Lucian : Lucius, or The Ass

This is a translation of the Greek story that was made famous by Apuleius in his "Golden Ass". The identity of the author of the Greek story has not been established with any certainty. A version of the story has been preserved in the manuscripts of Lucian, but the Byzantine scholar Photius ( Bibliotheca, 129 ) saw a longer version ascribed to Lucius of Patrae, which is the name of the "ass-man" in chapter 55. Whoever the author was, his entertaining story became, via Apuleius, one of the most influential works of ancient Greek fiction.

The translation is by M.D.Macleod (1967). A copy of the original Greek text of the story can be found in the Bibliotheca Augustana.

[1] Once upon a time I was on my way to Thessaly, having some business of my father's to transact there with a man of that country. I had a horse to carry me and my baggage, and I was accompanied by one servant. And so I was proceeding along my intended route; now it happened that I had as fellow travellers men on their way back home to Hypata, a city of Thessaly. We shared salt, and thus we proceeded on that difficult journey until we were near the city, when I asked the Thessalians if they knew a man living in Hypata, called Hipparchus. I had a letter of introduction to him from home, so that I could stay at his house. They said they knew this Hipparchus and where he lived in the city; they told me that he had plenty of money, but that the only women he kept were one servant and his wife, as he was a terrible miser. When we had come near to the city, we found a garden, and in it a tolerably comfortable cottage, where Hipparchus lived.

[2] The others therefore said good-bye and left me, and I went up and knocked at the door. Though I had a long wait, eventually a woman did reluctantly answer my knock, and then even came out. I asked if Hipparchus was at home. "Yes," said she, "but who are you that ask? What do you want ?"

" I come with a letter for him from Decrianus, the professor from Patras."

" Wait for me here," she said and, closing the door, went in again.

Eventually she came out and invited us in. I went in, greeted him and gave him the letter. He was just beginning dinner and was lying on a narrow couch, while his wife sat nearby, and by their side was an empty table. After reading the letter he said, "Indeed Decrianus is my dearest friend and the best man in all Greece, and I'm glad that he sends his own friends to my house with such confidence. But you can see, Lucius, how tiny my cottage is. Nevertheless it is glad to offer its hospitality, and you will make it into a mansion if you live in it in a tolerant spirit." He then called the maid and said, "Palaestra, give him the spare bedroom, and take his baggage there, and then show him the way to the baths, for he's come a long way." [3] When he had said this, the darling little Palaestra took me and showed me an excellent little room. "You will lie on this bed," she said, "and I'll place a pallet over there for your slave and put a pillow on it." After she had said this, we gave her money to provide barley for my horse and went off to have our bath, while she took everything inside for us. After our bath we returned and went straight into the dining-room where Hipparchus greeted me and invited me to recline beside him. The meal was by no means a frugal one, and the wine was sweet and old. After we had eaten, we drank and talked as men do when a stranger comes to dinner; and, after thus devoting the evening to drinking, we went to bed. On the next day Hipparchus asked me where I would now be going and if I would be spending all my time with him. "I shall be going on to Larissa," I answered, "but I think I shall stay here for three or four days."

[4] But this was a pretence. In fact I wanted very much to stay there and find one of the women accomplished in sorcery and see something strange, be it a man flying or turning into stone. Engrossed in my desire for such a sight, I walked round the city. I didn't know how to start my search, but walked around nevertheless. While doing so, I saw approaching me a woman who was still young and, to judge from seeing her in the street, was well off; for she was gaily dressed, accompanied by many slaves and wearing too much gold. When I came closer, she greeted me and I answered her in like fashion. She then said, "I am Abroea, if you know any friend of your mother of that name; and I love you sons of hers like my own sons. Why then won't you stay with me, my child?"

"I'm most grateful to you," I said, "but I'm ashamed to leave a friend's house when I have no fault to find with him. However, I stay with you in spirit, my charming friend."

"Where have you gone to stay?"

"With Hipparchus."

"The miser ?"

"You mustn't say that, mother; for he's been a splendidly generous host to me, so much so that he might even be accused of being too lavish."

