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The Defense

By Apuleius
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The Defense

By Apuleius

Translated by H. E. Butler

    Table of Contents

Section 1
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Part 1

For my part, Claudius Maximus, and you, gentlemen who sit beside him on the bench, I regarded it as a foregone conclusion that Sicinius Aemilianus would for sheer lack of any real ground for accusation cram his indictment with mere vulgar abuse; for the old rascal is notorious for his unscrupulous audacity, and, further, launched forth on his task of bringing me to trial in your court before he had given a thought to the line his prosecution should pursue. Now while the most innocent of men may be the victim of false accusation, only the criminal can have his guilt brought home to him. It is this thought that gives me special confidence, but I have further ground for self-congratulation in the fact that I have you for my judge on an occasion when it is my privilege to have the opportunity of clearing philosophy of the aspersions cast upon her by the uninstructed and of proving my own innocence. Nevertheless these false charges are on the face of them serious enough, and the suddenness with which they have been improvised makes them the more difficult to refute.

For you will remember that it is only four or five days since his advocates of malice prepense attacked me with slanderous accusations, and began to charge me with practice of the black art and with the murder of my step-son Pontianus. I was at the moment totally unprepared for such a charge, and was occupied in defending an action brought by the brothers Granius against my wife Pudentilla. I perceived that these charges were brought forward not so much in a serious spirit as to gratify my opponents' taste for wanton slander. I therefore straightway challenged them, not once only, but frequently and emphatically, to proceed with their accusation.

The result was that Aemilianus, perceiving that you, Maximus, not to speak of others, were strongly moved by what had occurred, and that his words had created a serious scandal, began to be alarmed and to seek for some safe refuge from the consequences of his rashness.

Part 2

Therefore as soon as he was compelled to set his name to the indictment, he conveniently forgot Pontianus, his own brother's son, of whose death he had been continually accusing me only a few days previously. He made absolutely no mention of the death of his young kinsman; he abandoned this most serious charge, but -- to avoid the appearance of having totally abandoned his mendacious accusations -- he selected, as the sole support of his indictment, the charge of magic -- a charge with which it is easy to create a prejudice against the accused, but which it is hard to prove.

Even that he had not the courage to do openly in his own person, but a day later presented the indictment in the name of my step-son, Sicinius Pudens, a mere boy, adding that he appeared as his representative. This is a new method. He attacks me through the agency of a third person, whose tender age he employs to shield his unworthy self against a charge of false accusation. You, Maximus, with great acuteness saw through his designs and ordered him to renew his original accusation in person. In spite of his promise to comply, he cannot be induced to come to close quarters, but actually defies your authority and continues to skirmish at long range with his false accusations. He persistently shirks the perilous task of a direct attack, and perseveres in his assumption of the safe role of the accuser's legal representative. As a result, even before the case came into court, the real nature of the accusation became obvious to the meanest understanding. The man who invented the charge and was the first to utter it had not the courage to take the responsibility for it. Moreover the man in question is Sicinius Aemilianus, who, if he had discovered any true charge against me, would scarcely have been so backward in accusing a stranger of so many serious crimes, seeing that he falsely asserted his own uncle's will to be a forgery although he knew it to be genuine: indeed he maintained this assertion with such obstinate violence, that even after that distinguished senator, Lollius Urbicus, in accordance with the decision of the distinguished consulars, his assessors, had declared the will to be genuine and duly proven, he continued -- such was his mad fury -- in defiance of the award given by the voice of that most distinguished citizen, to assert with oaths that the will was a forgery. It was only with difficulty that Lollius Urbicus refrained from making him suffer for it.

Part 3

I rely, Maximus, on your sense of justice and on my own innocence, but I hope that in this trial also we shall hear the voice of Lollius raised impulsively in my defence; for Aemilianus is deliberately accusing a man whom he knows to be innocent, a course which comes the more easy to him, since, as I have told you, he has already been convicted of lying in a most important case, heard before the Prefect of the city. Just as a good man studiously avoids the repetition of a sin once committed, so men of depraved character repeat their past offence with increased confidence, and, I may add, the more often they do so, the more openly they display their impudence. For honour is like a garment; the older it gets, the more carelessly it is worn. I think it my duty, therefore, in the interest of my own honour, to refute all my opponent's slanders before I come to the actual indictment itself.

For I am pleading not merely my own cause, but that of philosophy as well, philosophy, whose grandeur is such that she resents even the slightest slur cast upon her perfection as though it were the most serious accusation. Knowing this, Aemilianus' advocates, only a short time ago, poured forth with all their usual loquacity a flood of drivelling accusations, many of which were specially invented for the purpose of blackening my character, while the remainder were such general charges as the uninstructed are in the habit of levelling at philosophers. It is true that we may regard these accusations as mere interested vapourings, bought at a price and uttered to prove their shamelessness worthy of its hire.

It is a recognized practice on the part of professional accusers to let out the venom of their tongues to another's hurt; nevertheless, if only in my own interest, I must briefly refute these slanders, lest I, whose most earnest endeavour it is to avoid incurring the slightest spot or blemish to my fair fame, should seem, by passing over some of their more ridiculous charges, to have tacitly admitted their truth, rather than to have treated them with silent contempt. For a man who has any sense of honour or self-respect must needs -- such at least is my opinion -- feel annoyed when he is thus abused, however falsely. Even those whose conscience reproaches them with some crime, are strongly moved to anger, when men speak ill of them, although they have been accustomed to such ill report ever since they became evildoers. And even though others say naught of their crimes, they are conscious enough that such charges may at any time deservedly be brought against them. It is therefore doubly vexatious to the good and innocent man when charges are undeservedly brought against him which he might with justice bring against others. For his ears are unused and strange to ill report, and he is so accustomed to hear himself praised that insult is more than he can bear.

