Apuleius : biography
Apuleius ( sometimes called Lucius Apuleius; c. 125 – c. 180 C.E.) was a Latin prose writer. He was Numidian Berber,"Berbers: … The best known of them were the Roman author Apuleius, the Roman emperor Septimius Severus, and St. Augustine", Encyclopedia Americana, Scholastic Library Publishing, 2005, v.3, p.569 from Madaurus (now M’Daourouch, Algeria). He studied Platonist philosophy in Athens; travelled to Italy, Asia Minor and Egypt; and was an initiate in several cults or mysteries. The most famous incident in his life was when he was accused of using magic to gain the attentions (and fortune) of a wealthy widow. He declaimed and then distributed a witty tour de force in his own defense before the proconsul and a court of magistrates convened in Sabratha, near Tripoli. This is known as the Apologia.
His most famous work is his bawdy picaresque novel, the Metamorphoses, otherwise known as The Golden Ass. It is the only Latin novel that has survived in its entirety. It relates the ludicrous adventures of one Lucius, who experiments with magic and is accidentally turned into a donkey.
Apuleius was born in Madaurus (now M’Daourouch, Algeria), a Roman colony in Numidia on the North African coast, bordering Gaetulia, and he described himself as "half-Numidian half-Gaetulian."Apuleius, Apology, 24 Madaurus was the same colonia where Saint Augustine later received part of his early education, and, though located well away from the Romanized coast, is today the site of some pristine Roman ruins. As to his first name, no praenomen is given in any ancient source;P. G. Walsh, (1999) The Golden Ass, page xi. Oxford University Press. late-medieval manuscripts began the tradition of calling him Lucius from the name of the hero of his novel.Julia Haig Gaisser, (2008), The fortunes of Apuleius and the Golden Ass: a study in transmission and Reception, page 69. Princeton University Press. Details regarding his life come mostly from his defense speech (Apology) and his work Florida, which consists of snippets taken from some of his best speeches.
His father was a provincial magistrate (duumvir) who bequeathed at his death the sum of nearly two millions of sesterces to his two sons.Apuleius, Apology, 23 Apuleius studied with a master at Carthage (where he later settled) and later at Athens, where he studied Platonist philosophy among other subjects. He subsequently went to RomeApuleius, Florida, 17.4 to study Latin rhetoric and, most likely, to declaim in the law courts for a time before returning to his native North Africa. He also travelled extensively in Asia Minor and Egypt, studying philosophy and religion, burning up his inheritance while doing so.
Apuleius was an initiate in several cults or mysteries, including the Dionysian mysteries.As he proudly claims in his Apologia. (Winter, Thomas Nelson (2006) ) He was a priest of AesculapiusApuleius, Florida 16.38 and 18.38 and, according to Augustine,Augustine, Epistle 138.19. sacerdos provinciae Africae (i. e. priest of the province of Carthage).
Not long after his return home he set out upon a new journey to Alexandria.Apuleius, Apology, 72. On his way there he was taken ill at the town of Oea (modern-day Tripoli) and was hospitably received into the house of Sicinius Pontianus, with whom he had been friends when he had studied in Athens. The mother of Pontianus, Pudentilla, was a very rich widow. With her son’s consent – indeed encouragement – Apuleius agreed to marry her.Apuleius, Apology, 73 Meanwhile Pontianus himself married the daughter of one Herennius Rufinus; he, indignant that Pudentilla’s wealth should pass out of the family, instigated his son-in-law, together with a younger brother, Sicinius Pudens, a mere boy, and their paternal uncle, Sicinius Aemilianus, to join him in impeaching Apuleius upon the charge that he had gained the affections of Pudentilla by charms and magic spells.Apuleius, Apology, 53, 66, 70, etc The case was heard at Sabratha, near Tripoli, c. 158 CE, before Claudius Maximus, proconsul of Africa.Apuleius, Apology, 1, 59, 65 The accusation itself seems to have been ridiculous, and the spirited and triumphant defence spoken by Apuleius is still extant. This is known as the Apologia (A Discourse on Magic).