Apuleius of Madauros

Pro Se De Magia (Apologia)

edited with a commentary by Vincent Hunink


text published in book: (J.C. Gieben) Amsterdam 1997 2 vols.
(vol 1.: introduction, text, bibliography, indexes; vol.2 commentary); [169 + 250 p.];
price ca. Euro 80 (set). ISBN 90 5063 167 3




In the 20th century the Apology of Apuleius has been rather neglected by classical scholars. Those who have managed to overcome their prejudice against the age of Apuleius with its characteristically `un-Ciceronean' and archaizing tendencies, commonly focus on his famous novel, the Metamorphoses. When the Apology is studied, it is mainly as a source of information on biographic details concerning the author and his career, or on some specific subject. For example, historians regularly cite from this speech where it provides bits of information on the social and economic circumstances in 2nd century Roman Africa. It is also regularly used in studies on ancient magic, another area of increasing interest today. Likewise, those who study Roman law and Platonism tend to include only isolated passages from the speech in their material.

Special studies on the Apology as a whole are scarce. The ample bibliography included in the present volume may prove somewhat misleading. As a matter of fact, few studies are devoted to the speech as a whole, regarding it as something more than merely a piece of documentary evidence or a philological puzzle. Although translations of the Apology continue to be published in several modern languages (except, curiously, English), the latest full commentary on the text, by Butler and Owen, dates from before the First World War and was published in 1914.

Considering all these factors, the time seems ripe for a new, comprehensive commentary on the text as a work of literature in its own right. That is what the present volume proposes to do. Basically, it is not intended to replace Butler/Owen (from here: B/O), which is still useful for many matters of style and grammar, but to supplement it.

I regret that it has proved impossible to include a new English translation of the text, which is one of the desiderata of Apuleian scholarship. The old translation of Butler (published in 1909) is still of some use, but its style is outdated and it clearly qualifies for replacement. However, not being a native speaker of English myself, I did not feel qualified to produce a complete translation within a limited amount of time. Such a translation would have to bring out all the nuances of the Latin, particularly the countless Apuleian sound effects and puns. The preparation of my Dutch translation (published in 1992) had already taken me over a year, and I could certainly not expect to finish an English version in less time. So this project would have been delayed beyond reasonable measure if I had decided to include a translation. I do not, however, defend this absence of a translation as a virtue of my book, in a time when a reading knowledge of Latin is no longer a prerequisite for students, even in the field of classics.

I hope that this new edition of the Apology will be of some use to Apuleian scholars and classical scholars in general. If this book manages to direct new attention to this intriguing and important text and to promote further study, it will have served its purpose well.

It is customary to end a preface on some personal notes and expression of thanks. It is with pleasure that I follow this tradition. My interest in Apuleius dates from the early years of my study of Latin, when I came across an old edition of the Apology in a secondhand bookshop. With ever growing admiration I read the entire text, aided by Vallette's beautiful French translation: the sheer range of bizarre topics and Apuleius' powerful Latin were pleasant surprises for me after the rather uninspiring prose of Livy and Cicero I had to struggle through for my examinations. Apuleius' lack of easy moralism and of Roman patriotism were refreshing to me then - and still are today.

In 1990 I started working on a Dutch translation of this `old love', alongside my work at university, where I prepared a commentary in English on the third book of Lucan's Bellum civile. Both books were published simultaneously in 1992. As I translated the speech, I became aware of the many difficulties that required further explanation. This is how the plan arose to prepare a new, comprehensive commentary on the text.

From 1993 to the end of 1996 I was able to work on this project, for which I was granted a scholarship by the Dutch Foundation for Literary Studies, Musicology, and Drama Research, subsidized by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). I express my gratitude to these organisations, and also thank the Catholic University of Nijmegen, which has been a very pleasant working environment for me during these years. The directors of the Biblioteca Medicea-Laurenziana in Florence granted me access for a few hours to the precious MS F, during a visit in the fall of 1994. For this privilege I feel very grateful. The personal confrontation with this material evidence for our text has strengthened me in the opinion that F is as close to Apuleius as we can get.

The entire text of the commentary has been carefully read and discussed by Prof. Dr. J.H. Brouwers (Catholic University of Nijmegen) and Dr. R. van der Paardt (State University of Leiden). To both I am grateful for their comments, support, and trust. I extend my thanks to the Groningen Apuleius Group, of which I have the pleasure to be a member. Although research in Groningen is directed primarily at the Metamorphoses, there have been many occasions to present the results of my work. The discussions in Groningen have also greatly helped me to find out what I really wished to include in a commentary. The result is different from the GCA on many points, but I hope, nonetheless, to be reckoned to the `Groningen school' of Apuleian studies.

In the last stage of the project, contacts with Dr. Thomas McCreight (Baltimore), have been most fruitful and pleasant. Right from the start, his dissertation on the Apology has provided ample material and stimulating ideas for the commentary. During his stay at Groningen as a visiting professor in 1996, we have had the pleasure of exchanging many ideas and suggestions. Dirk-Jan Dekker kindly helped proofreading the Latin text and compiled the Index of Passages - two laborious but important tasks. Dr. Corrie W. Ooms Beck was willing to correct my English, and I wholeheartedly thank her for the countless improvements she proposed. Of course she is in no way responsible for the final version of the text. J.C. Gieben, publisher in Amsterdam, readily agreed to publish this book. For his trust in me and his care for the material side of the book, I express my gratitude.

Finally, I mention my friend Marco Balvers with warm feelings for his unrelenting support and inspiring ideas. His professional activity extends to an entirely different field, but rather than being an obstacle this has proved to be a stimulus. If I wanted to communicate my thoughts, I always had to recapitulate them clearly and in non- specialist language. Although this was not always easy, it invariably proved richly rewarding: it made me express my ideas more adequately - or drop them.


Nijmegen, Christmas 1996

Vincent Hunink




 Apuleius of Madauros was by no means a beginner when he found himself confronted with a charge of sorcery. This was in the middle of the 2nd century AD, when his reputation as a philosopher and a public speaker was already well established. Most likely he had often acted as an advocate in court, defending the interests of others. Now he could fully profit from this experience.

The speech which Apuleius delivered in defence of himself, commonly known as the Apology,[1] is a unique example of Roman oratory, since it is one of the very few Latin speeches from the Imperial Period to have come down to us in their entirety. In fact, it is the only forensic speech in post-Ciceronian Latin: the other Roman speeches from this period, the Panegyricus of Pliny and the late eulogies known collectively as the Panegyrici Latini, all belong to the epideictic genre of rhetoric.

For this reason alone, Apuleius' speech is an interesting document. It is a useful source of knowledge in a wide range of areas, like Roman law, magic, middle Platonism, and contemporaneous medical science. But there is more to it: this self-defence may properly be called a literary masterpiece, which displays many characteristics of the Second Sophistic. It is literally crammed with learned and playful references to earlier literature and philosophy, and uses countless rhetorical techniques, not excluding outright sophisms and distortions, insults and mean invective. The numerous and often exotic themes of the speech, together with the speaker's brilliant handling of language and his fascinating erudition, make this a highly entertaining work of literature. This introduction does not aim at providing a comprehensive account of Apuleius' life, works, and style, or of the many problems of the Apology as discussed in the commentary. Its aims are rather limited: it attempts to present the speech as a whole in a broader context.

First, attention is paid to the trial Apuleius faced. Second, the place of the Apology within Apuleius' oeuvre is discussed. Third, the speech is considered as a published text of a literary nature. These general remarks are supplemented by paragraphs on the transmission of the text, the aims of this commentary, and a survey of abbreviations and conventions.




Basically, nearly all we know about Apuleius' trial is deduced from the published speech as we have it. This immediately poses a huge methodological problem: is Apuleius to be trusted? Is the text as it has come down to us the actual text pronounced in court? Is the speaker's account faithful and accurate, and does he deal with all the facts?