If, however, I seem to be anxious to rebut charges which are merely frivolous and foolish, the blame must be laid at the door of those, to whom such accusations, in spite of their triviality, can only bring disgrace. I am not to blame. Ridiculous as these charges may be, their refutation cannot but do me honour.

Part 4

To begin then, only a short while ago, at the commencement of the indictment, you heard them say, `He, whom we accuse in your court, is a philosopher of the most elegant appearance and a master of eloquence not merely in Latin but also in Greek!' What a damning insinuation! Unless I am mistaken, those were the very words with which Tannonius Pudens, whom no one could accuse of being a master of eloquence, began the indictment.

I wish that these serious reproaches of beauty and eloquence had been true. It would have been easy to answer in the words, with which Homer makes Paris reply to Hector which I may interpret thus: `The most glorious gifts of the gods are in no wise to be despised; but the things which they are wont to give are withheld from many that would gladly possess them.' Such would have been my reply.

I should have added that philosophers are not forbidden to possess a handsome face. Pythagoras, the first to take the name of `philosopher', was the handsomest man of his day. Zeno also, the ancient philosopher of Velia, who was the first to discover that most ingenious device of refuting hypotheses by the method of self-inconsistency, that same Zeno was -- so Plato asserts -- by far the most striking in appearance of all the men of his generation. It is further recorded of many other philosophers that they were comely of countenance and added fresh charm to their personal beauty by their beauty of character.

But such a defence is, as I have already said, far from me. Not only has nature given me but a commonplace appearance, but continued literary labour has swept away such charm as my person ever possessed, has reduced me to a lean habit of body, sucked away all the freshness of life, destroyed my complexion and impaired my vigour. As to my hair, which they with unblushing mendacity declare I have allowed to grow long as an enhancement to my personal attractions, you can judge of its elegance and beauty. As you see, it is tangled, twisted and unkempt like a lump of tow, shaggy and irregular in length, so knotted and matted that the tangle is past the art of man to unravel. This is due not to mere carelessness in the tiring of my hair, but to the fact that I never so much as comb or part it. I think this is a sufficient refutation of the accusations concerning my hair which they hurl against me as though it were a capital charge.

Part 5

As to my eloquence -- if only eloquence were mine -- it would be small matter either for wonder or envy if I, who from my earliest years to the present moment have devoted myself with all my powers to the sole study of literature and for this spurned all other pleasures, had sought to win eloquence to be mine with toil such as few or none have ever expended, ceasing neither night nor day, to the neglect and impairment of my bodily health. But my opponents need fear nothing from my eloquence. If I have made any real advance therein, it is my aspirations rather than my attainments on which I must base my claim.

Certainly if the aphorism said to occur in the poems of Statius Caecilius be true, that innocence is eloquence itself, to that extent I may lay claim to eloquence and boast that I yield to none. For on that assumption what living man could be more eloquent than myself? I have never even harboured in my thoughts anything to which I should fear to give utterance. Nay, my eloquence is consummate, for I have ever held all sin in abomination; I have the highest oratory at my command, for I have uttered no word, I have done no deed, of which I need fear to discourse in public. I will begin therefore to discourse of those verses of mine, which they have produced as though they were something of which I ought to be ashamed. You must have noticed the laughter with which I showed my annoyance at the absurd and illiterate manner in which they recited them.

Part 6

They began by reading one of my jeux d'esprit, a brief letter in verse, addressed to a certain Calpurnianus on the subject of a tooth-powder. When Calpurnianus produced my letter as evidence against me, his desire to do me a hurt blinded him to the fact that if anything in the letter could be urged as a reproach against me, he shared in that reproach. For the verses testify to the fact that he had asked me to send him the wherewithal to clean his teeth:

Good morrow! Friend Calpurnianus, take
the salutation these swift verses make.
Wherewith I send, responsive to thy call,
a powder rare to cleans thy teeth withal.
This delicate dust of Arab spices fine,
shall smooth the swollen gums and sweep away
the relics of the feast of yesterday.
So shall no foulness, no dark smirch be seen,
if laughter shown thy teeth their lips between.

I ask you, what is there in these verses that is disgusting in point either of matter or of manner? What is there that a philosopher should be ashamed to own? Unless indeed I am to blame for sending a powder made of Arabian spices to Calpurnianus, for whom it would be more suitable that he should

Polish his teeth and ruddy gums,

as Catullus says, after the filthy fashion in vogue among the Iberians.

Part 7

I saw a short while back that some of you could scarcely restrain your laughter, when our orator treated these views of mine on the cleansing of the teeth as a matter for savage denunciation, and condemned my administration of a tooth-powder with fiercer indignation than has ever been shown in condemning the administration of a poison.

