Is Apuleius a Roman? The simplicity of the question belies its complexity. The answer to the question, if an answer exists, is of course a matter of perspective. As a second century A.D. rhetorician who lived within the borders of the Roman empire and who wrote in Latin, Apuleius certainly qualifies as a Roman in the eyes of the modern observer. If Apuleius does indeed come from a colony, as he claims in chapter 24 (splendidissima colonia sumus), then his juridical status is that of a Roman citizen. It must be noted, however, that even as a Roman citizen in a Roman court of law, in front of the Roman proconsul Claudius Maximus, Apuleius never once identifies himself explicitly as a Roman. This seeming oversight requires attention. Immediately prior to addressing the main charge of magic, Apuleius very briefly discusses his background (ch. 24). He notes that his accusers have asserted, based on his own writings, that his birthplace is at the border of Numidia and Gaetulia (De patria mea vero, quod eam sitam Numidiae et Gaetuliae in ipso confinio meis scriptis ostendistis). We are told by Augustine (City of God 8.14) that Apuleius was born at Madaurus, a colony in the south of Numidia (cf. CIL 8.4672, where Madaurus is attested as a colonia). Apuleius admits that he has in fact described himself, in a public speech, as half Numidian, half Gaetulian (Seminumidam et Semigaetulum). The Numidae were a large and powerful confederation of tribes west of Tripolitania. The Gaetuli were pastoralists who lived along the coastal hinterland, but the name "Gaetuli" eventually became synonymous with all the tribes living in the pre-desert beyond the perimeter of sedentary civilization. Pliny's account of North Africa (5.24-39) reveals a schematic organization of tribes based on their location. The barbarism of the tribes was a measure of their distance from the Mediterranean coast, with the furthest tribes (i.e. those of the deepest interior) considered the most barbaric. We should expect, then, that Apuleius' accusers reproached him for his perceived barbarism, and in fact Apuleius asks his accusers (ch. 25) how they can fault him simultaneously for Greek eloquence and barbarian birth (eloquentiam Graecam, patriam barbaram). Apuleius declares that he has no reason to be ashamed of his mixed descent (ch. 24), and he compares himself to Cyrus, who was half Mede, half Persian (non video quid mihi sit in ea re pudendum, haud minus quam Cyro maiori, quod genere mixto fuit Semimedus ac Semipersa). More important to Apuleius' self-presentation, however, is his statement that character and not birthplace must serve as the true mark of a man's worth (non enim ubi prognatus, sed ut moratus quisque sit spectandum). Apuleius adduces Anacharsis, the wise Scyth, and Meletides, the idiotic Athenian, as examples of men whose characters were diametrically opposed to their places of origin. The reference to Anacharsis is particularly revealing. From Herodotus (4.76-7) we learn that Anacharsis, after traveling among the Greeks and acquiring vast knowledge, was put to death by the Scythians for attempting to introduce the foreign cult of Magna Mater. The parallels with Apuleius' own situation are evident, and it is not impossible that Apuleius is seeking to ally himself, notionally, with the Scythian sage. So Apuleius does not deny that he comes from a place which, in the eyes of his accusers and the people of Sabratha, seems "barbarian." He mentions only that he comes from a colony (a status to which Sabratha had not yet attained), and he claims that his father had served there as duumvir (ch. 24). But regardless of whatever status his family might have had in Madaurus, his status in Sabratha was that of an outsider. For Apuleius to claim he was a Roman in Sabratha would be not unlike a small-tow n Oklahoman wandering into a Cuban neighborhood in Miami and pointing out that he was an American. A claim to "Roman" status in Sabratha would have had little or no weight. This is not to say, however, that Apuleius is content to define himself as nothing more than a Numidian/Gaetulian hybrid who happens to have come from a colonia. Apuleius' frequent quotation of such authors as Homer, Plato, and Vergil, in addition to strengthening his various arguments, allows Apuleius to posit himself in their elite company. This intellectual group is emblematic of the heights of Graeco-Roman culture and transcends mere romanitas. By portraying himself as a man of letters, Apuleius can also portray himself as a man of the world. Only in the strictest technical sense, then, can we call Apuleius a Roman. Although he was by law a Roman citizen, I strongly suspect that Apuleius did not think of himself as a Roman, and his decision not to identify himself as a Roman in a speech deliv ered before a Roman proconsul in a Roman court of law suggests that "Roman" was not an important social category in Sabratha in 158. Apuleius was, to be sure, a Roman citizen, and he also admitted to being half Numidian, half Gaetulian, but if he were as ked to define himself, he probably would have answered, simply, "I am a disciple of Plato."

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