His actis et rebus meis in illo cubiculo conditis, pergens ipse ad balneas, ut prius aliquid nobis cibatui prospicerem, forum cuppedinis peto, inque eo piscatum opiparem expositum video et percontato pretio, quod centum nummis indicaret, aspernatus viginti denarios praestinaui. inde me commodum egredientem continatur Pythias condiscipulus apud Athenas Atticas meus, qui me post aliquantum multum temporis amanter agnitum invadit amplexusque ac comiter deosculatus: ‘mi Luci,’ ait ‘sat pol diu est quod intervisimus te, at hercules exinde cum a Clytio magistro digressi sumus. quae autem tibi causa peregrinationis huius?’ ‘crastino die scies,’ inquam ‘sed quid istud? voti gaudeo. nam et lixas et virgas et habitum prorsus magistratui congruentem in te video.’ ‘annonam curamus’ ait ‘et aedilem gerimus et si quid obsonare cupis utique commodabimus.’ abnuebam, quippe qui iam cenae affatim piscatum prospexeramus. sed enim Pythias visa sportula succussisque in aspectum planiorem piscibus: ‘at has quisquilias quanti parasti?’ ‘vix’ inquam ‘piscatori extorsimus accipere viginti denarium.’ quo audito statim arrepta dextera postliminio me in forum cuppedinis reducens: ‘et a quo’ inquit ‘istorum nugamenta haec comparasti?’ demonstro seniculum—in angulo sedebat—quem confestim pro aedilitatis imperio voce asperrima increpans: ‘iam iam’ inquit ‘nec amicis quidem nostris vel omnino ullis hospitibus parcitis, quod tam magnis pretiis pisces frivolos indicatis et florem Thessalicae regionis ad instar solitudinis et scopuli edulium caritate deducitis? sed non impune. iam enim faxo scias quem ad modum sub meo magisterio mali debeant coerceri’, et profusa in medium sportula iubet officialem suum insuper pisces inscendere ac pedibus suis totos obterere. qua contentus morum severitudine meus Pythias ac mihi ut abirem suadens: ‘sufficit mihi, o Luci,’ inquit ‘seniculi tanta haec contumelia.’ his actis consternatus ac prorsus obstupidus ad balneas me refero, prudentis condiscipuli valido consilio et nummis simul privatus et cena, lautusque ad hospitium Milonis ac dehinc cubiculum me reporto.
(Apuleius, Met. 1.24.3-25.6)

Once this was under way, and my belongings placed in the room, I set off for the baths alone. But first I headed for the market, wanting to secure my supper. I saw plenty of fine fish on display, but when I asked the price and was told what they cost I haggled, buying a gold coin’s worth for twenty per cent less. Just as I was moving on, I encountered Pythias, who had been a student with me in Athens . He recognised me and gave me a friendly embrace though it had all been long ago, rushing up and kissing me affectionately. “By Pollux, Lucius my friend it is ages since I saw you last. It was when we said goodbye to Clytius our teacher, by Hercules. What brings you here in your travels?” “I’ll tell you tomorrow,” I said “but what’s this? Congratulations! You’ve attendants with rods of office, and you’re dressed as a magistrate.” “I’m the inspector of markets, controller of supplies, and if you want help in purchasing anything I’m your man.” “Thanks, but there’s no need,” I said, having bought enough fish for supper, but Pythias saw my basket and poked the fish to inspect them. “What did you pay for this stuff?” he asked. “I twisted the man’s arm and he charged me twenty denarii” I answered. On hearing this he grabbed my arm, and dragged me back to the market. “Which of the fish-merchants,” he said “did you buy that rubbish from?” I pointed out a little old man sitting in a corner, and Pythias immediately began berating him in the harsh tones befitting authority. “Now, you even cheat visitors, like this friend of mine. You mark up worthless goods to stupid prices, and reduce Hypata, the flower of Thessaly, to the equivalent of a barren rock in the desert, with the costliness of your wares. But don’t think you’ll get away with it. I’ll show you how this magistrate deals with rogues.” And he emptied my basket out on the pavement, and ordered an assistant to crush them to pulp with his feet. Satisfied with this stern display of morality, my friend Pythias advised me to leave, saying: “Lucius, it’s enough that I’ve chastised the fellow.” Astonished, utterly stupefied, by this turn of events, I carried on to the baths, robbed of money and supper by the worldly-wise authoritativeness of my erstwhile fellow-student. After bathing, I returned to Milo’s house and my room. (tr. Anthony S. Kline)