She smiled, took my hand and led me aside, saying, "I would have you be on your guard against Hipparchus' wife in every way you can. For she's a clever witch and a fast woman who makes eyes at every young man. Any who won't listen to her she punishes with her magic; she has transformed many into beasts, while others she has done away with altogether. You, my child, are young and handsome enough to please a woman at first sight, and, being a stranger, you are something of no account."

[5] When I learned that what I had been looking for was in the house with me, I had no further interest in her. When eventually I got away from her, I made my way to the house, saying to myself as I went, "Come now, you who claim to be eager for these strange sights, bestir yourself, I say, and devise a cunning scheme whereby to gain what you desire. Strip yourself at once to wrestle with the maid. Palaestra, for you must keep your distance from the wife of your host and friend. If you try a roll with her, and test your strength and grapple with her, you can be sure that you'll easily discover what you want to know. For slaves know all that goes on, whether good or bad."

Talking thus to myself, I entered the house. I found neither Hipparchus nor his wife at home, but Palaestra was busy at the fireplace preparing our dinner. [6] I immediately did make my start from thence and said, "Palaestra, you lovely creature, how rhythmically you turn and tilt your buttocks in time with the saucepan! And my word, how nimble too is the motion of your waist. Happy the man who dips his piece in such a dish!"

She, being a most lively and attractive little wench, said, "You'd run away, young fellow, if you had any sense and any desire to go on living, for it's all full of fire and steam here. If you so much as touch it, you'll have a nasty burn, and won't be able to budge from here. No one will be able to cure you, no, not even the Healer God himself, but only I who gave you the burn. What's strangest of all is that I shall make you long for more, and you'll always submit to being treated with my painful cure and, even though you're pelted with stones, you'll never try to escape its sweet pain. Why do you laugh? You see before you a veritable man-cooker. For it's not merely these common foods that I prepare, but now I know about that great and glorious dish, man. I can kill a man, skin him, and cut him up, and I take particular pleasure in getting my hands right on his inside and his heart."

"What you say is quite true," I replied, "for even when I was still a long way off, you didn't just singe me but plunged me into a general conflagration; you've been sending your invisible fire down through my eyes into my inward parts and roasting me, even though I've done nothing wrong. Therefore, in heaven's name, heal me yourself, with that bittersweet treatment of which you've been talking and, now that I'm already slaughtered, take me and skin me in any way you yourself please."

At this she gave a loud and delightful laugh, and thereafter she was mine. We agreed that, once she had seen her master and mistress to bed, she was to come to my room and spend the night there. [7] When Hipparchus eventually arrived, we washed and had dinner, drinking a great deal as we talked. Then I pretended I was sleepy, got up and did in fact go off to my room. Everything inside the room had been beautifully prepared. Bedding had been made up for my servant outside, while beside my bed was a table with a cup. There was wine there, and hot and cold water had been left ready; this was all the work of Palaestra. Over the bedclothes roses had been strewn in profusion, some of them in their natural state, some plucked apart, and others plaited into garlands. Finding the room prepared for the celebrations, I awaited my companion. [8] Once she had seen her mistress to bed, she hurried to my room, and we made merry as we offered each other toasts and kisses. When we had fortified ourselves with wine for the night ahead. Palaestra said to me, "Young fellow, you must remember that it's Palaestra with whom you've come to grips, and you must now show whether you've become a lad of mettle and have learnt many a wrestling hold."

"Indeed you won't see me shirking this trial of strength. Strip then, and let's start our wrestling now. "

"You must follow my wishes as you demonstrate your prowess. I shall be like a trainer and supervisor, thinking up and calling out the names of the holds I wish, and you must be ready to obey and carry out all your orders."

"Well give your orders," said I, "and see how readily, how nimbly and how vigorously I shall display my holds."

[9] She stripped off her clothing and, standing completely naked, began her instructions there and then. "Strip off, my lad; rub on some of that ointment from over there, and grapple with your adversary. Grab me by both thighs and put me on my back. Next get on top of me, slip in through my thighs and open me up, keeping your legs poised above me and stretched out. Then drop them into position, keeping glued to your target. Go right into the assault, and push forward everywhere now with a sharp attack till your opponent is worn out, and let your weapon show its strength. Then withdraw, attack on a broad front and stab your foe through the groin. Push forward again to the wall and then strike. When you notice that the resistance is weakening, that's the very time to lock yourself in close combat and grip your opponent by the waist. Try not to hurry, but be patient for a little and match your pace to mine. Now you can fall out from class."

