Apuleius. Philosophical `inconsistencies' within the works may well have led him to assume that more than one author was responsable for them. It seems that he did not realise or did not even know that the Ascl. is a translation, which does not necessarily present the views of the translator himself.

In general, it seems relevant to stress that Augustine lived some 250 years after Apuleius. In two and a half century, Apuleius' authorship may have become obscured, especially if he himself had not added his name to the translation. And though Augustine is evidently familiar with his fellow African's works, he does not mention all of them.[xvi] Considering these arguments, we should perhaps attach not too much weight to Augustine's testimony.

The same may be said for Lactantius. The fact that he quotes from the Greek original or another Latin version proves nothing, as Hijmans (1987) 411 rightly says. Hijmans adds that Lactantius may not have possessed MSS of Apuleius, since he mentions him only twice, in very general terms (Inst. 5,3,7; 5,3,21). Apart from this, the Greek original was widely read, and may well have inspired more than one Latin translation.[xvii]

Now the chronology of the Ascl. may also be questioned. If neither Augustine nor Lactantius provide conclusive evidence, the commonly accepted date of the early 4th century becomes unsettled. The minor argument of the `vaticinium ex eventu' does not bear much weight. In a passage of apocalyptic descriptions and predictions, one can expect a `horrible' idea like religion being penalized. The passage also predicts that all men in Egypt will die, that the gods will depart from mankind and the earth will loose its balance. Surely, these are no historical facts either.[xviii]

Generally speaking, questions of chronology of Hermetic treatises are difficult. For many pieces, no date can be given with any certainty. But it should be added that they are not necessarily of a late date: philosophical Hermetica are said to range from the 1st to the 4th century.[xix] Concerning the date of the Greek original of the Ascl., scholars disagree. Mahé (1982) 47-8 cautiously suggests the end of the 3rd century as terminus ante quem for the Logos Teleios, referring to Nock/Festugière (1960) 259. Later (p.80) he suggest that we cannot achieve anything further than a date in the 3rd century, without the possibility of further precision. A slightly later date is suggested by Copenhaver (1992) 214. But this late date appears to have been reconstructed mainly on the evidence of Lactantius' quotations again.[xx] Therefore, an earlier date, in the 2nd century, seems perfectly possible, and some scholars actually suggest this.[xxi]

Accordingly, the Latin Ascl. may well be much older than the 4th century.[xxii] As to its geographical background, scholars agree that it is probably North Africa. This assumption is based not merely on the references to the Ascl. found in North African authors, but also on the obvious intention of the translator to render a Greek source for a Latin speaking audience, a situation hard to imagine in the East.[xxiii]

In the light of both the chronological and the geographical aspect, Apuleian authorship of the Ascl. would not seem impossible. We lose trace of Apuleius in North Africa as late as the end of the 2nd century (ca. 170 A.D.). Admittedly, this would give an early date for the Ascl.. But given Apuleius' likely interest in Hermetic ideas (see below), the possibility that Apuleius read and adapted the Logos teleios shortly after its origin should not be excluded.[xxiv]

With reference to Augustine, I have already discussed the general point of philosophical `inconsistencies' between the Ascl. and Platonic ideas elsewhere in Apuleius works.[xxv] For the philosopher Apuleius, vagueness and eclectic thinking even seem typical.[xxvi] Moreover, the main task of a translator or adaptor is surely to render the ideas of the original text, not those of his own. Wherever we see Apuleius as a translator of Greek texts, he appears to act very freely, adapting the text for his Latin audience.[xxvii] But this does not include distorting essential notions so as to make them fit in a system of his own. He simply does not have such a coherent system. Theoretical inconsistencies do not seem to bother him even in his main writings, let alone in his translations.

Finally, the arguments derived from style, rhythm and vocabulary seem faulty. Often, the very concept of `Apuleius' style' seems based on his main works, especially the Met..[xxviii] Within the canon of Apuleian works, stylistical differences are actually considerable. Whoever reads the Plat. after the Flor. or the Soc. will be struck by the wide differences. `Apuleius' style' appears to depend strongly on the genre he happens to be working in. In a translated dialogue, a `sacred' one at that, we need not expect the same stylistical exuberance as in a novel. In addition, these generical differences also invalidate any arguments based on clausulae.[xxix] Grecisms and `errors' of translation also occur in Apuleius' other translations,[xxx] and do not speak against him here.

As to the idiom, Nauck/Festugière (1960) 280-2 lists some words absent from the Ascl.. But their survey does not include typical words, and therefore hardly seems convincing. The list presented by Horsfall Scotti (1990) 314n78 does contain more specific words, which in her view point to the Christian atmosphere of the 4th century. But the pattern of Apuleius being the first to use a word which later reappears only in Christian authors, is well attested elsewhere,[xxxi] and may well be considered an argument in favour of his authorship rather than against it. Moreover, most of the examples she adduces are formed with suffixes which Apuleius particularly likes: administrator (Ascl. 3) and restitutrix (3), inordinatio (26) and inrationabilitas (26). So, if the morphological aspect of these words is taken into account, they can also be used as an argument in favour of Apuleius. Below, in the paragraphs on style and idiom, I will further adduce some examples of stylistical ornaments and Apuleian words actually occurring in the Ascl..

In concluding these remarks, it may be said that the various objections made to the Apuleian authorship of the Ascl. are based on foundations which appear not very solid.


Apuleian religion and learning


So, are there any positive elements to be adduced? Scholars have concentrated so much on discussing the alleged differences between Apuleius' works and the Ascl., that correspondencies and links have largely escaped their attention. In the following, I will briefly adduce a number of such points. Considered in isolation, some of them seem hardly impressive, but they are intended as cumulative indications.

The actual inclusion of the Ascl. in the MSS of Apuleian works, constitutes a close external link. As discussed above, the absence of Apuleius' name may well be explained. But of course, any serious attribution must also be based on internal factors.

From the extant works of Apuleius, we have ample evidence for his insatiable curiosity and keen interest in matters of religion, mysteries and magic. In the Met., these motifs play a large role, culminating in the main character's initiation in the Isis cult in book 11. Apuleius explicitly testifies to his personal interest in mystery cults in a passage in the Apol., while his knowledge of magic can now be regarded as an established fact.[xxxii] This alone would make his interest in Hermetic philosophy likely.

