by H.E. Butler (1909)
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 momen t 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' tas te 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 o f his rashness.
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 hi s assumption of the safe rôle 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. Moreove r 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 Urb icus refrained from making him suffer for it.
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' advoc ates, 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 be en 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 g ood 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 bea r.
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 thes e charges may be, their refutation cannot but do me honour.
[GREEK]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 tha t 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 t hey 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 awa y 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.
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 eloque nt 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 wor d, 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 wit h which I showed my annoyance at the absurd and illiterate manner in which they recited them.
Good morrow! Friend Calpurnianus, takeI 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 who m it would be more suitable that he should
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.
Polish his teeth and ruddy gums,as Catullus says, after the filthy fashion in vogue among the Iberians.
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, lea st 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 le ss 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 h e speaks.
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.
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 s uch 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
ma y realize that I am not ashamed of them:
Critias my treasure is and you,Now let me read you the others also which they read last as being the most intemperate in expression.
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.
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 twinèd 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; ¡!
then shall my songs be shamed and mute
before the music of thy flute.
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 substitu ting 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 m yself 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 da ys 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 livingThere is another poem by Plato dealing conjointly with the boys Alexis and Phaedrus:
ere thy fair light had fled; --
now having died, thou art as Hesperus giving
new light unto the dead.
I lid but breathe the words `Alexis fair',Without citing any further examples I will conclude by quoting a line addressed by Plato to Dion of Syracuse:
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!
Dion, with love thou hast distraught my soul.
A virtuous poet must be chaste. Agreed.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:
But for his verses there is no such need.
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 lik e, 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.
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, t he 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 sta nd, 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.
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 convinc ing 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 mi rror, 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 a nd 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 becom es 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.
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 appearan ce 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 meannes s 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 speakin g, 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 t he 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 quar relling 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 image s 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 origina l. 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 Ar chytas 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 surf ace 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.
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 Th yestes, 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 qu arrelsome 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, w hile 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.
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 redou nded 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 f illed 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 th e 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 ot hers 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 philosoph er.
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 dis guise 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?
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.
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, l ike 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 h eavy 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.
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 cloa ks 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 despi se 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.
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 m ore than to your hideous face, you owe your nickname of Charon.
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 posit ion. 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.
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 abu se 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 thc 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 ru les 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 temperat e, 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.
But if these accusers of mine, after the fashion of the common herd, define a magician as one who by communion of speech with the immortal gods has power to do all the marvels that he will, through a strange power of incantation, I really wonder that the y are not afraid to attack one whom they acknowledge to be so powerful. For it is impossible to guard against such a mysterious and divine power. Against other dangers we may take adequate precautions. He who summons a murderer before the judge comes into court with an escort of friends; he who denounces a poisoner is unusually careful as to what he eats; he who accuses a thief sets a guard over his possessions. But for the man who exposes a magician, credited with such awful powers, to the danger of a ca pital sentence, how can escort or precaution or watchmen save him from unforeseen and inevitable disaster? Nothing can save him, and therefore the man who believes in the truth of such a charge as this is certainly the last person in the world who should bring such an accusation.
I fear, however, Maximus, that you may regard the empty, ridiculous and childish fictions which my opponents have advanced in support of their case as serious charges merely because they have been put forward. `Why,' says my accuser, `have you sought out particular kinds of fish?' Why should not a philosopher be permitted to do for the satisfaction of his desire for knowledge what the gourmand is permitted to do for the satisfaction of his gluttony? `What,' he asks, `induced a free woman to marry you aft er thirteen years of widowhood?' As if it were not more remarkable that she should have remained a widow so long. `Why, before she married you, did she express certain opinions in a letter?' As if anyone should give the reasons for another p erson's private opinions. `But,' he goes on, `although she was your senior in years, she did not despise your youth.' Surely this simply serves to show that there was no need of magic to induce a woman to marry a man, or a widow to wed a bachelor some yea rs her junior. There are more charges equally frivolous. `Apuleius,' he persists, `keeps a mysterious object in his house which he worships with veneration.' As if it were not a worse offence to have nothing to worship at all. `A boy fell to the ground in Apuleius' presence.' What if a young man or even an old man had fallen in my presence through a sudden stroke of disease or merely owing to the slipperiness of the ground? Do you really think to prove your charge of magic by such arguments as these: the fall of a wretched boy, my marriage to my wife, my purchases of fish?
I will therefore begin by refuting their arguments, and will prove that they have nothing to do with magic. Next I will show that even on the assumption of my being the most consummate magician, I have never given cause or occasion for conviction of any evil practice. I will also deal with the lies with which they have endeavoured to arouse hostility against me, with their misquotation and misinterpretation of my wife's letters, and with my marriage with Pudentilla, whom, as I will proceed to prove, I ma rried for love and not for money. This marriage of ours caused frightful annoyance and distress to Aemilianus. Hence springs all the anger, frenzy, and raving madness that he has shown in the conduct of this accusation.
If I succeed in making all these points abundantly clear and obvious, I shall then appeal to you, Claudius Maximus, and to all here present to bear me out, that the boy Sicinius Pudens, my step-son, through whom and with whose consent his uncle now accus es me, was quite recently stolen from my charge after the death of Pontianus his brother, who was as much his superior in character as in years, and that he was fiercely embittered against myself and his mother through no fault of mine: that he abandoned his study of the liberal arts and cast off all restraint, and -- thanks to the education afforded him by this villanous accusation -- is more likely to resemble his uncle Aemi]ianus than his brother Pontianus.
But if there is nothing in all this that can give rise to suspicion, neither the payment of the fishermen to ply their usual trade, to wit, the capture of fish -- I may point out that the prosecution never produced any of these fishermen, who are, as a m atter of fact, wholly creatures of their imagination -- nor the purchase of a common article of sale -- the prosecution have never stated the amount paid, for fear that if they mentioned a small sum, it would be regarded as trivial, or if they mentioned a large sum it would fail to win belief, -- if, I say, there is no cause for suspicion on any of these grounds, I would ask Aemilianus to tell me what, failing these, induced them to accuse me of magic.
I beg you to listen to me, Tannonius Pudens, that you may learn the extent
of the ignorance which you have shown by accepting the possession of a fish as
a proof of sorcery. If you had read your Vergil, you would certainly have
known that very different things are sought for this purpose. He, as far as I
recollect, mentions soft garlands and rich herbs and male incense and threads
of diverse hues, and, in addition to these, brittle laurel, clay to be
hardened, and wax to be melted in the fire. There are also the objects
mentioned by him in a more serious poem.
Rank herbs are sought, with milky venom dark by brazen sickles under moonlight mown; sought also is that wondrous talisman, torn from the forehead of the foal at birth ere yet its dam could snatch it.But you who take such exception to fish attribute far different instruments to magicians, charms not to be torn from new-born foreheads, but to be cut from scaly backs; not to be plucked from the fields of earth, but to be drawn up from the deep fields of ocean; not to be mowed with sickles, but to be caught on hooks. Finally, when he is speaking of the black art, Vergil mentions poison, you produce an entree; he mentions herbs and young shoots, you talk of scales and bones; he crops the meadow, you searc h the waves.
I would also have quoted for your benefit similar passages from Theocritus
with many others from Homer and Orpheus, from the comic and tragic poets and
from the historians, had I not noticed ere now that you were unable to read
Pudentilla's letter which was written in Greek. I will, therefore, do no more
than cite one Latin poet. Those who have read Laevius will recognize the
Love-charms the warlocks seek through all the world: The `lover's knot' they try, the magic wheel, ribbons and nails and roots and herbs and shoots, the two-tailed lizard that draws on to love, and eke the charm tbat gods the whinnying mare.
Many hold Pythagoras to have been a pupil of Zoroaster, and, like him, to
have been skilled in magic. And yet it is recorded that once near Metapontum,
on the shores of Italy, his home, which his influence had converted into a
second Greece, he noticed c ertain fishermen draw up their net. He offered to
buy whatever it might contain, and after depositing the price ordered all the
fish caught in meshes of the net to be relea~ed and thrown back into the sea.
He would assuredly never have allowed them to sli p from his possession had he
known them to possess any valuable magical properties. For being a man of
abnormal learning, and a great admirer of the men of old, he remembered that
Homer, a poet of manifold or, rather I should say, absolute knowledge of al l
that may be known, spoke of the power of all the drugs that earth produces,
but made no mention of the sea, when speasing of a certain witch, he wrote the
All drugs, that wide earth nourishes, shc knew.Similarly in another passage he says:
Earth the grain-giver yields up to her its store of drugs, whereo many be healing, mingled in the cup, and many baneful.But never in the works of Homer did Proteus anoint his face nor Ulysses his magic trench, nor Aeolus his windbags, nor Helen her mixing bowl, nor Circe her cup, nor Venus her girdle, with any charm drawn from the sea or its inhabitants. You alone within t he memory of man have been found to sweep as it were by some convulsion of nature all the powers of herbs and roots and young shoots and small pebbles from their hilltops into the sea, and there confine them in the entrails of fish. And so whereas sorcere rs at their rites used to call on Mercury the giver of oracles, Venus that lures the soul, the moon that knows the mystery of the night, and Trivia the mistress of the shades, you will transfer Neptune, with Salacia and Portumnus and all the company of Ne reids from the cold tides of the sea to the burning tides of love.
But on the lines of your argument you must believe that even the comrades of Menelaus were magicians; for they, according to the great poet, averted starvation at the isle of Pharos by their use of curved fish-hooks. Nay, you will class in the same categ ory of sorcerers seamews, dolphins, and the lobster; gourmands also, who sink whole fortunes in the sums they pay to fishermen; and fishermen themselves, who by their art capture all manner of fish.