Of course it is a serious charge, and one that no philosopher can afford to despise, to say of a man that he will not allow a speck of dirt to be seen upon his person, that he will not allow any visible portion of his body to be offensive or unclean, least of all the mouth, the organ used most frequently, openly and conspicuously by man, whether to kiss a friend, to conduct a conversation, to speak in public, or to offer up prayer in some temple. Indeed speech is the prelude to every kind of action and, as the greatest of poets says, proceeds from `the barrier of our teeth'. If there were any one present here today with like command of the grand style, he might say after his fashion that those above all men who have any care for their manner of speaking, should pay closer attention to their mouth than to any other portion of their body, for it is the soul's antechamber, the portal of speech, and the gathering place where thoughts assemble. I myself should say that in my poor judgement there is nothing less seemly for a freeborn man with the education of a gentleman than an unwashen mouth. For man's mouth is in position exalted, to the eye conspicuous, in use eloquent. True, in wild beasts and cattle the mouth is placed low and looks downward to the feet, is in close proximity to their food and to the path thq tread, and is hardly ever conspicuous save when its owner is dead or infuriated with a desire to bite. But there is no part of man that sooner catches the eye when he is silent, or more often when he speaks.

Part 8

I should be obliged, therefore, if my critic Aemilianus would answer me and tell me whether he is ever in the habit of washing his feet, or, if he admits that he is in the habit of so doing, whether he is prepared to argue that a man should pay more attention to the cleanliness of his feet than to that of his teeth. Certainly, if like you, Aemilianus, he never opens his mouth save to utter slander and abuse, I should advise him to pay no attention to the state of his mouth nor to attempt to remove the stains from his teeth with oriental powders: he would be better employed in rubbing them with charcoal from some funeral pyre. Least of all should he wash them with common water; rather let his guilty tongue, the chosen servant of lies and bitter words, rot in the filth and ordure that it loves! Is it reasonable, wretch, that your tongue should be fresh and clean, when your voice is foul and loathsome, or that, like the viper, you should employ snow-white teeth for the emission of dark, deadly poison? On the other hand it is only right that, just as we wash a vessel that is to hold good liquor, he who knows that his words will be at once useful and agreeable should cleanse his mouth as a prelude to speech.

But why should I speak further of man? Even the crocodile, the monster of the Nile -- so they tell me -- opens his jaws in all innocence, that his teeth may be cleaned. For his mouth being large, tongueless, and continually open in the water, multitudes of leeches become entangled in his teeth: these, when the crocodile emerges from the river and opens his mouth, are removed by a friendly waterbird, which is allowed to insert its beak without any risk to itself.

Part 9

But enough of this! I now come to certain other of my verses, which according to them are amatory; but so vilely and coarsely did they read them as to leave no impression save one of disgust. Now what has it to do with the malpractices of the black art, if I write poems in praise of the boys of my friend Scribonius Laetus? Does the mere fact of my being a poet make me a wizard? Who ever heard any orator produce such likely ground for suspicion, such apt conjectures, such close-reasoned argument? `Apuleius has written verses!' If they are bad, that is something against him as a poet, but not as a philosopher. If they are good, why do you accuse him? `But they were frivolous verses of an erotic character.' So that is the charge you bring against me? and it was a mere slip of the tongue when you indicted me for practising the black art?

And yet many others have written such verse, although you may be ignorant of the fact. Among the Greeks, for instance, there was a certain Teian, there was a Lacedaemonian, a Cean, and countless others; there was even a woman, a Lesbian, who wrote with such grace and such passion that the sweetness of her song makes us forgive the impropriety of her words; among our own poets there were Aedituus, Porcius, and Catulus, with countless others. `But they were not philosophers.' Will you then deny that Solon was a serious man and a philosopher? Yet he is the author of that most wanton verse:

Longing for your thighs and your sweet mouth.

What is there so lascivious in all my verses compared with that one line? I will say nothing of the writings of Diogenes the Cynic, of Zeno the founder of Stoicism, and many other similar instances. Let me recite my own verses afresh, that my opponents may realize that I am not ashamed of them:

Critias my treasure is and you,
light of my life, Charinus, too
hold in my love-tormented heart
your own inalienable part.
Ah! Doubt not! With redoubled spite
though fire on fire consume me quite,
the flames ye kindle, boys divine,
I can endure, so ye be mine.
Only to each may I be dear
as your own selves are, and as near;
grant only this and you shall be
dear as mine own two eyes to be.

Now let me read you the others also which they read last as being the most intemperate in expression.

I lay these garlands, Critias sweet,
and this my song before thy feet;
song to thyself I dedicate,
wreaths to the Angel of thy fate.
The song I send to hymn the praise
of this, the best of all glad days,
whereon the circling seasons bring
the glory of thy fourteenth spring;
the garlands, that thy brows may shine
with splendour worthy spring's and thine,
that thou in boyhood's golden hours
mayst deck the flower of life with flowers.
Wherefore for these bright blooms of spring
thy springtide sweet surrendering,
the tribute of my love repay
and all my gifts with thine outweigh.
Surpass the twined garland's grace
with arms entwined in soft embrace;
the crimson of the rose eclipse
with kisses from thy rosy lips.
Or if thou wilt, be this my meed
and breathe thy soul into the reed; \u00a1!
then shall my songs be shamed and mute
before the music of thy flute.

Part 10

This, Maximus, is what they throw in my teeth, as though it were the work of an infamous rake: verses about garlands and serenades.

You must have noticed also that in this connexion they further attack me for calling these boys Charinus and Critias, which are not their true names. On this principle they may as well accuse Caius Catullus for calling Clodia Lesbia, Ticidas for substituting the name Perilla for that of Metella, Propertius for concealing the name Hostia beneath the pseudonym of Cynthia, and Tibullus for singing of Delia in his verse, when it was Plania who ruled his heart. For my part I should rather blame Caius Lucilius, even allowing him all the license of a satiric poet, for prostituting to the public gaze the boys Gentius and Macedo, whose real names he mentions in his verse without any attempt at concealment. How much more reserved is Mantua's poet, who, when like myself he praised the slave-boy of his friend Pollio in one of his light pastoral poems, shrinks from mentioning real nnames and calls himself Corydon and the boy Alexis.