[10] When I for my part had obeyed every order with ease and our wrestling had come to an end, I said to Palaestra with a laugh, "You can see, teacher, how readily and obediently I have done my wrestling, but take care that you aren't getting out of order in suggesting holds. For you ask for one after another."

But she slapped my face and said, "What a chatter-box I have for my pupil ! Take care that you don't get some more slaps for using different holds from the ones I ask for."

So saying, she rose from the bed, and, after freshening up, said " Now you will show whether you're a youthful and vigorous wrestler, and can wrestle and go into action on your knees."

Then she dropped on to one knee on the bed and said " Come now. Sir Wrestler, here you have the centre of operations. Brandish your weapon, push forward for a sharp thrust and plunge it in deep. You see it lying unfolded there; make the most of it. First, of course, you must go into a clinch with me, and then you must bend me back, attacking and gripping me tight, allowing no gap between us. If you start slacking off, you must be faster in mounting each offensive and must move to a higher point of vantage. You must put your head down and strike, and see that you don't retire quicker than you're told to; you must arch your battle-line into a wide curve, before making a gradual withdrawal. Then you must push down again in a controlled infiltration and keep on the move. Only then may you withdraw your spearhead from the field. For it's now limp and lifeless, and your opponent is drenched."

I was now laughing heartily and said, "I wish to prescribe a few holds of my own, teacher, and you must get up and obey me. Now sit down. Next give me water to wash my hands, apply the rest of the ointment and wipe yourself clean. And now, by Heracles, hold me tight and lull me to sleep."

[11] Such were our pleasant, frolicsome wrestling-bouts as we competed in nightly combat and covered ourselves with laurels. We found great enjoyment in this, so that I had completely forgotten about my journey to Larissa. Then at last I thought of gaining the information which had been the purpose of my athletic feats, and said to her, "Dearest, show me your mistress practising magic or changing her shape. For I've long had a craving for this strange sight. Or better still, if you can, work your own magic, so that you appear to me in one shape after another, for I imagine that you too are skilled in this art. This is no second-hand information but what I have learnt from my own soul, seeing that I who have long been called the adamant one by the women and have never cast these eyes of mine amorously on any woman, have been caught by you, and by your art you hold me prisoner, for you enchant my soul by the warfare of love."

But Palaestra said, "Stop joking. What magic incantations can conjure Love forth? He is the master of the art. I, my darling, know nothing about these things, I swear it by your own dear self and by this bed that's brought such joy. For I cannot even read, and my mistress is very jealous about her own art. But if the occasion permits, I shall try to let you see my mistress changing her shape."

Then, this being agreed, we went to sleep. [12] A few days later Palaestra reported to me that her mistress was going to turn into a bird and fly to her beloved.

" Now's your chance, Palaestra," said I, "to do me the favour by which you can, and I pray you will, bring me relief from a craving that has persisted so long."

" Don't worry," she said.

When it was evening, she took me and led me to the door of the bedroom of her master and mistress, bidding me put my eye to a tiny crack in the door and see what was going on inside. I saw the lady of the house undressing. Then she went up to the lamp naked, took two grains of frankincense which she put upon the flame of the lamp, and standing there uttered a screed of words over the lamp. Then she opened a large box containing a great number of caskets, one of which she picked up and took out. What it had in it I don't know, though from its appearance I thought it was olive oil. She took some of this and, starting with her toenails, anointed herself all over. Suddenly she started sprouting feathers, and her nose became horny and hooked; she had all the attributes and marks of a bird, and was for all the world a night-raven. When she saw that she had grown feathers, she uttered a terrible croak just as those birds do, rose up and flew away through the window.