Some more concrete indications can be adduced as well. Passages showing resemblances to contemporanean Gnostic attitudes have been distinguished in the Met..[xxxiii] Recently, Bajoni (1994) 1794 has pointed to ideological parallels between the Greek source of Mund. and Hermetic speculation, such as the dominant role of a supreme, transcendant god, addressed with various adjectives. A passage in Apol.64 on this supreme god is analysed by Regen (1971) 95-103 with three equivalent interpretations, one of these being a Hermetic one.[xxxiv]

Another interesting passage may be adduced here. In Apol.63 Apuleius counters the reproach that he possessed a magical statue. He denies any harmful intention and shows it to be a beautiful statue of Mercurius made of precious wood, used for pious practices. This passage has made scholars suspicuous as to Apuleius' intentions for a long time (e.g. Abt (1908) 226-9): Mercurius is, of course, no other god than Hermes, the very patron god of magic who is frequently addressed in magical papyri.[xxxv] Now, in Ascl. 23-4 there occurs a curious section on gods made by men. `Statuas dicis, o Trismegiste?' `Statuas, o Asclepi (...) statuas animatas sensu et spiritu plenas tantaque facientes et talia, statuas futurorum praescias eaque sorte, vate, somniis multisque aliis rebus praedicentes, imbecillitates hominibus facientes easque curantes, tristitiam laetitiamque pro meritis.' (24) In his discussion of the passage, Mahé (1982) 99-100 connects this to Hellenistic magic, referring to one of the magical papyri already quoted by Abt, on the fabrication of a small Hermes, with chlamys and caduceus. Perhaps the parallel with Apol.63 is more than just coincidence.

With Hermes, we come to another interesting observation: the main characters in the Ascl., Hermes and Asclepius, are names in which Apuleius is particularly interested. For Hermes/Mercurius, cf. also Apol.31, where Apuleius shows his familiarity with Hermes as the god of magic: igitur, ut solebat ad magorum caerimonias advocari Mercurius carminum vector (...). Mercurius occurs in a magical context also in Apol.42, with another possible allusion in 43. Perhaps his role in the mysterious Cupid & Psyche story, in the middle of the Met., is relevant here too.[xxxvi]

The god Asclepius (Aesculapius) was the subject of a Greek and Latin hymn and an equally bilingual dialogue of Apuleius, to which he refers in Flor.18, which is probably its `introductory speech'. On another occasion, he delivered a speech in the city of Oea de Aesculapii maiestate, a religious subject which has made the speech famous, as Apuleius adds: celebratissima est, vulgo legitur, in omnibus manibus versatur (Apol.55). The text of the Apol. indicates that he even has someone quote aloud its beginning. Furthermore, in Soc.16 there is a brief mention of the fame and cult of Aesculapius, which surpass that of other deified heroes: alius alibi gentium, Aesculapius ubique. Even in the Met., the `god of medicine' is briefly mentioned (Met.1,4). Finally, it is well known that Apuleius held a high public priesthood (Flor.16). Recently, it has been argued that this may well have been the office of priest of Asclepius.[xxxvii]

The Asclepius addressed by Hermes in the Ascl. is the grandson of the revered god, as we learn from the dialogue.[xxxviii] Considering the evidence, can we say that this is merely coincidence? According to Abt (1908) 4-5n1 the attribution of the Ascl. to Apuleius was perhaps wrongly made on the basis of the passage in the Apol.. But the argument can be reversed: it is possible that Apuleius was attracted to the Hermetic writings because of his interest in Hermes and Asclepius.

The Egyptian background of the Hermetic writings would not oppose this. On a general note, there is abundant proof that Apuleius was much interested in Egypt, especially in matters of religion.[xxxix] It is even probable that he visited the country himself, as appears from his account in Apol.72, where he relates how once he was on his way to Alexandria (pergens Alexandream). He did not arrive then, but may well have done on another occasion.[xl] Without entering into further biographical speculations, it seems safe to conclude that Apuleius must have been curious as to Egyptian religion and learning, and can have sought access to original sources.


Method and genre


Now we can make a second step. Is it possible that Apuleius actually translated such a complex and esoteric Greek source? How would this fit into his oeuvre?

Here, the answer seems unproblematic. Apuleius invariably presents himself as a man of wide and various learning. The list of his works, both preserved and lost, shows an astonishing variety, with studies on logic and philosophy, biology and rhetoric, poetry and drama. Moreover, many of these works were either translations of Greek orginals or fashioned after Greek models.[xli]

Studies of Apuleius' translation technique (see above,n.25*) have shown clearly how he adapts his sources in a relatively free way, adding and reducing material, modifying thoughts and changing the idiom and syntax. This is precisely the sort of observation made in the case of the Ascl..[xlii] A fine example is a description of sexual intercourse between man and woman (Ascl.21). Here, Apuleius departs from the original, in using euphemistic language to avoid obscenity.[xliii] This behaviour would seem typical for Apuleius. One is strongly reminded here of Apuleius' explicit boasts in Apol.33-4 of his ability to create decent and chaste Latin words.[xliv]

Some general tendencies in the Ascl. have been described by Wigtil (1984). Compared to the Greek original, it seems to concentrate more on apocalyptic description, on closer proximity of the divine, and on a more intense personal relation to it on the part of the devotee. From these `ideological differences', Wigtil draws the conclusion that the Latin Ascl. must be widely separated in time and place from the original. But this does not necessarily follow. The elements in question may well be the result of the specific interest and talents of a translator, even a contemporary one. In fact, if we only recall Met.11, they do not seem unlike Apuleius at all.

So, as a translation, the Ascl. would fit perfectly into Apuleius' oeuvre. The same is true for the Ascl. as a philosophical dialogue. In the Flor. Apuleius expressly states that among the many literary genres he adopts, dialogues are present: (...) sed pro his praeoptare me fateor uno chartario calamo me reficere poemata omnigenus apta virgae, lyrae, socco, coturno, item satiras ac griphos, item historias varias rerum nec non orationes laudatas disertis nec non dialogos laudatos philosophis, atque haec et alia eiusdem modi tam graece quam latine, gemino voto, pari studio, simili stilo (Flor.9). None of these Apuleian dialogues `praised by philosophers' has survived.[xlv] But it is not difficult and even tempting to imagine the Ascl. as one of them.[xlvi]

It might be objected that in Roman literature, dialogus had come to mean simply `philosophical treatise' without any exchange of ideas between speakers. The dialogi of Seneca present a clear example of this. But considering Apuleius' conspicuous Platonism, it seems more likely that his `dialogues' remained closer to the original, Platonic form. As a dialogue, the Ascl. may be compared to the later Platonic dialogues, where there is no lively discussion, but merely the setting of a conversation, with one speaker exposing his views. This type of philosophical dialogue had been used by Cicero too.