But Aemilianus, whose rusticity far surpasses that of the Virgilean shepherds and cowherds, who is, in fact, and always has been a boor and a barbarian, though he thinks himself far more austere than Serranus, Curius, or Fabricius, those heroes of the days of old, denies that such verses are worthy of a philosopher who is a follower of Plato. Will you persist in this attitude, Aemilianus, if I can show that my verses were modelled upon Plato? For the only verses of Plato now extant are love-elegies, the reason, I imagine, being that he burned all his other poems because they were inferior in charm and finish. Learn then the verses written by Plato in honour of the boy Aster, though I doubt if at your age it is possible for you to become a man of learning.

Thou wert the morning star among the living
ere thy fair light had fled; --
now having died, thou art as Hesperus giving
new light unto the dead.

There is another poem by Plato dealing conjointly with the boys Alexis and Phaedrus:

I lid but breathe the words `Alexis fair',
and all men gazed on him with wondering eyes,
my soul, why point to questing beasts their prize?
'Twas thus we lost our Phaedrus; ah! Beware!

Without citing any further examples I will conclude by quoting a line addressed by Plato to Dion of Syracuse:

Dion, with love thou hast distraught my soul.

Part 11

Which of us is most to blame? I who am fool enough to speak seriously of such things in a lawcourt? Or you who are slanderous enough to include such charges in your indictment? For sportive effusions in verse are valueless as evidence of a poet's morals. Have you not read Catullus, who replies thus to those who wish him ill:

A virtuous poet must be chaste. Agreed.
But for his verses there is no such need.

The divine Hadrian, when he honoured the tomb of his friend the poet Voconius with an inscription in verse from his own pen, wrote thus:

Thy verse was wanton, but thy soul was chaste,

words which he would never have written had he regarded verse of somewhat too lively a wit as proving their author to be a man of immoral life. I remember that I have read not a few poems by the divine Hadrian himself which were of the same type. Come now, Aemilianus, I dare you to say that that was ill done which was done by an emperor and censor, the divine Hadrian, and once done was recorded for subsequent generations.

But, apart from that, do you imagine that Maximus will censure anything that has Plato for its model, Plato whose verses, which I have just read, are all the purer for being frank, all the more modest for being outspoken? For in these matters and the like, dissimulation and concealment is the mark of the sinner, open acknowledgement and publication a sign that the writer is but exercising his wit. For nature has bestowed on innocence a voice wherewith to speak, but to guilt she has given silence to veil its sin.

Part 12

I say nothing of those lofty and divine Platonic doctrina, that are familiar to but few of the elect and wholly unknown to all the uninitiate, such for instance as that which teaches us that Venus is not one goddess, but two, each being strong in her own type of love and several types of lovers. The one is the goddess of the common herd, who is fired by base and vulgar passion and commands not only the hearts of men, but cattle and wild beasts also, to give themselves over to the gratification of their desires: she strikes down these creatures with fierce intolerable force and fetters their servile bodies in the embraces of lust. The other is a celestial power endued with lofty and generous passion: she cares for none save men, and of them but few; she neither stings nor lures her followers to foul deeds. Her love is neither wanton nor voluptuous, but serious and unadorned, and wins her lovers to the pursuit of virtue by revealing to them how fair a thing is nobility of soul. Or, if ever she commends beautiful bodies to their admiration, she puts a bar upon all indecorous conduct. For the only claim that physical beauty has upon the admiration is that it reminds those whose souls have soared above things human to things divine, of that beauty which once they beheld in all its truth and purity enthroned among the gods in heaven. Wherefore let us admit that Afranius shows his usual beauty of expression when he says: `Only the sage can love, only desire is known to others'; although if you would know the real truth, Aemilianus, or if you are capable of ever comprehending such high matters, the sage does not love, but only remembers.

Part 13

I would therefore beg you to pardon the philosopher Plato for his amatory verse, and relieve me of the necessity of offending against the precepts put by Ennius into the mouth of Neoptolemus by philosophizing at undue length; on the other hand if you refuse to pardon Plato, I am quite ready to suffer blame on this count in his company.

I must express my deep gratitude to you, Maximus, for listening with such close attention to these side issues, which are necessary to my defence inasmuch as I am paying back my accusers in their own coin. Your kindness emboldens me to make this further request, that you will listen to all that I have to say by way of prelude to my answer to the main charge with the same courtesy and attention that you have hitherto shown.

For next I have to deal with that long oration, austere as any censor's, which Pudens delivered on the subject of my mirror. He nearly exploded, so violently did he declaim against the horrid nature of my offence. `The philosopher owns a mirror, the philosopher actually possesses a mirror.' Grant that I possess it: if I denied it, you might really think that your accusation had gone home: still it is by no means a necessary inference that I am in the habit of adorning myself before a mirror. Why! suppose I possessed a theatrical wardrobe, would you venture to argue from that that I am in the frequent habit of wearing the trailing robes of tragedy, the saffron cloak of the mimic dance, or the patchwork suit of the harlequinade? I think not. On the contrary there are plenty of things of which I enjoy the use without the possession.

