The golden ass : being the metamorphoses of Lucius Apuleius online

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because he loved another woman beside her, and the
reason why she transformed him into such a beast, is
that it is his nature, when he perceives the hunters and
hounds to draw after him, to bite off his members
and lay them in the way, that the pursuers may be
at a stop when they find them, and to the intent
that so it might happen unto him (because he fancied
another woman) she turned him into that kind of
shape. Likewise she changed one of her neighbours,
being an old man and one that sold wine, in that he
was a rival of her occupation, into a frog, and now
the poor wretch swimming in one of his own pipes of
wine, and being well nigh drowned in the dregs,
doth cry and call with croakings continually for his
old guests and acquaintance that pass by. Likewise
she turned one of the advocates of the Court (because
he pleaded and spake against her) into a horned
ram, and now the poor ram doth act advocate.
Moreover she caused the wife of a certain lover that
she had, because she spake sharply and wittily
against her, should never be delivered of her child,
but should remain, her womb closed up, everlastingly
pregnant, and according to the computation of all
B 17


damnavit et, ut cuncti numerant, iam octo annorum
onere misella ilia velut elephantum paritura dis-
10 tenditur. Quae cum subinde ac multis noceret,
publicitus indignatio percrebruit, statutumque ut in
earn die altera severissime saxorum iaculationibus
vindicaretur : quod consilium virtutibus cantionum
antevortit et, ut ilia Medea unius dieculae a Creone
impetratis induciis totam eius domum filiamque cum
ipso sene flammis coronalibus deusserat, sic haec
devotionibus sepulchralibus in scrobem procuratis,
ut raihi temulenta narravit proxime, cunctos in suis
sibi domibus tacita numinum violentia clausit, ut toto
biduo non claustra perfringi, non fores evelli, non
denique parietes ipsi quiverint perforari, quoad
mutua hortatione consone clamitarent, quam sanc-
tissime deierantes sese neque ei manus admolituros,
et si quis aliud cogitarit, salutare laturos subsidium :
et sic ilia propitiata totam civitatem absoluit. At
vero coetus illius auctorem nocte intempesta cum
tola domo, id est parietibus et ipso solo et omni
fundamento, ut erat, clausa ad centesimum lapidem
in aliam civitatem summo vertice montis exasperati
sitanij et ob id ad aquas sterilem, transtulit. Et
quoniam densa inhabitantium aedificia locum novo
hospiti non dabant, ante portam proiecta domo


men, it is eight years past since the poor woman
began first to swell, and now she is increased so big
that she seemeth as though she would bring forth
some great elephant : and when this was known
abroad and published throughout all the town, they
took indignation against her, and ordained that
the next day she should be most cruelly stoned to
death ; which purpose of theirs she prevented by the
virtue of her enchantments, and as Medea (who
obtained of King Creon but one day's respite before
her departure) did burn in the flames of the bride's
garland all his house, him and his daughter, so she,
by her conjurations and invocation of spirits, which
she uses over a certain trench, as she herself declared
unto me being drunken the next day following,
closed all the persons of the town so sure in their
houses, by the secret power of her gods, that for
the space of two days they could not come forth, nor
open their gates nor doors, nor even break down
their walls ; whereby they were enforced by mutual
consent to cry unto her and to bind themselves
straitly that they would never after molest or hurt
her, and moreover if any did offer her any injury
they would be ready to defend her ; whereupon
she, moved at their promises, released all the
town. But she conveyed the principal author of
this ordinance, about midnight, with all his house,
the walls, the ground and the foundation, into
another town distant from thence a hundred miles
situate and being on the top of a barren hill, and
by reason thereof destitute of water : and because
the edifices and houses were so close builded together
that it was not possible for the house to stand
there, she threw down the same before the gate
of the town.'



1 1 discessit.' ' Mira ' inquam ' Nee minus saeva, mi
Socrates, memoras. Denique mihi quoque non par-
vam incussisti sollicitudinem, immo vero formidinein,
iniecto 11011 scrupulo sed lancea, ne quo numiuis
ministerio similiter usa sermones istos nostros anus
ilia cognoscat. Itaque maturius quieti nos reponamus
et somno levata lassitudine noctis antelucio aufugia-
mus istinc quam pote longissime.'