`But what do you want fish for?' you insist. I feel myself under no necessity to tell you, and refuse to do so. But I challenge you to prove unsupported that I bought them for the purpose you assert; as though I had bought hellebore or hemlock or opium o r any other of those drugs, the moderate use of which is salutary, although they are deadly when given with other substances or in too large quantities. Who would endure it if you made this a ground for accusing me of being a poisoner, merely because thos e drugs are capable of killing a man?
My accusers lied -- and very cunning they thought themselves -- when they closed their false accusation by pretending that I had sought for two sea-beasts known by gross names. That fellow Tannonius wished to indicate the nature of the obscenity, but fai led, matchless pleader that he is, owing to his inability to speak. After long hesitation he indicated the name of one of them by means of some clumsy and disgusting circumlocution. The other he found impossible to describe with decency, and evaded the di fficulty by turning to my works and quoting a certain passage from them in which I described the attitude of a statue of Venus.
Or did you think it a particularly clever invention on your part to pretend that I had sought out these two fish for the purpose of using them as magical charms? Remember that it is as absurd an argument to say that these sea-creatures with gross names w ere sought for gross purposes, as to say that the sea-comb is sought for the adornment of the hair, the fish named sea-hawk to catch birds, the fish named the little boar for the hunting of boars, or the sea-skull to raise the dead. My reply to these lyin g fabrications, which are as stupid as they are absurd, is that I have never attempted to acquire these playthings of the sea, these tiny trifles of the shore, either gratis or for money.
You have said that certain objects drawn from the sea have a certain value for gross purposes on account of the similarity of their names. On this analogy why should not a stone be good for diseases of the bladder, a shell for the making of a will, a cra b for a cancer, seaweed for an ague? Really, Claudius Maximus, in listening to these appallingly long-winded accusations to their very close you have shown a patience that is excessive and a kindness which is too long-suffering. For my part when they utte red these charges of theirs, as though they were serious and cogent, while I laughed at their stupidity, I marvelled at your patience.
It is a good thing, Maximus, that this case is being tried before a scholar like yourself, who have read Aristotle's numerous volumes `on the generation, the anatomy, the history of animals', together with his numberless `Problems' and works by others of his school, treating of various subjects of this kind. If it is an honour and glory to them that they should have put on record the results of their careful researches, why should it be disgraceful to me to attempt the like task, especially since I shall attempt to write on those subjects both in Greek and Latin and in a more concise and systematic manner, and shall strive either to make good omissions or remedy mistakes in all these authors?
I beg of you, if you think it worth while, to permit the reading of extracts from my `magic' works, that Aemilianus may learn that my sedulous researches and inquiries have a wider range than he thinks. Bring a volume of my Greek works -- some of my frie nds who are interested in questions of natural history may perhaps have them with them in court -- take by preference one of those dealing with problems of natural philosophy, and from among those that volume in particular which treats of the race of fish . While he is looking for the book, I will tell you a story which has some relevance to this case.
Have you found the book? Thank you. Let us try now whether what I write may serve me in good stead in a law-court. Read a few lines at the beginning, then some details concerning the fish. And do you while he reads stop the water-clock. [...]
I will ask that a few of my Latin writings dealing with the same science may be read, in which you will notice some rare pieces of knowledge and names but little known to the Romans; indeed they have never been produced before today, but yet thanks to my toil and study they have been so translated from the Greek, that in spite of their strangeness they are none the less of Latin mintage. Do you deny this, Aemilianus? If so, let your advocates tell me in what Latin author they have ever before read such w ords as those which I will cause to be recited to you. I will mention only aquatic animals, nor will I make any reference to other animals save in connexion with the characteristics which distinguish them from aquatic creatures. Listen then to what I say. You will cry out at me saying that I am giving you a list of magic names such as are used in Egyptian or Babylonian rites. Selacheia, malacheia, malakostraka, chondrakantha, ostrakoderma, karcharodonta, amphibia, lepidôta, pholidôta, dermo ptera, steganopoda, monèrè, sunagelastika -- I might continue the list, but it is not worth wasting time over such trifles, and I need time to deal with other charges. Meanwhile read out my translation into Latin of the few names I have just given you. [...]
Quintus Ennius wrote a poem on dainties: he there enumerates countless
species of fish, which of course he had carefully studied. I remember a few
lines and will recite them:
Clipea's sea-weasels are of all the best, for `mice' the place is Aenus; oysters rough in greatest plenty from Abydos come. The sea-comb's found at Mitylene and Ambracian Charadrus, and I praise Brundisian sargus: take him, if he's big. Know that Tarentum's small sea-boar is prime; the sword-fish at Surrentum thou shouldst buy; Blue fish at Cumae. What! Have I passed by Scarus? The brain of Jove is not less sweet. You catch them large and good off Nestor's home. Have I passed by the black-tail and the `thrush', the sea-merle and the shadow of the sea? Best to Corcyra go for cuttle-fish, for the acarne and the fat sea-skull the purple-fish, the little murex too, mice of the sea and the sea-urchin sweet.He glorified many fish in other verses, stating where each was to be found and whether they were best fried or stewed, and yet he is not blamed for it by the learned. Spare then to blame me, who describe things known to few under elegant and appropriate n ames both in Greek and Latin.
`But,' says my adversary, `for what purpose save evil did you dissect the fish brought you by your servant Themison?' As if I had not told you just now that I write treatises on the organs of all kind of animals, describing the place, number and purpose of their various parts, diligently investigating Aristotle's works on anatomy and adding to them where necessary. I am, therefore, greatly surprised that you are only aware of my having inspected one small fish, although I have actually inspected a very l arge number under all circumstances wherever I might find them, and have, moreover, made no secret of my researches, but conducted them openly before all the world, so that the merest stranger may, if it please him, stand by and observe me. In this I foll ow the instruction of my masters, who assert that a free man of free spirit should as far as possible wear his thoughts upon his face. Indeed I actually showed this small fish, which you call a sea-hare, to many who stood by.
I do not yet know what name to call it without closer research, since in spite of its rarity and most remarkable characteristics I do not find it described by any of the ancient philosophers. This fish is, as far as my knowledge extends, unique in one re spect, for it contains twelve bones resembling the knuckle-bones of a sucking-pig, linked together like a chain in its belly. Apart from this it is boneless. Had Aristotle known this, Aristotle who records as a most remarkable phenomenon the fact that the fish known as the small sea-ass alone of all fishes has its diminutive heart placed in its stomach, he would assuredly have mentioned the fact.
See, too, how they contradict themselves. They say that I sought my wife in marriage with the help of the black art and charms drawn from the sea at the very time when they acknowledge me to have been in the midmost mountains of Gaetulia, where, I suppos e, Deucalion's deluge has made it possible to find fish! I am, however, glad that they do not know that I have read Theophrastus' `On beasts that bite and sting' and Nicander `On the bites of wild animals'; otherwise they would have accused me of poisonin g as well! As a matter of fact I have acquired a knowledge of these subjects thanks to my reading of Aristotle and my desire to emulate him. I owe something also to the advice of my master Plato, who rays that those who make such investigations as these ` pursue a delightful form of amusement which they will never regret.'
For this we know is the prize of magical incantations, namely divination and prophecy. And this miracle in the case of boys is confirmed not only by vulgar opinion but by the authority of learned men. I remember reading various relations of the kind in t he philosopher Varro, a writer of the highest learning and erudition, but there was the following story in particular. Inquiry was being made at Tralles by means of magic into the probable issue of the Mithridatic war, and a boy who was gazing at an image of Mercury reflected in a bowl of water foretold the future in a hundred and sixty lines of verse. He records also that Fabius, having lost five hundred denarii, came to consult Nigidius; the latter by means of incantations inspired certain boys so that they were able to indicate to him where a pot containing a certain portion of the money had been hidden in the ground, and how the remainder had been dispersed, one denarius having found its way into the possession of Marcus Cato the philosopher. This coi n Cato acknowledged he had received from a certain lackey as a contribution to the treasury of Apollo.
But howsoever these things may be, if any faith is to be put in them, the prophetic boy must, as far as I can understand, be fair and unblemished in body, shrewd of wit and ready of speech, so that a worthy and fair shrine may be provided for the divine indwelling power (if indeed such a power does enter into the boy's body) or that the boy's mind when wakened may quickly apply itself to its inherent powers of divination, find them ready to its use and reproduce their promptings undulled and unimpaired b y any loss of memory. For, as Pythagoras said, not every kind of wood is fit to be carved into the likeness of Mercury.
If that be so, tell me who was that healthy, unblemished, intelligent, handsome boy whom I deemed worthy of initiation into such mysteries by the power of my spells. As a matter of fact, Thallus, whom you nentioned, needs a doctor rather than a magician. For the poor wretch is such a victim to epilepsy that he frequently has fits twice or thrice in one day without the need for any incantations, and exhausts all his limbs with his convulsions. His face is ulcerous, his head bruised in front and behind, hi s eyes are dull, his nostrils distended, his feet stumbling. He may claim to be the greatest of magicians in whose presence Thallus has remained for any considerable time upon his feet. For he is continually lying down, either a seizure or mere weariness causing him to collapse.
I will confess myself guilty of everything, if he has not long since been sent away into the country, far from the sight of all of them, to a distant farm, for fear he should infect the rest of the household. They cannot deny this to be the fact. For the same reason it is impossible for us to produce him here today. The whole of this accusation has been reckless and sudden, and it was only the day before yesterday that Aemilianus demanded that we should produce fifteen slaves before you. The fourteen liv ing in the town are present today. Thallus only is absent owing to the fact that he has been banished to a place some hundred miles distant. However, we have sent a man to bring him here in a carriage.
