text published in: Mnemosyne 48, 1995, 292-312

Apuleius' philosophical discourse De Deo Socratis (hence: Soc.) is preceded in the MSS by a long prologue, which has vexed classical scholars for centuries1). The prologue is generally considered not to belong to the discourse, given its contents. In addition, most scholars assume a subdivision of the prologue into five different fragments. In this paper, I will reexamine the question, and argue for the unity of the prologue and discourse, as well as the inner unity of the prologue.

Discourse and prologue

In Soc., Apuleius gives what may be called an introduction to ancient demonology. He shows that there must exist intermediate beings between gods and man, and describes the place they occupy in the world, their main characteristics, as well as the various types of these 'demons'. It is only at this point, near the end of the discourse, that the 'divine voice' of Socrates makes its appearance, as a concrete example of a demon. The speech ends on a more ethical note: every member of the audience is admonished to look after his own demon and devote himself to philosophy, thus earning praise for personal eminence. To illustrate the final point, the example of Odysseus is used.

Of this serious, philosophical subject matter, hardly anything appears in the prologue as found in the MSS. In what has come to be known as 'Fragment 1'2), the speaker indicates that he has been asked by the audience to speak ex tempore after having delivered a weighty, studied discourse. He affirms he is willing to do so, adding some remarks about the role of the audience in ex tempore performances. In the short 'fr.2', he presents an anecdote on Aristippus and the use of philosophy. 'Fr.3' compares improvising with building a stone wall (maceria), in which stones of various proportions are freely put together, without measuring or levelling them. In 'fr.4', the Aesopic fable of the raven and the fox is told, to illustrate the notion that in searching more and new things, one may lose what has already been gained. The last section, 'fr.5', introduces a second part of a speech delivered in Latin, following a first part said to have been in Greek. The speaker renews his promise to satisfy his audience in both languages.

In the opinion of many scholars, the prologue does not suit the discourse. This apparent incongruity has led to various theories about its origin3). As early as in the 16th century it was suggested that the prologue had nothing to do with Soc. at all. In length, style and content, the prologue seemed more like a section from Apuleius' Florida , an anthology of selected passages from his speeches4). Accordingly, many older scholars concluded that the prologue should be physically separated from Soc. and printed at the end of the Florida5). It was usually divided into two parts, corresponding to what Thomas was to call 'fr.1-4' and 'fr.5'.

Some scholars opted for a less radical solution. They retained the prologue at its traditional place, at the beginning of Soc.. However, they declared that it must be considered an element that did clearly not belong to Soc., but indeed probably to the Florida6).

Another position was taken in by G.F. Hildebrand7), who opposed those separating the prologue from Soc.: "decepti enim sunt interpretes argumenti quod in prologo tractatur varietate" (XLIII). In his view, the text, with its apologies for improvisation, is in its appropriate place before Soc., and he printed it accordingly. Nonetheless, he added that this prologue should still be seen as the last two fragments of the Florida , thereby implying an even tighter unity of Florida and Soc. as a whole8).

The view that prologue and Florida belong together gained new support from P. Thomas, who in 1900 (above, n.1) published another variant of this theory, now arguing that it consists of no less than five parts, having nothing to do either with each other or with Soc..

In the same year, R. Helm (above, n.1) devoted a detailed study to the prologue, in which he reached a conclusion which was diametrically opposed to Thomas's. Starting from 'fr.5' (generally the section most closely linked to Soc.), Helm points to strong thematic links between the entire prologue and Soc.. In his view, Soc. as a whole was originally a bilingual improvisation, starting with a part in Greek that probably dealt with Greek demonology and in particular the daimonion of Socrates. Soc. as we have it would then be a second, Latin part. The first part of the prologue, focussing on 'improvisation', must have preceded the first, Greek discourse. 'Fr.5' seems to function as an intermezzo, preparing the transition to the second, Latin part.

Helm's reconstruction of Soc.9) has remained largely unnoticed in 20th-century Apuleian scholarship. Modern editions invariably choose one of the older solutions. Thus Vallette, though no longer going so far as to include the prologue of Soc. in his Budé text of the Florida , still suggests it would fit in there10). In their edition of Soc., Barra and Pannuti print the prologue, but suppose that it replaces a now lost genuine introduction to Soc.. In his Budé edition of the philosophical works, Beaujeu calls it a 'fausse préface' not in its place in Soc., a theory of which he says it needs no further proof. He prints it at the end of the volume, among the Fragments of lost works, adding that it must be attached to the Florida11). Other editions of Soc. also exclude the prologue. Del Re simply omits it, though suggesting 'fr.5' may well be in its place.

However, Helm's views have not remained completely without reverberation. They have been resumed and summarized in Italian by Mantero in 1973 (above, n.1). Although she disagrees with Helm on minor points, she supports his theory on the original structure of Soc.. In addition, she points to some further links between the various elements of the prologue, comparing their loose structure to some of the longer Florida .

Likewise, Mantero's study has not been taken into account in the most recent editions. Portogalli Cagli12), who closely follows Beaujeu, neither prints nor even mentions the prologue at all. The latest German translation by Bingenheimer again excludes the entire prologue13). In the most recent critical edition, C. Moreschini14) prints the text, but rather uncritically follows Thomas even in adding the title '<Ex Apulei Floridis>'. In scholarly literature too such views may still be found15).

A recent exception is the article by Tomasco (above, n.1), who discusses Mantero's ideas. Initially, he seems to disagree with her on details only. But in the end, he appears to retain the possibility of a division of the prologue in five elements, and to suggest they may come from the Florida or constitute separate rhetorical exercitationes. In addition, he launches yet another theory: Soc. as we have it, is not a finished work, but a collection of material in a state of preparation.