But if possession is no proof of use nor non-possession of non-use, and if you complain of the fact that I look into the mirror rather than that I possess it, you must go on to show when and in whose presence I have ever looked into it; for as things stand, you make it a greater crime for a philosopher to look upon a mirror than for the uninitiated to gaze upon the mystic emblems of Ceres.

Part 14

Come now, let me admit that I h\u00e1ve looked into it. Is it a crime to be acquainted with one's own likeness and to carry it with one wherever one goes ready to hand within the compass of a small mirror, instead of keeping it hidden away in some one place? Are you ignorant of the fact that there is nothing more pleasing for a man to look upon than his own image? At any rate I know that fathers love those sons most who most resemble themselves, and that public statues are decreed as a reward for merit that the original may gladden his heart by looking on them. What else is the significance of statues and portraits produced by the various arts? You will scarcely maintain the paradox that what is worthy of admiration when produced by art is blameworthy when produced by nature; for nature has an even greater facility and truth than art.

Long labour is expended over all the portraits wrought by the hand of man, yet they never attain to such truth as is revealed by a mirror. Clay is lacking in life, marble in colour, painting in solidity, and all three in motion, which is the most convincing element in a likeness: whereas in a mirror the reflection of the image is marvellous, for it is not only like its original, but moves and follows every nod of the man to whom it belongs; its age always corresponds to that of those who look into the mirror, from their earliest childhood to their expiring age: it puts on all the changes brought by the advance of years, shares all the varying habits of the body, and imitates the shifting expressions of joy and sorrow that may be seen on the face of one and the same man. For all we mould in clay or cast in bronze or carve in stone or tint with encaustic pigments or colour with paint, in a word, every attempt at artistic representation by the hand of man after a brief lapse of time loses in truth and becomes motionless and impassive like the face of a corpse. So far superior to all pictorial art in respect of truthful representation is that craftsmanly smoothness and productive splendour of the mirror.

Part 15

Two alternatives then are before us. We must either follow the precept of the Lacedaemonian Agesilaus, who had no confidence in his personal appeannce and refused to allow his portrait to be painted or carved; or we must accept the universal custom of the rest of mankind which welcomes portraiture both in sculpture and painting. In the latter case, is there any reason for preferring to see one's portrait moulded in marble rather than reflected in silver, in a painting rather than in a mirror?

Or do you regard it as disgraceful to pay continual attention to one's own appearance? Is not Socrates said actually to have urged his followers frequently to consider their image in a glass, that so those of them that prided themselves on their appearance might above all else take care that they did no dishonour to the splendour of their body by the blackness of their hearts; while those who regarded themselves as less than handsome in personal appearance might take especial pains to conceal the meanness of their body by the glory of their virtue? You see; the wisest man of his day actually went so far as to use the mirror as an instrument of moral discipline. Again, who is ignorant of the fact that Demosthenes, the greatest master of the art of speaking, always practised pleading before a mirror as though before a professor of rhetoric? When that supreme orator had drained deep draughts of eloquence in the study of Plato the philosopher, and had learned all that could be learned of argumentation from the dialectician Eubulides, last of all he betook himself to a mirror to learn perfection of delivery. Which do you think should pay greatest attention to the decorousness of his appearance in the delivery of a speech? The orator when he wrangles with his opponent or the philosopher when he rebukes the vices of mankind? The man who harangues for a brief space before an audience of jurymen drawn by the chance of the lot, or he who is continually discoursing with all mankind for audience? The man who is quarrelling over the boundaries of lands, or he whose theme is the boundaries of good and evil?

Moreover there are other reasons why a philosopher should look into a mirror. He is not always concerned with the contemplation of his own likeness, he contemplates also the causes which produce that likeness. Is Epicurus right when he asserts that images proceed forth from us, as it were a kind of slough that continually streams from our bodies? These images when they strike anything smooth and solid are reflected by the shock and reversed in such wise as to give back an image turned to face its original. Or should we accept the view maintained by other philosophers that rays are emitted from our body? According to Plato these rays are filtered forth from the centre of our eyes and mingle and blend with the light of the world without us; according to Archytas they issue forth from us without any external support; according to the Stoics these rays are called into action by the tension of the air: all agree that, when these emanations strike any dense, smooth, and shining surface, they return to the surface from which they proceeded in such manner that the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection, and as a result that which they approach and touch without the mirror is imaged within the mirror.

Part 16

What do you think? Should not philosophers make all these problems subjects of research and inquiry and in solitary study look into mirrors of every kind, liquid and solid? There is also over and above these questions further matter for discussion. For instance, why is it that in flat mirrors all images and objects reflected are shown in almost precisely their original dimensions, whereas in convex and spherical mirrors everything is seen smaller, in concave mirrors on the other hand larger than nature? Why again and under what circumstances are left and right reversed? When does one and the same mirror seem now to withdraw the image into its depths, now to extrude it forth to view? Why do concave mirrors when held at right angles to the rays of the sun kindle tinder set opposite them? What is the cause of the prismatic colours of the rainbow, or of the appearance in heaven of two rival images of the sun, with sundry other phenomena treated in a monumental volume by Archimedes of Syracuse, a man who showed extraordinary and unique subtlety in all branches of geometry, but was perhaps particularly remarkable for his frequent and attentive inspection of mirrors.

If you had only read this book, Aemilianus, and, instead of devoting yourself to the study of your fields and their dull clods, had studied the mathematician's slate and blackboard, believe me, although your face is hideous enough for a tragic mask of Thyestes, you would assuredly, in your desire for the acquisition of knowledge, look into the glass and sometimes leave your plough to marvel at the numberless furrows with which wrinkles have scored your face.