Furthermore, a brief look seems due at the style of the Ascl., which scholars have often branded as `un-Apuleian'. Evidently, the Ascl. cannot stand a stylistical comparison with the exuberant Met.. But it should be realized that the Met. cannot serve as the model for Apuleian style, since it belongs to an entirely different genre. Rather, we should compare the Ascl. to the more philosophical Mund. and Plat.. Whenever the authenticity of these writings was doubted, this was based on the argument that their style was dull, arid, and unlike `Apuleius'. In recent years, the insight has grown that there is no such thing as a single Apuleian style, and that the writings in plain style are of his hand as well. If Mund. and Plat. cannot be called `un-Apuleian' on the basis of their style, neither can the Ascl..

In this writing, many instances of a carefully polished, moderate style are to be found. The passage on statues quoted above can serve as a first example. Here we find repetition of words and anaphora (statuas... statuas...), alliteration, homoeoteleuton and assonance (StAtuAS AnimAtAS SenSu et Spiritu plenAS), long words (imbecillitates), and, most strikingly, an almost paratactical list of clauses with a participium on -ntes, creating a special rhythmical effect. There is nothing here which would be strange to Apuleius.

Similarly, in Ascl.8ff the creation of man and his aim on earth are described in an appropriately elevated style, containing a great number of phrases which would not surprise us in a work by Apuleius.[xlvii] The same goes for the passage containing the apocalyptic descriptions (Ascl.24ff).[xlviii] Many other examples could be given.[xlix]

To add some minor points, I also point to the careful introduction and paraphrasis of Greek words,[l] to bold phrases and images,[li] and to examples of a particular chiastic order with variation of words.[lii]

Obviously, Apuleius is not the only author who uses such stylistical ornaments: they flourish in many Latin writings, especially those dating from the 2nd to 4th centuries. So, the examples given above cannot be taken as proof of Apuleian style. On the other hand, what they do indicate is that the Ascl. does not lack the stylistical refinement also to be found in Apuleius.

One point remains to be explained here. In all of his writings, even in Mund. and Plat., Apuleius uses ornaments consisting of Latin and Greek literary quotations and allusions. These are missing in the Ascl., although less conspicuous allusions may be not entirely absent.[liii] However, it should be remembered that the Ascl. is a sacred text, for which the translator shows much respect. As seen above, this does not mean that he does not change anything in it, but it can mean that he avoided the introduction of such elements. More specifically, he may have wished to retain fully the Egyptian context. The elevated, exotic atmosphere would be badly disturbed by a manifest, explicit quotation of a line from Plautus or Vergil.[liv]




Finally, the idiom seems worth considering. As I have already suggested, the problems raised here are not always to the point: often Apuleius is the first to use a word, which disappears after him, to emerge only in late authors.

New or rare words in the Ascl. are regularly formed with suffixes Apuleius favours, especially nouns on -tor and -trix, -tudo and -tas, adjectives starting with multi-, omni- and vivi-.[lv]  Some very rare or archaic forms occur,[lvi] as do a number of Apuleian favourites.[lvii]

Some cases seem especially noteworthy here. The plural of adoratio occurs only in Ascl.9 and Met. 4,28. The form instar, comparatively rare as a plain noun without a preposition, is used in a similar cosmological context in Ascl.17 and Plat.1,8.[lviii] Closely parallel is the use of the rare vivacitas in Ascl.29-30, in a context of the eternity and immortality of the cosmos, with Soc.4 vivacitas illic aeterna et indefecta sit and Mund.2 immortales vivacitates.

I have also noted some cases of striking correspondency in expression. In Ascl.32, Hermes announces new mysteries to come: vos, o Tat et Asclepi et Hammon, intra secreta pectoris divina mysteria silentio tegite et taciturnitate celate. Here, we seem close to Met.3,15 huius religiosi pectoris tui penetralibus haec intra conseptum clausa (...) simplicitatem relationis meae tenacitate taciturnitatis tuae remunerare. The expression intra secreta pectoris occurs literally in a prayer in Met.11,25: numenque sanctissimum intra pectoris mei secreta conditum.[lix] An unusual metaphor in Ascl.34, mentis (...) obtutu, has a close parallel in Flor.2 mentis acie et animi obtutu, both referring to man's way of reaching deeper understanding.

Finally, the prayer at the end of the Ascl., though certainly a translation, as appears from the Greek original and Coptic parallel (see above), also shares elements in prayers as found in Apuleius, especially in Met.11. Perhaps it is fitting to restrict myself here to a single word, the superlative exsuperantissimus for the highest god. The phrase gratias tibi, summe, exsuperantissime with which the Latin prayer opens (41), has been compared by some to late sources.[lx] In fact, we may profitably compare two indications of the god in Apuleius' works: summus et exsuperantissimus divum in Mund.27; and summi exsuperantissimique deorum omnium in Plat.1,12; furthermore viribus exsuperantissimis, said of the same god in Mund.31. Moreover, in the passage in the Ascl., the word has been consciously added by the Latin translator, since it does not correspond to anything in the Greek or Coptic versions.[lxi]

The puram et sine animalibus cenam with with the prayer in the Ascl. ends, might also be compared to the vegetarianism in Met.11,23 and 28, but since there is no verbal echo, this does not bear much weight.



This enquiry into the Ascl. leads to the following conclusions.

The objections commonly raised against Apuleian authorship are open to doubt. Especially the assumed late date may be questioned, since it is mainly based on evidence of Augustine and Lactantius which is not alltogether conclusive.

On the other hand, there are indications on several levels, that may well point to Apuleius. His insatiable curiosity about philosophy and religion, mystery cults, magic and Egypt would make it not unlikely that he sought access to Hermetic sources. A translation of a dialogue in Greek would fit in perfectly in his oeuvre. Nothing in the style or idiom seems to make his authorship impossible. On the contrary, there are even several important stylistical and lexical parallels between the Ascl. and the Apuleian corpus.

Of course, it can never be proved beyond all doubt that Apuleius was the translator of the Ascl.. But weighing all the evidence, it seems wise to exclude this possibility no longer as decidedly as is still done.


