Apuleius: Latin Literary Master

The city of M’Daourouch in Algeria used to be known as Madaurus, and is the birthplace of the famous Apuleius, who was born in c 125. He is also referred to as Lucius Apuleius and was of Berber descent. His studies overseas gave him the necessary knowledge and developed his talent to make him one of the most respected Latin prose writers. He was also known to be involved in various mysterious events and cults, but by the time of his death in c 180 he was only remembered and praised for his literary work.

While in Athens, Apuleius studied Platonist philosophy. He also traveled to countries such as Egypt, Italy and Asia Minor. He was able to study overseas, studying philosophy, religion and Latin oratory, due to the inheritance from his father, who was a provincial magistrate. Apuleius’ father left his two sons the staggering amount of almost two million sesterces.

Unfortunately many of his works did not survive the ages in their complete form. However, his novel Metamorphoses, also referred to as The Golden Ass, not only survived in complete form but would became his most famous work. He is often called Lucius Apuleius, as Lucius is the name of the main character of his novel The Golden Ass. The storyline of The Golden Ass tells the tale of Lucius, and the adventure he goes on when he accidently turns himself into an ass while experimenting with magical spells. He does eventually escape his unusual predicament, but while an ass he experiences strange happenings, giving the novel an adventurous tone.

It is also believed that because of the nature of this novel and his cult connections that he was accused of having the power to lure a rich widow into his favor with magic. Apuleius was connected to the Isis cult, being a priest of Aesculapius and the Dionysian mysteries. It was said that he convinced Pudentilla, the wealthy widow, to marry him, when he fell ill in Oea (known today as Tripoli) on his way home. The matter did go to court, but was dismissed.

Apuleius was devoted to his literary work and did appear in public at times, where his speeches gained him great favor and applause. He made such an impact and impression on the public and senate that even monuments were erected in his honor. Some of his other literary works include Apologia, On Plato and his Doctrine, On the Universe and De Deo Socratis. His work also included papers on medicine, music, fiction, agriculture and astronomy.