I ask you, Maximus, to question these fourteen slaves whom we have produced as to where the boy Thallus is and what is the state of his health; I ask you to question my accuser's slaves. They will not deny that this boy is of revolting appearance, that h is body is rotten through and through with disease, that he is liable to fits, and is a barbarian and a clodhopper. This is indeed a handsome boy whom you have selected as one who might fairly be produced at the offering of sacrifice, whom one might touch upon the head and clothe in a fair white cloak in expectation of some prophetic reply from his lips! I only wish he were present. I would have entrusted him to your tender mercies, Aemilianus, and would be ready to hold him myself that you might question him. Here in open court before the judges he would have rolled his wild eyes upon you, he would have foamed at the mouth, spat in your face, drawn in his hands convulsively, shaken his head and fallen at last in a fit into your arms.
Nay, even supposing I had thought it a great achievement to cast an epileptic into a fit, why should I use charms when, as I am told by writers on natural history, the burning of the stone named gagates is an equally sure and easy proof of the disease? F or its scent is commonly used as a test of the soundness or infirmity of slaves even in the slave-market. Again, the spinning of a potter's wheel will easily infect a man suffering from this disease with its own giddiness. For the sight of its rotations w eakens his already feeble mind, and the potter is far more effective than the magician for casting epileptics into convulsions.
You had no reason for demanding that I should produce these slaves; I have good reason for asking you to name those who witnessed that guilty ritual when I cast the moribund Thallus into one of his fits. The only witness you mention is that worthless boy , Sicinius Pudens, in whose name you accuse me. He says that he was present. His extreme youth is no reason why we should reject his sworn evidence, but the fact that he is one of my accusers does detract from his credibility. It would have been easier fo r you, Aemilianus, and your evidence would have carried much more weight, had you said that you were present at the rite and had been mad ever since, instead of entrusting the whole business to the evidence of boys as though it were a mere joke. A boy had a fit, a boy saw him. Was it also some boy that bewitched him?
I might ignore it, but I will go out of my way to challenge it as I have done with all the rest. I want those boys to be produced. I hear they have been bribed by the promise of their liberty to perjure themselves. But I say no more. Only produce them. I demand and insist, Tannonius Pudens, that you should fulfil your promise. Bring forward those boys in whose evidence you put your trust; produce them, name them. You may use the time allotted to my speech for the purpose. Speak, I say, Tannonius. Why are you silent? Why do you hesitate? Why look round? If he does not remember what he has said, or has forgotten his witnesses' names, do you at any rate, Aemilianus, come forward and tell us what instructions you gave your advocate, and produce those boys. W hy do you turn pale? Why are you silent? Is this the way to bring an accusation? Is this the way to indict a man on so serious a charge? Is it not rather an insult to so distinguished a citizen as Claudius Maximus, and a false and slanderous persecution o f myself?
However, if your representative has made a slip in his speech, and there are no such boys to produce, at any rate make some use of the fourteen whom I have brought into court. If you refuse, why did you demand the appearance of such a housefull?
At this point, Maximus, although I have for the present been careful to abstain from praising you, lest I should seem to have flattered you with an eye to winning my case, yet I cannot help praising you for the astuteness of your questions. After they ha d spent much time in discussing these points and asserting that I had bewitched the woman, and after the doctor who was present on that occasion had denied that I had done so, you, with shrewdness more than human, asked them what profit I derived from my incantations They replied, `The woman had a fit.' `What then?' you asked, `Did she die?' `No,' they said. `What is your point then? How did the fact of her having a fit profit Apuleius?'
That third question showed brilliant penetration and persistence. You knew that it was necessary to submit all facts to stringent examination of their causes, that often facts are admitted while motives remain to seek, and that the representatives of lit igants are called pleaders of causes, because they set forth the causes of each particular act. To deny a fact is easy and needs no advocate, but it is far more arduous and difficult a task to demonstrate the rightness or wrongness of a given action. It i s waste of time, therefore, to inquire whether a thing was done, when, even if it were done, no evil motive can be alleged. Under such circumstances, if no criminal motive is forthcoming, a good judge releases the accused from all further vexatious inquir y.
So now, since they have not proved that I either bewitched the woman or caused her to have a fit, I for my part will not deny that I examined her at the request of a physician; and I will tell you, Maximus, why I asked her if she had noises in her ears. I will do this not so much to clear myself of the charge which you, Maximus, have already decided to involve neither blame nor guilt, as to impart to you something worthy of your hearing and interesting to one of your erudition. I will tell you in as few words as possible. I have only to call your attention to certain facts. To instruct you would be presumption.
But if, on the other hand, this dangerous corruption be contained within the body and mingle with the black bile, and so run fiercely through every vein, and then working its way upwards to the head flood the brain with its destructive stream, it straigh tway weakens that royal part of man's spirit which is endowed with the power of reason and is enthroned in the head of man, that is its citadel and palace. For it overwhelms and throws into confusion those channels of divinity and paths of wisdom. During sleep it makes less havoc, but when men are full of meat and wine it makes its presence somewhat unpleasantly felt by a choking sensation, the herald of epilepsy. But if it reaches such strength as to attack the heads of men when they are wide awake, then their minds grow dull with a sudden cloud of stupefaction and they fall to the ground, their bodies swooning as in death, their spirit fainting within them. Men of our race have styled it not only the `Great sickness ' and the `Comitial sickness', but al so the `Divine sickness', in this resembling the Greeks, who call it hiera nosos, the holy sickness. The name is just; for this sickness does outrage to the rational part of the soul, which is by far the most holy.
I have mentioned these things, I have been careful to quote the arguments of renowned philosophers, and to mention the books where they are to be found, and have avoided any reference to the works of physicians or poets, that my adversaries may cease to wonder that philosophers have learnt the causes of remedies and diseases in the natural course of their researches.
Well then, since this woman was brought to be examined by me in the hope that she might be cured, and since it is clear both from the evidence of the physician who brought her and from the arguments I have just set forth that such a course was perfectly right, my opponents must needs assert that it is the part of a magician and evildoer to heal disease, or, if they do not dare to say that, must confess that their accusations in regard to this epileptic boy and woman are false, absurd, and indeed epilepti c.
The words you used in the presence of so grave and perspicacious a judge amounted to something very like this. `Apuleius kept certain things wrapped in a cloth among the household gods in the house of Pontianus. Since I do not know what they were, I ther efore argue that they were magical. I beg you to believe what I say, because I am talking of that of which I know nothing.' What a wonderful argument, in itself an obvious refutation of the charge. `It must have been this, because I do not know what it wa s.' You are the only person hitherto discovered who knows that which he does not know. You so far surpass all others in folly, that whereas philosophers of the most keen and penetrating intellect assert that we should not trust even the objects that we se e, you make statements about things which you have never seen or heard.
If Pontianus still lived and you were to ask him what the cloth contained, he would reply that he did not know. There is the freedman who still has charge of the keys of the place; he is one of your witnesses, but he says that he has never examined these objects, although, as the servant responsible for the books kept there, he opened and shut the doors almost daily, continually entered the room, not seldom in my company but more often alone, and saw the cloth lying on the table unprotected by seal or co rd. Quite natural, was it not? Magical objects were concealed in the cloth, and for that reason I took little care for its safe custody, but left it about anyhow for any one to examine and inspect, if he liked, or even to carry it away! I entrusted it to the custody of others, I left it to others to dispose of at their pleasure!
What credence do you expect us to give you after this? Are we to believe that you, on whom I have never set eyes save in this court, know that of which Pontianus, who actually lived under the same roof, was ignorant? Or shall we believe that you, who hav e never so much as approached the room where they were placed, have seen what the freedman never saw, although he had every opportunity to inspect them during the sedulous performance of his duties?
Suppose that what you never saw was such as you say. Yet, you fool, if this very day you had succeeded in getting that handkerchief into your hands, I should deny the magical nature of whatever you might produce from it.
You will perhaps, as is your wont, say, `What, then, was it that you wrapped in a linen cloth and were so careful to deposit with the household gods?' Really, Aemilianus! Is this the way you accuse your victims? You produce no definite evidence yourself, but ask the accused for explanations of everything.' `Why do you search for fish?' `Why did you examine a sick woman?' `What had you hidden in your handkerchief?' Did you come here to accuse me or to ask me questions? If to accuse me, prove your charges yourself; if to ask questions, do not anticipate the truth by expressing opinions on that concerning which your ignorance compels you to inquire.
If this precedent is followed, if there is no necessity for the accuser to prove anything, but on the contrary he is given every facility for asking questions of the accused, there is not a man in all the world but will be indicted on some charge or othe r. In fact, everything that he has ever done will be used as a handle against any man who is charged with sorcery. Have you written a petition on the thigh of some statue? You are a sorcerer! Else why did you write it? Have you breathed silent prayers to heaven in some temple? You are a sorcerer! Else tell us what you asked for? Or take the contrary line. You uttered no prayer in some temple! You are a sorcerer! Else why did you not ask the gods for something? The same argument will be used if you have ma de some votive dedication, or offered sacrifice, or carried sprigs of some sacred plant. The day will fail me if I attempt to go through all the different circumstances of which, on these lines, the false accuser will demand an explanation. Above all, wha tever object he has kept concealed or stored under lock and key at home will be asserted by the same argument to be of a magical nature, or will be dragged from its cupboard into the light of the law-court before the seat of judgement.