Katholieke Universiteit, Vakgroep Klassieken,

Erasmusplein 1, 6525 HT Nijmegen






Maria Grazia Bajoni, Apuleio, de mundo (Pordenone 1991) (text and Italian tr.);

Jean Beaujeu, Apulée, opuscules philosophiques (Paris 1973) (text and French tr.);

G. F. Hildebrand, L. Apuleii opera omnia (...) I/II (Leipzig 1842);

David Londey, C. Johanson, The logic of Apuleius (Leiden 1987) (text and English tr.);

Claudio Moreschini, Dall' Asclepius al Crater Hermetis. Studi sull' Ermetismo latino tardo-antico e rinascimentale (Pisa 1985) 121-201 (text and Italian tr.);

C. Moreschini, Apulei Platonici Madaurensis opera quae supersunt, III: De philosophia libri (Stuttgart/Leipzig 1991) (text, incl. Ascl.).


Corpus Hermeticum

R. Van den Broek, G. Quispel, Corpus Hermeticum (Amsterdam 1991) (Dutch tr.; excl. Ascl.);

Brian P. Copenhaver, Hermetica, The Greek corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius in a new English translation with notes and introduction (Cambridge 1992) (English tr., incl. Ascl.);

G.R.S. Mead, Thrice-greatest Hermes (...) II (London 1964) 197 ff. (English tr., incl. Ascl.);

A.D. Nock, A.-J. Festugière, Corpus Hermeticum, Tome II (Paris 1960) (2nd ed.) (text and French tr., incl. Ascl.).

G. Quispel, Asclepius (Amsterdam 1995) (forthc.) (Dutch tr.).


Nag Hammadi codices

Jean-Pierre Mahé, Hermès en haute-Égypte, I, les textes hermétique de Nag Hammadi et leurs parallèles Grecs et Latins (Québec 1978) (includes Coptic text and French tr. of NH VI,7)

Jean-Pierre Mahé, Hermès en Haute-Égypte, II, Le fragment du Discours Parfait et les définitions hermétiques Arméniennes (Québec 1982) (includes Coptic text and French tr. of NH VI,8);

James M. Robinson (ed.), The Nag Hammadi library in English (Leiden 1984) (English tr.).



Studies frequently consulted


A. Abt, Die Apologie von Apuleius von Madaura und die antike Zauberei (Giessen 1908;

Maria Grazia Bajoni, Aspetti linguistici e letterari del "de mundo" di Apuleio, ANRW II,34,2 (1994) 1785‑1832;

Antonino González Blanco, Hermetism. A bibliographical approach, ANRW II,17,4 (1984) 2240-81;

St. Gersh, Middle Platonism and neoplatonism. The Latin tradition I (Indiana 1986);

B.L. Hijmans jr, Apuleius Philosophus Platonicus, ANRW II,36,1 (1987) 395‑475;

Mariateresa Horsfall Scotti, Apuleio tra magia e filosofia: la riscoperta di Agostino, Dicti Studiosus, Scritti di filologia offerti a Scevola Mariotti (Urbino 1990) 295‑320;

Raymond Klibansky, Frank Regen, Die Handschriften der philosophischen Werke des Apuleius (Göttingen 1993);

Antonio Marchetta, Apuleio traduttore, La Langue Latine, langue de la philosophie; Actes du colloque organisé par l'Ecole Française de Rome 1 (Roma 1992) 203‑18;

Claudio Moreschini, Apuleio e il Platonismo (Firenze 1978) 219-58;

Frank Regen, Apuleius philosophus Platonicus. Untersuchungen zur Apologie (De magia) und zu De mundo (Berlin / New York 1971);

David Wigtil, Incorrect Apocalyptic: the Hermetic "Asclepius" as an improvement on the Greek original, ANRW II,17,4 (1984) 2282-97.

APPENDIX: other disputed Apuleiana


Several other extant works have been attributed to Apuleius.[lxii] By common assumption, this is merely the result of Apuleius' wide renown in late antiquity and Middle Ages as a scientist and magical expert. But incidentally, questions are still raised concerning their authorship. Therefore, some brief remarks may be added here.[lxiii]

            (a) Parallel to the Ascl., tradition has attached Apuleius' name to a herbal, De herbarum medicaminibus. This work was widely used in the Middle Ages and has come down to us in many MSS. There seems to be no doubt among scholars that our Apuleius cannot have been its author, and that it cannot be dated earlier than the 4th century.[lxiv]

However, one may feel rather tempted by the magical and medical elements in the work to associate it with Apuleius. Especially fascinating is the presence of `Asclepius' in the herbal, an element which has recently been pointed out as the principal cause of its attribution to Apuleius.[lxv] If we allow for the possibility that the Ascl. is genuine, this might even be brought forward in defence of the authenticity of the herbal. But on reconsidering the method and style, I have not been able to find convincing arguments in support of such an Apuleian authorship.[lxvi] The herbal is hardly more than a catalogue of herbs and plants, with brief, uncritical remarks about their use, and added drawings. There is nothing here which would refer to Apuleius specifically. As a whole, the book seems to belong to a late ancient or medieval context.

(b) Recently, a cautious attempt was made to reopen the case for the so called De Physiognomonia.[lxvii] This is a Latin adaptation of Greek sources on physiognomy, the art of systematically drawing conclusions about a person's character from his or her external appearance. The attribution of the Latin text to Apuleius was first implied by Albertus Magnus (De anima I,2-3), who refers to a remark on the eyes of Socrates (Physiogn. 32) as being by Apuleius. In addition, it has been shown that Apuleius was well acquainted with physiognomy, as appears from various passages in the Met. and Apol..[lxviii]

But the late testimonium of Albertus Magnus bears little weight by itself. Furthermore, knowledge of physiognomy is attested for many authors, and is no sufficient proof either. Most importantly, the Physiogn. is not transmitted among Apuleius' works and contains no elements which might seem specifically Apuleian, such as the Ascl. does. Its style is simple and not refined or polished.[lxix] As a whole, it is a rather scholastic summary of Greek sources. This uncritical method is, again, quite different from what we observe in works by Apuleius.

On the other hand, it is not impossible that Apuleius made this sort of simple adaptations in his youth. One of the Greek sources for the Physiogn. is a treatise by the declamator Polemo, who lived during the reign of Hadrian. It is just conceivable that Apuleius studied this work in Rome or Athens during his formative period, about 150 A.D.. But for lack of any substantial evidence, it seems wise to keep the Physiogn. apart from the Apuleian corpus.