Lacking external evidence, we cannot answer these important questions. We are of course entitled to use the only material we have, Apuleius' speech, but it should always be kept in mind that the speech shows many literary features, and, more importantly, that it is a self-defence, bound to present a coloured view of events. Therefore we should be cautious from the very beginning whenever we deal with `historical facts' behind the speech. As a matter of fact, we do not even know with absolute certainty that Apuleius faced a trial for magic at all. There is no contemporary evidence for it,[2] nor does Apuleius refer to such a trial in the rest of his works.[3] The suggestion that there may not have been a trial in the first place, will be dealt with below, in C.2. Until then, this difficult issue will be left undiscussed; in section A it is simply assumed that the trial referred to by the text is real.

The first thing we should do is to reconstruct and analyse the general picture of the trial as it is presented by the speaker. After all, the text produces a fairly consistent and coherent picture of a trial.

A.1 The setting

(1) Date For a long time there has been a debate on the date of the trial. As a matter of fact, this is one of the very few elements which can be established with some degree of certainty on the basis of external evidence. The judge presiding over this trial is mentioned by name, Claudius Maximus; cf. e.g. 1,1. This man is identified as the proconsul of Africa in 158/9 AD; cf. Guey 1951 and Syme 1959, 315-6. This date is now generally agreed upon by scholars, as is observed by Hijmans 1994, 1713. Since the proconsul probably held his tour in the province after the heat of summer and before the heat of spring, the trial most likely took place in winter; that is, in the last months of 158 or early months of 159, as Guey plausibly specifies.

(2) Place The place of the trial is mentioned once in the speech itself. Although events had taken place at Oea (cf. on 17,2), the proconsul was in session at a more important place of Roman Africa, Sabrata (cf. on 59,2).

(3) The charge of magical practises The formal charge Apuleius was confronted with is not immediately clear. According to his own account (c.1-3), he had been slandered by his opponents for his marriage to the rich widow Pudentilla, and for his activities as a philosopher in general. He then decided to challenge them on his part, summoning them to substantiate their allegations and bring a formal accusation against him. At first, the accusers seem to have been embarrassed at this unexpected move. Only after some confusion they formally brought a charge of magic (cf. 2,2 calumniam magiae) in the name of Apuleius' stepson Sicinius Pudens.

Although prohibitions of magical practises occur in the archaic Laws of the Twelve Tables (cf. 47,3), these are clearly not the laws on the basis of which Apuleius was sued. Scholars generally agree here too: the law in question must have been the Lex Cornelia de sicariis et ueneficis (adopted in 81 BC). This law included a clause on magic as such; cf. Just. Inst. 4,18,5 eadem lege (Cornelia) et uenefici capite damnantur, qui artibus odiosis, tam uenenis uel susurris magicis homines occiderunt uel mala medicamenta publice uendiderunt, as quoted by Amarelli 1988, 134n.[4] Cf. further Mommsen 1899, 639-43; Norden 1912, 31-2; Marchesi 1917; Amarelli 1988, 131- 4 and Suenskes-Thompson 1994, 126wn80.[5] The relevance of this law is beyond doubt, even though Apuleius does not refer to it himself. Meanwhile, we should not try to reconstruct the exact wording of the accusation. At numerous places in the speech we get the impression of hearing literal quotations (e.g. 4,1; 9,4; 13,5; 17,4 and 27,6-11). Even here, caution is due: in this respect, a defendant's text cannot be relied upon; cf. Hijmans 1994, 1712wn11.

One or two remarks may be added here. Apuleius' account creates the impression that it is he himself who took the initiative (cf. also 67,5-6). Furthermore, on reading the speech as a whole, one becomes aware that he knows quite a lot about magic. Meanwhile, he can refute the charge of magical practises fairly easily. All of this allows for the possibility that the prosecution had not really intended a formal charge of magic at all, but only came up with it under considerable pressure. That is, magic may not have been the fundamental issue at stake in the first place.

From the last part of the speech (66-101) it becomes abundantly clear that matters of finance and property form the heart of the matter. The accusers, who were relatives of Pudentilla (see below), objected to her marriage with someone from outside their family and from a lower social class because this threatened to reduce their influence on her considerable capital and the benefits they obtained from it.

So the basic dispute between Apuleius and his opponents seems to have concerned money and social status rather than magic. There was of course no law against `marrying a stranger', and the prosecution inevitably had to invent some formal point on which a legal case against the intruder could be made. `Magical practises' would appear a natural option to them, not only because it is difficult to defend oneself against such a charge, vague and terrifying as it is, but also because sorcery was a capital offence. This means that if Apuleius were to be found guilty of the charge, they would be rid of him. In order to avoid danger to themselves, the charge was formally brought in the name of Sicinius Pudens, who was still a minor; cf. on 2,4. However, things developed in quite a different fashion: a gifted speaker and an expert on Roman law,[6] Apuleius could refute these charges and turn their vagueness to his advantage, seizing the occasion to boost his reputation as a proficient orator and a learned philosopher.

Accusations of magical practices are not very frequent in the first centuries of the Empire, though in the period of the Second Sophistic some orators were confronted with them; cf. Hijmans 1994, 1711-2. For accusations of sorcery and magic in late antiquity, cf. also Brown 1970.

The scholarly literature on ancient magic is vast. Having been considered a disreputable subject for a long time, ancient magic has by now become a popular area of research. Inevitably, there is also much discussion on matters of principle, such as the definition of what magic really is. `Magic' refers to a class of practices distinct from official religion, but it is open to discussion what the distinctive element exactly is. The difference is often considered to be intrinsical: some acts are religious because their purpose is good, others are bad and therefore magic. In more recent approaches, the difference is of a social kind: the practices of official religion and magic are the same, but they are widely accepted in the first case and rejected in the second. Thus, magic becomes the area of what is excluded, different, and suppressed. For the discussion, cf. e.g. Versnel 1991, Graf 1994, 24-9, Suenskes-Thompson 1994, 107-12 and Fowler 1995, 19-22; and see the impressive survey of relevant titles in Brashear 1995, 3446- 8n353.

This commentary does not intend to make a contribution to the discussion but takes a practical stand. `Magic' in this book normally refers to practices aimed at constraining higher powers in a manner not allowed by religious or social convention, often with an apparent purpose of doing harm to others. That is, we may rely on the definition which Apuleius himself provides of the second, `lower' type of magician; cf. 26,6 Sin uero more uulgari eum isti proprie magum existimant, qui communione loquendi cum deis immortalibus ad omnia quae uelit incredibili quadam ui cantaminum polleat... Whoever is engaged in this magic, excludes himself from the community. It is characterized by secrecy, silence, and darkness; it is illegal and terrifying, and operates by means of carmina and forbidden substances, cf. 47,3 and 30. For the practical purposes of this book, such a `commonsense' description (which comprises elements from both sorts of definitions) serves quite well.

The speech forms an important document for our knowledge of ancient magic. It has been thoroughly studied by Abt 1908, a book which is still of immensely great use to scholars, if only for all the material collected in it. Some more recent useful studies of magical elements in Apuleius' speech are Annequin 1973, 106-16; Fick 1991b; and Graf 1994, 79-105 (who emphasizes the social structures and relations behind this trial). In general, Graf's study provides a convenient introduction to the entire field of ancient magic.

(4) Atmosphere Throughout the speech, the atmosphere of court is consistently evoked. Not only does Apuleius repeatedly address the judge and the accusers, he also refers to a huge audience attending proceedings, to witnesses and friends, as well as to attendants in court who are asked to perform certain tasks. On the material side, there are many references e.g. to the waterclock, to written testimony, and to a great number of official documents. In addition, the speaker often suggests that he is speaking more or less extempore. Whether this is true or not, the general image is certainly one of a live performance in a busy court.

A.2 Persons involved

The speech mentions a fairly large number of people who are involved in the trial. They may be divided in five groups: the defence, the prosecution, the judge and the assistants in court, the audience, and some less important figures.[7]

 (1) The defence In view of the nature of the speech, the side of the defence is given most attention. In this trial the accused and the advocate are identical: Apuleius of Madauros.

