Apuleius, Lucius

, a Platonic philosopher, who lived in the second century, under the Antonines, was born at Madaura, a Roman colony in Africa. With ability he united indefatigable industry, whence he became acquainted with almost the whole circle of sciences and literature. His own account of himself is, that he not only tasted of the cup of literature under grammarians and rhetoricians at Carthage, but at Athens drank freely of the sacred fountain of poesy, the clear stream of geometry, the sweet waters of music, the rough current of dialectics, and the nectarious but unfathomable deep of philosophy; and in short, that, with more good will indeed than genius, he paid equal homage to every muse. He was certainly a man of a curious and inquisitive disposition, especially in religious matters, which prompted him to take several journies, and to enter into several societies of religion. |ie had a strong desire to be acquainted with their pretended mysteries, and for this reason got himself initiated into them. He spent almost his whole fortune, in travelling; so that, at his return to Rome, when he was about to dedicate himself to the service of Osiris, he had not money enough to defray the expence attending the ceremonies of his reception, and was obliged to pawn his clothes to raise the necessary sum. He supported himself afterwards by pleading causes, and, as he was both eloquent and acute, many considerable causes were trusted to him. But he benefited himself more by a good marriage, than by his pleadings: a widow, named Pudentilla, who was neither young nor handsome, but very rich, accepted his hand. This marriage drew upon him a troublesome law-suit; the relations of the lady pretended he made use of sorcery to gain her heart and money, and accordingly accused him of being a magician, before Claudius Maximus, proconsul of Africa. Apuleius was under no great difficulty in making his defence; for as Pudentilla was determined, from considerations of health, to enter upon a second marriage, even before she had seen this pretended magician, the youth, d portment, pleasing conversation, vivacity, and othrr agreeable qualities of Apuleius, were charms sufficient to engage her heart. He had the most favourable opportunities too of gaining her friendship, for he lodged some time at her house, and was greatly beloved by Pudentilla’s eldest son, who was very desirous of the match, and solicited him in favour of his mother. Apuleius also | offered to prove, by his marriage-contract, that he would gain but a moderate sum by it. His apology is siill extant; it is reckoned a performance of considerable merit, and contains examples of the shameless artifices which the falshood of an impudent calumniator is capable of practising. There were many persons who took for a true history all that he relates in his famous work, the “Golden Ass.” St. Augustin was even doubtful upon this head, nor did he certainly know that Apuleius had only given this book as a romance. Some of the ancients have spoken of this performance with great contempt. In the letter which the emperor Severus wrote to the senate, wherein he complains of the honours that had been paid to Claudius Albinus, amongst which they had given him the title of Learned, he expresses great indignation, that it should be bestowed on a man, who had only stuffed his head with idle tales and rhapsodies taken from Apuleius. Macrobius has allotted the “Golden Ass,” and all such romances, to the perusal of nurses. Bishop Warburton, in the second edition of his “Divine Legation,” supposes that the “Golden Ass” is an allegory, intended not only as a satire upon the vices of the times, but as a laboured attempt to recommend the mysteries of the Pagan religion, in opposition to Christianity, to which he represents him as an inveterate enemy. In confirmation of this opinion, he points out the resemblance between the several parts of the story and the rites of initiation, both in the greater and lesser mysteries; and explains the allegory of Cupid and Psyche, which makes a long episode in Apuleius, upon the same principles. This opinion, however, has been contested by Dr. Lardner (Works, vol. VII. p. 462.)

Apuleius was extremely indefatigable in his studies, and composed several books, some in verse, and others in prose; but most of them are lost. He took pleasure in declaiming, and was heard generally with great applause; when he declaimed at Occa, the audience cried out with one voice, that they ought to confer upon him the honour of citizen. The citizens of Carthage heard him with much satisfaction, and erected a statue to him; and several other cities did him the same honour. The time of his death is not known, but after his Apology took effect, he is said to have passed his clays qu etly in study.

His printed works have gone through forty-three editions, nine of which appeared in the fifteenth century. | The first, which is very rare, and was not mutilated by the Inquisition, was printed at Rome by order of cardinal Bes sarion, and Andrea, bishop of Aleria, was editor, 1469, fol. This volume consisted of, J. The “Golden Ass,” on which his reputation chiefly rests, and of which there have been many separate editions and translations into French, Italian, Spanish, German, English (by William Adlington, 1571, &c.) Of the episode of Psyche, there have been an equal number of separate editions and translations, and some French ones superbly ornamented with engravings. 2. His Apology, entitled “Oratio de Magia,Heidelberg, 1594, 4to, &c. 3. “Florida,” or fragments of his speeches, some on history and mythology, Strasburgh, 1516. 4. “Three books on philosophy, entitled” De habitudine doctrinarum et nativitute Platonis.“5.” De Deo Socratis,“which St. Augustine refuted, Paris, 1624, 16mo. 6.” De Mundo,“which has been considered as an exact translation of what Aristotle wrote on the same subject, Memmingon, 1494, fol. and Ley a‘ en, 1591, 8vo, with that of Aristotle in Greek. Another list of works has been attributed to him on douhtful authority, as a Latin translation of Asclepius” De Natura. Deorum;“a book” De nominibus, virtutibus, seu medicaminis herbarum;“another,” De notis adspiratioms, et de diphthongis;“” De ponderibus, mensuris, ac signis cujusque;“” Aneehomenos,“a heroic poem, and” Ratio Spheres Pvthagoricae." Besides these a great number of his writings, on almost every subject, are said to have been lost. Daniel William Moller published an essay on his life and works, Altdorf, 1691, 8vo. 1


Gen. Dict. Fabric. Bibl. Graec. —Vossius de Hist. Lat. Brucker. Biog. Universelle. —Saxii Onomasticon.