Towards a reconstruction: external unity

All scholars except Helm and Mantero have one thing in common: they assume a close connection between Florida and Soc.. This, however, involves a major textual problem. In the MSS, Soc. has been transmitted among the philosophical works of Apuleius, whereas the Florida belong to a different tradition with the Metamorphoses and De Magia. Both groups have remained completely separate until the 14th century16). How could sections of the Florida have ended up in an entirely different group of MSS? The MSS of Soc. do not show any indication at all that the prologue should come from another source. So, the alleged transposition had to be explained differently. For example, Goldbacher assumed an archetype in which Soc. originally followed the Florida ; at a certain moment this MS would have been wrongly divided into two parts, the last sections of the Florida then ending up at the beginning of Soc.. Though such a reconstruction is not impossible, it remains no more than speculative, since there is no evidence at all to support it.

In the MSS B and M, the prologue is preceded by the following heading: apulei platonici madaurensis incipit de deo socratis feliciter. Other, less important MSS show similar indications17). In addition, there are several further titles within the text of the prologue. At the end of 'fr.4', BMV have the following text: explicit praefatio. incipit disputatio de deo socr­atis feliciter. At the same place, F has: apulei madaurensis de deo socratis liber .I. incipit. prolocutio. At the end of the prologue, that is, after its final words nec oratione defectior, B and most other MSS continue with the main text of Soc. without further indications, while M does so on a new line; but F has: narrationis exordium.

Thus, the MSS are clear on two points. First, they show not the slightest doubt that the prologue belongs to Soc.. Secondly, if it is split, two sections are distinguished, covering 'fr.1-4' and 'fr.5'. For these parts, the names praefatio and prolocutio respectively seem to be appropriate (from now on I will also use the abbreviations praef. and proloc.). A further subdivision into more than two parts is not supported by evidence from any MS. The praefatio is invariably presented as a single, continuous text.

But quite apart from the evidence of the MSS, the alleged similarity of themes is not so strong as it may seem at first sight. Admittedly, there are parallels between both texts, for instance the motif of bilingual performance (proloc.; cf. Flor. 18), bon mots of famous philosophers (praef.'fr.2'; cf. Flor. 2), the role of animals (praef. 'fr.4'; cf. Flor. 2; 3; 6; 10; 12) or parallels in structure (for which see below in this contribution). But these are parallels of a rather general nature, and the public speaker Apuleius may be expected to have used the same motifs and strategies on various occasions. They do not allow for the far-reaching conclusion that both texts are derived from a single collection of Florida . Secondly, the prologue seems to be slightly different in tone from the Florida . In both texts, the lighthearted and the serious are mixed, something typical of much of Apuleius' work, including the Metamorphoses18). But the prologue seems to have somewhat more of an inclination towards the latter, in that it concentrates on the decisive role of the public (praef. 'fr.1') and on style (praef. 'fr.3'), and contains the motif of doubt and fear to lose the favour of the public (praef. 'fr.3-4'). Various elements in the prologue have no parallels in the Florida , such as the elaborate comparison of speaking to building (praef. 'fr.3') and the Aesopic fable (praef. 'fr.4). Finally, the theme of 'improvisation', clearly the main topic in the prologue (especially in the praef.), is nowhere explicitly dealt with in the Florida . We would perhaps not have been surprised if it actually did occur there, but the point is that it does not19).

So, neither the situation in the MSS nor the contents of the prologue suggest that it must belong to the Florida . On the contrary, if we study the prologue in the context of Soc. as a whole, it appears to be firmly linked to the discourse as a whole. Here, Helm and Mantero have drawn attention to three main points.

Firstly and perhaps most importantly, Soc. may be considered an improvisation20). During the entire speech as we have it, the speaker seems to be improvising, or at least to create the impression of doing so. Thus in c.XI, Apuleius refers to a Homeric line on Minerva, for which he produces a Latin translation on the spot: hinc est illa Homerica Minerva, quae mediis coetibus Graium cohibendo Achilli intervenit. Versum Graecum, si paulisper opperiamini, Latine enuntiabo, - atque adeo hic sit impraesentiarum: Minerva igitur, ut dixi, Achilli moderando iussu Iunonis advenit: 'soli perspicua est, aliorum nemo tuetur' (21,7-12 Moreschini (above, n.14))21). Shortly afterwards, in c.XV, the translation of daemon shows similar traces of rapid invention, or its pretence: Eum nostra lingua, ut ego interpretor, haud sciam an bono, certe quidem meo periculo, poteris Genium vocare (25,11-12 M.). A few lines earlier, in c.XIV, the speaker had made a quick change of subject. Speaking about various religious observances, he claims to have so many examples that any choice between them would be arbitrary: idcirco supersedebo impraesentiarum in his rebus orationem occupare, quae si non apud omnis certam fidem, at certe penes cunctos notitiam promiscuam possident. Id potius praestiterit Latine dissertare, varias species daemonum philosophis perhiberi (...) (24,18-25,2 M.)22). Here, the speaker gives the suggestion of changing his plan and continuing with a more suitable topic. Several other instances of such quick, unexpected transitions might also be adduced here23). All of this may well have been prepared in advance by the speaker, but he at least creates the impression of improvisation24).

Of course, there are many other elements in Soc. which must be the results of previous study (e.g. the theories on the moon in c.I; the numerous quotations from Latin poets throughout the speech; the historical examples in c.VII; the discussion of Latin names for demons in c.XV; the examples from Homer in c.XVII-XVIII). But most likely, these either belong to the stock material which Apuleius had at his disposal for immediate use at any given moment, or form part of his broad erudition as a scientist and philosopher. If Soc. is an improvisation, this does certainly not imply that everything is created ex nihilo. The opposite is true: anyone extempo­rising is bound to use material prepared in advance. It is even probable that Apuleius had studied specialised Greek works on demonology.

Possible traces of improvisation may also be detected on a higher level, in the structure of Soc.. Admittedly, its main line is clear and well ordered: starting from a definition from Plato, Apu­leius first deals with the gods and the supreme god, then describes mankind, as well as the apparently complete separation between the two spheres. This brings up the question of the existence of intermediate beings, who can establish connections between heaven and earth. These 'demons' are then described and classified, with Socrates' demon as a natural illustration appearing at the end of c.XVIII. This is rounded off with an ethical exhortation to the audience to imitate Socrates, that is, to look after one's soul and study philosophy. The overall scheme reflects a conscious strategy on the part of the speaker, but not all elements in the speech seem equally necessary. In particular, the final 'diatribe' seems rather loosely connected to the earlier theological expositions about gods and demons. Although such a loose structure seems well in accordance with Apuleius' unclassical composition technique (for which see below in this contribution), it may equally be taken as yet another sign of extemporising.