Apuleius' biography, as reconstructed by scholars, largely depends on the Apol. Particularly the details given by the speaker on his place of birth and his father (23-4), on his stay in Athens (72), his scientific interests and activities, his religious experience (55), and his marriage with Pudentilla are often taken as biographical testimonies. Apuleius' date of birth is commonly assumed to be in the mid-120s AD. It is clear that he had also been in the far east, in Rome, and in Carthage before coming to Oea. Carthage is the place where he lived in later years, shortly after 160, as some of the Fl. show (e.g. 18 and 20). We also know that he obtained a priesthood there (cf. Rives 1994). Finally, there are some indications in the Met. that would suggest a date after 180 AD. After this we completely lose trace of Apuleius. Some recent and convenient examples of biographical surveys are Von Albrecht 1994, 1050-1, and introductions in Apuleian editions, such as Walsh' recent translation of the Met. (1994), p.xi-xiii. Many scholars give longer reconstructions; useful examples are Birley 1968 and Gutsfeld 1992, 260-4.

All in all, our information on the author's life remains scanty and fragmentary. In addition, we may question the reliability of this evidence. In the speeches (Apol. and Fl.), the speaker naturally paints a positive portrait of himself and avoids all self- criticism. Nonetheless, it is unlikely that he would seriously distort plain facts here. That is, we may trust his word, though with much caution. The Met., on the other hand, is a work of fiction, and we are not entitled to identify the narrator with the author. The work cannot be used directly for biographical purposes, tempting as this may seem, especially in the prologue and the final episodes of the Met.

For convenience's sake, some other persons can be reckoned to the camp of the defence. In the first place, Apuleius' wife, Aemilia Pudentilla, is very closely involved. Apuleius was actually pleading in her defence in another lawsuit (1,5) when he was faced with the allegations. His relations with her form the heart of the trial.

Of Pudentilla we know absolutely nothing that is not based on this speech. She is not mentioned in any of Apuleius' other works nor in any external evidence. Inevitably, scholars interested in questions of Roman law, economy, or social history readily use details from the part of the speech referring to her wealth, her biography, and her agreements with Apuleius (c.66-103); cf. esp. Gutsfeld 1992.

However, we must keep in mind that it is not Apuleius' aim to give a correct and full biography of his wife, but to plead `not guilty' for himself. This influences the portrait he presents of her: she is mainly described as a decent, honourable lady, a rational and self-assured woman weighing the advantages of marriage, and a prudent landowner (esp. 87-8). On occasion, however, she also seems an unattractive bride, who no longer possesses the graces of beauty and virginity (cf. 73,4 and 92,5-11), a woman fallen ill (69), or a devoted admirer of Apuleius (71,1 and 73,8) - the image varies according to the speaker's need. In addition, many points remain unclear when examined closely (cf. e.g. the actual marriage in the countryside or Pudentilla's age, c.87-9). Her wealth is indicated and alluded to, but not catalogued in detail. Finally, literary models, like `Penelope' (68,5-6) or tragic women (79,1) are in the background of her characterization as well, and there are many cases of melodramatic exaggerations (e.g. 85,5).

If we take all this into consideration, Pudentilla remains much of a shadowy figure to us. It is significant that she is probably not present in court during the trial; cf. on 1,5.

A second person which may be included here is Apuleius' elder stepson, Sicinius Pontianus. The two had been in contact in Athens (72,3), and Pontianus functioned as the intermediary for the marriage between his friend and his mother. Later he opposed the marriage, but then repented and reestablished good relations with Apuleius (94-6). He had died before the trial, a point on which Apuleius remains somewhat vague (96-7).

Furthermore, Apuleius' assistents in court must be mentioned. Although he generally creates the impression of defending his case all by himself, he appears to be supported by Appius Quintianus (58,4; cf. 57,2), the person with whom he had allegedly celebrated nocturnal sacrifices (57-60) in the house of Crassus (for whom see below); Appius' family is mentioned at 72,2 and 6. Nearly at the end of the speech, the plural uos... qui tribunal mihi adsistitis (99,1) points to more than one assistent, but no names are specified. Earlier some friends appeared to be among the audience, carrying some of his books (36,8). A friend mentioned by name is Scribonius Laetus, whose pueri Apuleius celebrated in two poems (9,2).

A minor figure appearing in support of the defence is the sculptor Cornelius Saturninus. He is present in court (61,5), and earlier made a statement to the judge about the statuette he designed for Apuleius. One of Apuleius' slaves, the doctor Themison, equally testified in defence of Apuleius when questioned by the judge; cf. 33,3 and 48,3. At the end of the speech, two officials make another declaration substantiating the claims of the defence: Cassius Longinus, the tutor of Pudentilla, and Corvinius Celer, the tax-inspector; see 101,6-7.

 (2) The prosecution The formal accuser is Apuleius' younger stepson, Sicinius Pudens. Being a young boy (see on 2,3), he did not run the risk of being convicted himself if the case were lost. Apuleius consistently pictures Pudens as an irresponsible, perverted, and ignorant boy. At best, he is seen as a victim of the schemes of others (e.g. 97,7 - 98,1).

The person behind the accusation is Sicinius Aemilianus, the brother of Pudentilla's first husband. He is described in the darkest possible terms from the very first lines of the speech, in which he is called old and rash (1,1). He is also presented as ignorant, silly, greedy, lacking creativity and insight, and as a man who hides in the dark and shows no reverence towards the gods (56,3-7). The last factor has even led some scholars to believe that he was a Christian, which, however, seems rather unlikely; see on 16,13.

The man who actually brings forward many of the preliminary charges is Tannonius Pudens. He is introduced without comment in 4,2. B/O a. l. suppose that he is a relative of Pudens on his mother's side. Curiously, Tannonius is not mentioned in the entire second half of the speech; in 46,4 he seems to be almost literally reduced to silence. The prosecution appears to employ more than one helper, since there are many references to their patroni or aduocati; e.g. 1,5; 3,6; 25,8; 38,6; 52,3; and 74,5. It looks as if Tannonius was the man in charge of the attacks on Apuleius' reputation, with the allegations about e.g. eloquence and beauty, use of mirrors, and cure of epileptics. The heart of the matter, the marriage with Pudentilla, seems to have been dealt with by another advocate.[8]

In Apuleius' view, there is a man operating behind the scenes of the prosecution: Herennius Rufinus. He was the father-in-law of Pontianus, and later (97,7 - 98,1) almost became the father-in-law of the other son, Pudens. This man, who is not mentioned before 67,1, is dealt with only from 74,3 onwards. That is, he is closely linked to the essential point of the case, Apuleius' marriage with Pudentilla and its possible financial consequences. As a father-in-law, Rufinus seems to have had considerable economic interests in this case. This prompted him to put pressure on Aemilianus to accuse Apuleius.

Whereas Apuleius' opponents occasionally appear as human beings worthy of some pity at least, the picture painted of Rufinus is as black as can be. He appears largely as a caricature, with traits of the immoral pimp and the greedy legacy-hunter from Roman comedy; cf. on 74,4.

The ranks of the prosecution are supported by the witness Crassus. Of him, too, we hear almost nothing that passes the boundaries of invective and caricature. He is pictured as a drunkard, who sold a false testimony. In his reply to the charge of nocturnal sacrifices (57- 61), Apuleius does not take this witness seriously at all. Instead, he makes him the easy target of all sorts of puns on smoke and drink.

Finally, Apuleius' acquaintance Calpurnianus may be included here. Apuleius had composed a poem on toothbrushing for him, which was then used against the poet (cf. 6,1), and somehow became part of the various rumours and attacks on Apuleius' reputation. Meanwhile, the exact relation between Calpurnianus and the prosecution remains unclear.

(3) Officials in court The Roman official leading the trial is judge Claudius Maximus. Independent evidence confirms that he was proconsul of Africa in 158-8 AD; he may be the Stoic philosopher mentioned in letters by Marcus Aurelius, and was apparently a man of learning. See on 1,1; for his military career, see on 19,2. Apuleius' addresses to the judge are invariably polite and highly flattering. He openly attempts to bring the judge over to his side, which is presented as the side of philosophy, culture, and education.