Although I might deny that I had deposited any handkerchief of mine in Pontianus' library, or even admitting that it was true enough that I did so deposit it, I might still deny that there was anything wrapped up in it. If I should take this line, you ha ve no evidence or argument whereby to refute me, for there is no one who has ever handled it, and only one freedman, according to your own assertion, who has ever seen it. Still, as far as I am concerned I will admit the cloth to have been full to burstin g. Imagine yourself, please, to be on the brink of a great discovery, like the comrades of Ulysses who thought they had found a treasure when they stole the bag that contained all the winds. Would you like me to tell you what I had wrapped up in a handker chief and entrusted to the care of Pontianus' household gods? You shall have your will.
I have been initiated into various of the Greek mysteries, and preserve with the utmost care certain emblems and mementoes of my initiation with which the priests presented me. There is nothing abnormal or unheard of in this. Those of you here present wh o have been initiated into the mysteries of father Liber alone, know what you keep hidden at home, safe from all profane touch and the object of your silent veneration. But I, as I have said, moved by my religious fervour and my desire to know the truth, have learned mysteries of many a kind, rites in great number, and diverse ceremonies. This is no invention on the spur of the moment; nearly three years since, in a public discourse on the greatness of Aesculapius delivered by me during the first days of my residence at Oea, I made the same boast and recounted the number of the mysteries I knew. That discourse was thronged, has been read far and wide, is in all men's hands, and has won the affections of the pious inhabitants of Oea not so much through any eloquence of mine as because it treats of Aesculapius.
Will anyone, who chances to remember it, repeat the beginning of that particular passage in my discourse? [...] You hear, Maximus, how many voices supply the words. I will order this same passage to be read aloud, since by the courteous expression of your face you show that you will not be displeased to hear it. [...]
And yet I know that some persons, among them that fellow Aemilianus, think it a good jest to mock at things divine. For I learn from certain men of Oea who know him, that to this day he has never prayed to any god or frequented any temple, while if he ch ances to pass any shrine, he regards it as a crime to raise his hand to his lips in token of reverence. He has never given firstfruits of crops or vines or flocks to any of the gods of the farmer, who feed him and clothe him; his farm holds no shrine, no holy place, nor grove. But why do I speak of groves or shrines? Those who have been on his property say they never saw there one stone where offering of oil has been made, one bough where wreaths have been hung. As a result, two nicknames have been given him: he is called Charon, as I have said, on account of his truculence of spirit and of countenance, but he is also -- and this is the name he prefers -- called Mezentius, because he despises the gods. I therefore find it the easier to understand that he should regard my list of initiations in the light of a jest. It is even possible that, thanks to his rejection of things divine, he may be unable to induce himself to believe that it is true that I guard so reverently so many emblems and relics of mysteri ous rites.
But what Mezentius may think of me, I do not care a straw; to others I make this announcement clearly and unshrinkingly: if any of you that are here present had any part with me in these same solemn ceremonies, give a sign and you shall hear what it is I keep thus. For no thought of personal safety shall induce me to reveal to the uninitiated the secrets that I have received and sworn to conceal.
You heard them read from a written deposition, the evidence of a gorging brute, a hopeless glutton, named Junius Crassus, that I performed certain nocturnal rites at his house in company with my friend Appius Quintianus, who had taken lodgings there. Thi s, mark you, Crassus says that he discovered (in spite of the fact that he was as far away as Alexandria at the time!) from finding the feathers of birds and traces of the smoke of a torch. I suppose that while he was enjoying a round of festivities at Al exandria -- for Crassus is one who is ready even to encroach upon the daylight with his gluttonies -- I suppose, I say, that there from his reeking-tavern he espied, with eye keen as any fowler's, feathers of birds wafted towards him from his house, and s aw the smoke of his home rising far off from his ancestral rooftree. If he saw this with his eyes, he saw even further than Ulysses prayed and yearned to see. For Ulysses spent years in gazing vainly from the shore to see the smoke rising from his home, w hile Crassus during a few months' absence from home succeeded, without the least difficulty, in seeing this same smoke as he sat in a wine-shop! If, on the other hand, it was his nose that discerned the smoke, he surpasses hounds and vultures in the keenn ess of his sense of smell. For what hound, what vulture hovering in the Alexandrian sky, could sniff out anything so far distant as Oea? Crassus is, I admit, a gourmand of the first order, and an expert in all the varied flavours of kitchen-smoke, but in view of his love of drinking, his only real title to fame, it would have been easier to reach him at Alexandria for the fumes of his wine rather than the fumes of his chimney.
What an ingenious lie! What a probable invention! That I, had I wished to do anything of the sort, should have done it there rather than in my own house! That Quintianus, who is supporting me here today, and whom I mention with the greatest respect and h onour for the close love that binds him to me, for his deep erudition and consummate e]oquence, that this same Quintianus, supposing him to have dined off some birds or, as they assert, killed them for magical purposes, should have had no slave to sweep u p the feathers and throw them out of doors! Or further that the smoke should have been strong enough to blacken the walls and that Quintianus should have suffered such defacement of his bedroom for as long as he lived there! Nonsense, Aemilianus! T here is no probability in the story, unless indeed Crassus on his return went not to the bedroom, but after his fashion made straight for the kitchen.
And what made his slave suspect that the walls had been blackened by night in particular? Was it the colour of the smoke? Does night smoke differ from day smoke in being darker? And why did so suspicious and conscientious a slave allow Quintianus to leav e the house before having it cleaned? Why did those feathers lie like lead and await the arrival of Crassus for so long? Let not Crassus accuse his slave. It is much more likely that he himself fabricated this mendacious nonsense about feathers and soot, being unable even in his evidence to divorce himself further from his kitchen.
You notice the time of day. I tell you that Crassus has long since been snoring in a drunken slumber or has taken a second bathe and is now evaporating the sweat of intoxication at the bath that he may be equal to a fresh drinking bout after supper. He p resents himself in writing only. That is the way he speaks to you, Maximus. Even he is not so dead to sense of shame as to be able to lie to your face without a blush. But there is perhaps another reason for his absence. He may have been unable to abstain from drunkenness sufficiently long to keep sober against this moment.
Or it may be that Aemilianus took good care not to subject him to your severe and searching gaze, lest you should damn the brute with his close-shaven cheeks and his disgusting appearance by a mere glance at his face, when you saw a young man with his features stripped of the beard and hair that should adorn them, his eyes heavy with wine, his lids swollen, his <...> grin, his slobbering lips, his harsh voice, his trembling hands, his breath reeking of the cook-shop. He has long since devoured his fortune; nothing is left him of his patrimony save a house that serves him for the sale of his false witness, and never did he make a more remunerative contract than he has done with regard to this evidence he offers today. For he sold Aemilianus his dru nken fictions for 3,000 sesterces, as every one at Oea is aware.
I noticed that you also, Maximus, as soon as this written evidence was produced, suspected with your usual acuteness that they had formed a league and conspiracy against me; and I saw from your face that the whole affair excited your disgust. Fina lly my accusers, in spite of their being paragons of audacity and monsters of shamelessness, noticed that Crassus' evidence smelled after faex and did not dare to read it out in full or to build anything upon it. I have mentioned these facts not be cause I am afraid of these dreadful feathers and stains of soot -- least of all with you to judge me -- but that Crassus might meet with due punishment for having sold mere smoke to a helpless rustic like Aemilianus.
Now how can the manufacture of this seal have been secret, as you assert, when you are sufficiently well acquainted with the maker to have summoned him to appear in court? Here is Cornelius Saturninus, the artist, a man whose skill is famous among his to wnsfolk and whose character is above reproach. A little while back, in answer, Maximus, to your careful cross-examination, he explained the whole sequence of events in the most convincing and truthful manner. He said that I visited his shop and, after loo king at many geometrical patterns all carved out of boxwood in the most cunning and ingenious manner, was so much attracted by his skill that I asked him to make me certain mechanical devices and also begged him to make me the image of some god to which I might pray after my custom. The particular god and the precise material I left to his choice, my only stipulation being that it should be made of wood. He therefore first attempted to work in boxwood. Meanwhile, during my absence in the country, Sicinius Pontianus, my step-son, wishing it to be made for me, procured some ebony tablets from that excellent lady Capitolina and brought them to his shop, exhorting him to make what I had ordered out of this rarer and more durable material: such a gift, he said, would be most gratifying to me. Our artist did as Pontianus suggested, as far as the size of the ebony tablets permitted. By careful dove-tailing of minute portions of the tablets he succeeded in making a small figure of Mercury.
All these things have been openly and manifestly proved. What remains, in which any suspicion of sorcery can lie concealed? Nay, what is there that does not absolutely convict you of obvious falsehood? You said that the seal was of secret manufacture, wh ereas Pontianus, a distinguished member of the equestrian order, gave the commission for it. The figure was carved in public by Saturninus as he sat in his shop. He is a man of sterling character and recognized honesty. The work was assisted by the munifi cence of a distinguished married lady, and many both among the slaves and the acquaintances who frequented my house were aware both of the commission for the work and its execution. You were not ashamed falsely to pretend that I had searched high and low for the requisite wood through all the town, although you know that I was absent from Oea at that time, and although it has been proved that I gave a free hand as to the material.
Take it, I beg you, Maximus, and examine it. It is good that a holy thing should be entrusted to hands as pure and pious as yours. See there, how fair it is to view, how full of all a wrestler's grace and vigour! How cheerful is the god's face, how comel y the down that creeps on either side his cheeks, how the curled hair shows upon his head beneath the shadow of his hat's brim, how neatly the tiny pair of pinions project about his brows, how daintily the cloak is drawn about his shoulders! He who dares call this a skeleton, either never sees an image of a god or if he does ignores it. Indeed, he who thinks this to represent a ghost is evoking ghosts.