" Haec adhuc me suadente insolita vinolentia ac
diurna fatigatione pertentatus bonus Socrates iam
sopitus stertebat altius. Ego vero adducta fore
pessulisque firmatis, grabatulo etiam pone cardines
supposito et probe aggesto. super eum me recipio :
ac primum prae metu aliquantisper vigilo, dein circa
tertiam ferme vigiliam paululum conniveo. Commo-
dum quieveram, et repente impulsu niaiore quam
ut latrones crederes ianuae reserantur, immo vero
fractis et evolsis funditus cardinibus prosternuntur.
Grabatulus, alioquin breviculus et uno pede mutilus
ac putris, impetus tanti violentia prosternitur, me
quoque evolutum atque excussum humi recidens
inversum cooperit ac tegit.

12 "Tune ego seusi naturalitus quosdam affectus in
contrarium provenire : nam ut lacrimae saepicule de
gaudio prodeunt, ita et in illo nimio pavore risum
nequivi continere, de Aristomene testudo factus.
Ac dum infimum deiectus, obliquo aspectu, quid


"Then spake I and said : 'O my friend Socrates, you
have declared unto me many marvellous things and
no less cruel, and moreover stricken me also with no
small trouble of mind, yea rather with great prick of
fear, lest the same old woman, using the like practice,
should chance to hear all our communication :
wherefore let us now sleep, though it be early, and
after that we have done away our weariness with
rest let us rise betimes in the morning and ride from
hence before day as far as we may.'

" In speaking these words, it fortuned that Socrates
did fall asleep, and snored very soundly, by reason
of his new plenty of meat and wine and his long
travail. Then I closed and barred fast the doors of
the chamber, and put my bed and made it fast behind
the door and so laid me down to rest ; but at first I
could in no wise sleep for the great fear which was
in my heart, until it was about midnight, and then
I closed my eyes for a little: but alas, I had just
begun to sleep, when behold suddenly the chamber
doors brake open ; nay, the locks, bolts and posts fell
down with greater force than if thieves had been
presently come to have spoiled and robbed us. And
my bed whereon I lay, being a truckle-bed and
somewhat short, and one of the feet broken and
rotten, by violence was turned upside down, and I
likewise was overwhelmed and covered lying in the

" Then perceived I in myself, that certain effects
of the mind by nature are turned contrary. For as
tears oftentimes are shed for joy, so I being in this
fearful perplexity could not forbear laughing, to see
how of Aristomenes I was made like unto a tortoise.
And while I lay on the ground covered in the happy
protection of my pallet, I peeped from under the bed



rei sit grabatuli sollertia munitus opperior, video
rnulieres duas altioris aetatis ; lucernam lucidam
gerebat una, spongiam et nudum gladium altera ;
hoc habitu Socratem bene quietum circumstetere.
Infit ilia cum gladio * Hie est, soror Panthia, carus
Endymion, hie Catamitus metis, qui diebus ac
noctibus illusit aetatulam meam : hie, qui meis
araoribus subterhabitis non solum me diffamat pro-
bris, verum etiam fugam instruit. At ego scilicet
Ulixi astu deserta vice Calypsonis aeternam soli-
tudinem flebo.' Et porrecta dextera meque Panthiae
suae demonstrate, 'At hie bonus' inquit ' Consiliator
Aristomenes, qui fugae huius auctor fuit, et nunc
morti proximus iam humi prostratus grabatulo suc-
cubans iacet, et haec omnia conspicit, impune se
laturum meas conturnelias putat. Faxo eum sero,
immo statim, immo vero iam nunc tit et praecedentis
dicacitatis et instantis curiositatis paeniteat.'
13 " Haec ego ut accepi, sudore frigido miser perfluo
tremore viscera quatior, ut grabatulus etiam suc-
cussu meo 1 inquietus super dorsum meum palpitando
saltaret. At bona Panthia ' Quin igitur ' inquit
' Soror, hunc primum bacchatim discerpimus vel
membris eius destinatis virilia desecamus ? ' Ad
haec Meroe (sic enim reapse nomen eius tune fabulis
Socratis convenire sentiebam) ' Immo ' ait ' Supersit
hie saltern, qui miselli huius corpus parva contumulet
Immo,' et capite Socratis in alterum dimoto latus

i The MSS appear to have succuasus sum to. The correction
is due to Helm.