Now, in the prologue, improvisation is constantly referred to. Praef. 'fr.1' starts with qui me voluistis dicere ex tempore (...) and discusses the role of the reaction of the public in an improvised discourse. Praef. 'fr.2' with its bon mot from Aristippus seems to illustrate the notion of a speaker who feels relatively self-assured in improvisation, due to his learning. In praef. 'fr.3' improvised style is justified by means of an image. The fable in praef. 'fr.4' illustrates the risks inherent in extemporising. Finally, even the prolocutio with its lively address towards the public and its sudden change to Latin, may well point to the same context. The conclusion of this seems inevitable: for Soc. as an extemporised discourse, nothing could be a more suitable introduction than a prologue centering around this very theme.

The second point consists of the references to things already dealt with25). In c.XV, we read: (...) bona cupido animi bonus deus est. Unde nonnulli arbitrantur, ut iam prius dictum est, ευδαιμovασ dici beatos, quorum daemon bonus, id est animus virtute perfectus est (p.25,8-11 M.). But in Soc. no previous definition of ευδαιμωv is given.

Similarly, on Socrates and his demon, it is said in c.XIX: quod autem incepta Socrati<s> quaepiam daemon ille ferme prohibitum ibat, numquam adhortatum, quodam modo ratio praedicta est (31,1-3 M.). Here too, at first sight no specific passage earlier in our text seems to be intended. However, as Tomasco (185) rightly observes, here Apuleius probably refers to what he has just remarked in c. XVII-XVIII: wise men like Socrates do not need to be advised by their demon to do good things, but are sometimes withheld from doing wrong things26).

Still, what seems implied during the entire discourse, is a discussion about Socrates and his demon. It has often been observed that this topic, from which Soc. has received its name, is of rather marginal importance in the speech. Of all 24 capita, barely five (XVI-XX) may be said to deal with Socrates. But reading this section, one does not get a systematic or even clear account of this daemonion at all. The overall impression we get is one of hearing additional remarks on the topic.

The absence of a real account of Socrates' demon, in combination with the phrase ut iam prius dictum est in c.XV, naturally leads to the conclusion that such a discussion has gone before. Where would it fit best? The prolocutio of the introduction mentions a bilingual speech in Greek and Latin, of which the first half in Greek has been delivered, and the second, Latin one is to come: tempus est in Latium demigrare de Graecia. Nam et quaestionis huius ferme media tenemus, ut, quantum mea opinio est, <p>ars ista posterior prae illa Graeca, quae antevertit, nec argumentis sit effetior nec sententiis rarior nec exemplis pauperior nec oratione defectior (6,6-10 M.). This definitely implies a preceding Greek part, that is now lost. What would be more likely than a Greek part dealing with Greek theories on demonology and in particular with Socrates' demon27)? The above quotation seems to indicate that the following text is not merely in Latin, but has different, equivalent arguments and stylistical characteristics. The hypothesis would explain perfectly why we do not find a simple exposition about the demon of Socrates in Soc., but additional remarks and Roman illustrations: the main theory has already been given in Greek.

This brings us to the third main argument of Helm and Mantero, the 'Roman' nature of Soc.28). Given Mantero's excellent discussion, I will not enter into much detail here, but merely lift out one or two points.

The speech bears the name of Socrates in its title and is probably largely based on Greek philosophical models29). Still, only a single word is given in Greek, ευδαιμovασ in c.XV, where it seems inevitable for the etymological explanation quorum daemon bonus. Throughout the speech, nearly everything is Latin and Roman. The subject matter is amply illustrated with quotations from Latin poets; Greek quotations and verbs are translated (see also the Homeric passage in XI adduced above); and Roman historical examples are provided (c.VII). Perhaps most strikingly, Apuleius attempts to reconcile Greek demonology with Roman religion in c.XV, where he distinguishes and defines the various Roman names for gods (such as Lares, Lemures and Manes). Since Apuleius normally does not hesitate to use Greek material and the Greek language whenever he wants to show his erudition30), this absence of Greek cannot be anything but deliberate. Thus, we are faced with a deliberately Latin, Roman speech, in all likelihood the sequel to a contrasting Greek part. All of this is in full accordance with what is said in the prolocutio.

Thus, in a first conclusion, the prologue seems in its appropriate place before Soc.. In particular, the dominating theme of 'improvisa­tion' presents a perfect introduction to the text as such. The specific reference in the prolocutio to a preceding Greek part can solve the question of what is lacking in Soc. as we have it, whereas its announcement in Latium demigrare is in perfect agreement with the explicitly Roman character of the discourse.

Towards a reconstruction: internal unity.

So what has made scholars doubt the nature of the prologue in the first place? This question brings up a further issue: how coherent and 'logic' may an Apuleian discourse be expected to be? I have already attempted to show that Soc. as a whole shows a conscious but also rather loose composition, which may partly reflect its character of extemporised lecture. In what sense is 'unity' to be expected within its prologue?

Here, I will draw a somewhat dangerous parallel. It has been argued above that there is no compelling reason to assume that the prologue has been part of the Florida . But some parallels may certainly be discerned between both texts. This goes not only for specific elements31), but equally for the structure. Every reader of the longer pieces among the Florida will notice the loose development of themes in them. Accordingly, scholars expecting 'classical' moderation and rationality have often found themselves disappointed here. In their view, such pieces, lacking a strictly logical sequence of ideas, are 'disconnected' or mere chitchat32).