But we of the family of Plato know naught save what is bright and joyous, majestic and heavenly and of the world above us. Nay, in its zeal to reach the heights of wisdom, the Platonic school has explored regions higher than heaven itself and has stood t riumphant on the outer circumference of this our universe. Maximus knows that I speak truth, for in his careful study of the Phaedrus he has read of the `place being builded on heaven's back.' Maximus also clearly understands -- I am now going to reply to your accusation about the name -- who he is whom not I but Plato was first to call the `King'. `All things,' he says, `depend upon the King of all things and for him only all things exist.' Maximus knows who that `King' is, even the cause and reason and primal origin of all nature, the lord and father of the soul, the eternal saviour of all that lives, the unwearying builder of his world. Yet he builds without labour, yet he saves without care, he is father without begetting, he knows no limitation of sp ace or time or change, and therefore few may conceive and none may tell of his power.
About the name I have said enough for the present. For the rest I know that
some of my audience are anxious to hear why I wanted the figure made not of
silver or gold, but only of wood, though I think that their desire springs not
so much from their anxi ety to see me cleared of guilt as from eagerness for
knowledge. They would like to have this last doubt removed, even although they
see that I have amply rebutted all suspicion of any crime. Listen, then, you
who would know, but listen with all the sharpn ess and attention that you may,
for you are to hear the very words that Plato wrote in his old age in the last
book of the Laws.
The man of moderate means when he makes offerings to the gods should do so in proportion to his means. Now, earth and the household hearths of all men are holy to all the gods. Let no one therefore dedicate any shrines to the gods over and above these.He forbids this with the purpose of preventing men from venturing to build private shrines; for he thinks that the public temples suffice his citizens for the purposes of sacrifice. He then continues,
Gold and silver in other cities, whether in the keeping of private persons or of temples, are invidious possessions; ivory taken from a body wherefrom the life has passed is not a welcome offering; iron and bronze are instruments of war. Whatsoever a man dedicates, let it be of wood and wood only, or if it be of stone, of stone only.The general murmur of assent shows, Maximus, and you, gentlemen, who have the honour to assist him, that I am adjudged to have made admirable use of Plato, not only as a guide in life, but as an advocate in court, to whose laws, as you see, I ob ey.
Disappointment and envy are the sole causes that have involved me in this trial, and even before that gathered many mortal perils about my path. What motiva for resentment has Aemilianus against me, even assuming him to be correctly informed when he accu ses me of magic? No least word of mine has ever injured him in such a way as to give him the appearance of pursuing a just revenge. It is certainly no lofty ambition that prompts him to accuse me, ambition such as fired Marcus Antonius to accuse Cnaeus Ca rbo, Caius Mucius to accuse Aulus Albucius, Publius Sulpicius to accuse Cnaeus Norbanus, Caius Furius to accuse Marcus Aquilius, Caius Curio to accuse Quintus Metellus. They were young men of admirable education and were led by ambition to undertake these accusations as the first step in a forensic career, that by the conduct of some `cause célèbre' they might make themselves a name among their fellow citizens. This privilege was conceded by antiquity to young men just entering public life as a means of w inning glory for their youthful genius. The custom has long since become obsolete, but even if the practice were still common, it would not apply to Aemilianus. It would not have been becoming to him to make any display of his eloquence, for he is rude an d unlettered; nor to show a passion for renown, since he is a mere barbarian bumpkin; nor thus to open his career as an advocate, for he is an old man on the brink of the grave. The only hypothesis creditable to him would be that he is perhaps giving an e xample of his austerity of character and has undertaken this accusation through sheer hatred of wrongdoing and to assert his own integrity. But I should hardly accept such an hypothesis even in the case of a greater Aemilianus, not our African friend here , but the conqueror of Africa and Numantia, who held, moreover, the office of censor at Rome. Much less will I believe that this dull blockhead, I will not say, hates sin, but recognizes it when he sees it.
Well, there are five points which I must discuss. If I remember aright, their accusations as regards Pudentilla were as follows. Firstly, they said that after the death of her first husband she resolutely set her face against re-marriage, but was seduced by my incantations. Secondly, there are her letters, which they regard as an admission that I used sorcery. Thirdly and fourthly, they object that she made a lovematch at the advanced age of sixty and that the marriage contract was sealed not in the town but at a country house. Lastly, there is the most invidious of all these accusations, namely, that which concerns the dowry. It is into this charge they have put all their force and all their venom; it is this that vexes them most of all. They assert tha t at the very outset of our wedded life I forced my devoted wife in the absolute seclusion of her country house to make over to me a large dowry.
I will show that all these statements are so false, so worthless, so unsubstantial, and I shall refute them so easily and unquestionably, that in good truth, Maximus, and you, gentlemen, his assessors, I fear you may think that I have suborned my accuser s to bring these charges, that I might have the opportunity of publicly dispelling the hatred of which I am the victim. I will ask you to believe now what you will understand when the facts are before you, that I shall need to put out all my streng th to prevent you from thinking that such a baseless accusation is a cunning device of my own rather than a stupid enterprise of my enemies.
Aemilia Pudentilla, now my wife, was once the wife of a certain Sicinius Amicus. By him she had two sons, Pontianus and Pudens. These two boys were left by their father's death under the guardianship of their paternal grandfather -- for Amicus predecease d his father -- and were brought up by their mother with remarkable care and affection for about fourteen years. She was in the flower of her age, and it was not of her own choosing that she remained a widow for so long. But the boys' grandfather was eage r that she should, in spite of her reluctance, take his son, Sicinius Clarus, for her second husband and with this in view kept all other suitors at a distance. He further threatened her that if she married elsewhere he would by his will exclude her sons from the possession of any of their father's heritage. When she saw that nothing could move him to alter the condition that he had laid down, such was her wisdom, and so admirable her maternal affection, that to prevent her sons' interests suffering any d amage in this respect, she made a contract of marriage with Sicinius Clarus in accordance with her father-in-law's bidding, but by various evasions managed to avoid the marriage until the boys' grandfather died, leaving them as his heirs, with the result that Pontianus, the elder son, became his brother's guardian.
There were many who welcomed this recommendation, but none more so than that fellow Aemilianus, who a little while back asserted with the most unhesitating mendacity that Pudentilla had never thought of marriage until I compelled her to be mine by my exe rcise of the black art; that I alone had been found to outrage the virgin purity of her widowhood by incantations and love philtres. I have often heard it said with truth that a liar should have a good memory. Had you forgotten, Aemilianus, that before I came to Oea, you wrote to her son Pontianus, who had then attained to man's estate and was pursuing his studies at Rome, suggesting that she should marry?
Give me the letter, or better give it to Aemilianus and let him refute himself in his own voice with his own words. Is this your letter? Why do you turn pale? We know you are past blushing. Is this your signature? Read a little louder, please, that all m ay realize how his written words belie his speech and how much more he is at variance with himself than with me. [...]
And of course, if she had wedded Clarus, a boorish and decrepit old man, you would have asserted that she had long desired to marry him of her own free will without the intervention of any magic. But now that she has married a young man of the elegance w hich you attribute to him, you say that she had always refused to marry and must have done so under compulsion! You did not know, you villain, that the letter you had written on the subject was being preserved, you did not know that you would be convicted by your own testimony. The fact is that Pudentilla, knowing your changeableness and unreliability no less than your shamelessness and mendacity, rather than forward the letter preferred to keep it as clear evidence of your intentions.
Furthermore, she wrote a letter of her own on the same subject to her son Pontianus at Rome, in which she gave full reasons for her determination. She told him pretty fully about the state of her health; there was no longer any reason for her to p ersist in remaining a widow; she had so remained for thus long and had sacrificed her health solely to procure him the inheritance of his grandfather's fortune, a fortune to which she had by the exercise of the greatest care made considerable additions; P ontianus himself was now by the grace of heaven ripe for marriage and his brother for the garb of manhood; she begged them to suffer her at length to solace her lonely existence and to relieve her ill health; they need have no fears as to her final choice or as to her motherly affection; she would still be as a wife what she had been as a widow. I will order a copy of this letter to her son to be read aloud. (...)
She was indeed guided in making her choice less by her personal inclination than by the advice of her son, a fact which Aemilianus cannot deny. For Pontianus on receiving his mother's letter hastily flew hither from Rome, fearing that, if the man of her choice proved to be avaricious, she might, as often happens, transfer her whole fortune to the house of her new husband. This anxiety tormented him not a little. All his own expectations of wealth together with those of his brother depended on his mother. His grandfather had left but a moderate fortune, his mother possessed 4,000,000 sesterces. Of this sum, it is true, she owed a considerable portion to her sons, but they had no security for this, relying, naturally enough, on her word alone. He gave but silent expression to his fears; he did not venture to show any open opposition for fear of seeming to distrust her.
It would take too long -- even if I were willing to tell you what I replied and how long and how frequently we conversed on the subject, with how many pressing entreaties he plied me, never ceasing until he finally won my consent. I had had ample opportu nity for observing Pudentilla's character, for I had lived for a whole year continually in her company and had realized how rich was her endowment of good qualities; but my desire for travel led me to desire to refuse the match as an impediment. But I soo n began to love her for her virtues as ardently as though I had wooed her of my own initiative. Pontianus had also persuaded his mother to give me the preference over all her other suitors, and showed extraordinary eagerness for the marriage to take place at the earliest possible date. We could scarcely induce him to consent to the very briefest postponement to such time as he himself should have taken a wife and his brother in due course have assumed the garb of manhood. That done, we would be married at once.