to see what would happen. And behold there entered
two old women, the one bearing a burning torch,
and the other a sponge and a naked sword. And so
in this habit they stood about Socrates being fast
asleep. Then she which bare the sword said unto
the other : ' Behold, sister Panthia, this is my dear
Endymion and my sweet Ganymede, which both day
and night hath abused my wanton youthfulness ;
this is he (who little regarding my love) doth not
only defame me with reproachful words, but also
intendeth to run away. And I shall be forsaken by
like craft as Ulysses did use, and shall continually
bewail my solitariness as Calypso'; which said she
pointed towards me, that lay under the bed, and
shewed me to Panthia. 'This is he,' quoth she,
' Which is his good counsellor, Aristomenes, and
persuadeth him to forsake me, and now (being at
the point of death) he lieth prostrate on the ground
covered with his bed, and hath seen all our doings,
and hopeth to escape scot-free from my hands for all
his insults ; but I will cause that he shall repent
himself too late, nay rather forthwith of his former
intemperate language and his present curiosity.'

"Which words when I heard, I fell into a cold
sweat, and my heart trembled with fear, in so much
that the bed over me did likewise rattle and shake
and dance with my trembling. Then spake Panthia
unto Meroe, and said : ' Sister, let us by and by tear
him in pieces, or else tie him by the members and
so cut them off.' Then Meroe (for thus I learned
that her name really was that which I had heard in
Socrates' tale) answered : ' Nay, rather let him live,
to bury the corpse of this poor wretch in some hole
of the earth,' and therewithal she turned the head
of Socrates on the other side, and thrust her sword
"* 23


per iugulum sinistrum capulo terms gladium
totum ei demergit, et sanguinis eruptionem
utriculo admoto excipit diligenter, ut nulla stilla
compareret usquam : haec ego meis oculis aspexi. Nam
etiam, ne quid demutaret, credo, a victimae religione,
immissa dextera per vulnus illud ad viscera penitus,
cor miseri contubernalis mei Meroe bona scrutata
protulit, cum ille impetu teli praesecata gula vocem,
immo stridorem incertum per vulnus effunderet
et spiritum rebulliret. Quod vulnus qua maxime
patebat spongia offulciens Panthia 'Heus tu ' inquit
' Spongia, cave in mari nata per fluvium transeas.'
His editis abeunt : remoto grabatulo varicus super
faciem meara residentes vesicam exonerant, quoad
me urinae spurcissimae madore perluerent.
1 4 "Commodum limen evaserant, et fores ad pristinum
staturh integrae resurgunt ; cardines ad foramina
resident, postes ad repagula redeunt, ad claustra
pessuli recurrunt. At ego ut eram etiam mine luimi
proiectus, inanimis, nudus et frigidus et lotio per-
litus, quasi recens utero matris editus, immo vero
semimortuus, verum etiam ipse mihi supervivens et
postumus, vel certe destinatae iam cruci candidates,
' Quid ' inquani ' De me fiet, ubi iste iugulatus
mane paruerit ? Cui videbor verisimilia dicere pro-
ferens vera ? " Proclamares saltern suppetiatum, si
resistere vir tantus mulieri nequibas : sub oculis tuis


up to the hilt into the left part of his neck, and
received the blood that gushed out with a small
bladder, that no drop thereof fell beside ; this thing
I saw with mine own eyes ; and then Meroe, to the
intent (as I think) she might alter nothing that per-
taineth to sacrifice, which she accustomed to make,
thrust her hand down through that wound into the
entrails of his body, and searching about, at length
brought forth the heart of my miserable companion
Socrates, who (having his throat cut in such sort)
gave out a doleful cry by the wound, or rather a
gasping breath, and gave up the ghost. Then Panthia
stopped the wide wound of his throat with the sponge
and said : * O, sponge sprung and made of the sea,
beware that thou pass not over a running river.'
This being said, they moved and turned up my bed,
and then they strode over me and staled upon me
till I was wringing wet.