[13] I thought I was dreaming and felt my eyelids with my fingers, for I did not believe that my own eyes were seeing this or were awake. When eventually I had barely convinced myself that I was awake, I then asked Palaestra to give me feathers too, and to smear me with that concoction and allow me to fly; for I wished to learn by experience whether, when my body was transformed from human shape, my soul would also become that of a bird. She stealthily opened the door of the room and brought me the casket. I now hastily stripped and smeared myself all over; but alas I did not become a bird. Instead a tail sprang out from my behind, and all my fingers and toes vanished I know not where. I kept four nails in all and these were unmistakably hooves, while my hands and feet had become the feet of a beast, my ears had grown long and my face become enormous. When I looked myself over, I could see that I was an ass, but I no longer had a human voice with which to abuse Palaestra. But I did drop my lip and, confronting her with my appearance, looked up angrily at her as an ass does, trying as best I could to reproach her for my having become an ass instead of a bird. [14] She beat her face with both hands and said : "Unlucky one that I am, I have wrought great harm, for in my haste, misled by the similarity of the caskets, I took the wrong one, and not the one which produces feathers. But please do cheer up, my darling; the cure for this is quite simple. For all you have to do is eat roses and you'll immediately discard your bestial shape, and restore my own lover to me once more. But I beg you, dearest one, remain the ass for this single night, and at dawn I shall make all speed to bring you roses, which you will eat and be cured," and she stroked my ears and my skin as she spoke.

[15] But though I was an ass in every other respect, in mind and intellect I remained a human, and was still the same Lucius except for my voice. And so I cursed Palaestra bitterly to myself for her mistake, and went away biting my lip to where I knew my own horse was standing along with a real ass belonging to Hipparchus. When they saw me coming in, they were afraid I was coming to share their fodder, and dropped their ears and were prepared to defend their bellies with their feet. When I understood what was happening I retired to some distance from the manger and stood laughing, though my laughter took the form of braying. "Oh, what untimely curiosity!" I thought to myself. "What would happen if a wolf or any other wild beast were to get in? I'm in danger, though I've done nothing wrong." Such were my thoughts, for I didn't know, poor creature, the evils in store for me.

[16] When it was now dead of night and silence and sweet sleep reigned, a noise started on the outside of the wall as if of someone breaking in. This was indeed so, and presently there was a hole big enough to take a man. Immediately one man came through, and others followed in the same way, till many were inside, all of them armed with swords. Then they went inside, bound Hipparchus, Palaestra and my servant in their rooms, and proceeded nonchalantly to empty the house, carrying out all the money, clothes and furnishings. When nothing else was left inside, taking the other ass and the horse, they saddled us and fastened on our backs everything they had brought out. We carried these heavy loads and they beat us with sticks, driving us on in their efforts to escape up the mountain by an unused track. How the other two animals felt I can't say, but for myself I was at death's door, for I was unshod and unaccustomed to such travelling and to walking over jagged stones with all that baggage to carry. I often stumbled, but wasn't allowed to drop down, as someone would immediately strike my rump with a stick. I often wanted to shout "Oh Lord !"; but only mustered a bray, and, though I could shout the "Oh" loud and clear, the "Lord" wouldn't follow. But I was beaten for this too, as I was giving them away by my braying. So I realised that my cries were useless and learned to proceed in silence and earn myself immunity from blows.

[17] It was already day by now and we had climbed up many mountains. Our mouths were kept muzzled so that we couldn't graze and waste travelling time on breakfast. Thus for that day, too, I remained an ass. It was actually midday before we stopped at a farmhouse which, to judge from what was going on, belonged to friends of theirs. For they greeted each other with embraces and the occupants of the farm invited them to break their journey. serving them with breakfast and throwing down some barley for us animals; my fellows settled to their breakfast, but I, though miserably hungry, looked round for something to eat, for I'd never yet had a meal of raw barley. I noticed a garden over there behind the yard. It was full of magnificent vegetables, and above them I could see roses. Unnoticed by any in the house, for they were busy with breakfast, I went into the garden, partly to eat my fill of raw vegetables, but also to get the roses in the mistaken belief that, if I ate these flowers, I would become a man again. Then I stepped into the garden and ate my fill of lettuces, radishes and celery, the vegetables that a man can eat raw, but these roses were not proper roses, but grew on the wild laurel. They are called rose-bays and make a bad breakfast for any ass or horse, for they say that to eat them is instant death. [18] Meanwhile the gardener had heard the noise and seized a stick. When he had gone into the garden and seen his enemy and the havoc wrought amongst his vegetables, he became just like a severe nabob who's caught a thief, and gave me a drubbing with his stick. He spared neither my ribs nor my haunches, and what's more hammered my ears and pounded my face. When I could put up with no more, I kicked out at him with both hind-legs, sending him on to his back among the vegetables, while I ran off up the mountain. When he saw me running away, he shouted for the dogs to be unleashed on me. There were lots of them, large creatures capable of tackling bears. I realised that they would seize me and tear me to pieces, and, after running to and fro for a short time, I decided in the words of the proverb "to run back home rather than run to harm." So I went back again into the farmyard. They called off the dogs who were now rushing at me and tied them up, but beat me without stopping until the pain had made me excrete all the vegetables from my bottom.