The judge is assisted by a board of advisers. This consilium is mentioned four times in the speech (see on 1,1), but we do not read anything more specific on its activities or the identity of its members.

For various procedures in court assistents and clerks are responsible. They must be more than one, but their exact number cannot be established. The first time an attendant of court appears to be addressed is at 36,8. Most references to them occur in the last part of the speech on the marriage with Pudentilla (c.68ff): it is in this section that Apuleius can support his defence by means of documentary evidence, which the clerks are asked to hand to him or quote from; e.g. 69,6.

Two other judges are mentioned in the text: Lollius Urbicus and Lollianus Avitus. The former is prefect of Rome at the time of the trial; cf. on 2,11. He was involved in a previous lawsuit in which Aemilianus was nearly condemned, and he is mentioned with great respect. The latter is Maximus' predecessor as proconsul in Africa, and he is also referred to with great praise; one of his letters is even quoted by Apuleius (24,1; 94,3 - 95,7). Although there is the suggestion at 3,1 that Lollius Urbicus is present in court, both men are not formally involved in Apuleius' trial. Their names are obviously dropped for the sake of the effect: it creates the impression that the prosecution is facing the authority of more than one judge.[9]

 (4) The audience The sympathy of the audience attending the trial is an important element for the speaker, and Apuleius consistently tries to gain it by showing off his education, knowledge, command of Greek and Latin, sense of religion, and respect for authorities. To the educated members of the audience it must have suggested that this was the area they shared with the illustrious speaker, while the rest was bound to feel impressed. Of course, Apuleius makes sure not to humiliate or `exclude' anyone among the audience, and he duly repeats or explains difficult points. The speech is also clearly meant to amuse the audience, with literary and philosophic allusions for the elite, and jokes and puns for all to enjoy. Apuleius occasionally refers to reactions of the audience (cf. e.g. 65,8), or even directly addresses it; see 55,12; 76,5 and 98,2.[10]

 (5) Other persons Finally, a fifth group of persons may be discerned, those who are involved in Apuleius' case but appear to be absent in court. Leaving Pudentilla and Pontianus aside (see above on the defence), we may list them as follows. Some persons are no longer alive: Apuleius' father, who is mentioned respectfully (23,1; 24,9); Sicinius Amicus, Pudentilla's first husband and the father of Pontianus and Pudens, about whom we hear nothing more (68,2); the father of Aemilianus, a poor farmer (23,6); the father of Sicinius Amicus and grandfather of the boys, who attempts to force Pudentilla to marry his second son (68); and finally the father and mother of Rufinus, who are pictured as infamous (75,5 and 75,8). Other relatives of Rufinus are alive, but seem to be absent too: Rufinus' wife and children (75,1), and in particular his daughter (76,2). Like Rufinus himself, they are the object of the speaker's scorn and abuse. This could be a sign that they are not present.

The absence of a number of other persons is less easy to explain: the epileptic slave Thallus (mentioned first at 43,8) is said to be sent for, but never seems to arrive (see 44,6). The second patient, an epileptic woman, is not only absent but even remains anonymous (see on 48,1). The lady Capitolina (61,7), apparently a friend or admirer of Apuleius, remains quite shadowy to us (61,7). Whether or not the librarian of Pontianus is present, depends on our interpretation of 53,8. Finally, there is Sicinius Clarus, the man whom Pudentilla was urged to marry (68,3). It is unclear whether he is present; the abuse poured on him at 70,3 would suggest that he is not.

Finally, there are various persons who are referred to but do not seem involved in the trial, e.g. the Granii (1,5), the manumitted slaves of Apuleius (16-7), the neighbours of Aemilianus (17,1), or the servants and slaves of Pudentilla (87,7 and 93,4).

A.3 The outcome of the trial

On reading the speech, most readers will be inclined to believe that Apuleius was fully acquitted or at least not found guilty. The triumphant and self-confident tone of the speaker, the quality of the evidence he presents, and the manifest weakness of most of the charges, especially in the last major section (68-101), strongly suggest this. The fact that the speech was published in the first place, in addition to Apuleius' general renown as a public speaker, would seem to confirm this. Many scholars even assume without further discussion that the trial ended in a success for Apuleius; cf. e.g. Fick 1991b, 27.

As a matter of fact, we do not know what decision Claudius Maximus made. The MSS contain no indication about this, nor does Apuleius refer to the trial elsewhere in his works. Nearly all arguments brought forward on this question ultimately rely on speculation; cf. Hijmans 1994, 1714-5.

After the trial Apuleius came to Carthage, where he served as a sacerdos Africae. In Hijmans' view, this is the only fairly decent argument: Apuleius would not have obtained the position if he had not been acquitted in court. Again, this seems fair enough, but it does not constitute proof.

Strictly speaking, the argument must be reduced even further: the only solid evidence we have is our certain knowledge that Apuleius was active in the 160s, as appears from the Fl. If he had been found guilty of the charge of magical practises, he would have had to be put to death. Since he survived the trial, he was not condemned: that is all we can say with certainty. Whether the charges were judged to be unfounded, cannot be established.[11] However, even though solid proof is missing, it seems not unreasonable to assume a positive outcome of the trial; cf. also on 103,5 (final remarks).[12] Nonetheless, Apuleius' fame as a magician was to last for many centuries to come.




The literary oeuvre of Apuleius comprises works which show a remarkable variety in length, genre, style, and subject-matter.

Apuleius is, of course, best known for his long and brilliant novel, the Metamorphoses (Met.). That he was also a prolific public speaker is not only brought out by the Apology, but also by his epideictic speeches, twenty-three fragments of which have been preserved in the Florida (Fl.), and by his philosophical discourse, De Deo Socratis (Soc.), which deals with the nature of daemones. His philosophical interests are also manifest in De Platone (Pl.), a somewhat schoolish summary of teachings of Plato; De Mundo (Mun.), a Latin adaptation of the pseudo-Aristotelic treatise Peri Kosmou; and De Interpretatione (De int.), a technical work on logic.

Furthermore, past centuries have associated the name of Apuleius with a number of other extant works. The most important ones are Asclepius (Ascl.), a Latin version of a Hermetic treatise; a herbal called De herbarum medicaminibus, which was widely used in the Middle Ages; and the De Physiognomonia, a Latin adaptation of Greek sources on physiognomy; for a full list of these allegedly spurious works, cf. Flamand 1989, 311-3; cf. further Hijmans 1987, 408-12.

Finally, there are some fragments or titles of works by Apuleius which have been lost; this category includes a second novel called Hermagoras; playful poems known as Ludicra; an erotic poem Anechomenos, which is probably an adaptation of some lines from Menander; a Latin adaptation of Plato's Phaedo; a treatise De Republica; and various works on history, natural history, meteorology, and medicine; for a full list of lost works, see Flamand 1989, 311; see further Bourgery's edition of fragments (Opuscules philosophiques, 169-80).

Given this great variety, we may discuss what place the Apology possesses within the Apuleian corpus. This brings up three related issues: the authenticity of the works mentioned, their relative chronology, and their differences or shared characteristics.

B.1 Authenticity

Among the extant writings attributed to Apuleius, the most important ones are of undisputed authorship: Apol., Fl., Soc., and Met. are all regarded as genuine works;[13] this can also be said for Pl.

Of some others, authenticity remains a matter of dispute, notably of the philosophical works Mun. and De int.[14] However, recent Apuleian scholarship clearly tends towards accepting Apuleian authorship in these cases, too. In general see Hijmans 1987, 408-11. For the authenticity of Mun. see Regen 1971, 107-10; Marchetta 1992; and Bajoni 1994. The authenticity of De int. has been strongly defended by Johanson 1983, 131-4; further Londey/Johanson (1987), 11-9 and Klibansky/Regen 1993, 18-23. As far as most of the spuria are concerned, it is indeed difficult to claim them as possibly authentic. The only exception here is the Ascl., for which solid arguments can be adduced that the Latin adapter was no other than Apuleius; the case was reopened by Hijmans 1987, 411-2 and was recently defended in detail by Hunink 1996b.