But I should not be surprised if you prefer me to speak of your ugly deformity of a face and to be silent about your morals, which are infinitely more repulsive than your features. I will say nothing of them. In the first place I am not naturally of a quarrelsome disposition, and secondly I am glad to say that until quite recently you might have been white or black for all I knew. Even now my knowledge of you is inadequate. The reason for this is that your rustic occupations have kept you in obscurity, while I have been occupied by my studies, and so the shadow cast about you by your insignificance has shielded your character from scrutiny, while I for my part take no interest in others' ill deeds, but have always thought it more important to conceal my own faults than to track out those of others. As a result you have the advantage of one who, while he is himself shrouded in darkness, surveys another who chances to have taken his stand in the full light of day. You from your darkness can with ease form an opinion as to what I am doing in my not undistinguished position before all the world; but your position is so abject, so obscure, and so withdrawn from the light of publicity that you are by no means so conspicuous.

Part 17

I neither know nor care to know whether you have slaves to till your fields or whether you do so by interchange of service with your neighbours. But you know that at Oea I gave three slaves their freedom on the same day, and your advocate has cast it in my teeth together with other actions of mine of which you have given him information. And yet but a few minutes earlier he had declared that I came to Oea accompanied by no more than one slave. I challenge you to tell me how I could have made one slave into three free men. But perhaps this is one of my feats of magic. Has lying made you blind, or shall I rather say that from force of habit you are incapable of speaking the truth? `Apuleius,' you say, `came to Oea with one slave,' and then only a very few words later you blurt out, `Apuleius on one and the same day at Oea gave three slaves their freedom.' Not even the assertion that I had come with three slaves and had given them all their freedom would have been credible: but suppose I had done so, what reason do you have for regarding three slaves as a mark of my poverty, rather than for considering three freed men as a proof of my wealth?

You don't know, really, Aemilianus, you don't know how to accuse a philosopher: you reproach me for the scantiness of my household, whereas it would really have been my duty to have laid claim, however falsely, to such poverty. It would have redounded to my credit, for I know that not only philosophers of whom I boast myself a follower, but also generals of the Roman people have gloried in the small number of their slaves. Have your advocates really never read that Marcus Antonius, a man who had filled the office of consul, had but eight slaves in his house? That that very Carbo who obtained supreme control of Rome had fewer by one? That Manius Curius, famous beyond all men for the crowns of victory that he had won, Manius Curius who thrice led the triumphal procession through the same gate of Rome, had but two servants to attend him in camp, so that in good truth that same man who triumphed over the Sabines, the Samnites, and Pyrrhus had fewer slaves than triumphs? Marcus Cato did not wait for others to tell it of him, but himself records the fact in one of his speeches that when he set out as consul for Spain he took but three slaves from the city with him. When, however, he came to stay at a state residence, the number seemed insufficient, and he ordered two slaves to be bought in the market to wait on him at table, so that he took five in all to Spain.

Had Pudens come across these facts in his reading, he would, I think, either have omitted this particular slander or would have preferred to reproach me on the ground that three slaves were too large rather than too small an establishment for a philosopher.

Part 18

Pudens actually reproached me with being poor, a charge which is welcome to a philosopher and one that he may glory in. For poverty has long been the handmaid of philosophy; frugal and sober, she is content with little, greedy for naught save honour, a stable possession in the face of wealth, her mien is free from care, and her adornment simple; her counsels are beneficent, she puffs no man up with pride, she corrupts no man with passions beyond his control, she maddens no man with the lust for power, she neither desires nor can indulge in the pleasures of feasting and of sex. These sins and their like are usually the nurslings of wealth. Count over all the greatest crimes recorded in the history of mankind, you will find no poor man among their guilty authors. On the other hand, it is rare to find wealthy men among the great figures of history. All those at whom we marvel for their great deeds were the nurslings of poverty from their very cradles, poverty that founded all cities in the days of old, poverty mother of all arts, witless of all sin, bestower of all glory, crowned with all honour among all the peoples of the world. Take the history of Greece: the justice of poverty is seen in Aristides, her benignity in Phocion, her force in Epaminondas, her wisdom in Socrates, her eloquence in Homer. It was this same poverty that established the empire of the Roman people in its first beginnings, and even to this day Rome offers up thanksgivings for it to the immortal gods with libations poured from a wooden ladle and offerings borne in an earthen platter. If the judges sitting to try this case were Caius Fabricius, Gnaeus Scipio, Manius Curius, whose daughters on account of their poverty were given dowries from the public treasury and so went to their husbands bringing with them the honour of their houses and the wealth of the state; if Publicola, who drove out the Kings, or Agrippa, the healer of the people's strife, men whose funerals were on account of their poverty enriched by the gift of a few farthings per man from the whole Roman people; if Atilius Regulus, whose lands on account of his own poverty were cultivated at the public expense; if, in a word, all the heroes of the old Roman stock, consuls and censors and triumphant generals, were given a brief renewal of life and sent back to earth to give hearing to this case, would you dare in the presence of so many poor consuls to reproach a philosopher with poverty?