" When this was ended, they went their ways and
the doors closed fast, the hinges sank in their old
sockets, the bolts ran into the doorposts, the pins
fell into the bars again. But I that lay upon the
ground, like one without soul, naked and cold and
wringing wet with filth, like to one that were newly
born, or rather, one that were more than half dead,
yet reviving myself, and appointed as I thought for
the gallows, began to say : 'Alas, what shall become
of me to-morrow when my companion shall be found
murdered here in the chamber ? To whom shall I
seem to tell any similitude of truth, when as I shall
tell the truth indeed ? They will say : " If thou,
being so great a man, wert unable to resist the
violence of the woman, yet shouldst thou have cried
at least for help ; wilt thou suffer the man to be
slain before thy face and say nothing ? Or why did


homo iugulatur, et siles ? Cur autem te simile latro-
cinium non peremit ? Cur saeva crudelitas vel propter
indicium sceleris arbitro pepercit ? Ergo quoniam
evasisti mortem, nunc illo redi." '

" Haec identidem mecum replicabam, et nox ibat in
diem : optimum itaque factu visum est anteluculo
furtim evadere et viam licet trepido vestigio capes-
sere. Sumo sarcinulam meam, subdita clavi pessulos
reduco: at illae probae et fideles ianuae, quae sua
sponte reseratae nocte fuerant, vix tandem et aeger-
rime tune clavis suae crebra immissione patefiunt.
15 Et ' Heus tu, ubi es?' inquam : ' Valvas stabuli
absolve, antelucio volo ire.' Janitor pone stabuli
ostium humi cubitans, etiam nunc semisomnus
' Quid ? Tu ' inquit ' Ignoras latronibus infestari
vias, qui hoc noctis iter incipis ? Nam etsi tu,
alicuius facinoris tibi conscius scilicet, mori cupis,
nos cucurbitae caput non habemus ut pro te moria-
mur.' ' Non longe ' inquam ' Lux abest : et prae-
terea quid viatori de summa pauperie latrones auferre
possunt ? An ignoras, inepte, nudum nee a decem
palaestritis despoliari posse ? ' Ad haec ille marci-
dus et semisopitus in alterum latus evolutus ' Unde
autem ' inquit ' Scio an convectore illo tuo, cum quo
sero devorteras, iugulato fugae mandes praesidium ? '
" Illud horae memini me terra dehiscente ima Tar-
tara inque his canem Cerberum prorsus esurientem
mei prospexisse : ac recordabar profecto bonam
Meroen non misericordia iugulp meo pepercisse sed


not they slay thee likewise ? Why did their cruelty
spare thee that stood by and saw them commit that
horrible fact ? Wherefore although thou hast escaped
their hands, yet thou shalt not escape ours." '

" While I pondered these things often with myself
the night passed on into day, so I thought best to
take my horse secretly before dawn and go fearfully
forward on my journey. Thus I took up my packet,
unlocked and unbarred the doors, but those good and
faithful doors which in the night did open of their
own accord could then scarcely be opened with their
keys after frequent trials, and when I was out I
cried : ' Ho, sirrah ostler, where art thou ? Open
the stable door, for I will ride away before dawn.'
The ostler lying behind the stable door upon a pallet
and half asleep, ' What ? ' quoth he, ' Do not you
know that the ways be very dangerous with robbers ?
What mean you to set forth at this time of night?
If you perhaps (guilty of some heinous crime) be
weary of your life, yet think you not that we are
such pumpkin-headed sots that we will die for you.'
Then said I : ' It is well nigh day, and moreover what
can thieves take from him that hath nothing ? Dost
not thou know (fool as thou art) that if thou be naked,
if ten trained wrestlers should assail thee, they could
not spoil or rob thee ? ' Whereunto the drowsy ostler
half asleep, and turning on the other side, answered :
' What know I whether you have murdered your
companion whom you brought in yesternight or no,
and now seek safety by escaping away ? '