(c.) Finally, a word seems due on the Geoponica, a Byzantine agricultural and magical work in Greek. As one of its sources, it mentions `Apuleius'. This `Apuleius' or `The Roman Apuleius' is mentioned more than 20 times, both in the text and in the rubrics. It has been suggested that this must refer to a work of our Apuleius.[lxx] However, we cannot relate these testimonia to any extant text. The identification of Apuleius is tempting, especially considering the magical nature of much in the Geoponica receipts, and an Apuleian work may well have been at their basis. But here too, we cannot reach any further conclusions, especially since we have only these references to Apuleius, and no fragments.

In conclusion, there seems to be no reliable evidence to prove that Apuleius was involved with any of these works. On the other hand, they may well have been influenced by some of his genuine works which are no longer extant.

[i]. Research was supported by the Foundation for Literary Studies, Musicology and Drama Research, which is subsidized by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). I wish to express my thanks to those who have provided help and valuable comments: Prof.dr. J.H. Brouwers (Catholic Universi­ty of Nijmegen), Members of the Groningen Apuleius Research Group (University of Groningen), and participants of the Dutch Latinists' Day 1995 (held at the University of Leiden).

[ii]. For a survey of the Apuleian MSS tradition, see L.D. Reynolds (ed.), Texts and transmission (Oxford 1983) 15-9. For the philosophical works in particular cf. also the introductions in the modern critical editions, Beaujeu (1973) and Moreschini (1991); further Moreschini (1985) 267-88 and the very detailed monography Klibansky/Regen (1993).

[iii]. In general, see Hijmans (1987) 408-12. Of Soc. only the position and function of the prologue have been called into doubt, though not its authorship; on the problem see: Vincent Hunink, The prologue of Apuleius' "De deo Socratis", Mnemosy­ne 48 (1995) (forthc.). For the authenticity of Mund., see Regen (1971) 108-10; Marchetta (1992); Bajoni (1991) and (1994). For Plat. see Regen (1971) 108; Beaujeu (1973) ix-xxix. The authenticity of Herm. has been strongly defended by C. Johanson, Was the magician of Madaura a logician?, Apeiron 17 (1983) 131‑4; further Londey/Johanson (1987) and Klibansky/Regen (1993) 18-23. However, Moreschini (1991) still rejects it, though he includes the text in his edition.

[iv]. Beaujeu (1973)  viii: `personne ne croit plus, de nos jours, que l'auteur de cette traduction ait pu être Apulée'; accordingly, Beaujeu omits the text of the Ascl.. Moreschini (1991) does give the Latin text, but only because it has been transmitted with the philosophica. For the same reason Klibansky/Regen (1993) include the Ascl. in their investigations of the MSS. However, they categorically add: `stammt gewiß nicht von Apuleius' (18), without any further indication. Copenhaver (1992) does not mention Apuleius in his translation of the Corpus Hermeticum before p.214; here, in a subordinate clause, it is stated that the traditional attribution to Apuleius is `groundless'. Wigtil (1984) went even further: in his ANRW article on the Ascl., the name of Apuleius is not mentioned at all. Among other studies in which Apuleian authorship is rejected, are Moreschini (1985) 71-119; Gersh (1986) 218.

[v]. Of older scholars, Hildebrand (1842) vol.I,xlix-liv still explicitly defended the attribution to Apuleius. In modern studies, scholars remain cautious at best: Regen (1971) 101n309 remarks that he is not sure, and that a thorough study of the Ascl. should be made. Doubts are also expressed by Mead (1964) 244-5. Recently, Hijmans (1987) 411-2 seems inclined to consider Apuleian authorship, pointing to the inadequacy of the arguments used against it. In the first section of the present contribution I will resume and extend his arguments.

[vi]. The awkward dehlera probably represents the subtitle Bíblos hierà of the Greek original; cf. Mahé (1982) 48; Moreschini (1991) 39.

[vii]. Nam diversa de illis Hermes Aegyptius, quem Trismegiston vocant, sensit et scripsit. Apuleius enim deos quidem illos negat (...) Ille autem Asclepius alios deos esse dicit a summo Deo factos, alios ab hominibus (Aug. C.D. 8, 23). Augustine's testimony is given special attention by Horsfall Scotti (1990) 312-21.

[viii]. Cf. Mahé (1982) 55-6; Moreschini (1985) 72-3; Horsfall Scotti (1990) 314. Wigtil (1984) 2284 even proposes a date as late as the early 5th century; similarly Copenhaver (1992) xliii and 214.

[ix]. Cf. Copenhaver (1992) 239 with further reff..

[x]. On differences between the Ascl. and 2nd century Platonism, see Gersh (1986) 329-87. On the other hand, ideological parallels can also be pointed out. For instance, Moreschini (1985) 115 connects the use of the term receptaculum for matter (34) with concepts in Plat.1,5 and 1,7.

[xi]. One is tempted to assume that the very `strangeness' of the Hermetic dialogue deters most classicists in advance. Specialists of the Hermetic tradition, on the other hand, can not easily relate the Ascl. to this late classical author. In general, they show surprisingly little interest in the question of the authorship of the Ascl..

[xii]. The former can easily be seen in the descriptions of all relevant MSS and Florilegia, as given by Klibansky/Regen (1993) 55-138; the latter may also be observed in Moreschini (1991) iii-ix.

[xiii]. Cf. Klibansky/Regen (1993), nrs. 2, 12, 17, 55, 81, 91, 93, 107. These MSS are dated in the 15th century, except nr. 81, which belongs to the 14th century.

[xiv]. Scholars point to the high respect paid by the translator to the Greek original (though he adapts it at some points; cf. below), and to his search for sollemnity; cf. Nock/Festugière (1960)  276 `la version latine est manifestement une traduction libre, plus soucieuse de solennité que de précision'; further e.g. Wigtil (1984) 2293-4. The `religious', `sacred' atmosphere of the dialogue is stressed from its very opening lines; in 23 it is called a sanctissimus sermo.

[xv]. One might object that a simple alphabetic order can explain the connection, Asclepius naturally following Apuleius. However, Augustine does not refer to this title. Instead the main speaker in the Ascl., `Hermes' or `Hermes Aegyptius', is treated as if he were the author (e.g. C.D. 8,23). As Hijmans (1987) 412n56 points out, this is common practice.