Part 19

Perhaps Claudius Maximus seems to you to be a suitable person before whom to deride poverty, because he himself is in enjoyment of great wealth and enormous opulence? You are wrong, Aemilianus, you are wholly mistaken in your estimate of his character, if you take the bounty of his fortune rather than the sternness of his philosophy as the standard for your judgement and fail to realize that one, who holds so austere a creed and has so long endured military service, is more likely to befriend a moderate fortune with all its limitations than opulence with all its luxury, and holds that fortunes, like tunics, should be comfortable, not long. For even a Fortune, if cannot be carried but must be dragged, will entangle and trip the feet as badly as a cloak that hangs down in front. In everything that we employ for the needs of daily life, whatever exceeds the mean is superfluous and a burden rather than a help. So it is that excessive riches, like steering oars of too great weight and bulk, serve to sink the ship rather than to guide it; for their bulk is unprofitable and their superfluity a curse.

I have noticed that of the wealthy themselves those win most praise who live quietly and in moderate comfort, concealing their actual resources, administering their great possessions without ostentation or pride and showing like poor folk under the disguise of their moderation. Now, if even the rich to some extent affect the outward form and semblance of poverty to give evidence of their moderation, why should we of slenderer means be ashamed of being poor not in appearance only but in reality?

Part 20

I might even engage with you in controversy over the word poverty, urging that no man is poor who rejects the superfluous and has at his command all the necessities of life, which nature has ordained should be exceedingly small. For he who desires least will possess most, inasmuch as he who wants but little will have all he wants. The measure of wealth ought therefore not to be the possession of lands and investments, but the very soul of man. For if avarice make him continually in need of some fresh acquisition and insatiable in his lust for gain, not even mountains of gold will bring him satisfaction, but he will always be begging for more that he may increase what he already possesses. That is the genuine admission of poverty. For every desire for fresh acquisition springs from the consciousness of want, and it matters little how large your possessions are if they are too small for you. Philus had a far smaller household than Laelius, Laelius than Scipio, Scipio than Crassus the Rich, and yet not even Crassus had as much as he wanted; and so, though he surpassed all others in wealth, he was himself surpassed by his own avarice and seemed rich to all save himself. On the other hand, the philosophers of whom I have spoken wanted nothing beyond what was at their disposal, and, thanks to the harmong existing between their desires and their resources, they were deservedly rich and happy. For poverty consists in the need for fresh acquisition, wealth in the satisfaction springing from the absence of needs. For the badge of penury is desire, the badge of wealth contempt.

Therefore, Aemilianus, if you wish me to be regarded as poor, you must first prove that I am avaricious. But if my soul lacks nothing, I care little how much of the goods of this world be lacking to me; for it is no honour to possess them and no reproach to lack them.

Part 21

But let us suppose it to be otherwise. Suppose that I am poor, because fortune has grudged me riches, because my guardian, as often happens, misappropriated my inheritance, some enemy robbed me, or my father left me nothing. Is it just to reproach a man for that which is regarded as no reproach to the animal kingdom, to the eagle, to the bull, to the lion? lf the horse is strong in the possession of his peculiar excellences, if he is pleasant to ride and swift in his paces, no one rebukes him for the poverty of his food. Must you then reproach me, not for any scandalous word or deed, but simply because I live in a small house, possess an unusually small number of slaves, subsist on unusually light diet, wear unusually light clothing, and make unusually small purchaches of food?

Yet however scanty my service, food, and raiment may seem to you, I on the contrary regard them as ample and even excessive. Indeed I am desirous of still further reducing them, since the leas I have to distract me the happier I shall be. For the soul, like the body, goes lightly clad when in good health; weakness wraps itself up, and it is a sure sign of infirmity to have many wants. We live, just as we swim, all the better for being but lightly burdened. For in this stormy life as on the stormy ocean heavy things sink us and light things buoy us up. It is in this respect, I find, that the gods more especially surpass men, namely that they lack nothing: wherefore he of mankind whose needs are smallest is most like unto the gods.

Part 22

I therefore regarded it as a compliment when to insult me you asserted that my whole household consisted of a wallet and a staff. Would that my spirit were made of such stern stuff as to permit me to dispense with all this furniture and worthily to carry that equipment for which Crates sacrificed all his wealth! Crates, I tell you, though I doubt if you will believe me, Aemilianus, was a man of great wealth and honour among the nobility of Thebes; but for love of this habit, which you cast in my face as a crime, he gave his large and luxurious household to his fellow citizens, resigned his troops of slaves for solitude, so contemned the countless trees of his rich orchards as to be content with one staff, exchanged his elegant villas for one small wallet, which, when he had fully appreciated its utility, he even praised in song by diverting from their original meaning certain lines of Homer in which he extols the island of Crete. I will quote the first lines, that you may not think this a mere invention of mine designed to meet the needs of my own case:

There is a twon named Wallet in the midst
of smoke that's dark as wine.

The lines which follow are so wonderful, that had you read them you would envy me my wallet even more than you envy me my marriage with Pudentilla.

You reproach philosophers for their staff and wallet. You might as well reproach cavalry for their trappings, infantry for their shields, standard-bearers for their banners, triumphant generals for their chariots drawn by four white horses and their cloaks embroidered with palmleaves. The staff and wallet are not, it is true, carried by the Platonic philosophers, but are the badges of the Cynic school. To Diogenes and Antisthenes they were what the crown is to the king, the cloak of purple to the general, the cowl to the priest, the trumpet to the augur. Indeed the Cynic Diogenes, when he disputed with Alexander the Great, as to which of the two was the true king, boasted of his staff as the true sceptre. The unconquered Hercules himself, since you despise my instances as drawn from mere mendicancy, Hercules that roamed the whole world, exterminated monsters, and conquered races, god though he was, had but a skin for raiment and a staff for company in the days when he wandered through the earth. And yet but a brief while afterwards he was admitted to heaven as a reward for his virtue.

