The Roman Empire contained many different languages within its far-flung borders. North Africa was certainly no exception. In addition to the indigenous languages which were spoken in Tripolitania, the period of Carthaginian domination (ca. 600 - 200 B. C.) gave rise to Punic as a common dialect, and Greek was not unknown. The Romans naturally brought Latin along with their legions to the area. This multiplicity of languages is reflected in the Apologia. Apuleius uses language not only as a too l for his defense, but also as a weapon against his opponents. Before we examine the function of language in Apuleius' defense, let us consider briefly what we know about the various languages of Tripolitania. The native language of North Africa may for practical purposes be called "Libyan," but no ancient source actually names the language. By the time of Apuleius' trial (A.D. 158), the utility of this dialect had been reduced to a couple of formulae which ar e found on inscriptions, and there is no evidence that it was in common use at all. There is some literary evidence that Punic survived throughout the imperial period as a common language in North Africa. Punic was a Semitic language which was closely r elated to Biblical Hebrew, and it is now the common view that it was the vernacular language in Tripolitania. Extended Punic inscriptions appear roughly up to the end of the second century A.D., and there are indications that Punic, in some form, continued to be inscribed (in Latin lettering) until the end of the fourth century. Evidence for the use of Greek is slim in the extreme. It is likely that this language was confined to only the most educated members of the local aristocracy, such as L. Septimius Severus of Lepcis Magna, the Roman emperor from 193 -211 A.D., who spoke Punic, Latin (albeit with an accent, cf. Historia Augusta Sept.Sev. 19.9), and Greek. An inscription from A.D. 229 (CIL 8.8500) confirms that knowledge of both Greek and Latin was considered a high achievement (studiis utriusque linguae perfecte eruditus). Latin was of course the language of official discourse, and, as is likely, the language of culture. It is impossible to discern, however, to what extent Latin replaced Punic as the common language in North Africa. Near the beginning of his speech (ch. 4), Apuleius reminds his audience that he has been accused of eloquence -- in both Latin and Greek ("accusamus...te...tam Graece quam Latine... disertissimum"). Apuleius is evidently proud of his linguistic accomplishments: a quote from Homer, read aloud in Greek, serves as part of his response to the accusation. But this is by no means the end of Apuleius' boasting. In the middle of a rather lengthy digression on his accomplishments in the field of ichthyology, Apuleius mentions that he is writing on the subject in both Latin and Greek (ch. 36). What is more, Apuleius claims that he is attempting to write in a more organized and concise manner than even Aristotle or Plato could manage (praesertim cum ordinatius et cohibilius eadem Graece et Latine adnitar conscribere). The culmination of this linguistic parade comes when Apuleius produces in the courtroom a volume of his Greek writings on the subject of ichthyology (ch. 36), followed by a collection of his Latin translations (ch. 38). Leaving nothing to the imagination, Apuleius has excerpts from both works read aloud. Apuleius' command of the Latin language is evidenced by the mere fact of his presenting his defense in Latin, and the myriad references to Greek authors throughout the speech reinforce the impression of his fluency in Greek. Apuleius makes numerous allusions to the erudition of Claudius Maximus, and it is clear that Apuleius' claim to linguistic achievement is an attempt to ally himself with the "learned" judge. In fact, Apuleius quite openly seeks to exploit an intellectual and cultural gradient between the educated judge and his boorish accusers. For, as we are about to see, Apuleius' facility in two languages also serves to put his opponents' linguistic inferiority in high relief. Apuleius never launches an all-out assault on the shabby linguistic resume of his accusers. Nevertheless, sporadic references to his opponents' lack of familiarity with Greek (and even Latin) indicate that language is an important part of Apuleius' overall scheme of invective. Again discussing his study of fish (ch. 30), Apuleius quotes a passage from Vergil, and then tells Tannonius Pudens that he would have quoted similar passages from Theocritus, Homer, and Orpheus, and from Greek comic poets, tragedians, and historians, if he had not noticed that Tannonius was unable to read Pudentilla's Greek letter (memorassem tibi etiam Theocriti paria et alia Homeri et Orphei plurima, et ex comoediis et tragoediis Graecis et ex historiis multa repetissem, ni te dudum animadvertissem Graecam Pudentillae epistulam legere nequivisse). Later in his defense Apuleius accuses his accusers of having forged a letter which they claimed he had written (ch. 87). Their crucial blunder, however, was writing the letter in a barbarous Greek far beneath Apuleian standards (cur praeterea tam vitiosis verbis, tam barbaro sermone ego scriberem, quem idem dicunt nequaquam Graecae linguae imperitum?). Finally, and perhaps most damning to the opposition, Apuleius note s (ch. 98) that Sicinius Pudens, in whose name the accusation had been brought, could only speak Punic, with a touch of Greek which he had been taught by his mother -- but that he spoke no Latin (loquitur nunquam nisi Punice et si quid adhuc a matre graecissat; enim Latine loqui neque vult neque potest)! Apuleius then recalls with horror how Pudens could barely stammer out a couple of syllables (vix singulas syllabas fringultientem) when questioned by Claudius Maximus. So language plays a crucial role in Apuleius' defense. It is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Pudentilla's letter, one of the physical pieces of evidence on which the entire case hinges, is written in Greek (ch. 83). Because the actual meaning of what Pudentilla has written is subject to debate, Apuleius' claim to linguistic superiority in Greek, a claim reinforced repeatedly throughout the speech, invests his interpretation of the letter with a certain authority. In addition, Pudentilla's capacity to write a letter in Greek further diminishes the perceived competence of Apuleius' accusers in the field of language. And this in turn allows Apuleius to ally himself with the bilingual Claudius Maximus against his unlettered accusers -- a fundamental strategy to his overall defense.

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