 B.2 Relative chronology

 Accepting the conclusions of Apuleian studies mentioned above, we are confronted by the following extant and authentic works: Apol., Fl., Soc., Met., Pl., Mun., De int., and Ascl. It remains to be asked in what order of time these writings were composed. Modern scholarship has not reached definitive answers here, but a general tendency may be observed.

In fact, a fairly precise date can be established only for the Apol.: the trial must have taken place in 158/9 AD (see A.1 (1)). We may add that this does not automatically mean that the text, as we have it, was put down immediately (see discussion below, C.2); but for convenience's sake, we may hold on to this date. The other works cannot be similarly dated on the basis of external facts, even though some of them contain elements referring to specific dates.

As a result, we have to resort to internal points if we wish to establish a relative chronology. The most important question here is the relation between Apol. and Met.: was the novel a product of Apuleius' younger years, or was it composed well after the speech? Most scholars now assume that the Met. was written much later than the Apol. They do so mainly on the basis of a classic argumentum ex silentio: in the speech no mention is made of the novel; but had it been written by 158 AD, the prosecution would doubtless have used it, if only because magic dominates much of the novel's tale. In addition, scholars have pointed to some minor matters in the Met. that can be regarded as conscious reflections by the author on his own trial (notably the judicial scenes in books 3 and 10) and to some elements suggesting a date well after 160 AD[15]; cf. further Muenstermann 1995, 125-7. It may further be argued that the Met. shows such complex patterns, comprising the fields of philosophy, hermetism, and religion, that they seem the work of an even riper talent than that displayed by Apuleius in his speech. Admittedly, much of this remains conjectural (for more doubts, see Hijmans 1987, 414-5). On the whole, however, the case for a date of the Met. well after the Apol. seems stronger than the reverse.

Some pieces in the Fl. are addressed to Roman magistrates, and can therefore be dated to specific years: 163 (Fl. 9 and 17) and 166 (Fl. 16). Although there are many problems involving the origin and aims of the collection of fragments as a whole (cf. also Hijmans 1994, 1723-4), this does suggest that the Fl. must be dated after the Apol.

The case is more difficult where the other works are concerned. The philosophical writings are generally dated before the novel and not infrequently considered as early works. An important, though admittedly far from conclusive, argument for this is the relatively uncritical and somewhat schoolish atttitude taken by the author. On the other hand, Soc. and Mun. show many characteristics of advanced and conscious literary modeling (for Soc. cf. Hunink 1995; for Mun., Bajoni 1994). Furthermore, Pl. and Mun. are addressed to `Faustinus', who may be Apuleius' son from a marriage with Pudentilla, and who must at least be a younger man; cf. Hijmans 1987, 414.

The date of the Ascl. is an even more difficult problem, which needs not to be discussed here; see Hunink 1996b, 291-2. Traces of Hermetic influence have been detected both in the Apol. and in the Met.; see Muenstermann 1995. Nonetheless, we may assume that the Ascl. was composed well after the Apol.: this is suggested by the sheer complexity and length of the treatise. Generally speaking, many scholars would consider a date late in the 2nd century to be `early' in the history of Hermetism.

Some of Apuleius' lost works may have been composed before the speech. Evidently, the writings he refers to within the speech itself must be dated earlier. Obvious examples are the poems (6,1 e ludicris meis; 6,3; 9,12; 9,14) and some of the scientific writings, as the treatises on fish (36,8; 37,4; 38,5) and the published speech on Aesculapius (55,10-2). One might assume that the extant `scientific' writings Mun. and De int. are equally to be dated rather early. In general, it results clearly from the speech that by the time of the trial Apuleius was a distinguished man of letters, who had published several works already.

All in all, the conclusions remain rather meagre and speculative. The most reasonable assumption is that Fl. and Met. were written well after the Apol. With much less confidence, we could opt for an earlier date for Pl., Mun. and De int., and a later date for Soc. and Ascl.; for further discussion see notably Muenstermann 1995, 122-9.

B.3 Themes and interests

Although at first glance the Apuleian oeuvre may appear to be rather disparate, there are several themes and interests which all his extant works have in common. I will single out three elements here.

The most important common factor is a particular outlook on life. This is not a consistent and logically coherent ideology, but could be described as an unsatiable curiosity in the wide area of religion, mysticism, and philosophy. Apuleius always seems keen on learning something about the Gods, the supernatural, or the essence of nature and cosmos. So, he shows interest in mythology, ancient religion, mystery cults, Hermetism, Platonic teachings, Egyptian wisdom, and whatever crosses his path; cf. e.g. Dowden 1997.[16] Where philosophy is concerned, Plato inevitably comes first, since Apuleius regards himself as a philosophus Platonicus. But he does not restrict himself to Platonism; he is also involved with Cynics and Stoics, and shows great interest in the early Greek Sophists, like Hippias and Protagoras. Furthermore, throughout his works great interest can be observed for earlier literature, notably early Latin poets like Lucilius or the pre-neoteric poets, and for science in all its aspects; various areas of science have already been mentioned (see B.1).

A second element which unites the oeuvre as a whole, is Apuleius' use of sources and his attitude towards them. Most of his works are based on models in other languages, mostly Greek: this can be said for the Met., Soc., Pl., Mun., De int. and Ascl. In handling his sources and models, Apuleius invariably behaves in a free way, adding and reducing material, modifying thoughts, and changing the idiom and syntax. In particular, he seems keen on giving his version a specific `Roman' and `Latin' colour; cf. e.g. Hunink 1995, 303 on Soc. The Apol. is obviously not a free rendering of a Greek original, since it had to respond to specific charges concerning the speaker's personal life. But throughout the speech Apuleius adduces many examples from Greek rhetoric, philosophy, and poetry, and deals freely with them, even to the point of distorting them (as in 26,4-5)).

Finally, Apuleius is a great lover of the Latin language. His works are not written in one, unchanging style; instead, each is given the level of style appropriate to its genre. This ranges from the exuberance of the Fl. and the Met. to the modest tones of Pl. and De int. But in all his works he shows his great mastery in handling Latin, inventing new words or resuscitating archaic ones, building elaborate periods or powerful brief lists, and exploiting rhythm and sound by means of all possible forms of rhyme, assonance, and allitteration.

Apuleius' ideological curiosity, his attitude towards Greek sources, and his handling of Latin are perhaps most articulate in the Met., but are also manifest in the Apol. Considered in the context of the entire Apuleian oeuvre, the Apol. appears to be an important and integral part of it. The speech displays many typically Apuleian features, and prepares for several later works of its author, the Met. probably among them.




The Apol. is commonly used as a document about Apuleius' life and works, in particular as a source to reconstruct his trial in 158/9 AD. Since we have no other independent sources of information, this seems inevitable. However, the Apol. presents itself above all as a literary text, both in its referring to numerous ancient authors and in its usage of literary models and strategies. The literary character of the text is so pronounced that we are fully entitled to ask to what extent the text reflects a real live performance in court.

C.1 The use of literature

In the course of his speech, Apuleius refers to countless authorities from the past, both Greek and Roman, and inserts many quotations from texts in various genres, ranging from epic and philosophical prose to lower genres like comedy. Even a quick glance at the pages of the Latin text will easily show this.

Literary elements can also be discerned where no explicit reference is made to ancient authors. In fact, literary patterns and models appear to dominate the development of the speech as a whole. For instance, in the first quarter of the speech the legal issue at stake is hardly ever brought up. Instead, the speaker inserts long digressions on minor points concerning his reputation, taking much time for a self- portrait, for some pieces of poetry, and for illustrations of his wide erudition. When he does enter on the case itself, the facts are mostly dealt with briefly, whereas a considerable part of the defence consists of invective, with much attention for lively images and drama (cf. Callebat 1984, 164-6). For instance, the portraits of Crassus and Rufinus may owe more to stock characters in mime or comedy than to real life: these opponents are pictured as fullblown caricatures. On the other hand, when the occasion demands it, Apuleius can also allude to more positive literary figures, as when he has Pudentilla behave like a Penelope.