[19] But when it was time for them to be on their way, they loaded me with the heaviest items and indeed the major part of their loot, and thus we started off from there. When presently I was faint from the blows and the weight of my load and my hooves were worn out by the journey, I decided to drop down where I was and never to get up again even if they beat me to death. I hoped that this plan would be of great benefit to me, for I thought that they would succumb to complete defeat and share my baggage between the horse and the mule and leave me lying there for the wolves to find. But a malignant deity realised my plans and turned them topsy-turvy. For the other ass, perhaps with the same intentions as I had, dropped down in the road. At first they beat the poor creature with a stick and told it to get up, but, when it paid no heed to their blows, some of them seized it by the ears and others by the tail and tried to get it on its feet. Since this was of no avail and it lay unconscious on the road just like a stone, they decided among themselves that their efforts were in vain and they were wasting on a dead ass time better spent on escape. They therefore divided his whole load between the horse and me. As for the unfortunate companion of my captivity and my pack-duty, they took him, hacked off his legs with their swords, and pushed him still quivering with life over a cliff, and down he went in a dance of death.

[20] Since I could see from the fate of my travelling companion how my schemes would end, I decided to bear my present situation like an aristocrat and continue cheerfully on my way, for I hoped that eventually I would be sure to find my roses and be safely restored to my own shape; besides I heard the robbers saying that there was only a small part of the journey left and they would remain at that night's resting-place. We therefore carried all this load at a fast pace and reached their headquarters before evening. Inside sat an old woman and a fire was blazing merrily. The men stored away inside everything which we had been carrying, and then asked the woman why she was sitting idle like that instead of getting supper ready.

"Everything is ready for you," replied the old woman. "There's plenty of bread along with jars of old wine and I've also cooked you venison." After praising her efforts, they stripped, oiled themselves before the fire and helped themselves from a cauldron containing hot water. This they poured over their bodies, giving themselves improvised baths.

[21] Shortly afterwards a large band of youths arrived carrying innumerable vessels of gold and finery for both men and women. They were all in partnership with each other and, after depositing their loot inside, they too washed in the same way. After this there followed a heavy meal and much conversation among the cut-throats as they drank, while the horse and I were given barley by the old woman. The horse gulped it down eagerly through a natural fear of me, his supper companion. I, however, would eat bread from the house, whenever I saw the old woman go out. The next day they left one youth for the old woman, and the rest of them went off out to work. I then bewailed my lot for the strict watch kept on me; for I was able to take the old woman lightly and to escape her notice, but the youth was tall, had a formidable look, always carried a sword and always closed the door.