However, closer scrutiny of such pieces shows we must not accuse Apuleius rashly. The aim of most pieces in the Florida is obviously not to present complete, rigidly logical expositions. Rather they appear to be intended as introductions to other, mostly philosophical or religious subjects, dealt with in other texts now lost33). Even if we leave out of account that extemporising may have played a role here too34), the introductory nature of these Florida , especially the longer fragments, explains their loose inner structure quite well. They amuse and thrill the public with all available material: stories, funny anecdotes, fascinating examples of erudition and impressive effects, all displayed in extremely powerful, highly rhetorical language. Apuleius' fascination for beautiful words, strong rhythms and luxurious style is usually more ardent than his sense of logic and overall consistency. The rhetorical composition technique in the Florida may best be termed 'associative'.

Several of the longer Florida can be adduced to make this point35). Here Flor. 18 may serve as an example. This relatively long piece, possibly a complete 'introductory speech', starts with an address to the public gathered in the theatre to listen to Apuleius. The speaker lists a number of entertainers usually performing there36), including some references to the theatre building and two quotations from ancient Latin poets. Gradually he draws the attention to the present occasion, expressing his hope to please the public, and the hesitation which a professional speaker as he himself feels before a home audience, because it knows so much about him. He claims to respect and gratify the audience as his parents and teachers: thus it will experience the same -- not as Protagoras but as Thales. This allusion elicits a natural reaction from the public: it wants to hear both stories. Apuleius then narrates at great length the famous anecdote of Protagoras, who was cheated in court by his clever pupil Euathlus, who refused to pay for his lessons. By contrast, the illustrious wise man and scientist Thales is told to have been properly rewarded by Mandraytus of Priene: what the latter has learned from him, will always be ascribed to Thales. Apuleius shows his approval of this, and says he will present a similar reward to the public in Carthage : he will praise the city wherever and whenever possible. Then follows a sudden change to a new starting point, with the mention of the key figure Asclepius. Apuleius announces that he will sing a hymn in Greek and Latin in honour of this god, preceded by an also bilingual dialogue with two illustrious men, Sabidius Severus and Julius Perseus, as its central characters. These men are introduced with much praise and the beginning and structure of the dialogue are briefly sketched.

Admittedly, this sequence of ideas does not follow a rigid logical pattern, but it cannot be regarded as disconnected or fragmentary. The attention of the public is captured, retained and gradually directed to the main theme by means of a sequence of loosely interrelated elements: interesting, concrete details, descriptions and anecdotes, praise and self-praise. In a very natural, relaxed manner, one thing leads to another, until the speaker finally goes on to his actual discourse, introducing its subject and protagonists to the best of his abilities37).

A similar, associative structure may be detected in the praefatio of Soc.38). Though Helm and Mantero mention some relevant points39), they have not concentrated upon this internal unity. So it seems worthwhile to analyse it here and to draw attention to some details which have remained unnoticed.

The praefatio starts with an explicit reference to improvising: qui me voluistis dicere ex tempore, accipite rudimentum post experimen­tum. Quippe, prout mea opinio est, bono periculo periculum faciam, post­quam re probata meditata sunt, dicturus incogitata. Neque enim metuo ne in frivolis displiceam, qui in gravioribus placui (1,1-5 M.). The public has asked for an extemporised speech, and it shall have it. The speaker professes that he ventures to take the risk, since his earlier premeditated discourse has met with approval. After having pleased his public in matters of relevance, he is not likely to displease them in trivial matters40).

The question arises: what has preceded this praefatio? The text is clear on the following points: first, shortly before, some sort of speech preceded; secondly, it was delivered by the same speaker; finally, it was well prepared and dealt with a serious topic. Since further indications as to the exact contents are missing, we can only guess at what it must have been like41). Possibly, Apuleius has just given a lecture about some religious subject or held a gratiarum actio42). Such a guess is about as far as we can go here.

Having mentioned improvisation, Apuleius starts reflecting on this theme, elaborating on the important role of public response on the speaker's words. Since the audience is able to direct the speaker, he says, it must accordingly be milder in its judgement, being partly responsible for what happens. On the other hand, as a speaker he himself will experience what Aristippus has once claimed. When asked what the use of all his philosophical studies was to him, the philosopher had answered, 'that I can chat safely and fearlessly with everybody': ut cum omnibus (...) hominibus secure et intrepide fabularer (3,1-2 M.). Apuleius obviously identifies with this philosophus43); he can feel equally sure upon starting his improvisation. The somewhat curious dictum of Aristippus brings Apuleius to a short comment: the saying has been caught with a 'sudden' word, as it suddenly came up: verbo subito sumpta sententia est, quia de repentino oborta est (3,3-4 M.). Apuleius says he has expressed the sententia of Aristippus by means of the first word that crossed his mind, that is, fabularer, an archaic verb used in spoken language44). Here the word may have sounded a bit too colloquial, which leads Apu­leius to justify it. He does so by pointing out that he had to improvise, a fair excuse in the present context45). This brings up a lively parallel, the image of building a wall by putting bricks artlessly together. Now, the excuse can be completed: nothing can be made both rapidly and thoroughly at once, nothing can possess both the merits of careful study and the charm of swiftness.

After these thoughts, Apuleius resumes his initial theme: he is willing to do as he has been asked, to speak ex tempore46). But he now adds a further thought: there are risks involved in it. One may be afraid of suffering the same as the raven in Aesop's fable, that is, losing what has been acquired while struggling to get more: et47) est hercule formido, ne id mihi evenerit, quod corvo suo evenisse Aesopus fabulatur, id erit, ne, dum hanc novam laudem capto, parvam illam, quam ante peperi, cogar amittere. Sed de apologo quaeritis: non pigebit aliquid fabulari (4,2-6 M.). The very mention of such a 'fear' must not be taken as contradicting what has been said before48). In an oral performance, especially an improvisation, the speaker is no more than likely to vary his thoughts and to continue adding or removing certain points. In general he may pretend to have doubts, only to pave the way for countering them right away, if not merely to raise further sympathy from the public. As may be expected, in the rest of the praefatio no trace of such a 'fear' on Apuleius' part is found49).