[xvi]. In particular, references to Plat. are missing. On Augustine and Apuleius much has been written; cf. Moreschini (1979) 219-58; Horsfall Scotti (1990)  see further: Cornelius Mayer (ed.), Augustinus-Lexicon I 3 (Basel 1988) s.v. `Apuleius' (423-5).

[xvii]. Cf. e.g. Mead (1964) 244. In recent years, discoveries at Nag Hammadi have brought to light fragments of a Coptic translation of the same original. (Nag Hammadi codices VI,7-8). See the extensive studies and syntoptical editions by Mahé (1978) and (1982); cf. further J.-P. Mahé, La voie hermétique d'immortalité', Vig.Chr. 45 (1991) 347-75. Compared with the Ascl., the Coptic version is said to be more literal. An English translation of the Coptic fragments is given in Robinson (1984) 298-307.

[xviii]. Many motifs in the passage are common in apocalyptic texts. Scholars have noticed parallels with Jewish, Egyptian and Iranean sources; cf. Copenhaver (1992) 239, and earlier: Nock/Festugière (1960) 379n201, who clearly state that it has been shown: `que ces prédictions ne se réfèrent (post eventum) à aucun fait historique déterminé.' At p.277 Nock/Festugière seem to contradict themselves; here they suggest that the mention of legal sanctions against religion must have been inserted in the text at a later date.

[xix]. Cf. Mahé (1982) 25-6; Van den Broek/Quispel (1991) 25; Copenhaver (1992) xliv. Collections of Hermetica must have been in circulation as early as the 2nd century; cf. Copenhaver (1992) xlii. Evidently, the Hermetic material on which the writings are based are even older. Ancient testimonia on Hermetism have been collected by Moreschini (1985) 51-68. One of the earliest examples is Mart. 5,24.

[xx]. Apart from Lactantius, Nock/Festugière also use a papyrus from the late 3rd century containing the final prayer of the work. For this Greek text, compared to the Coptic version and the Ascl., see Mahé (1978) 135-67; compared only to the Ascl., see Moreschini (1985) 79-80. But it should be realised that the only chronological evidence presented by this papyrus is a terminus ante quem.

[xxi]. Cf. Mead (1964) 244-5; Wigtil (1984) 2297; cf. also Regen (1971) 102.

[xxii]. Blanco (1984) 2253 remarks that scholars have pointed to affinities with Hermetism in the system of the Gnostics at Rome, attacked by Plotinus in 263-7. This would already point to a considerably earlier date than is generally assumed.

[xxiii]. On the African provenance of the Ascl., cf. Mahé (1982) 56-8.

[xxiv]. The situation may be closely parallel to that of the Met.. Nowadays, Lucian is often considered to have been the author of the Greek Metamorphoseis; cf. Niklas Holzberg, Apuleius und der Verfasser des griechischen Eselsromans, WJA 10 (1984) 161-77; Niklas Holzberg, The ancient novel (London 1995) 76-7. If this is correct, Apuleius must have adapted this model too shortly after it had been composed.

[xxv]. To mention one or two examples, the views in the Ascl. on various sorts of gods and their hierarchy seem different from Platonic ideas. Apocalyptic notions seem absent from his other works. Cf. further Gersh (1986) 329-87.

[xxvi]. A fine example is given by Regen (1971) 95-103: in a passage in the Apol. on the supreme god (c.64), notions from different philosophical tradition are fused together. Regen 109-110 summarizes what he regards as Apuleius' weak points as a philosopher: `den Mangel an strenger Logik, das Fehlen sprachlicher bzw. terminologischer Schärfe und das Verschwimmen der Systemgrenzen.'

[xxvii]. Cf. studies on Mund. and Soc. mentioned above,n.2; further Hijmans (1987) 417-22; see also below in the section `Method and genre'. In general on Roman translation technique, cf. the contributions on Cicero, Vitruvius and Gellius in: Carl Werner Müller, Kurt Sier, Jürgen Werner (edd.), Zum Umgang mit fremden Sprachen in der griechisch-römischen Antike (Stuttgart 1992) 173ff.

[xxviii]. Cf. M. Bernhard, Der Stil des Apuleius von Madaura (Stuttgart 1927), who considers Herm. and the Ascl. as spurious, and accordingly leaves them aside (p.4). This is not without effect on the overall picture of Apuleius' style. Significantly, Louis Callebat, Formes et modes d'expression dans les oeuvres d'Apulée, ANRW II,34,2 (1994) 1600‑1664, deals mainly with the Met..

[xxix]. Even Hijmans, a scholar very much interested in clausulae research (as appears from his: Apuleius orator: "Pro se de Magia" and "Florida", ANRW II 34,2 (1994) 1708‑1784, esp. 1744-60), makes this point and proposes to leave such arguments aside; cf. Hijmans (1987) 410; 412.

[xxx]. Cf. recently on translation `errors' in Mund.: Marchetta (1992).

[xxxi]. Cf. Hijmans (1987) 412n59 with further ref.. For an example of new senses of existing words, see: Victor Schmidt, Moralische Metaphorik bei Apuleius und im christlichen Latein am Beispiel "morum squalore", WS 103 (1990) 139‑43.

[xxxii]. The main statements in Apol.55 are: Sacrorum pleraque initia in Graecia participavi (...) at ego, ut dixi, multiiuga sacra et plurimos ritus et varias cerimonias studio veri et officio erga deos didici. It is to be noted that Apuleius underscores the variety of these interests: he poses as an observant of religious practices of different sorts; cf. also Soc.14. In general, on the role of these religious motifs in the Met. cf. Carl G. Schlam, The metamorphoses of Apuleius, on making an ass of oneself (Chapel Hill / London 1992) esp. ch. 1 and 10. For magic in the Apol., cf. Abt (1908), passim; in the Met., cf. Schlam (1992), esp. ch. 7. For the role of magic in the Ascl., see also Copenhaver (1992) xxxvii, who lists some passages `more closely related than most to the theory and practice of magic.'

[xxxiii]. Cf. Jean‑Pierre Mahé, Quelques remarques sur la religion des Métamorphoses d'Apulée et les doctrines gnostiques contemporaines, RSR 46 (1972) 1‑19. Further: Ken Dowden, Psyche on the rock', Latomus 42 (1982) 336-52.

[xxxiv]. For a similar passage in De Plat., attention has been drawn to Gnostic parallels; cf. R. Van den Broek, Apuleius on the nature of God (de Plat. 190-191), in: J. Den Boeft, A.H.M. Kessels (edd.), Actus, studies in honour of H.L.W. Nelson (Utrecht 1982) 57-72.