[22] Three days later about midnight the robbers returned without gold or silver or in fact anything except a young girl of great beauty who was weeping and had her clothes and her hair torn to shreds. They deposited her inside on the straw, telling her not to be afraid and bidding the old woman remain permanently indoors and keep a watch on the girl. She wouldn't eat or drink at all, but only kept weeping and tearing her hair. In consequence I also wept in sympathy with the beautiful girl as I stood beside the manger. Meanwhile the robbers were having their dinner outside in the vestibule. Towards daybreak one of the sentries posted to watch the roads entered with the news that a stranger was about to pass that way bearing great riches. They got up just as they were, armed themselves, saddled the horse and me and got us moving. But since I, poor wretch, knew that I was being driven out to battle and war, I proceeded with reluctance, so that in their eager haste they kept beating me with sticks. When we reached the road along which the stranger would be riding, the robbers fell upon the caravan, killing the master and his servants. They removed the articles of greatest value and loaded them on to the horse and me, but the rest of the goods they hid there in the wood. Then they started to drive us back, but because of our haste and all the cudgelling I dashed my foot against a sharp stone and incurred a painful injury. This left me lame for the rest of the journey, and they kept saying to each other, "Why do we choose to keep this ass in food, when he's always falling down? Let's throw him over the cliff, for he brings bad luck." "Yes," said another, "let's throw him over to atone for the sins of our band." They were preparing to attack me, but, on hearing these words, I moved forward for the rest of the journey as though my injury belonged to another, fear of death having made me impervious to pain.

[23] When we reached our billet for the night, they took the baggage off our backs and stored it away carefully; then the men sat down to their own dinner. After nightfall, they came out to recover the rest of their baggage, and one of them said, "Why do we take this wretched ass with us, when his hoof makes him useless? We can carry some of the goods ourselves, and the horse will take the rest."

They went away, leading the horse with them. It was a particularly bright night because of the moonlight and I then said to myself, "Poor wretch, why do you stay here? The vultures and their young will have you for dinner. Don't you hear what plans they have made for you? Do you want to go over the cliff? It's night now, there's a good moon and they've gone off elsewhere. Run away and escape from these murderous masters."

As these thoughts ran through my mind, I noticed that I wasn't tied to anything, but the strap which had pulled me along was hanging by my side. This further circumstance gave me the strongest possible encouragement to escape, and I ran off at full speed. But the old woman, seeing that I was ready to run away, grabbed me by the tail and held on to me. I told myself that I deserved the cliff and other deaths as well, if I were captured by an old woman, and dragged her along. She raised a loud cry to the captive girl inside. She came forth and, on seeing this aged Dirce hanging to an ass, showed the courage for a feat of heroism worthy of a foolhardy youth. She jumped on me, seated herself on my back and rode me off. Driven on by my longing to escape and the girl's eagerness I galloped off as fast as a horse, and the old woman was left behind. The girl prayed to the gods to let her escape to safety, while to me she said, "If you take me to my father, my beauty, I'll set you free from all work, and you'll have a bushel of barley every day for breakfast."

Because I for my part wished to escape from my murderers and hoped for plenty of help and care from the girl I'd rescued, I ran on heedless of my injury. [24] When we came to a place where three roads met, we were overtaken by our enemies on their way back. In the moonlight they immediately recognised their unfortunate prisoners, from a long way off; they ran up, caught hold of me and said, "What conduct for a well-bred young lady! Where are you going so late at night, you hussy? Don't you even fear the spirits? Come here to us and we'll return you to your family." Thus they spoke with cruel laughter, turned me round and dragged me after them. I now remembered about my injured feet and started to limp. "So you're lame," they said, "now that you've been caught running away? Yet, when you were bent on escaping, you were in perfect fettle, going faster than a horse and flying like a bird."

These words were accompanied by the stick and by this time I had a sore on my thigh from their admonitions. When we got back to the house, we found the old woman hanging on a rope over the rock. For fearing, as well she might, her masters' wrath over the escape of the girl, she had fastened the rope tight about her neck and hanged herself. They applauded the old woman for her good sense and cut her down, letting her fall over the cliff with the rope still round her neck; the girl, however, they tied up indoors. Then they had their dinner and indulged in a long session of drinking.

[25] Meanwhile their conversation turned to the girl. "What are we to do with Miss Runaway? " asked one. "What else," said another, "but to throw her down to join the old woman over there, since she did her best to rob us of a lot of money and to betray our whole gang? For you may be sure, my friends, that, if she had reached her home, none of us would have been left alive; our enemies would have made a concerted attack on us and we should all have been captured. So let's have revenge upon our enemy. But she mustn't be thrown down on to the rocks; that's too easy a death. Rather let's devise her the most painful and protracted death, and one to keep her lingering in agony before it kills her."