Here, the 'fear' is obviously a barely hidden pretext to tell a good story50) which will amuse the public and allow the speaker to rest on a safe spot for a while, since he must know the fable very well. His rhetorical skills even allow him to tell the fable twice: once in an elaborate version and, at the end, in a brief summary rounding off the praefatio as we have it. Apuleius is eager to use the occasion to show to the audience that he masters both techniques51).

An additional link with the foregoing anecdote about Aris­tippus may be the double repetition of fabulari, a point which seems to have remained unnoticed by scholars. The word is first repeated in the different sense of 'telling a fable'52), and then resumed by Apulei­us in a brilliant expression: non pigebit aliquid fabulari. It may be taken as 'I don't mind telling you a fable' but also, in the former sense of fabulari, 'I don't mind chatting a bit with you', like Aristippus had done. Given Apuleius' linguistical talent, I would suggest that he is playing with both meanings at once. Thus, he would create an ingenious verbal association and subtly connect several thoughts of his praefatio, with the additional advantage that he can tacitly put himself on one line with a Socratic philosopher like Aristippus.

Considering the praefatio as a whole, it may be said to be a fully coherent text, in which every thought is easily connected to another, with repetitions and verbal echoes reinforcing its unity. It has the character of an introductory speech, in that it contains elements to gain sympathy for the speaker, to amuse the public and to make it attentive. As in other speeches, Apuleius shows off his erudition and skills and praises his own talents. In short, he aptly starts his improvised speech by dwelling on the theme of improvisation itself.

It seems a proper introduction to Soc., though it cannot be proved beyond doubt that it must belong to Soc. only, and not to any other discourse. Neither can it be proved where the assumed Greek part of Soc. must have had its place. There is simply no evidence to be found in the texts53). Still, the solution of Helm and Mantero that it once followed the praefatio seems attractive54).

Whatever the precise relation of praefatio and prolocutio, there is no smooth transition between them. The latter opens with an explicit reference to a preceding Greek part: the speaker says he is asked to stop lecturing in Greek and to continue in Latin55). Since the praefatio does not contain any Greek, there is no direct continuity. Furthermore, the theme of improvisation has somewhat receded into the background, although the reference to the speaker's response to reactions of the public clearly brings to mind the opening lines of the praefatio.

Now, attention is drawn to the announcement of a 'second part in Latin', which will not disappoint the audience. As has been argued, this prolocutio is probably at least closely related to Soc.. Not unlikely, it actually preceded the main text as we have it. A case could perhaps be made in favour of regarding it not even as a separate prolocutio, but simply as the beginning of the Latin speech, just as nearly all MSS present it (cf. above)56).

Concluding remarks

Scholars have mostly failed to see the unclassical arrangement and intention of the prologue as a whole. It has led them to doubt wrongly not just its place and relevance, but also its inner unity. The common assumption that the prologue belongs to the Florida, and, in particular, Thomas' theory that it has to be divided into five different 'fragments' fail to do justice to the text. The evidence of the MSS as well as the character of Apuleius' text itself firmly oppose these views, which still prevail due to the persistence of classicist preconceptions of propriety and unity.

Tomasco's recent suggestion (see above) that Soc. is a collection of unpolished material rather than the text of a speech which has actually been delivered, is in fact only a variant of the same classicist position: the speech does not show the sort of unity and logic one would expect, and its status is therefore lowered. For my part, I cannot see where either the prologue or Soc. shows such serious shortcomings, inconsistencies or stylis­tical roughness as to justify calling it unfinished material. In its style and development of themes, in its rhetorical technique and its strategy to communicate to the audience, it can definitely stand the comparison with Apuleius' other rhetorical work. No one seriously holds that Pro se de magia or any of the longer Florida consists of fragments or rough material. Why should this be different in the case of Soc.? Tomasco's suggestion, while seeming innovative, turns back the clock instead.

A study of both the MSS tradition and Soc. as a whole, shows that the prologue can very well be regarded as a proper introduction to the main text. Of course, it cannot be proved that it must belong to Soc., but it seems perfectly possible. Furthermore, this study strongly pleads in favour of a division of the prologue into a praefatio dealing with improvisation, and a prolocutio announcing the Latin part of the discourse.

As Helm, Mantero and others have argued, there was probably once a corresponding Greek part of Soc.. Whether this was originally located immediately after the praefatio must remain uncertain, though the suggestion seems attractive. The prolocutio is likely to have come shortly before the Latin text as we have it, either as part of a larger prologue, or as an intermezzo, or as the beginning of the Latin speech.

Many problems concerning the prologue remain unsolved. However, it is to be hoped that future editors of Soc. will at least include this text, without added titles like '<Ex Apulei Floridis>', and without any subdivision other than that of praefatio and prolocutio.


* The research for this article was made possible by support from 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, Dr. J.A.E. Bons, Dr. J.G.M. van Dijk and Drs. O. Dekkers (Catholic University of Nijmegen), and members of the Groningen Apuleius Research Group ( University of Groningen ).

1. Apart from remarks and comments in editions of Apuleius' works, partly to be mentioned in following notes, some special studies have been devoted to the problem of the prologu­e. Among these, the most important 20th-century ones are: P. Thomas, Remar­ques critiques sur les oeuvres philosophiques d'Apulée, in: BAB 37 (1900), 143-165; R. Helm, De prooemio Apuleianae quae est de deo Socratis, in: Philol. 59 (1900), 598‑604; T. Mantero, La questione del prologo del De Deo Socratis, in: Argentea Aetas (in mem. E.V. Marmora­le), (Genova 1973), 219‑59; and most recently: D. Tomasco, Ancora sul prologo del De Deo Socratis, in: Enrico Flores [et al.] (edd.), Miscellanea di studi in onore di Armando Salvatore, ( Napoli 1992), 173‑195.

2. The prologue has been subdivided into five different fragments by P. Thomas (1900) (above, n.1). His theory has come to be generally accepted. In the course of this paper I will further discuss this subdivision. Presently, I will use it for convenient reference to the various parts of the prologue. The inverted commas will serve to indicate my scepticism.