[xxxv]. For ample bibliography on Hermes and his Egyptian equivalent Thot in relation to magic, cf. Copenhaver (1992) 93-4. For Hermes as a Greek god, see Hans Herter, Hermes, Ursprung und Wesen eines Griechischen Gottes, RhM 119 (1976) 194‑241.

[xxxvi]. I do not include general references in Apuleius' works to Mercurius, e.g. of cosmological and astronomical nature.

[xxxvii]. Cf. J.B. Rives, The priesthood of Apuleius, AJPh 115 (1994) 273‑90. On a minor note, cf. also the doctor called Asclepiades resuscitating a man from near-death in Flor. 19. The anecdote about this man occurs in other sources too, e.g. Plin. NH 25,13. Apuleius seems to have been fascinated by the motif of salvation from apparent death; cf. also several passages in the Met. e.g. 1,13-17; 10,2-12 with the Groningen Commentaries on Apuleius a.l. (forthc.); for an extensive analysis of relevant passages cf. Berber Wesseling, Leven, liefde en dood: motieven in antieke romans (Diss. Groningen 1993) 92-103. Interestingly, the context of all such passages appears to be predominantly magical and religous.

[xxxviii]. `Avus enim tuus, Asclepi, medicinae primus inventor (...)' (Ascl.,77). Likewise, Hermes is a grandson of the great Thoth. In some treatises in the Corpus Hermeticum, the names seem to refer to the gods rather than their descendants. For these names cf. Mahé (1982) 47n2; Copenhaver (1992) 93-5; 124-5.

[xxxix]. I merely list some places without further discussion: Met. 1,1; 2,28; 11,4; 11,11; 11,16; Apol. 8; 38; 56; Flor. 6; 15; Soc. 14; 15; Plat. 1,3; Mund. 7. On the Egyptian elements in Met.11, see in particular: J. Gwyn Griffiths, Apuleius of Madauros, The Isis-book (Metamorphoses, book XI) (Leiden 1975) 20-31.

[xl]. Travel between the region of Carthage and Egypt was apparently a regular phenomenon, cf. Apol.57-9.

[xli]. The Met. is based on a Greek story. The Apol. includes much Greek material, as do the Flor.. Soc. is probably a Latin version of a now lost Greek discourse preceding it, and is firmly based on Greek sources, as are, manifestly, Plat. and Herm.. The latter is possibly even a translation, such as Mund. certainly is. Cf. also Regen (1971) 109. For the lost works, cf. the list in e.g. H.E. Butler, A.S. Owen, Apulei Apologia sive pro se de magia, with introduction and commentary (...) (Oxford 1914) xxvi-xxviii.

[xlii]. Cf. Mahé (1978) 23; Mahé (1982) 51-61; Wigtil (1984); and passim in notes on the text by Nock/Festugière (1960) and Copenhaver (1992).

[xliii]. Cf. Mahé (1982) 61: `Il adapte ce passage avec un souci de respectabilité pudibonde'. In general, the `silhouette de l'adaptateur latin' which Mahé 60-1 describes here, bears remarkable resemblances to the common image of Apuleius: `(...) chaud partisan de toutes les dévotions populaires, c'est un homme cultivé, qui a des prétentions métriques dans sa prose', `son insistance pompeuse sur les lois', `il est capable d'être sententieux (...) et d'une prolixité emphatique sur les questions qui l'embarrassent', `ce n'est donc pas un hermétiste convaincu', `un homme important certes, mais pas éminent.'

[xliv]. By contrast, obscenity in poetry can be defended, according to Apuleius, because of generic conventions, cf. Apol.11. This would explain his translation technique in the Apuleian poetical fragment Anth.Lat. 712 Riese, known as the Anechomenos. Here, a `chaste' original of Menander appears to be expanded in the Latin text with much additional, more or less obscene material. Cf. S.J. Harrison, Apuleius Eroticus: Anth. Lat.712 Riese, Hermes 120 (1992) 83‑89.

[xlv]. We only possess two minute fragments of a free Latin version by Apuleius of the Phaedo; see Beaujeu (1973) 173. Significantly, Apuleius is working on the basis of a Greek model even there. For his dialogues, cf. also Flor.20: Canit enim Empedocles carmina, Plato dialogos, Socrates hymnos, Epicharmus modos, Xenophon historias, Crates satiras: Apuleius vester haec omnia novemque Musis pari studio colit (...).

[xlvi]. The question arises: how could Apuleius claim personal credit for the translation of the Ascl., if he had not added his name to the text? I would suggest he may have told in one of his public discourses that he was the translator. Perhaps he even gave the reason why his name was lacking in the written form of the text. This could explain why the Ascl. was ranged among Apuleius' works, but without his name added to it. One or two generations later, his authorship could thus have become unclear. -- Of course, this thought remains speculative, for lack of external evidence.

[xlvii]. Cf. e.g. mirari atque adorare caelestia et incolere atque gubernare terrena (8); hominum enim admirationibus, adorationibus, laudibus, obsequiis caelum caelestesque delectantur (9); ne terrenus mundus videretur incultior, si modorum dulcedine caruisset, sed potius ut musicatis hominum cantilenis concelebraretur laudibus (9; in the context of the idea that the Muses have been sent to mankind); paucissimi pura mente praediti sortiti sunt caeli suspiciendi venerabilem curam (9); rationem vero tractatus istius, O Asclepi, non solum sagaci intentione, verum etiam cupio te animi vivacitate percipere (10); ut rerum diversitates, qualitates, effectus quantitates suspiciosa indagatione sectetur (11).

[xlviii]. To mention one example: hoc totum bonum (...) periclitabitur eritque grave hominibus ac per hoc contemnetur nec deligetur totus hic mundus, dei opus imitabile, gloriosa constructio, bonum multiformi imagine compositum, machina voluntatis dei in suo opere absque invidia suffragantis, in unum omnium quae venerari laudari amari denique a videntibus possunt multiformis adunata congestio (25). Notice the paratactical structure and ornamental appositions, the great number of special words and complex sound patterns.

[xlix]. Cf. examples adduced by Hildebrand (1842) vol.II, liii-liv.

[l]. E.g. in 6; 10; 17; 19. For the method, cf. e.g. Mund. 1; 10; 13; 16; 18; 33; 38. Some definitions even use similar words, as those of kosmos in Mund.29 and Ascl.10. Of course, with a word as kosmos, this is only to be expected. But Gersh (1986) 386-7n254 notices wordplay in Ascl.10, involving mundus in its double sense of `world' and `pure'. This etymological wordplay might point to Apuleius again, in whose works it abounds.