Lucius and Isis
Milo Manara, Lucius and Isis

Provolutus denique ante conspectum deae et facie mea diu detersis vestigiis eius, lacrimis obortis, singultu crebro sermonem interficiens et verba devorans aio: “tu quidem, sancta et humani generis sospitatrix perpetua, semper fovendis mortalibus munifica, dulcem matris affectionem miserorum casibus tribuis. nec dies nec quies ulla ac ne momentum quidem tenue tuis transcurrit beneficiis otiosum, quin mari terraque protegas homines et depulsis vitae procellis salutarem porrigas dexteram, qua fatorum etiam inextricabiliter contorta retractas licia et Fortunae tempestates mitigas et stellarum noxios meatus cohibes. te superi colunt, observant inferi. tu rotas orbem, luminas solem, regis mundum, calcas Tartarum. tibi respondent sidera, redeunt tempora, gaudent numina, serviunt elementa. tuo nutu spirant flamina, nutriunt nubila, germinant semina, crescunt germina. tuam maiestatem perhorrescunt aves caelo meantes, ferae montibus errantes, serpentes solo latentes, beluae ponto natantes. at ego referendis laudibus tuis exilis ingenio et adhibendis sacrificiis tenuis patrimonio; nec mihi vocis ubertas ad dicenda quae de tua maiestate sentio sufficit, nec ora mille linguaeque totidem vel indefessi sermonis aeterna series. ergo quod solum potest religiosus quidem, sed pauper alioquin, efficere curabo: divinos tuos vultus numenque sanctissimum intra pectoris mei secreta conditum perpetuo custodiens imaginabor.”
(Apuleius, Met. 11.24.7-25)

Finally I prostrated myself before the goddess and wiped her feet for a long time with my face. Tears welled up in me. My voice broke with frequent sobs and I gulped my words as I spoke to her. “O holy and eternal saviour of mankind, you who ever bountifully nurture mortals, you apply the sweet affection of a mother to the misfortunes of the wretched. Neither a day nor a night nor even a tiny moment passes empty of your blessings: you protect men on sea and land, and you drive away the storm-winds of life and stretch forth your rescuing hand, with which you unwind the threads of the Fates even when they are inextricably twisted, you calm the storms of Fortune, and you repress harmful motions of the stars. The spirits above revere you, the spirits below pay you homage. You rotate the earth, light the sun, rule the universe, and tread Tartarus beneath your heel. The stars obey you, the seasons return at your will, deities rejoice in you, and the elements are your slaves. At your nod breezes breathe, clouds give nourishment, seeds sprout, and seedlings grow. Your majesty awes the birds travelling in the sky, the beasts wandering upon the mountains, the snakes lurking in the ground, and the monsters that swim in the deep. But my talent is too feeble to speak your praises and my inheritance too meagre to bring you sacrifices. The fullness of my voice is inadequate to express what I feel about your majesty; a thousand mouths and as many tongues would not be enough, nor even an endless flow of inexhaustible speech. I shall therefore take care to do the only thing that a devout but poor man can: I shall store your divine countenance and sacred godhead in the secret places of my heart, forever guarding it and picturing it to myself.” (tr. John Arthur Hanson)



Amare liceat, si potiri non licet.
fruantur alii; non moror, non sum invidus;
nam sese excruciat, qui beatis invidet.
quos Venus amavit, facit amoris compotes;
nobis Cupido velle dat, posse abnegat.
olli purpurea delibantes oscula
clemente morsu rosea labia vellicent,
candentes dentes in se effligant suavio,
malas adorent ore et ingenuas genas
et pupularum nitidas geminas gemmulas.
quin et cum tenera membra molli lectulo
complictiora adhaerent Veneris glutino,
libido cum lasciva instinctos suscitat
sinuare ad Veneris cursum femina feminae
inter gannitus et subantis voculas,
carpant papillas atque amplexus intiment
arentque sulcos molles arvo Venerio
thyrsumque pangant hortulo in Cupidinis,
dent crebros ictus conivente lumine,
trepidante cursu Venere et anima fessula
eiaculent tepidum rorem niveis laticibus.
haec illi faciant, queis Venus non invidet;
at nobis casso saltem delectamine
amare liceat, si potiri non licet!
(Apuleius, Anth. Lat. 712)