3. Both Tomasco (1992) and, to a lesser extent, Mantero (1973) (above, n.1) present a detailed survey of scholarly opinions, arranged chrono­logi­cally. See also the entry in Schanz-Hosius' Geschichte der römischen Literatur III, 123-4. For the sake of clarity and to avoid undue repetitions, I will limit myself to a short survey of theories, arranged themati­cally.

4. For recent scholarship on the Florida, cf. B.L. Hijmans jr., Apuleius orator: "Pro se de Magia" and "Flori­da", in: ANRW II 34,2, (1994), 1708‑1784.

5. The first editor to do so seems to have been Pithou (1565), although he considered 'fr.5' to be the introduction of Soc. as we have it, after a lost preceding Greek part. Other editors and scholars who chose this solution were: Lipsius (1585); Wowerius (1606); Mercier (1625); Oudendorp (1823), who did not even make an exception for 'fr.5'; and Van der Vliet (1900), who divided the prologue into three fragments. Full bibliographical references of these older editions may be found in Tomasco (above, n.1). The prologue is also added to the Florida in older translations, e.g. by the anonymous translator of The works of Apuleius (London / New York 1893) (ed. Bohn's libraries); and by H.E. Butler, The Apologia and Florida of Apulei­us of Madau­ra, (Oxford 1909).

6. Earlier editors adopting this position were A. Goldbacher, Apulei Madaurensis opuscula quae sunt de philosophia (Vindobo­nae 1876) and P. Thomas, Apulei Platonici Madaurensis opera quae supersunt, vol III, De philosophia libri, (Leipzig 1908). Thomas printed the prologue before Soc., but did not hide his doubts, by adding a title '<Ex Apulei Floridis>'.

7. G.F. Hildebrand, L. Apuleii Opera omnia (...), (Leipzig 1842). The text of Soc. is printed in vol. II; the introduction to it in vol.I,  XLIII. Hildebrand was followed by Chr. Lütjohann, in whose edition of 1878, Soc. and prologue were also kept together.

8. "His concessis utrumque quod ultimo Floridorum loco legitur fragmentum et oratio ipsa artissime connectantur necessarium videtur" (XLIII). In the edited text, Soc. actually follows the Florida, but with its own title and without reference to the Florida.

9. For a slightly extended version of this reconstruction, see also below, n.54.

10. Paul Vallette, Apulée, Apologie, Florides, (Paris 1924). Other modern translations of the Florida also do not include the prologue anymore. In this paragraph, I refer to the following editions of Soc.: Giovanni Barra & Ulrico Pannuti, Il de deo Socratis di Apuleio, in: AFLN 10 (1962-1963), 81-141; Jean Beaujeu, Apulée, opuscules philosophiques, (Paris 1973); Rafaello Del Re, Apuleio, Sul dio di Socrate, (Roma 1966).

11. Since Vallette had not actually done so in his Budé edition of the Florida, Budé editors appear to disagree on this point.

12. Bianca Maria Portogalli Cagli, Apuleio, Il demone di Socrate, (Venezia 1992).

13. Michael Bingenheimer, Lucius Apuleius von Madaura, De Deo Socratis, der Schutzgeist des Sokrates, (Frankfurt am Main 1993). For the exclusion of the prologue, cf. explicitly 67-68. Bingenheimer's bibliography contains an entry referring to Man­tero, but her ideas are not discussed.

14. C. Moreschini, Apulei Platonici Madaurensis opera quae supersunt, III: De philosophia libri, (Stuttgart/Leipzig 1991). On the prologue he says: "prologum (...) opusculo ipsi abiudica­vimus, Floridis tribuimus (...) cum autem in codicibus hunc locum habent, haud necessarium duximus separatim edere" (1).

15. Cf. the entries in handbooks such as Schanz-Hosius (above, n.3), or recently: Jean-Marie Flamand, Apulée de Madaure, in: Richard Goulet (ed.), Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques (Paris 1989), 298-317. Flamand, 311 even suggests that the prologue should be attached to the Florida again. A more cautious view is presented by B.L. Hijmans jr., Apulei­us Philoso­phus Platonicus, in: ANRW II,36,1, (1987), 395‑475, esp. 432; and most recently: Hijmans (1994) (above, n.4), 1724, 1781-2. Hijmans pleads against attaching 'fr.1-4' to the Florida but also excludes this text from Soc.. In his view, only 'fr.5' is actually connected to Soc..

16. For the present views on Apuleian MSS, cf. L.D. Reynolds, Texts and transmis­sion, (Oxford 1983), 15‑19.

17. I present the headings in the MSS as reported in the critical apparatus of Moreschini. In addition, I have used the apparatus of Thomas (above, n.6) and Beaujeu (above, n.10).

18. Cf. e.g. Carl.C. Schlam, The metamorphoses of Apuleius. On making an ass of oneself, (Chapel Hill / London 1992), esp. 5-17.

19. This point was also made by Hijmans (1994), 1771 with n.207. Hijmans makes the additional suggestion that 'fr.1-4' might be the remnant(s) of some other collection of excerpts. On possible traces of improvisation in the Florida, see further below, n.34.

20. Helm (1900), 599-600; Mantero (1973), 226-30. Though Roman writers on rhetoric do not pay much attention to extemporising, the practice was widespread in the Greco-Roman world; cf. Hazel Louise Brown, Extemporary speech in antiquity, Diss. Univ. Chicago, Menasha Wis. 1914. The tradition of extemporary speech dates back to the earliest, 'oral' phases of Greek rhetoric. For a famous defence of improvisation, see the still extant On the sophists by Alcidamas (4th cent. BC). It reflects the transition from 'orality' to 'literacy'; cf. J.A.E. Bons, Cum ira et studio: Plato en de retorica, Kleio 22 (1992-3),1-22, esp. 2 and 20-21 with further literature. On Alcidamas' speech, see also Brown (above, 28-42). In Roman culture, improvisation remained important in the rhetorical schools; cf. Stanley F. Bonner, Roman declamation in the late Republic and early Empire, Liverpool 1949,49.