This is the man who poisoned that worthless boy against me, who is the prime mover in this accusation, who has hired advocates and bought witnesses. This is the furnace in which all this calumny has been forged, this the firebrand, this the scourge that has driven Aemilianus here to his task. He makes it his boast before all men in the most extravagant language that it is through his machinations that my indictment has been procured. In truth he has some reason for self-congratulation. For he is the orga nizer of every lawsuit, the deviser of every perjury, the architect of every lie, the seed-ground of every wickedness, the habitation of lust and gluttony, a brothel and a house of whores; the mark of every scandal since his earliest years; in boyhood, ere he became so hideously bald, the ready servant of his pederasts in the vilest vices; in youth a stage dancer limp and nerveless enough in all conscience, but, they tell me, clumsy and inartistic in his very effeminacy. He is said not to have possessed a single quality that should distinguish an actor, except for his indecency.
What else should the wretch do? He has lost a considerable fortune, though I admit that he only got that fortune unexpectedly through a fraudulent transaction on the part of his father. The latter, having borrowed money from a number of persons, preferre d to keep their money at the cost of his own good name. Bills poured in on every side with demands for payment. Every one that met him laid hands on him as though he were a madman. `Steady, now!' he says, stating that he cannot pay. So he resigned his golden rings and all the badges of his position in society and thus came to terms with his creditors. But he had by a most ingenious fraud transferred the greater part of his property to his wife, and so, although he himself was needy, ill-clad and pr otected by the very depth of his fall, managed to leave this same Rufinus -- I am telling you the truth and nothing but the truth -- no less than 3,000,000 sesterces to be squandered on riotous living. This was the sum that came to him unencumbered from h is mother's property, over and above the daily dowry brought him by his wife. Yet all this money has been ravenously devoured by this glutton in a few short years, all this fortune has been destroyed by the infinite variety of his gormandizing; so that yo u might really think him to be afraid of seeming in any way to be the gainer by his father's dishonesty. This honourable fellow actually took care that what had been ill-gained should be ill-spent, nor was anything left him from his too ample fortune, sav e his depraved ambition and his boundless appetite.
And so his new bride came to him, not as other brides come, but unabashed and undismayed, her virtue lost, her modesty gone, her bridal-veil a mockery. Cast off by her previous lover, she brought to her wedding the name without the purity of a maid. She rode in a litter carried by eight slaves. You who were present saw how impudently she made eyes at all the young and how immodestly she flaunted her charms. Who did not recognize her mother's pupil, when they saw her dyed lips, her rouged cheeks, and her lascivious eyes? Her dowry was borrowed, every penny of it, on the eve of her wedding, and was indeed greater than could be expected of so large and impoverished a family.
To be brief, he so wrought upon the simple-minded young man, who was, moreover, a slave to the charms of his new bride, as to mould him to his will and move him from his purpose. Pontianus went to his mother and told her what Rufinus had said to him. But he made no impression on her steadfast character. On the contrary, she rebuked him for his fickleness and inconstancy, and it was no pleasant news he took back to his father-in-law. His mother had shown a firmness of purpose not to be expected of one of her placid disposition, and to make matters worse, his expostulations had made her angry, which was likely seriously to increase her obstinacy; in fact, she had finally replied, that it was no secret to her that his expostulations were instigated by Rufin us, a fact which made the support and assistance of a husband against his desperate greed all the more necessary to her.
But I am digressing. Pudentilla, seeing to her astonishment that her son had fallen lower than she could have deemed possible, went into the country and by way of rebuke wrote him the notorious letter, in which, according to my accusers, she confessed th at my magical practices had made her lose her reason and fall in love with me. And yet, Maximus, the day before yesterday at your command I took a copy of the letter in the presence of witnesses and of Pontianus' secretary. Aemilianus also was there and c ountersigned the copy. What is the result? In contradiction to my accusers' assertion everything is found to tell in my favour.
If your principle be followed, and whatever any one may have written in a letter under the influence of love or hatred be admitted as proof, many a man will be indicted on the wildest charges. `Pudentilla called you a magician in her letter; therefore yo u are a magician!' If she had called me a consul, would that make me one? What if she had called me a painter, a doctor, or even an innocent man? Would you accept any of these statements, simply because she had made them? You would accept none of them. Ye t it is a gross injustice to believe a person when he speaks evil of another and to refuse to believe him when he speaks well. It is a gross injustice that a letter should have power to destroy and not to save. - `But,' says my accuser, `she was out of he r wits, she loved you distractedly.' I will grant it for the moment. But are all persons, who are the objects of love, magicians, just because the person in love with them chances to say so in a letter? If, indeed, Pudentilla wrote in a letter to another person what would clearly be prejudicial to myself, I think she could hardly have been in love with me at the moment in question.
I will read out the letter which gives crying witness to a very different state of things and might indeed have been specially prepared to suit this particular trial. Take it and read it out until I interrupt. [...]
Stop a moment before you go on to what follows. We have come to the crucial point. So far, Maximus, as far at any rate as I have noticed, the lady has made no mention of magic, but has merely repeated in the same order the statements which I quoted a sho rt time ago about her long widowhood, the proposed remedy for her ill health, her desire to marry, the good report she had heard of me from Pontianus, his own advice that she should marry me in preference to others.
Maximus, you have heard much from the lips of others, you have learned yet more by reading, and your own personal experience has taught you not a little. But you will say that never yet have you come across such insidious cunning or such marvellous dexte rity in crime. What Palamedes, what Sisyphus, what Eurybates or Phrynondas could ever have devised such guile? All those whom I have mentioned, together with all the notorious deceivers of history, would seem mere clowns and pantaloons, were they to attem pt to match this one single instince of Rufinus' craftiness. O miracle of lies! O subtlety worthy of the prison and the stocks! Who could imagine that what was written as a defence could without the alteration of a single letter be transformed into an acc usation! Good God! it is incredible. But I will make clear to you how the incredible came to pass.
Apuleius is a magician and has bewitched me to love him! Come to me, then, while I am still in my senses.These words, which I have quoted in Greek, have been selected by Rufinus and separated from their context. He has taken them round as a confession on the part of Pudentilla, and, with Pontianus at his side all dissolved in tears, has shown them through al l the market-place, allowing men only to read that portion which I have just cited and suppressing all that comes before and after. His excuse was that the rest of the letter was too disgusting to be shown; it was sufficient that publicity should be given to Pudentilla's confession as to my sorcery.
What was the result? Everyone thought it probable enough. That very letter, which was written to clear my character, excited the most violent hatred against me amongst those who did not know the facts. This foul villain went rushing about in the midst of the market-place like any bacchanal; he kept opening the letter and proclaiming, `Apuleius is a sorcerer! She herself describes her feelings and her sufferings! What more do you demand?' There was no one to take my part and reply, `Give us the whole lett er, please! Let me see it all, let me read it from beginning to end. There are many things which, produced apart from their context, may seem open to a slanderous inter-pretation. Any speech may be attacked, if a passage depending for its sense on what ha s preceded be robbed of its commencement, or if phrases be expunged at will from the place they logically occupy, or if what is written ironically be read out in such a tone as to make it seem a defamatory statement.'
With what justice this protest or words to that effect might have been
uttered the actual order of the letter will show.
For since I desired to marry for the reasons of which I told you, you persuaded me to choose Apuleius in preference to all others, since you had a great admiration for him and were eager through me to become yet more intimate with him. But now that certai n ill-natured persons have brought accusations against us and attempt to dissuade you, Apuleius has suddenly become a magician and has bewitched me to love him! Come to me, then, while I am still in my senses.I ask you, Maximus, if letters -- some of which are actually called vocal -- could find a voice, if words, as poets say, could take them wings and fly, would they not, when Rufinus first made disingenuous excerpts from that letter, read but a few lines an d deliberately said nothing of much that bore a more favourable meaning, would not the remaining letters have cried out that they were unjustly kept out of sight? Would not the words suppressed by Rufinus have flown from his hands and filled the whole mar ket-place with tumult: `they too had been sent by Pudentilla, they too had been entrusted with something to say; men should not give ear to a dishonest villain attempting to prove a lie by means of another's letter, but rather listen to them; Pu dentilla never accused Apuleius of magic, while Rufinus' accusation was tantamount to an acquittal.' All these things were not said then, but now, when they are of more effectual service to me, their truth appears clearer than day. Rufinus, your cunni ng stands revealed, your fraud stares us in the face, your lies are laid bare; truth dethroned for a while rises once more and transcends slander as if from a bottomless pit.
I am not bewitched, I am not in love; it is my destiny.Would you have anything more? Pudentilla throws your words in your teeth and publicly vindicates her sanity against your slanderous aspersions. The motive or necessity of her marriage, whichever it was, she now ascribes to fate, and between fate and magic there is a great gulf, indeed they have absolutely nothing in common. For if it be true that the destiny of each created thing is like a fierce torrent that may neither be stayed nor diverted, what power is left for magic drugs or incantations? Pudentill a, therefore, not only denied that I was a magician, but denied the very existence of magic. It is a good thing that Pontianus, following his usual custom, kept his mother's letter safe in its entirety: it is a good thing that the speed with which this ca se has been hurried on left you no opportunity for adding to that letter at your leisure. For this I have to thank you and your foresight, Maximus. You saw through their slanders from the beginning and hurried on the case that they might not gather streng th as the days went by; you gave them no breathing space and wrecked their designs.
Suppose now that the mother, after her wont, had made confession of her passion for me in some private letter to her son. Was it just, Rufinus, was it consistent, I will not say with filial piety but with common humanity, that these letters should be cir culated and, above all, published and proclaimed abroad by her own son? But perhaps I am no better than a fool to ask you to have regard for another's sense of decency when you have so long lost your own.