"O Lord, at that time I remember that the ?arth
seemed to open, and that I saw at Hell gate the dog
Cerberus gaping to devour me, and then I verily
believed that Meroe did not spare my throat, moved
with pity, but rather cruelly pardoned me to bring



16 saevitia cruci me reservasse. In cubiculum itaque
reversus de genere tumultuario mortis mecum deli-
berabam. Sed cum nullum aliud telum mortiferum
Fortuna quam solum mihigrabatulum subministraret,
'lam iam grabatule ' inquam 'Animo meo caris-
sime, qui mecum tot aerumnas exanclasti, conscius
et arbiter quae nocte gesta sunt, quern solum in meo
reatu testem innocentiae citare possum, tu mihi ad
inferos festinanti submiiiistra telum salutare ' ; et
cum dicto restim, qua erat intextus, aggredior ex-
pedire ac tigillo, quod fenestrae subditum altrinsecus
prominebat, iniecta atque obdita parte fuiiiculi et
altera firmiter in iiodum coacta, ascenso grabatulo
ad exitium sublimatus et immisso l capite laqueum
induo. Sed dum pede altera fulcimentum quo sus-
tinebar repello, ut ponderis deductu restis ad inglu-
viem astricta spiritus officia discluderet, repente
putris alioquin et vetus funis dirumpitur, atque ego
de alto recidens Socratem nam iuxta me iacebat

17 superruo cumque eo in terrain devolvor. Et ecce
in ipso momento ianitor introrumpit exerte clami-
tans 'Ubi es tu, qui alta nocte immodice festi-
nabas, et mine stertis involutus ? ' Ad haec nescio an
casu nostro an illius absono clamore experrectus
Socrates exsurgit prior, et ' Nee ' inquit ' Immerito
stabularios hos omnes hospites detestantur. Nam
iste curiosus dum importune irrumpit credo studio
rapiendi aliquid clamore vasto marcidum alioquin
me altissimo somno excussit.'

1 Oudendorp's correction for the MSS' misso.


me to the gallows. Wherefore, I returned to my
chamber and there devised with myself in what
violent sort I should finish my life. But when I saw
that fortune would minister unto me no other instru-
ment than my bed, I said : ' O bed, O bed, most
dear unto me at this present, which hast abode and
suffered with me so many miseries, judge and arbiter
of such things as were done here this night, whom
only I may call to witness for my innocence, render
(I say) unto me some wholesome weapon to end my
life that am most willing to die.' And therewithal
I pulled out a piece of the rope wherewith the bed
was corded, and tied one end thereof about a rafter
which stood forth beneath the window, and with the
other end I made a sliding knot and stood upon my
bed to cast myself from aloft into destruction, and so
put my neck into it. But when I pushed away with
my foot that which supported me beneath, so that
the noose when my weight came upon it might choke
the passage of my breath, behold suddenly the rope
being old and rotten burst in the middle, and I fell
down tumbling upon Socrates that lay nigh me, and
with him i-olled upon the floor. And even at that
very time the ostler came in crying with a loud
voice, and said : ' Where are you that made such
haste at deep night, and now lie wallowing and
snoring abed ? ' Whereupon (I know not whether
it was by our fall or by the harsh cry of the ostler)
Socrates (as waking out of a sleep) did rise up first
and said : ' It is not without cause that strangers
do speak evil of all such ostlers, for this caitiff' in
his coming in, and with his ci'ying out, I think
under colour to steal away something, hath waked
me, that was beside very weary, out of a sound



" Emerge laetus atque alacer insperato gaudio per-
fusus, et ' Ecce, ianitor fidelissime, comes et pater
meus et frater meus, quern nocte ebrius occisum a
me calumniabaris,' et cum dicto Socraten deosculabar
amplexus : at ille odore alioquin spurcissimi humoris
percussus, quo me Lamiae illae infecerant, vehementer
aspernatur : ' Apage te ' inquit ' Fetorem extremae
latrinae,' et causas coepit huius odoris comiter in-
quirere. At ego miser afficto ex tempore absurdo
ioco in alium sermonem interitionem eius denuo
derivo et iniecta dextra ' Quin imus ' inquam ' Et
itineris matutini gratiam capimus.' Sumo sarcinu-
lam et pretio mansionis stabulario persoluto capessi
mus viam.