21. The reference is to Hom. Il. 1,198. A similar atmosphere of improvisation, whether real or posed, may be found in Apuleius' speech Pro se De Magia, especially in cases of 'spontaneous' reactions of the public e.g. c.7,1-2; c.55,32-3 and c.91,1-2. (I refer to: H.E. Butler, A.S. Owen, Apulei apologia sive pro se de magia liber (Oxford 1914)). On the problem to what extent the text of Pro se de magia may have been reworked for publication, see Hijmans (1994), 1715-9.

22. This passage is not adduced by Helm and Mantero in support of the view that Soc. is an improvisation.

23. E.g. the aborted discussion about the moon (beginning of c.II); the refusal to speak about the supreme god, in the light of Plato's views (c.III); the lively addresses to the public (c.IV, V; XXI; XXIV); the example of the clouds (c.X-XI).

24. The point is also stressed by Brown (1914) (above, n.20), 174 in her brief remarks on Soc. : "such a pretended extempo­riza­tion would put an audience in good humor if a prepared speech was to follow. If the orator were really compelled to make an extemporary speech, a number of such ready-prepared morceaux could easily be pieced together with extemporary oratory, to form a creditable if not very profound speech, a practice which was common among the earlier sophists."

25. Helm (1900), 602-3; Mantero (1973), 230-5.

26. Cf. at the end of XVIII: ad eundem modum Socrates quoque, sicubi locorum aliena sapientiae officiis consultatio ingruerat, ibi vi daemonis praesag[i]a regebat<ur> (30,15-8 M.). Tomasco (1992), 186 also discusses a passage from Augustine wrongly adduced by Mantero, as well as a reference forward in c.II (189). Here, the discussion about the true theory about the moon is postponed: nam hoc postea videro (8,8-9 M.), a 'promise' not fulfilled in Soc.. Tomasco, 189 rightly remarks that it is hardly more than a speaker's formula to avoid entering upon a theme not relevant at the moment. Thus, we can perhaps interpret it as 'at some later time', 'on another occasion'. If this is correct, the passage may even be adduced in support of the theory that Soc. is an improvised discourse.

27. On the Greek part, and on possible explanations for its loss, see Hijmans (1994), 1781-2. As to the theory that it contained a discussion of ancient opinions concerning Socrates' daemonion, Hijmans agrees that it is "a lovely and quite likely thought, though unfortunately without a shred of evidence to support it". Indeed, there is no concrete evidence, but the considerations presented here do point rather strongly in this direction.

28. Helm (1900), 600, 603; Mantero (1973), 235-244.

29. This point was made especially by F. Regen in his review of Beaujeu (1973) (above, n.10), in: GGA 229 (1977), 186-227, summarised by Tomasco (1992), 182-3. Of course, Apu­leius also uses examples of Greek mythology and history fully integrated in Roman culture.

30. The Pro se de magia is full of Greek quotations. Cf. verses of Homer in c.4 (with brief Latin paraphrase) and c.31; prose of Plato in c.10, 25-6, 41, 64-5; further e.g. c.22, 38, 82-4, 88.

31. For some examples, see the beginning of the present contribution.

32. Cf. even K. Mras, Apuleius' Florida im Rahmen ähnlicher Literatur, in: AAWW 86 (1949), 205-23, who calls Flor. 15 "eine zwanglose Plauderei" (p.207).

33. Mras (1949) (above, n.32) has argued that all of the Florida are prolaliae, such as we also see in the works of Lucian. However, it remains doubtful whether we can regard this sort of 'extendend proem' as a separate rhetorical genre; see Hijmans (1994), 1721. What matters here is that at least the longer pieces in the Florida lead up to other, central subjects.

34. Improvising by itself is not a theme in the Florida, as has been argued above. Still, several pieces would not seem impossible as parts of improvisations. Some examples might be: Flor.1; 5; 9 (the beginning); 10 (covering similar themes as the first paragraphs of Soc.); 16 and 21.

35. Mantero (1973), 249-55 analyses Flor. 2; 18; 16; 9 and 21. She further points to the rather loose structure of the first part of Pro se de magia, which, as she observes acutely, no one has ever supposed to consist of fragments (255). For an analysis of nearly all pieces in the Florida, cf. Hijmans (1994), 1732-8 and 1750.

36. For the motif, cf. also Flor. 5.

37. Apuleius' technique of aptly introducing his subject to a great audience often reminds one of the prologi in the comedies of Plautus, one of Apuleius' favourite archaic Latin poets (he is quoted in Soc. c.XI). Cf.the last part of Flor. 18, with its explicit plan of the dialogue to come and its description of main characters. On the 'inductive' function of Plautus' prologues to draw the public into the world of the play, cf. Niall W. Slater, Plautus in performance. The theatre of the mind (Princeton 1985), 149-154; id., Plautine negotiations: the Poenulus prologue unpacked, YCS 29 (1992), 131-46.

38. As has been remarked above, I do not suggest that the prologue actually forms part of the Florida. The point I wish to make is that its structure and arrangement of themes may be profitably compared to those in other rhetorical work by Apuleius.

39. Helm (1900), 598; Mantero (1973), 244-9.

40. For frivola used for 'matters of less importance', cf. Pro se de magia c.3,35; c.25,2; c.67,23. There it refers to the preliminary reproaches made to Apuleius by the prosecution, concerning e.g. his eloquence, physical beauty and poetic activity. As the treatment in Pro se de magia 4-25 shows, such frivola can nonetheless be given full attention. Therefore, the word seems used deliberately to play down in advance any possible harmful effect. A similar strategy seems to be pursued here: calling the subject matter 'trivial' provides the speaker with an excuse right from the start.

41. One might think that the supposedly Greek part of Soc. is referred to. But surely, the topic of the Latin speech can hardly be considered less serious and an example of frivola. Rather, Soc. seems planned as a coherent improvisation in two parts of equal value. In addition, if the Greek part were meant, the prolocutio with its reference to Greek apparently preceding immediately would become problematic.