Is this the gratitude with which a dutiful son like yourself repays his mother for the life she gave him, for the inheritance she won him for her long fourteen years of seclusion? Is the result of your uncle's teaching this, that, if you were sure your s ons would be like yourself, you should be afraid to take a wife? There is a well-known line
I hate the boy that's wise before his time.Yes, and who would not loathe and detest a boy that is `wicked before his time,' when he sees you, like some frightful portent, old in sin but young in years, with the bodily powers of a boy, yet deep in guilt, with the bright face of a child, but with wi ckedness such as might match grey hairs? Nay, the most offensive thing about him is that his pernicious deeds go scot free; he is too young to punish, yet old enough to do injury. Injury, did I say? No! crime, unfilial, black, monstrous, intolerable crime !
But you have also dared to submit a letter of your own to be read, a letter written about your mother in outrageously disrespectful, abwive, and unseemly language, written too at a time when you were still being brought up under her loving care. This let ter you sent secretly to Pontianus, and you have now produced it to avoid the reproach of having sinned only once and to make sure that he could catch a glance of your good deed! Poor fool, do you not realize that your uncle permitted you to do thi s, that he might clear himself in public estimation by using your letter as proof that even before you migrated to his house, even at the time when you caressed your mother with false words of love, you were already as cunning as any fox and devoid of all filial affection?
There is also that forged letter by which they attempted to prove that I beguiled Pudentilla with flattery. I never wrote it and the forgery is not even plausible. What need did I have of flattery, if I put my trust in magic? And how did they secure poss ession of that letter which must, as is usual in such affairs, have been sent to Pudentilla by some confidential servant? Why, again, should I write in such faulty words, such barbarous language, I whom my accusers admit to be quite at home in Greek? And why should I seek to seduce her by flattery so absurd and coarse? They themselves admit that I write amatory verse with sufficient sprightliness and skill. The explanation is obvious to everyone; it is this: he who could not read the letter which Pudentil la wrote in Greek altogether too refined for his comprehension, found it easier to read this letter and set it off to greater advantage because it was his own.
One more point and I shall have said enough about the letters. Pudentilla, after writing in jest and irony those words `Come then, while I am yet in my senses,' sent for her sons and her daughter-in-law and lived with them for about two months. I beg thi s most dutiful of sons to tell us whether he then noticed his mother's alleged madness to have affected for the worse either her words or her deeds. Let him deny that she showed the utmost shrewdness in her examination of the accounts of the bailiffs, gro oms, and shepherds, that she earnestly warned his brother Pontianus to be on his guard against the designs of Rufinus, that she rebuked him severely for having freely published the letter she had sent him without having read it honestly as it was written! Let him deny that, after what I have just related to you, his mother married me in her country house, as had been agreed some time previously!
I must say that I am surprised that you object so strongly to the country house, considering that you spend most of your time in the country. The Julian marriage-law nowhere contains a clause such as `no man shall wed in a country house.' Indeed, if you would know the truth, it is of far better omen for the expectation of offspring that one should marry one's wife in a country house in preference to the town, on rich soil in preference to barren ground, on the greensward of the meadow rather than the pavement of the market-place. She that would be a mother should marry in the very bosom of her mother, among the standing crops, on the fruitful ploughland, or she should lie beneath the elm that weds the vine, on the very lap of mother earth, among t he springing herbage, the trailing vine-shoots and the budding trees. I may add that the metaphor in the line so well known in comedy
that in the furrow children true be sownbears out this view most strongly. The ancient Romans also, such as Quintius, Serranus and many others, were offered not only wives but consulships and dictatorships in the open field. On such an abundant topic, I will restrain myself for fear of g ratifying you by my praise of country life.
Her father acknowledged her for his daughter in the usual fashion; the documents in which he did so are preserved partly in the public record office, partly in his house. Here they are before your very eyes. Please hand the documents to Aemilianus. Let h im examine the linen strip that bears the seal; let him recognize the seal stamped upon it, let him read the names of the consuls for the year, let him count up the years. He gave her sixty years. Let him bring out the total at fifty-five, admitting that he lied and gave her five too many. Nay, that is hardly enough. I will deal yet more liberal]y with him. He gave Pudentilla such a number of years that I will reward him by returning ten. Mezentius has been wandering with Ulysses; let him at least prove t hat she is fifty.
To cut the matter short, as I am dealing with an accuser who is used to multiplying by four, I will multiply five years by four and subtract twenty years at one fell swoop. I beg you, Maximus, to order the number of consuls since her birth to be reckoned . If I am not mistaken, you will find that Pudentilla has barely passed her fortieth year. The insolent audacity of this falsehood! Twenty years' exile would be a worthy punishment for such mendacity! Your fiction has added a good half to the sum, your fa brication is one and a half times the size of the original. Had you said thirty years when you ought to have said ten, it might have been supposed that you had made a slip in the gesture used for your calculation, that you had placed your fore-finger agai nst the middle joint of your thumb, when you should have made them form a circle. But whereas the gesture indicating forty is the simplest of all such gestures, for you have merely to hold out the palm of your hand -- you have increased the number by half as much again. There is no room for an erroneous gesture; the only possible hypothesis is that, believing Pudentilla to be thirty, you got your total by adding up the number of consuls, two to each year.
I am well aware that many persons, when accused of some crime or other, even if it has been shown that there was some real motive for the offence, have amply cleared themselves of guilt by this one line of defence, that the whole record of their lives re nders the suspicion of such a crime incredible and that even though there may have been strong temptation to sin, the mere fact of the existence of the temptation should not be counted against them. We have no right to assume that everything that might ha ve been done actually has been done. Circumstances may alter; the one true guide is a man's character; the one sure indication that a charge should be rejected or believed is the fact that through all his life the accused has set his face towards vice or virtue as the case may be.
I might with the utmost justice put in such a plea for myself, but I waive my right in your favour, and shall think that I have made out but a poor case for myself, if I merely clear myself of all your charges, if I merely show that there exists n ot the slightest ground for suspecting me of sorcery. Consider what confidence in my innocence and what contempt of you is implied by my conduct. If you can discover one trivial reason that might have led me to woo Pudentilla for the sake of some personal advantage, if you can prove that I have made the very slightest profit out of my marriage, I am ready to be any magician you please -- the great Carmendas himself or Damigeron or Moses , or Jannes or Apollobex or Dardanus himself or any sorcerer of note from the time of Zoroaster and Ostanes till now.
I do not intend to weary you Maximus, with a long reply on these points. There is no need for words from me, our deeds of settlement will speak more eloquently than I can do. From them you will see that both in my provision for the future and in my actio n at the time my conduct was precisely the opposite of that which they have attributed to me, inferring my rapacity from their own. You will see that Pudentilla's dowry was small, considering her wealth, and was made over to me as a trust, not as a gift, and moreover that the marriage only took place on this condition that if my wife should die without leaving me any children, the dowry should go to her sons Pontianus and Pudens, while if at her death she should leave me one son or daughter, half of the d owry was to go to the offspring of the second marriage, the remainder to the sons of the first.
Who that had the least experience of life, would dare to pass any censure if a widow of inconsiderable beauty and considerable age, being desirous of marriage, had by the offer of a large dowry and easy conditions invited a young man, who, whether as reg ards appearance, character or wealth, was no despicable match, to become her husband? A beautiful maiden, even though she is poor, is amply dowered. For she brings to her husband a fresh untainted spirit, the charm of her beauty, the unblemished gl ory of her prime. The very fact that she is a maiden is rightly and deservedly regarded by all husbands as the strongest recommendation. For whatever else you receive as your wife's dowry you can, when it pleases you and if you desire to feel yourself und er no further obligation, repay in full just as you received it; you can count back the money, restore the slaves, leave the howe, abandon the estates. Virginity only, once it has been given, can never be repaid; it is the one portion of the dowry that re mains irrevocably with the husband.
A widow on the other hand, if divorced, leaves you as she came. She brings you nothing that she cannot ask back, she has been another's and is certainly far from tractable to your wishes; she looks suspiciously on her new home, while you regard her with suspicion because she has already been parted from one husband: if it was by death she lost her husband, the evil omen of her ill-starred union minimizes her attractions, while, if she left him by divorce, she possesses one of two faults: either she was s o intolerable that she was divorced by her husband, or so insolent as to divorce him. It is for reasons of this kind among others that widows offer a larger dowry to attract suitors for their hands. Pudentilla would have done the same had she not found a philosopher indifferent to her dowry.
But as a matter of fact I did all I could to promote, to restore and foster quiet and harmony and family affection, and not only abstained from sowing fresh feuds, but utterly extinguished those already in existence. I urged my wife -- whose whole fortun e according to my accusers I had by this time devoured -- I urged her and finally persuaded her, when her sons demanded back the money of which I spoke above, to pay over the whole sum at once in the shape of farms, at a low valuation and at the price sug gested by themselves, and further to surrender from her own private property certain exceedingly fertile lands, a large house richly decorated, a great quantity of wheat, barley, wine and oil, and other fruits of the earth, together with not less than fou r hundred slaves and a large number of valuable cattle. Finally I persuaded her to abandon all claims on the portion she had given them and to give them good hopes of one day coming into the rest of the property. All these concessions I extorted from Pude ntilla with difficulty and against her will -- I have her leave to tell the whole story as it happened -- I wrung them from her by my urgent entreaty, though she was angry and reluctant. I reconciled the mother with her sons, and began my career as a step -father by enriching my step-sons with a large sum of money.
Pontianus together with his very inferior brother had come to visit us, before his mother had completed her donation. He fell at our feet and implored us to forgive and forget all his past offences; he wept, kissed our hands and expressed his penitence f or listening to Rufinus and others like him. He also most humbly begged me to make his excuses to the most honourable Lollianus Avitus to whom I had recommended him not long before when he was beginning the study of oratory. He had discovered that I had w ritten to Avitus a few days previously a full account of all that had happened. I granted him this request also and gave him a letter with which he set off to Carthage, where Lollianus Avitus, the term of his proconsulate having neariy expired, was awaiti ng your arrival, Maximus. After reading my letters he congratulated Pontianus with the exquisite courtesy which always characterizes him for having so soon rectified his error and entrusted him with a reply. Ah! what learning! what wit! what grace and cha rm dwelt in that reply! Only a `good man and an orator' could have written it.