18 " Aliquantum processeramus et iam iubaris exortu
cuncta collustrantur, et ego curiose sedulo arbitrabar
iugulum comitis,qua parte gladium delapsum videram,
et mecum ' Vesane/ aio ' Qui poculis et vino sepul-
tus extrema somniasti. Ecce Socrates integer, sanus,
incolumis. Ubi vulnus ? Spongia ubi ? Ubi pos-
tremum cicatrix tarn alta, tarn recens ? ' et ad ilium
' Ne ' inquam ' Immerito medici fidi cibo et crapula
distentos saeva e. gi-avia somniare autumant : mini
denique quod poculis vesperi minus temperavi, nox
acerba diras et truces imagines obtulit, ut adhuc me
credam cruore humano aspersum atque impiatum.'


"Then I rose up joyful, as I hoped not to be, with
A merry countenance, saying : ' Behold, good ostler,
my friend, my companion and my brother whom
thou being drunken in the night didst falsely affirm
to be murdered by me.' And therewithal I embraced
my friend Socrates and kissed him ; but he smelling
the stink wherewith those hags had embrued me,
thrust me away and said : ' Away with thee with
thy filthy odour,' and then he began gently to
enquire how that noisome scent happened unto me,
but I (with some light jest feigning and colouring
the matter for the time) did break off his talk into
another path, and take him by the hand and said :
< Why tarry we ? Why leave we the pleasure of this
fair morning ? Let us go.' And so I took up my
packet, and pa:d the charges of the house, and we

" We had not gone a mile out of the town but it
was broad day, and then I diligently looked upon
Socrates' throat to see if I could espy the place
where Meroe thrust in her sword, and I thought with
myself : ' What a madman am I, that (being overcome
with wine yesternight) have dreamed such terrible
things ! Behold, I see Socrates is sound, safe and in
health. Where is his wound ? Where is the sponge ?
Where is his great and new cut ? ' And then I spake
to him and said : ' Verily it is not without occasion
that physicians of experience do affirm, that such as
fill their gorges abundantly with meat and drink
shall dream of dire and horrible sights, for I myself
(not restraining mine appetite yesternight from the
pots of wine) did seem to see in this bitter night
strange and cruel visions, that even yet I think
myself sprinkled and wet with human blood ' ;
whereunto Socrates laughing, made answer and said :



Ad haec ille subridens ' At tu ' inquit 'Non sanguine
sed lotio perfusus es, verum tamen et ipse per som-
nium iugulari visus sum mihi. Nam et iugulum istum
dolui et cor ipsum mihi avelli putavi et nunc etiam
spiritu deficior et genua quatior et gradu titubo et
aliquid cibatus refovendo spiritu desidero.' ' En '
inquam ' Paratum tibi adest ientaculum/ et cum
dicto manticam meam humero exuo, caseum cum
pane propere ei porrigo, et ' luxta platanum istam
residamus ' aio.

19 "Quo facto et ipse aliquki indidem sumo, eumque
avide esitantem aspicio aliquanto intentiore macie
atque pallore buxeo deficientem video. Sic denique
eum vitalis color turbaverat ut mihi prae metu,
nocturnas etiam Furias illas imaginanti, frustulum
panis quod primum sumpseram, quamvis admodum
modicum, niediis faucibus inhaereret, ac neque
deorsum demeare neque sursum remeare posset.
Nam et crebritas ipsa commeantium metum mihi
cumulabat : quis enim de duobus comitum alterum
sine alterius noxa peremptum crederet ? Verum ille,

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