One of Tomasco's suggestions is that the present speech may have followed an exposition by another speaker, or even a number of other 'conferenzieri' (189-90). This cannot be right, given such explicit phrases as post experimentum and qui in gravioribus placui, which obviously refer to a personal performance just before. Tomasco's explanation is that we are dealing with rough material not fully adapted to its purpose. But rather than assuming that a given text is not adequate, we should try and explain it as it is. For my objections to Tomasco's suggestion, see also below.

42. On other occasions, Apuleius certainly delivered such speeches, considering the announcements in Flor. 16 and 18.

43. On Apuleius' consistent self-portrait as a philosophus Platoni­cus, cf. Hijmans (1987), esp. 416; also Flamand (1989) (above, n.15), 315-6.

44. It occurs mostly in archaic comedy and archaist authors such as Gellius and Apuleius; cf. OLD s.v.1; TLL VI, 34,79 ff. For the archaic-vulgar character of fabulari, cf. further: W. D. Lebek, Verba prisca, die Anfänge des Archaisierens in der lateinischen Beredsamkeit, (Göttingen 1970), 14 with n.11; Pierre Flobert, Les verbes déponents Latins des origines à Charlemagne, (Paris 1975), 78. Flobert remarks that the word ("ce verbe à la fois archaïque et familier") seems to have been banned in the period between the comic poets and the archaists. I may add that even in Apuleius' work, it is still rare: apart from the cases discussed here and below, it occurs only in Met. 11,16,2 and Flor. 21 (42,18 Helm).

45. Subitus refers to 'sudden­ness' in general, and in the case of speech, specifically to extemporising, cf. OLD s.v. 4b. Scholars have generally missed the point here. Even Mantero (1973), 246-7 does not comment on fabulari. Instead, she thinks that Apuleius is referring to his brevity and loose syntax in telling the anecdote of Aristippus. However, it seems more natural to interpret verbo subito as a reference to a single, remarkable word, especially since fabulari is clearly standing out.

One could perhaps argue that the implied subject of the passive construction sumpta est is Aristippus. However, it seems less likely that Apuleius would excuse and comment on Aristip­pus' words rather than his own. Moreover, in a Greek version of the story (Diog. Laert. II, 68), Aristippus says: τo δυvασθαι πασι θαρρoυvτωσ oμιλειv. Here no special Greek word is used, contrary to Apuleius' Latin version. So, his use of fabu­lari seems the point here.

46. Those who claim that this is the start of a different fragment, must consider it a senseless repetition, which cannot be in its place here. However, in an oral performance, it is very useful to restate a first point, especially after a digression, example or metaphor. Here, it also prepares the following thought. Thus, the recapitulation seems functional and relevant.

47. I follow Moreschini in printing the reading et given by the MSS. However, I remain rather tempted by the conjecture at, as adopted by Lütjohann, Thomas and Beaujeu.

48. Cf. Beaujeu (1973), 162. Speaking on the praefatio, he writes: "il n'y a pas continuité entre les quattre passages et on relève même des contradictions de l'un à l'autre". Tomasco (1992), 190-1 also discerns a contradiction here.

49. On a minor note, I may point out that Apuleius avoids to add a pronoun like mihi to est formido, thus making the expression rather impersonal. Moreover, one may perhaps discern a note of Apuleius' usual pride and arrogance in his way of telling the fable. The raven, to which he likens himself, is praised as a superb bird possessed with all talents except for one. -- But of course, the silly, greedy raven is misled by the clever fox. Evidently, the comparison of Apuleius and the raven stops here.

50. Cf. also Mantero (1973), 248: "il pretesto di inserire quell' elemento novellistico, che egli sempre introduce tanto volentieri (...) nelle sue composizioni (...)".

51. This well known fable, (Aesopica 124), exists in a great number of versions, e.g. Aesopic fables 126 (Hausrath); Phaed­rus 1,13 and Babrius 77. In his first adaptation, Apuleius extends the basic story with vivid details, speeches and descriptions. On the other hand, in his second version, the story is reduced and compressed to a single sentence. Such exercises with fables belonged to the normal training in rhetorical schools; cf. J.G.M. van Dijk, De theorie van de fabel in de Griekse oudheid, in: W.L. Idema, M. Schipper, P.H. Schrijvers (ed.), Mijn naam is haas. Over dierenverhalen in verschillen­de culturen, (Baarn 1993), 22-36.

52. Cf. OLD s.v. 2; TLL VI 36,38 f.

53. In my opinion, they only give an argument against a position before the praefatio, see above, n.41.

54. The reconstruction of the entire performance of Apuleius would then be as follows: at least one well-prepared lecture about a serious subject (lost), followed by an improvised, bilingu­al discourse de deo Socratis (partly lost). The latter would consist of a Latin introduction on improvisation (the praefatio); a Greek discourse, probably on Greek demonology and on Socrates' demon (lost); an intermezzo leading up to the Latin part (the prolocutio); and the Latin discourse with its specifically 'Roman' accent (Soc. as we have it).

55. Apuleius uses the plural forms, ut...persequamur; oratio nostra and tenemus. Tomasco (1992), 191-2 considers this a further argument for his idea that Apuleius is only one among a group of speakers (see n.41). He rejects the possibility of a pluralis maiestis and assumes that Apuleius spoke after another Greek orator had delivered the part in Greek. But he gives no evidence of such bilingual projects for two speakers. Furthermore, the use of the first person plural seems quite natural for a speaker in the middle of this discourse, who wishes to recapture the attention of his public.

56. Against this, it might be objected that it would bring about a rather harsh transition from (...) nec oratione defectior to the following Plato omnem naturam rerum (...) trifariam divisit. But if we accept that a Greek exposition of Platonic views has preceded, the latter phrase is merely an apt resumption of the theme, now in Latin. Besides, even without a foregoing speech, Plato's general theory seems a good point to start with. So, what are we actually missing between the two phrases? For openings in medias res, we may also compare the abrupt start of Apuleius' treatise De dogmate Platonis.


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


(c) 2014 V. Hunink

copyright statement  / contact