[li]. Cf. deorum in terras suae religionis merito sola deductio (25), with deductio meaning as much as `place where they settle'; catenatis nexibus vincta (39) (of the heimarmene); or sempiternitate vivendi circumvallatus et quasi constrictus (30) (of mundus).

[lii]. Cf. e.g. omnia unius esse aut unum esse omnia (1); ut illum intelligentiae divinum perciperet sensum, qui sensus est divinior (7); aeternitatis vivacitate (...) vitali aeternitate (30); ut et aeternitatis stabilitas moveatur et temporis mobilitas stabilis fiat (31). Examples of this phenomenon in Mund. are adduced by Londey/Johanson (1987) 15-7 to prove the Apuleian authorship of that work.

[liii]. Thus, editors have connected the phrase ut altera avide alterius <Venerem> rapiat interiusque recondat (Ascl.21) to Verg.Georg. 3,137 sed rapiat sitiens Venerem interiusque recondat. But since the text of the Ascl. has been emended here on the basis of Vergil, the parallel is quite uncertain.

[liv]. Similarly, intertextual elements are notably less frequent in the `Egyptian' 11th book of the Met. than in its previous books, as Dr. R. Van der Paardt has kindly pointed out to me.

[lv]. Cf. e.g. dispensator, distributor, tributor, praestitor, nutritor (all in 27, some elsewhere as well); frequentator (29); imitator (8; 31); receptrix and restitutrix (2); ambitudo (31); validitas (33); rotunditas (17; 40); inrationabilitas (26); multifarius (12); multiformis (2; 5; 25; 34); omninominis (20); omniformis (3; 19; 34-6); vivificus (2).

[lvi]. Cf. glutinum (39), used in a rare metaphorical sense, as in the poetical Apuleian fragment Anechomenos 12 Veneris glutino. Cf. also the rare deponent auxiliari (38) and the archaic optative forms vocassis (1) and putassis (38). A remarkable list of inchoativa is: caelum umescens vel arescens vel frigescens vel ignescens vel clarescens vel sordescens (36).

[lvii]. Cf. singillatim (38), 6 times elsewhere in Apuleius; curiositas (14), a key word in the Met.; the adverb omnifariam (16), 4 times elsewhere in Apuleius; the passive forms vegetari (16; 27), 2 times; and viduari (24), 11 times, the deponent perfruor (7), 9 times; the noun medela (22), 10 times; proximitas (5; 23), twice. For a different type of lexical example, cf. e.g.: senectus veniet mundi: inreligio, inordinatio, inrationabilitas (26), a typical phrase with three very rare words, closely parallel to the Apuleian adjectives inreligiosus, inordinatus and irrationabilis (3, 4 and 2 times respectively), and formed with suffixes productive in Apuleius.

[lviii]. In both cases the word is used in the context of an explanation that the mundus has the form of a sphaera.

[lix]. Slightly different, but still curious is: Met.8,8 tacita (...) pectoris sui secreta (...) detegere. The rare taciturnitas occurs on two other places in the Met..

[lx]. Beaujeu (1973) xxxii and 331; Mahé (1978) 153-5; cf. further Gersh (1986) 271-2; Bajoni (1994) 1792.

[lxi]. See the texts in Mahé (1978) 160-1. For summus exsuperantissimus as a possible argument in favour of Apuleius, cf. Hijmans (1987) 415.

[lxii]. The fullest list is given by Jean‑Marie Flamand, Apulée de Madaure, in: Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques, publié sous la direction de Richard Goulet (...), I, Abam(m)on à Ax (Paris 1989) 311-3; cf. further Hijmans (1987) 408-9.

[lxiii]. Hijmans (1987) 409 announces a discussion on the authenticity of three works: Herm., Ascl. and the herbal, but surprisingly discusses only the first two.

[lxiv]. Cf. Charles Singer, The herbal in antiquity, JHS 47 (1927) 1-52, esp. 37-43; Linda E. Voigts, The significance of the name Apuleius to the Herbarium Apulei, BHM 52 (1978) 214-27. The text of the herbal is not easily accessible: unlike the Ascl., it is not included in editions of Apuleius' works. Cf. E. Howald / H.E. Sigerist (edd.), Antonii Musae De Herba Vettonica liber, Pseudo-Apulei Herbarius (...) (Leipzig/Berlin 1927) (CML IV) 15-225; a beautiful facsimile of the editio princeps, with useful additional material, is: F.W.T. Hunger (ed.), The herbal of Pseudo-Apuleius (...) (Leiden 1935).

[lxv]. Arguments for this are presented by Voigts (1978). She considers neither the Ascl. nor the herbal as authentic, and so merely explains a `wrong' attribution.

[lxvi]. On a general note, Hunger (1935) xviii suggests a North African origin of the herbal, on the basis of the Latin, and of the occurence of some plants and reptiles.

[lxvii]. F. Opeku, Physiognomy in Apuleius, in: C. Deroux (ed.), Studies in latin literature and Roman history I (Bruxelles 1979) 467‑74.

[lxviii]. Cf. already: Elizabeth C. Evans, The study of physiognomy in the second century AD, TAPA 72 (1941) 96‑108; further: H.J. Mason, Physiognomy in Apuleius' Metamorphoses 2,2, CPh (1984) 307-9.

[lxix]. Here too, the style has been considered as an argument for establishing the date. Recent editors of the Latin text have assumed that it must be placed as late as the 4th century A.D.: cf. J. André, Anonyme latin. Traité de Physiognomonie (Paris 1981) (Budé series); Giampiera Raina, Pseudo Aristotele, Fisiognomica; Anonimo Latino, Il trattato di fisiognomica (Milano 1994) (2nd impr.; I classici della BUR).

[lxx]. Cf. René Martin, Apulée dans les Géoponiques, RPh 46 (1972) 246‑55. Martin's suggestion is rejected by R.H. Rogers, The Apuleius of the Geoponica, Calif. Class.Ant. 11 (1978) 197-207.  

added note (February, 2004):

The conclusions of my paper are discussed in detail (and rejected) by:

M. Horsfall-Scotti, 'The Asclepius: thoughts on a re-opened debate', in: Vigiliae Christianae 54, 2000, 396-416.

latest changes here: 30-07-2012 16:01


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