PROLOGUE OF APULEIUS' 'DE DEO SOCRATIS' '*
in: Mnemosyne 48, 1995, 292-312
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
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.
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.
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'
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).
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
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..
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.
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
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
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).
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
a reconstruction: external unity
scholars except Helm and Mantero have one thing in common: they assume a close
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.
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.
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
neither the situation in the MSS nor the contents of the prologue suggest that
it must belong to the
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
a reconstruction: internal unity.
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?
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
closer scrutiny of such pieces shows we must not accuse Apuleius rashly. The aim
of most pieces in the
of the longer
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
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.
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).
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
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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 (
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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>'.
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.
"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.
For a slightly extended version of this reconstruction, see also below, n.54.
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).
Since Vallette had not actually done so in his Budé edition of the Florida,
Budé editors appear to disagree on this point.
Bianca Maria Portogalli Cagli, Apuleio, Il demone di Socrate, (Venezia
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.
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
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..
For the present views on Apuleian MSS, cf. L.D. Reynolds, Texts and transmission,
(Oxford 1983), 15‑19.
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).
Cf. e.g. Carl.C. Schlam, The metamorphoses of Apuleius. On making an ass of
oneself, (Chapel Hill / London 1992), esp. 5-17.
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.
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.
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.
This passage is not adduced by Helm and Mantero in support of the view that Soc.
is an improvisation.
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
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
Helm (1900), 602-3; Mantero (1973), 230-5.
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.
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.
Helm (1900), 600, 603; Mantero (1973), 235-244.
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.
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.
For some examples, see the beginning of the present contribution.
Cf. even K. Mras, Apuleius' Florida im Rahmen ähnlicher Literatur, in:
AAWW 86 (1949), 205-23, who calls Flor. 15 "eine zwanglose
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.
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.
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.
For the motif, cf. also Flor. 5.
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.
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.
Helm (1900), 598; Mantero (1973), 244-9.
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.
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.
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.
On other occasions, Apuleius certainly delivered such speeches, considering the
announcements in Flor. 16 and 18.
On Apuleius' consistent self-portrait as a philosophus Platonicus, cf.
Hijmans (1987), esp. 416; also Flamand (1989) (above, n.15), 315-6.
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).
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.
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
Here no special Greek word is used, contrary to Apuleius' Latin version. So, his
use of fabulari seems the point here.
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.
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.
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
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.
Cf. also Mantero (1973), 248: "il pretesto di inserire quell' elemento
novellistico, che egli sempre introduce tanto volentieri (...) nelle sue
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.
Cf. OLD s.v. 2; TLL VI 36,38 f.
In my opinion, they only give an argument against a position before the praefatio,
see above, n.41.
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
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.
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.
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