Finally, throughout the speech, Apuleius appears to aim at special effects of language: countless are the inserted puns, verbal jingles and sound effects, the cases of etymological play or resuscitation of archaic idiom. Although the Apol. is less exuberant in style than some of Apuleius' other works, notably the Met. and Fl., it is the special flavour of his Latin which lends the speech a decidedly literary character. Particularly intriguing are the instances where the speaker handles his language so as to convey threats or outright curses; here the speaker becomes a `magician of words' in an almost literal sense (for examples, see the index of names and subjects s.v. `magic (verbal)').

This elaborate literary furnishing serves various aims. On the level of style, it functions as an ornament, providing brilliance and dignity to the speaker's defence. But it is much more than merely ornamental: on a social level, it conveys the message that the speaker is a true man of letters and a connoisseur, who towers far above the provincial, trivial daily life of which his accusers are presented as exponents. Furthermore, it establishes a link with the audience: in so far as it recognizes and appreciates the references and quotations, it must have had the pleasant feeling that it `shared' in the speaker's intellectual and social superiority.

C.2 The text and the trial

The strongly literary appearance of the speech as a whole has, of course, raised questions concerning its status. Is it a faithful and literal account of what was said during the actual trial, or was it partly rewritten for publication? Or, conversely, is it a fictional speech without any relation to a real trial? Between these extremes, scholars have adopted various positions. For the sake of convenience, they may be summarized in three groups.

 (1) Revision Most scholars assume that the speech was revised or rewritten to some extent at least. It is not merely the literary nature of various passages (notably the digressions) which would suggest so; other arguments, too, are adduced. To many, for example, the sheer length of the speech seems to have made a live performance unlikely. Other elements, such as the uncommonly strong invective and the rather perilous use of `magical language', also seem hard to imagine in a real procedure in court; cf. notably the acute remarks on Apuleius' `insolence' made by Gaide 1993. It was, furthermore, customary for ancient orators to revise their speeches before having them published. Finally, if we may believe Apuleius' words in the opening paragraphs, he would have had only little time to prepare his defence; it would seem natural, then, that he delivered a relatively brief and simple speech in court, which he afterwards greatly amplified and ornamented before publishing. Some scholars (e.g. Abt 1908 or Gaide 1993) even point to specific passages which must have been added afterwards; cf. Hijmans 1994, 1715-8 for a useful discussion of these arguments.[17]

(2) Stenographic account The theory of revision has not remained unchallenged. In an important article on the subject, Winter 1969 rejects all above arguments that the Apol. as we have it must have been revised. In his view the speech is, on the contrary, a stenographic account of the speaker's words. According to Winter, the speech was recorded by stenographers (whose presence in forensic procedures is well attested) and subsequently published. Winter's position (more or less prefigured by Norden 1912, 50-1wn1) is basically accepted by Callebat 1984, 143n1, who assumes only minor corrections in the text. See also Hijmans 1994, 1718-9: while pointing out that publication of the speech by stenographers can in no way be proved, Hijmans agrees that the speech as we have it does not suggest a strong reworking for publication: on the contrary, it shows many traces of the actual setting of a historical trial, such as the numerous references to the audience, the pieces of evidence, the waterclock, and also elements that are not immediately clear to the reader.

Certainly, the speech does present itself as a live performance in court, with clear suggestions of improvisation and lively exchanges with the opponents, many details suggestive of `real action'. But we must be careful not to take the speaker's words for granted all too quickly. After all, even improvisation may be faked; cf. Sallmann 1995, 140-1.

 (3) Fiction A third, equally radical position is also possible: the speech may be entirely fictitious. Forensic speeches need not have been delivered in court at all; the tradition of fictitious speeches remounts to early Greek literature; cf. Gorgias' Palamedes or e.g. Isocrates' Antidosis; a well known Roman example is Cicero's In Verrem (the actio secunda). Apuleius may well have wanted to present a fascinating show of his talents and to defend his possibly damaged reputation by faking a trial. This would allow him to use the model of a forensic speech, bound to raise sympathy for himself. This third position is mentioned by some scholars, but rarely seriously defended.[18] Hijmans 1994, 1712 rejects it almost at once `as the sort of creative imagination that might do well in a novel,' asserting that it would have to be established by external evidence, if the author himself leaves no clues.

As a matter of fact, there is no `external evidence' for any of the three positions, while all arguments proposed are liable to criticism and remain inconclusive. Given this state of affairs, the theory that the Apol. is a literary fake would deserve at least as much attention as the opposite claim, i.e. that it gives the literal text of Apuleius' self- defence.

 (4) A different approach Ultimately, all of the aforesaid solutions respond to the same question: `was this speech real or not?', that is, they reflect a historical approach. However, we are faced with an impossible task: possessing the speech in the written form as we know it, we have no way to establish with any degree of certainty whether and in what form it was delivered, and we cannot prove that is it either a revision, a literal account, or a piece of fiction.

The question must, perhaps, be rephrased. If we cannot reach the historical truth concerning the status of the text, what can we say about the text itself?

Indeed, it creates the impression of being a literary performance, a work of brilliant art, and accordingly this is how we should interpret it. Everything in the speech is involved in a great move of `literarisation': numerous elements in the speech are clearly designed in advance to entertain and amuse the reader. The speech then would be a declamation with practical use rather than the reverse, a forensic speech with additional, declamatory elements.[19]

This point has been convincingly made by Stok 1985, 354, who suggests that Apuleius deliberately provoked a trial he was absolutely sure to win, and recently by Sallmann 1995, who concentrates on the narrative parts of the Apol. As Sallmann points out (p.139), the narratio in this speech transcends its original function: providing information is not what the narratio in the Apol. is about. Stylistically, it rather serves as a `Schilderung und Beschreibung', and functionally as a `psychagogisch aufgeladene Unterhaltung'. In the hand of the professed sophist Apuleius, even his own trial becomes a literary event, with many touches of comedy and dramatic action. The speech is designed not merely for a trial, but above all for a literary audience. For the reader, Sallmann concludes (p.154), the entire Apol. has become literature: he may take the text for what a sophist could have intended it to be: an exciting tale in the form of a forensic speech. In this approach, the speech rises above the level of historical, biographical, and legal records and is drawn into the world of higher literature, where it receives a place quite close to Apuleius' great novel, the Met.

By taking the speech as a literary work of art rather than a more or less reliable account of historical events, we would simply leave aside the vexed question of its relation to Apuleius' trial. Rather than fruitlessly speculating about `what really happened', this approach would do justice to the work as it presents itself and open up new possibilities of interpretation on a literary level.

C.3 Afterlife

The above problems do not seem to have bothered readers until modern times. For centuries, the Apol. was simply taken as a document which could shed light upon the biography of Apuleius.

Nonetheless, its literary qualities did not go unnoticed. For example, more than two centuries after Apuleius' death, Augustine called this speech a copiosissima et disertissima (...) oratio.[20] This proves that the speech was known and appreciated in Augustine's time. For Augustine's mostly negative reactions on his fellow African, cf. in recent years Moreschini 1978, 240-54; Alimonti 1979, 125-34; Mayer 1988; Horsfall-Scotti 1990.

During the Middle Ages Apuleius' fame relied mainly on the Met. and the philosophical works, notably Soc.; see e.g. Schlam 1990. In this period there are only a few instances where the Apol. has clearly influenced other texts. Rare exceptions are some remarkable passages in two rather obscure early Christian authors: Claudius Mamertus (5th cent.) and Zeno Veronensis (6th cent.); see on 8,3 and 84,8n.

After the Middle Ages, the text raised new interest. Some imitations have been detected in the works of Petrarca (see on 90,6) and Shakespeare's Othello (see 53,2). In addition, one may refer to Erasmus' collection of expressions and proverbs, in which some lines from the Apol. figure; see Elsom 1988.[21]

In the other arts, like music and opera, sculpture, pictorial arts, and film, the Apol. has exerted less inspiration. I do not know of any significant example.[22]




 For the transmission of Apuleius' Apology, Florida, and Metamorphoses, our main witness is a Florentine MS (F = Laur. 68,2) of the 11th century. On this all other MSS depend. Cf. Helm (introduction to his Fl.); B/O, xxix-xliv; Reynolds 1983, 15-6.