I know, Maximus, that you will readily give a hearing to this letter. Indeed, if it is to be read, I will recite it myself. Give me Avitus' letter. That I should have received it has always flattered me. Today it shall do more than flatter, it shall save me! You may let the water-clock continue, for I would gladly read and re-read the letter of that excellent man to the third and fourth time at the cost of any amount of the time allowed me. [...]
I see, Maximus, with what pleasure you listen to the recital of the virtues which you recognize your friend Avitus to possess. Your courtesy invited me to say a few words about him. But I will not trespass on your kindness so far as to permit myself to c ommence a discourse on his extraordinary virtues at this period of the case. It is wearing to its end and my powers are almost exhausted. I will rather reserve the praise of Avitus' virtues for some day when my time is free and my powers unimpaired.
Suppose I had read a report of what took place in Avitus' presence instead of reading merely his letter. What is there in the whole affair that could give you or [anyone else] a handle for accusing me? Pontianus himself considered himself in my de bt for the money given him by his mother; Pontianus rejoiced with the utmost sincerity in his good fortune in having me for his step-father. Ah! would that he had returned from Carthage safe and sound! Or since it was not fated that that should be, would that you, Rufinus, had not poisoned his judgement at the last! What gratitude he would have expressed to me either personally or in his will! However, as things are, I beg you, Maximus, -- it will not take long -- to allow the reading of these letters ful l of expressions of respect and affection for myself, which he sent me, some of them from Carthage, some as he drew near on his homeward journey, some written while he still enjoyed his health, and some when the sickness was already upon him. Thus his bro ther, my accuser, will realize how in everything he is running a Minerva's course with his brother, a man of blessed memory. [...]
But Rufinus gaped for his prey in vain like a wild beast that has gone blind. For Pontianus not only did not leave Rufinus' daughter as his heir -- he had discovered her evil character -- but he did not even make her a respectable legacy. He left her by way of insult linen to the value of 200 denarii, to show that he had not forgotten or ignored her, but that he set this value on her as an expression of his resentment. As his heirs -- in this just as in the former will which has been read aloud -- he app ointed his mother and his brother, against whom, mere boy as he is, Rufinus is, as you see, bringing his old artillery into play: I refer to his daughter. He thrusts her upon his embraces although she is considerably his elder and but a brief while ago wa s his brother's wife.
But to be frank, if you will have the truth, many have been wondering at the sudden affection which you, Aemilianus, have begun to show for this boy since the death of his brother Pontianus, whereas formerly you were such a stranger to him that frequentl y, even when you met him, you failed to recognize the face of your brother's son. But now you show yourself so patient towards him, you so spoil him by your indulgence and grant his every whim to such an extent that your conduct makes the more suspicious think their suspicions well grounded. You took him from us a mere boy and straightway gave him the garb of manhood. While he was under our guardianship, he used to go to school: now he has bidden a long farewell to study and betaken himself to the delight s of the tavern. He despises serious friends, and, boy as he is, spends his tender years in revelling with the most abandoned youths among harlots and wine-cups. He rules your house, orders your slaves, directs your banquets. He is frequently seen in I> the gladiatorial school and there -- as a boy of position should! -- he learns from the keeper of the school the names of the gladiators, the fights they have fought, the wounds they have received. He never speaks any language save Punic, and though he may occasionally use a Greek word picked up from his mother, he neither will nor can speak Latin. You heard, Maximus, a little while ago, you heard my step-son -- oh! the shame of it! -- the brother of that eloquent young fellow Pontianus, hardly able to stammer out single syllables, when you asked him whether his mother had given himself and his brother the gifts which, as I told you just now, she actually gave them with my hearty support.
For recently -- I had almost forgotten to mention it -- when Pudentilla, who had fallen ill after the death of her son Pontianus, was writing her will, I had a prolonged struggle to prevent her disinheriting this boy on account of the outrageous insult a nd injury he had inflicted on her. I prayed her with the utmost earnestness to erase that most important clause, which, I can assure you, she had a]ready written, every word of it! Finally, I even threatened to leave her, if she refused to accede to my re quest, and begged her to grant me this boon, to conquer her wicked son by kindness, and to save me from all the ill feeling which her action would create. I did not desist till she complied.
I regret that I should have taken away this point of concern from Aemilianus and showed him such an unexpected thing. Look, Maximus, see how confused he is at hearing this, see how he casts his eyes upon the ground. He had not unnaturally e xpected something very different. He knew that my wife was angry with her son on account of his insolent behaviour and that she returned my devotion. He had reason also for fear in regard to myself; for anyone else, even if like myself he had been above c oveting the inheritance, would gladly have seen so undutiful a step-son punished. It was this anxiety above all others that spurred them on to accuse me. Their own avarice led them falsely to conjecture that the whole inheritance had been left to me. As f ar as the past is concerned, I will dispel your fears on that point. I was proof against the temptation both of enriching myself and of revenging myself. I -- a step-father, mind you -- contended for my wicked step-son with his mother, as a father might c ontend against a stepmother in the interests of a virtuous son; nor did I rest satisfied till, with a perfectly extravagant sense of fairness, I had restrained my good wife's lavish generosity towards myself.
Take it, o best of sons! Lay aside your mother's love-letters for a while and read her will instead. If she ever wrote anything while not in her right mind, you will find it here, nor will you have to go far to find it. `Let Sicinius Pudens, my son, be m y heir.' I admit it! he who reads this, will think it insanity. Is this same son your heir, who at his own brother's funeral attempted with the help of a gang of the most abandoned youths to shut you out of the house which you yourself had given him, who is so deeply and bitterly incensed to find that his brother left you co-heir with himself, who hastened to desert you when you were plunged in grief and mourning, and fled from your bosom to Aemilianus and Rufinus, who afterwards uttered many insults agai nst you to your face, and manufactured others with the help of his uncle, who has dragged your name through the law-courts, has attempted by using your own letters publicly to besmirch your fair fame, and has accused upon a capital charge the husband of y our choice, with whom, as Pudens himself objected, you were madly in love!
Open the will, my good boy, open it, I beg you. You will find it easier then to prove your mother's insanity. Why do you draw back? Why do you refuse to look at it, now that you are free from all anxiety about the inheritance of your mother's fortune?
I am more than satisfied not only to have refuted the miscellaneous accusations brought against myself, but also to have utterly swept away the hateful charge on which the whole trial is based, the charge of having attempted to secure the inheritance for myself.
I will bring one final proof to show the falsity of that last charge before I bring my speech to a close. I wish to pass nothing over in silence. You asserted that I bought a most excellent farm in my own name, but with a large sum of money which belonge d to my wife. I say that a tiny property was bought for 60,000 sesterces, and bought not by me but by Pudentilla in her own name, that Pudentilla's name is in the deed of sale, and that the taxes paid on the land are paid in the name of Pudentilla. The ho nourable Coninus Celer, the state treasurer to whom the tax is paid, is here in court. Cassius Longinus also is present, my wife's guardian and trustee, a man of the loftiest and most irreproachable character. I cannot speak of him save with the deepest r espect. Ask him, Maximus, what was the purchase which he authorized, and what was the trifling sum for which this wealthy lady bought her little estate. [...]
Is it as I said? Is my name ever mentioned in the deed of sale? Is the price paid for this trifling property such as should excite any prejudice against me, or did my wife give me even so much as this small gift?
Suppose that you were pleading your case, not before Claudius Maximus, a man of the utmost fairness and unswerving justice, but before a judge of depraved morals and of ferocious temper, one in fact who naturally inclined to the side of the accuser and w as only too ready to condemn the accused! Give him some hint to follow! Give him even the slightest reasonable opportunity for declaring in your favour! At least invent something, devise some suitable reply to questions such as have been put to you.
Nay, since every action must necessarily have some motive, answer me this, you who say that Apuleius tried to influence Pudentilla's heart by magical charms, answer me this! What did he seek to get from her by so doing? Was he in love with her beauty? Yo u say not! Did he covet her wealth? The evidence of the marriage settlement denies it, the evidence of the deed of gift denies it, the evidence of the will denies it! It shows not only that I did not court the generosity of my wife, but that I even repuls ed it with some severity. What other motive can you allege? Why are you struck dumb? Why this silence? What has become of that ferocious utterance with which you opened the indictment, couched in the name of my step-son? `This is the man, most excellent M aximus, whom I have resolved to indict before you.'
Nay, see whether I cannot reply to your various charges with two words to each. `You clean your teeth.' Excusable cleanliness. `You look into mirrors.' Philosophers should. `You write verse.' 'Tis permitted. `You examine fish.' Following Aristotle. `You worship a piece of wood.' So Plato. `You marry a wife.' Obeying law. `She is older than you.' Nothing commoner. `You married for money.' Take the marriage-settlement, remember the deed of gift, read the will!
If I have rebutted all their charges, word by word, if I have refuted all their slanders, if I am beyond reproach, not only as regards their accusations but also as regards their vulgar abuse, if I have done nothing to impair the honour of philosophy, wh ich is dearer to me than my own safety, but on the contrary have smitten my adversary hip and thigh and vanquished him at all points, if all my contentions are true, I can await your estimate of my character with the same confidence with which I await the exercise of your power; for I regard it as less serious and less terrible to be condemned by the proconsul than to incur the disapproval of so good and so perfect a man.