Part 23

But if you despise these examples and challenge me, not to plead my case, but to enter into a discussion of the amount of my fortune, to put an end to your ignorance on this point, if it exists, I acknowledge that my father left my brother and myself a little under 2,000,000 sesterces -- a sum on which my lengthy travels, continual studies, and frequent generosity have made considerable inroads. For I have often assisted my friends and have shown substantial gratitude to many of my instructors, on more than one occasion going so far as to provide dowries for their daughters. Nay, I should not have hesitated to expend every farthing of my patrimony, if so I might acquire what is far better by contempt for my patrimony. But as for you, Aemilianus, and ignorant boors of your kidney, in your case the fortune makes the man. You are like barren and blasted trees that produce no fruit, but are valued only for the timber that their trunks contain.

But I beg you, Aemilianus, in future to abstain from reviling any one for their poverty, since you yourself used, after waiting for some seasonable shower to soften the ground, to expend three days in ploughing single-handed, with the aid of one wretched ass, that miserable farm at Zarath, which was all your father left you. It is only recently that fortune has smiled on you in the shape of wholly undeserved inheritances which have fallen to you by the frequent deaths of relatives, deaths to which, far more than to your hideous face, you owe your nickname of Charon.

Part 24

As to my birthplace, you assert that my writings prove it to lie right on the marches of Numidia and Gaetulia, for I publicly described myself as half Numidian, half Gaetulian in a discourse delivered in the presence of that most distinguished citizen Lollianus Avitus. I do not see that I have any more reason to be ashamed of that than had the elder Cyrus for being of mixed descent, half Mede, half Persian. A man's birthplace is of no importance, it is his character that matters. We must consider not in what part of the world, but with what purpose he set out to live his life. Sellers of wine and cabbages are permitted to enhance the value of their wares by advertising the excellence of the soil whence they spring, as for instance with the wine of Thasos and the cabbages of Phlius. For those products of the soil are wonderfully improved in flavour by the fertility of the district which produces them, the moistness of the climate, the mildness of the winds, the warmth of the sun, and the richness of the soil. But in the case of man, the soul enters the tenement of the body from without. What, then, can such circumstances as these add to or take away from his virtues or his vices? Has there ever been a time or place in which a race has not produced a variety of intellects, although some races seem stupider and some wiser than others? The Scythians are the stupidest of men, and yet the wise Anacharsis was a Scyth. The Athenians are shrewd, and yet the Athenian Meletides was a fool.

I say this not because I am ashamed of my country, since even in the time of Syphax we were a township. When he was conquered we were transferred by the gift of the Roman people to the dominion of King Masinissa, and finally as the result of a settlement of veteran soldiers, our second founders, we have become a colony of the highest distinction. In this same colony my father attained to the post of duumvir and became the foremost citizen of the place, after filling all the municipal offices of honour. I myself, immediately after my first entry into the municipal senate, succeeded to my father's position in the community, and, as I hope, am in no ways a degenerate successor, but receive like honour and esteem for my maintenance of the dignity of my position. Why do I mention this? That you, Aemilianus, may be less angry with me in future and may more readily pardon me for having been negligent enough not to select your `Attic' Zarath for my birthplace.

Part 25

Are you not ashamed to produce such accusations with such violence before such a judge, to bring forward frivolous and self-contradictory accusations, and then in the same breath to blame me on both charges at once? Is it not a sheer contradiction to object to my wallet and staff on the ground of austerity, to my poems and mirror on the ground of undue levity; to accuse me of parsimony for having only one slave, and of extravagance in having three; to denounce me for my Greek eloquence and my barbarian birth? Awake from your slumber and remember that you are speaking before Claudius Maximus, a man of stern character, burdened with the business of the whole province. Cease, I say, to bring forward these empty slanders. Prove your indictment, prove that I am guilty of ghastly crimes, detestable sorceries, and black art-magic. Why is it that the strength of your speech lies in mere noise, while it is weak and flabby in point of facts?

I will now deal with the actual charge of magic. You spared no violence in fanning the flame of hatred against me. But you have disappointed all men's expectations by your old wives' fables, and the fire kindled by your accusations has burned itself away. I ask you, Maximus, have you ever seen fire spring up among the stubble, crackling sharply, blazing wide and spreading fast, but soon exhausting its flimsy fuel, dying fast away, leaving not a wrack behind? So they have kindled their accusation with abuse and fanned it with words, but it lacks the fuel of facts and, your verdict once given, is destined to leave not a wrack of calumny behind. The whole of Aemilianus' calumnious accusation was centred in the charge of magic. I should therefore like to ask his most learned advocates how, precisely, they would define a magician.

If what I read in a large number of authors is true, namely, that magician is the Persian word for priest, what is there criminal in being a priest and having due knowledge, science, and skill in all ceremonial law, sacrificial duties, and the binding rules of religion, at least if magic consists in that which Plato sets forth in his description of the methods employed by the Persians in the education of their young princes? I remember the very words of that divine philosopher. Let me recall them to your memory, Maximus:

When the boy has reached the age of fourteen he is handed over to the care of men known as the Royal Masters. They are four in number, and are chosen as being the best of the elders of Persia, one the wisest, another the justest, a third the most temperate, a fourth the bravest. And one of these teaches the boy the magic of Zoroaster the son of Oromazes; and this magic is no other than the worship of the gods. He also teaches him the arts of kingship.

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