Recently this position has been challenged by Pecere 1987, who argues for a tradition independent from F; the so-called Assisi fragments (C) would be an example of this. However, his examples are hardly of any consequence for our constitution of the text. For this, not even Pecere denies the central importance of F.

Closely related to F is m (= Laur. 29,2), which often presents the correct reading when F is illegible. Some more recent MSS appear useful in other cases where Fm agree in obviously wrong readings. On the whole, the authority of Fm has been widely accepted in modern Apuleian scholarship. For the Metamorphoses cf. especially the Groningen Commentaries on Apuleius (GCA), where readings of Fm are consistently defended wherever possible; cf. also Hijmans 1994, 1770-80 and Hijmans 1995. Among earlier scholars defending F in difficult places, cf. e.g. Armini 1928.

As far as the Apology is concerned, the same trend can be observed, but the practice of making new emendations still continues. Recently a number of them have been brought forward by Frassinetti 1991 and Watt 1994. Most of these proposals to change the text are unnecessary, since they concern passages where F's reading makes good sense and is otherwise undisputed. In the majority of problematic passages, emendation can be discarded in favour of readings found in Fm. A selection of striking illustrations from the Apol. was also published separately as Hunink 1996. For the principles followed in this edition, see further below (E.1).




This new edition with commentary has two basic aims. First, it intends to provide an updated version of the Latin text. Second, it contains a complete commentary with particular attention to matters neglected in older commentaries, notably B/O. It is important to stress that the commentary does not aim to replace that of B/O, but to supplement it; see further below (E.2).

 E.1 The text

In this edition the practice of GCA has been adopted. That is, the text as constituted by Helm has been taken as the starting-point, and no new collation of the MSS has been made; on some points, however, I have attempted to improve on Helm's text. These points may be briefly listed as follows:

 (1) Readings and spelling In a fairly large number of places it appeared possible to defend the reading of Fm, even where Helm had judged that emendation was required.

In matters of orthography, too, I have followed Helm and GCA: the spelling of F is retained even where it is deviant from standard classical practice, provided that it is attested elsewhere as an alternative spelling (a mention in OLD is the test here). Inner consistency has not been sought and normalization has been avoided; thus, this edition reads e.g. nuptias (22,5) and nubtiae (47,5); uerti and uorti (see on 3,12).

This text does not pretend to reconstruct the spelling and readings chosen by Apuleius himself, to which we simply have no access.[23] The closest we can get is F, which probably most closely resembles the emended copy by Sal(l)ustius (for whom see on 65,8). The edition as presented here is, therefore, a fairly modest attempt to approach the text; cf. Hijmans 1994, 1772-3.

As in the GCA, no critical apparatus has been added, but all instances where the reading in this edition differs from Helm's are listed separately. A full discussion can be found in the appropriate places in the commentary.

 (2) Presentation Punctuation of an ancient Latin text is a matter for its editor to decide. Normally, the practice followed in the editor's native language is tacitly adopted as a guideline. For example, German editions tend to print far more comma's than English or French ones.

This edition is aimed at an English-speaking readership. Therefore, on a fairly large number of places, Helm's punctuation has not been followed. Notably, many comma's have been omitted, more use has been made of colon and semicolon, and some of Helm's longer sentences have been split. Meanwhile, no attempt has been made to radically apply English (or, for that matter, Dutch) standards. Usually, a practical compromise seemed the best solution.

Like punctuation, the manner of visually presenting the text depends on the individual habits and taste of the editor. I have basically wished to provide a text which is pleasant and easy to read. To achieve this, I have chosen a `classic' font, in a fairly large pitch, surrounded by broad margins and headers. The opening letter of a sentence is printed as a capital, as are first letters of names, in accordance with modern practice.

Chapters are indicated by large numbers in the margin; for the subdivision of chapters, the arrangement of Vallette's French edition has been applied. For convenience's sake, this arrangement has been preferred to the inconvenient references to page and line of Helm's Teubner edition.[24]

The division of the text into paragraphs (with the first line indented) has been executed with some care, equally on the basis of modern standards. For instance, a new paragraph is normally started where a new thought is dealt with or where another person is addressed. By doing this, I have consciously avoided the common practice of editors of classical texts, who all too often present the reader with Greek or Latin texts that look like `impenetrable blocks.' It is my firm conviction that we should be cautious and `conservative' where the readings of the MSS are concerned, but unhesitatingly apply our own, contemporary standards where the presentation of the text is concerned.

 E.2 The commentary

 B/O's commentary is very useful for matters of grammar and style, as well as for various `realia'. Therefore it seemed pointless to repeat all their remarks, or try to rephrase these even where they were clear and satisfactory. Simply including all this basic material would, moreover, have limited the possibilities to approach new areas in the present book without unduly extending the number of pages.

Therefore, this commentary has been arranged as a supplement or sequel to B/O rather than a replacement. It has been assumed throughout that readers will consult B/O for matters of grammar, idiom, and style. Only where a new element could be added, or where I disagreed with B/O, a remark has been included here.

The principal aim of the commentary is to shed light upon elements of the text that until now have remained hidden or unnoticed. In particular, literary aspects and elements of rhetorical strategy are paid much attention to, in order to get a better understanding of the speech as a work of art.

To give readers easier access to the text, it has been divided into a number of sections. Each of these is introduced by a separate paragraph, which consists of a paraphrasis of the text (printed in italics) and a short analysis of the argumentation and matters of general interest. This division into sections is made only for the sake of convenience, and does not claim to reconstruct any scheme of Apuleius himself.

 (1) Textual problems Any interpretation or analysis of a Latin text must start by establishing whether the text itself is sound. In the case of the Apol. we may safely say that the text as a whole is fairly reliable. Nonetheless, there remain a number of problematic or even disputed passages which require some attention. Therefore, even though this commentary is mainly of a literary nature, textual problems are discussed whenever necessary. For the general policy followed here, see above (E.1).

 (2) Events and realia Since we have no independent sources relating to Apuleius' trial, the text itself is inevitably used to reconstruct it. Even though this trial is not necessarily a `historical event' (see discussion above, C.2), we may analyze how Apuleius wants us to imagine it, and we are entitled to reconstruct events as they are told or implied by the words of the speaker. In the end, what matters most is not what happened, but how Apuleius wants us to read it.

What seems the most interesting pursuit here, is to combine various pieces of information and to fill in the gaps in his account. Notably in the commentary on 66-101, a close reading of the text proved fruitful in this respect. It brought to light a fairly large number of questions, dubious aspects, or even weak points in Apuleius' defence.

Of course, non-literary realia (e.g. the waterclock or rare animal species) are duly explained. Attention is also paid to matters of magic, to social and economic aspects (areas of current interest among historians), and to the various matters of law and science that Apuleius brings up.

 (3) Literature On a literary level, there are numerous occasions where Apuleius quotes from or refers to ancient authors. Here the commentary provides elementary help to the reader by referring to the most modern editions. In addition, it tries to add something more. For instance, one may ask why a specific author is included, or why a text is quoted only partly or, on the other hand, at unnecessary length. It can also be interesting to ask from what source Apuleius has taken his material. Especially in the case of works which have been lost, some encyclopedical information is sometimes added.

Equally on a literary level, Apuleius' own artistry as a `magician of words' is focused upon. His clever use of images, examples, striking words, and sounds effects is highlighted in a great number of places. Comparisons to his other literary works, notably the Met. and Fl., are also included. These illustrate the unity and coherence of his literary oeuvre, even where their content shows inner inconsistencies.

 (4) Strategy Throughout the commentary an attempt has been made to have a critical look at the words of the speaker, and to uncover aspects he seems to be hiding. For instance, the notes make the speaker's insinuations explicit, point out vague aspects, and clarify possible double meanings of words and clever puns. Inconsistencies, deliberate falsehoods, twisted or misleading arguments are noticed, as are, on the other hand, cases of conspicuous display of his learning and familiarity with authorities, and instances of threatening language, insults, and invective. Of course, the main aim of the speaker is to present his case as favourably as he can, while painting his opponents in the darkest possible colours.

