Apuleius, Apology

Apuleius of Madauros (born c. 123 AD, d. c. 170) is best known as the author of the Metamorphoses, otherwise known (since Augustine's time) as The Golden Ass. He was a poet, philosopher, and rhetorician from whom numerous works survive (some of doubtful authenticity). The extraordinary interest of the Metamorphoses has been rewarded by abundant modern scholarly study,* but his other works have never received the attention they deserve.

This web site is an attempt to redress that balance as part of an experiment in philology, pedagogy, and scholarly discourse. The text at hand is the Apologia of Apuleius, the declamation by which he defended himself on a capital charge of at least magic and possibly murder, all apparently arising out of jealousies raised by his marriage to a distinguished older woman. This site has been created by and through the work of a seminar conducted in the spring of 1996 at the University of Pennsylvania, with additional participation by colleagues elsewhere. I am particularly grateful to Thomas McCreight of Loyola College, Baltimore, for collegial advice (not always heeded) and for joining the seminar in Philadelphia for one memorable afternoon.

This site is one presentation of this text, including translation and illustrative essays by seminar members. For further reading and more detailed presentation, see first an excellent description of the text and its place in ancient cultural history: R. Helm, "Apuleius' Apologie -- ein Meisterwerk der zweiten Sophistik," Das Altertum 1(1955) 86-108; a more current survey and discussion is that of B.L. Hijmans Jr., "Apuleius orator: 'Pro se de Magia' and 'Florida'", in Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt 2.34.2 (1994) 1708-84. On the magical content, explicit and implicit, the classic work is that of A. Abt, Die Apologie von Apuleius von Madaura und die antike Zauberei. Beiträge zur Erläuterung der Schrift de magia (Giessen, 1908, rep. Berlin 1967), but see now F. Graf, La magie dans l'antiquité gréco-romaine. Idéologie et pratique (Paris 1994: English translation, Harvard University Press, 1997). Any close study of the text will begin with the commentary of H.E. Butler and A.S. Owen, Apulei apologia sive Pro se de magia liber (Oxford 1914, rep. Hildesheim 1967), now supplemented by the commentary of Vincent Hunink, Apuleius of Madauros: Pro Se de Magia (Amsterdam, J.C. Gieben, 1997, in two volumes). Hunink's general introduction is available on-line. For the origins of the work, see T. Winter, "The Publication of Apuleius' Apology," TAPA 100(1969) 607-612.

J.J. O'Donnell

Credits: Doctoral candidates whose work is included in the current version of the site include Carlos Norena, Elizabeth Pollard, William Murad, Gil Renberg, Neil Bernstein, and Andrew Wiesner, while Chris Hoffman participated at a distance. Hal Wyner's participation was essential to the spirit of the seminar and is represented below by "a few irreverent thoughts". The translation was prepared collegially: all participants shared in drafting individual sections, which were then gathered, reworked, and presented with a certain venturesomeness by Amey Hutchins and Lana Schwebel. The web site could not have been presented so functionally or elegantly without the talented assistance of James Renfro.

See James Tatum, Apuleius and The golden ass (Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1979), Carl C. Schlam. The Metamorphoses of Apuleius: On Making an Ass of Oneself. (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1992.), and above all and most memorably John J. Winkler, Auctor & actor : a narratological reading of Apuleius' Golden ass (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985).