May I be allowed to love, if I am not allowed to possess!
Others may enjoy it: I do not hinder them, I am not envious;
For he who envies the lucky ones, tortures himself.
To those whom Venus has loved, she grants love:
To me Cupid gives desire, but he denies me fulfilment.
Nibbling someone’s dark-red kisses
With soft biting let them peck rosy lips
Let them strike gleaming teeth against each other in an erotic kiss,
cheeks let them worship with their mouth, and modest temples,
And twinkling little twin gem eyes.
What is more, when tender limbs on a soft bed
Are more closely intertwined by the glue of Venus,
When lascivious lust rouses the instincts
To curve a woman’s thighs to Venus’ course
Between loving whimperings and soft excited words
Let them tease nipples and press embraces,
Let them plough soft furrows on Venus’ field
And plant the thyrsus in Cupid’s garden,
Let them give frequent pushes with closing eyes;
While Venus is still trembling from her course, and the mind is tired,
Let them ejaculate warm dew with snowy liquid.
This those may do whom Venus does not envy;
But as to me, with hollow enjoyment at least,
May I be allowed to love, if I am not allowed to possess!
(tr. Regine May)



Iamque iis poculis mutuis altercantibus mirabile prorsus evenit ostentum. una de cetera cohorte gallina per mediam cursitans aream clangore genuino velut ovum parere gestiens personabat. eam suus dominus intuens, “o bona” inquit “ancilla et satis fecunda, quae multo iam tempore cotidianis nos partubus saginasti. nunc etiam cogitas, ut video, gustulum nobis praeparare.” et “heus,” inquit “puer, calathum fetui gallinaceo destinatum angulo solito collocato.” ita uti fuerat iussum procurante puero, gallina consuetae lecticulae spreto cubili ante ipsos pedes domini praematurum sed magno prorsus futurum scrupulo prodidit partum. non enim ovum, quod scimus, illud; sed pinnis et unguibus et oculis et voce etiam perfectum edidit pullum, qui matrem suam coepit continuo comitari.
(Apuleius, Met. 9.33.4-6)

Then, as they were conversing and sharing cups of wine, a truly remarkable portent occurred. One of the flock of hens began running round the middle of the yard cackling in the usual way, as if she wanted to lay an egg. Her master looked at her and said, “What a good, productive girl you are! You have been fattening us such a long time now with your daily deliveries. Now too, I see, you are planning to prepare us our appetiser. Boy,” he went on, “put the basket that is kept for the laying hens in its usual corner.” The slave made the preparations just as he was ordered, but the hen spurned the nest of her customary couch and laid her egg right at her master’s feet. The delivery was premature but destined to cause very great anxiety, for it was not an egg as we know them that she laid, but a fully developed chick with feathers and claws and eyes and a chirp, and it immediately began to follow its mother around. (tr. John Arthur Hanson)



Ingens exinde verberonem corripit trepidatio et in vicem humani coloris succedit pallor infernus, perque universa membra frigidus sudor emanabat. tunc pedes incertis alternationibus commovere, modo hanc modo illam capitis partem scalpere, et ore semiclauso balbutiens nescio quas afannas effutire, ut eum nemo prorsus a culpa vacuum merito crederet.
(Apuleius, Met. 10.10.1-2)

At this point a mighty fit of trembling seized the scoundrel, a deathly pallor took the place of his normal complexion, and cold sweat flowed over hir entire body. He shuffled his feet unsteadily, scratched first one part of his head and then another, and muttered with his mouth half-closed, babbling some sort of nonsense. Absolutely no one could reasonably believe that he was free of guilt. (tr. John Arthur Hanson)