Because of its attempts to get `behind the speaker's words' and bring to light elements which have remained hidden, the method applied in this commentary could be called deconstruction. Meanwhile, abstract discussions have been avoided, and the commentary remains as close to the text and as succinct as possible.[25]

 (5) This commentary and the GCA Although this commentary shares a number of principles and methods followed in the GCA, it also differs considerably from them. If the Apol. were to be dealt with in the detailed fashion of the GCA, the commentary alone would far exceed 1,000 pages. Such a project was impossible to execute.[26] Moreover, it seemed undesirable, since its result would probably prove an obstacle for readers rather than a convenient tool to approach the text. Being a less popular and less studied text than the novel, the Apol. seemed to require a commentary of different dimensions and nature.

So, for reasons of space, discussions of secondary literature have been restricted to the utmost minimum, in comparison to the GCA. Naturally, references to relevant books and articles on the Apol. are duly included. The focus is, moreover, on the most recent contributions; only occasionally, secondary literature from before 1900 is referred to. The textual notes also confine themselves to the essence, and do not refer to all previous scholars who defended the text or proposed to change it.

Furthermore, the sections of the commentary are arranged differently, as a quick comparison with the GCA will easily show. I have, for instance, not included a Latin text and translation for every new pericope. Within individual notes the order is different, too: as a rule, the most `important' aspects for a first-time reader are dealt with first, followed by less important ones, while minor observations and more speculative points are relegated to footnotes; so, dependent on the circumstances, a textual problem may come either first, at the end, or in a note. Here the commentary aims to be more flexible than what is allowed by the more rigid standards adopted in the GCA; as a result, it is also less complete and more personal. Consequently, given its different character, the present edition has not been included in the GCA series.




[1] The exact title of the speech is not known. The MSS have the following subscriptions: APVLEI MADAVRENSIS PRO SE APVT CL. MAXIMVM PROCOS DE MAGIA; APVLEI MADAVRENSIS PROSAE DE MAGIA and MADAVRENSIS APVLEI PLATONICI DE MAGIA; the traditional title Apologia does not seem to antedate the early printed editions; cf. Hijmans 1994, 1712-3. In the present edition, Pro Se De Magia is used as the official title, since it is based on evidence of the MSS. For practical reasons, however, the traditional title (often abbreviated as Apol.) is retained in the introduction and notes.

[2] Augustine does refer to the trial; cf. e.g. C.D. 8,19 postremo Apuleius ipse numquid apud Christianos iudices de magicis artibus accusatus est? (...). But in the time of Augustine, more than two centuries later, legends may have formed already. Furthermore, the speech itself has obviously been interpreted as evidence for the trial.

[3] It is often assumed that the Metamorphoses (Met.) allude to Apuleius' experience with accusations in court. Notably the trial of Lucius in Met. 3 is considered to be highly relevant. Although this seems perfectly possible, there is no clear comment in that text on any personal experience of the author. As a matter of principle, the text of a work of fiction cannot be used for such biographical testimony.

[4] A law called lex Cornelia is mentioned by Apuleius himself at Met. 8,24 (196,11), but not in any relation to magic. See discussion in GCA 1985, 209-10.

[5] Many other laws are involved in some way in Apuleius' trial, notably laws regulating issues of property, such as inheritances and dowries. These laws will be in the background of much of c. 66-102, but play no role in the charge leveled against Apuleius.

[6] There are many instances of legal language in the speech. Repeatedly, Apuleius even uses technical terms of law to make puns. These are launched at the prosecution, and effectively make fun of their ignorance in general and their legal incompetence in particular.

[7] The numerous literary, historical, and philosophical authorities from the past are left out of account, although it may be argued that they seem to support the defendant's case almost as `living' witnesses.

[8] B/O on c.2 (p.7) say that there is no evidence that the accuser was allowed more than one patronus, and that the word may be used rather loosely here in the sense of subscriptor. Indeed, Tannonius may have been an assistent responsible only for the formal complaints listed at the beginning of the session; cf. 4,2; 13,5; 17,11; 30,5; 33,6; and 46,1-4. However, it becomes clear from the last passage that he is present in court.

[9] The combined authority of the three judges seems to threaten the accuser rather than the defendant: if we assume Claudius Maximus to be still `neutral', Lollius Urbicus at least had shown himself to be against Aemilianus, while Avitus was quite clearly on Apuleius' side.

[10] Some references to crowds at other occasions may also be mentioned here; cf. e.g. 55,10-11; 56,4; and 73,2.

[11] Whether the charges were unfounded, is a matter we can at least partly decide on the basis of the text itself. It is obvious that Apuleius has a thorough knowledge of magic, and he can hardly be considered as an `innocent victim' in this respect. He may even deliberately have left some suspicion among the audience of being rather experienced in the field of magic. On the other hand, there seems hardly any magic connection to his marriage with Pudentilla, and the financial gain he obtained from it appears to be limited.

[12] In addition to the arguments of probability already mentioned, it is often argued that the trial of Lucius in Met. 3, and the general hostility in this novel to legal accusers, may be deliberate allusions to Apuleius' personal experience.

[13] An exception is the so called spurcum additamentum in Met. 10,21. Even this disputed, obscene fragment is considered by some to be genuinely Apuleian; see e.g. Winkler 1985, 193. See however GCA a.l., which firmly rejects Apuleian authorship of the fragment.

[14] Furthermore, various problems have been raised about the prologue of Soc. Its Apuleian authorship, however, seems more or less undisputed. Cf. further Hunink 1995.

[15] For instance, in Met. 7,6 and 11,17 mention is made of one emperor. Given the combined rule of Marcus Aurelius and Verus from 161 to 169, and of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus from 177 to 180, this would imply the period 169-177. However, the argument is not convincing, as it takes no account of the distinction between history and fiction. A general reference in a novel to an `emperor' may well be timeless and have no further implications.

[16] The sheer range of these religious topics makes it quite likely that Christianity caught Apuleius' interest at an early stage, although his works show no clear proofs of this. On Apuleius and Christianity, see now Schmidt 1997. For some possible traces in the Apol., see e.g. on 16,13 and 56,3.

[17] Hijmans, 1715 rightly observes that `publication' is a fluid notion in the ancient world, and should not be confused with modern publication practice. On this matter cf. also Starr 1987.

[18] Cf. McCreight 1991, 29-41, who mentions the example of Isocrates' Antidosis (p.39), and points to the `epideictic' elements in the Apol.

[19] The various literary elements in the speech are briefly analyzed by Helm 1955, who classifies it as a masterpiece of Second Sophistic. Meanwhile, Helm does not question the reality of Apuleius' trial or even discuss this problem.

[20] Huius autem philosophi Platonici copiosissima et disertissima extat oratio, qua crimen artium magicarum a se alienum esse defendit seque aliter non uult innocentem uideri nisi ea negando, quae non possunt ab innocente committi. (C.D. 8,19). Cf. also Ep. 137,13 Apuleium se contra magicarum artium crimina copiosissime defendentem; and Ep. 138,19.

[21] To these relatively few names, some more may have to be added; a more systematic inquiry into the Apol.'s `Nachleben' would be most welcome.

[22] On a somewhat curious note, I found a reference in the newspaper Liechtensteiner Vaterland to a stage performance of the Apol. by Hans Peter Minetti (October, 24th, 1992).

[23] It is, moreover, not unlikely that Apuleius fancies unclassical spellings, just as he has a taste for archaic and new words.

[24] Only in places where the Met. is quoted, Helm's numbers have been added. For the Fl., Vallette's arrangement has been followed. For Apuleius' philosophica, the traditional arrangement in chapters has been added in brackets.

[25] The analysis has been made for the sake of understanding the text, not as an illustration for a method of literary theory. In addition, the more traditional elements in the commentary, such as discussions about textual matters and references to realia, do not allow to call this `a deconstructionist commentary.'

[26] It would take more than ten years to complete. In the present circumstances, no Dutch university or scientific institution would support such a major enterprise.




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