Apvlei Madavrensis Metamorphoseon
At ego tibi sermone isto Milesio varias fabulas conseram, auresque tuas benivolas lepido susurro permulceam, modo si papyrum Aegyptiam argutia Nilotici calami inscriptam non spreveris inspicere, figuras fortunasque hominum in alias imagines conversas et in se rursum mutuo nexu refectas ut mireris. Exordior. Quis ille? Paucis accipe. Hymettos Attica et Isthmos Ephyrea et Taenaros Spartiaca, glebae felices aeternum libris felicioribus conditae, mea vetus prosapia est. Ibi linguam Attidem primis pueritiae stipendiis merui. Mox in urbe Latia advena studiorum Quiritium indigenam sermonem aerumnabili labore,
Apuleius of Madauros Metamorphoses
But1 I would like to tie together different sorts of tales for you in that Milesian style of yours,2 and to caress your ears into approval with a pretty whisper, if only you will not begrudge looking at Egyptian papyrus inscribed with the sharpness of a reed from the Nile,3 so that you may be amazed at men’s forms and fortunes transformed into other shapes and then restored again in an interwoven knot. I begin my prologue. Who am I? I will tell you briefly. Attic Hymettos and Ephyrean Isthmos and Spartan Taenaros,4 fruitful lands preserved for ever in even more fruitful books, form my ancient stock. There I served my stint with the Attic tongue in the first campaigns of childhood. Soon afterwards, in the city of the Latins, as a newcomer to Roman5 studies I attacked and cultivated their native
- 1The work opens as if in the middle of a literary discussion.
- 2This is usually taken to refer to so-called “Milesian tales”, pornographic stories named for Aristides of Miletus, whose Greek fiction was translated into Latin by the Roman historian Sisenna in the first century b.c. It may also suggest “Asianic” or florid in style, in contrast to the purer “Attic” style sought by some of Apuleius’ contemporary writers. Cf. also IV 32 and note.
- 3Papyrus imported from Egypt was a0 common writing material in the Greco-Roman world.
- 4The three locations are literally a mountain near Athens (famous for its honey), the Isthmus of Corinth, and the southern most mountain in the Peloponnesus. Lucius claims to have been a student at Athens (I 24); Mt. Taenarus recurs as the point of departure for Psyche’s visit to the underworld in VI 18–20; and Corinth is the scene of Lucius’ retransformation and initiation in Book XI.
- 5Quirites is an archaic and legalistic term for Roman citizens.