Then they discussed how to kill her, and one of them said, "I know that you'll approve of my masterpiece of invention. We must kill the ass, for it's lazy and now even pretends to be lame, and besides it aided and abetted the escape of the girl. So let's slit its throat at dawn and cut its belly open; let's tear out all its guts and house this fine young lady inside the beast with her head sticking out, so that she doesn't suffocate immediately, but with all the rest of her body hidden inside, so that, when she's in there, we can sew them firmly together and throw them both out to feed the vultures. I'll guarantee they've never tasted that recipe before! Just think, my friends, what a terrible torture it will be. First to be housed with a dead ass, then to be broiled inside the beast by the scorching summer sun and gradually to starve to death without even being able to suffocate herself! The other things she'll suffer as the ass rots and she is afflicted by the smell and the maggots I won't mention, but in the end the vultures will penetrate through the ass and tear her to pieces just like it, perhaps even when she's still alive."

[26] All shouted hearty approval of this monstrous idea, but I lamented my fate, since I should be killed and not even my carcass left unmolested but it would contain the luckless girl and would be the grave of that innocent maiden.

But at first light next morning a great number of soldiers suddenly arrived to attack these blackguards. They immediately tied them all up and took them off to the governor of the land. The girl's fiancé had come with the soldiers, for he was actually the one who had shown them where the robbers lived. So he took the girl, put her on my back and brought her home in this way. When the villagers saw us still a long way off, they realised all was well with us, as I had brayed out first intimation of the good news. They ran up, greeted us and took us indoors. [25] The girl showed me great consideration as was my due for sharing with her captivity, flight and the threat of that terrible joint death. I would have a bushel of barley from my mistress set before me for breakfast and enough hay to feed a camel. I then cursed Palaestra more than ever before - because she hadn't used her art to change me into a dog rather than an ass. For I saw the dogs sneaking into the kitchen and gobbling down the many titbits to be found at a wealthy wedding. A few days after the wedding, when my mistress mentioned her gratitude to me in the presence of her father, he too wished to reward me as I deserved and ordered me to be set free to graze in the open with the mares. "For," said he, "he'll live pleasantly as though he were free and will mount the mares." This indeed would have seemed the fairest reward, had the decision rested with an ass. So he called one of his grooms and gave me to him. I was delighted to think I'd have no more loads to carry. When we reached the field, the groom put me among the mares and took the herd of us into the pasture.

[28] Then too was I doomed to fare just like Candaules; for the groom left me at home for his wife Megapole, and she would tie me to the mill, so that I ground her wheat and grains of barley. It would indeed have been no great hardship for a grateful ass thus to grind for his own masters, but that paragon of womanhood also hired out my unfortunate neck to her numerous neighbours, and asked them for meal as payment; and the barley meant for my breakfast she roasted and gave me to grind, and then made it into cakes which she would devour in one mouthful, while I had the husks for breakfast. Whenever the groom drove me out with the mares, I was battered and bitten by the stallions till I was half dead; for they always suspected me of designs upon their own mares and would drive me away by kicking out at me with both hooves, so that I could not bear the jealousy of the horses. Thus I soon became thin and ugly, since I had no pleasure either indoors at the mill or when grazing outside, for then my companions waged war on me.

[29] Furthermore I was often sent up to the mountain to fetch wood. This was the height of all my misfortunes. For first I had to climb a high mountain by a terribly steep path and in the second place the mountain was stony and I was unshod. They sent as driver with me a vile slave-boy, who every time found a fresh way of bringing me to death's door. In the first place he would beat me even when I was running fast, and not with an ordinary stick but with one bristling with sharp stubs, and always on the same part of my thigh, so that I had an open sore there from his switch. He always hit the same spot. Then he would pile on my back a load which an elephant could scarcely carry. The way down was steep, but even then he would beat me. Whenever he saw my load slipping and tilting to one side, though he ought to have transferred some of the wood to the place where my load was lighter and thus made it even, he never did so; instead he would pick up boulders from the mountainside to add to the lighter and higher side of my load. And I, poor wretch, would descend with a load of useless boulders along with the wood. On our route was a perennial stream, which he would cross seated on my back behind the wood so as to save his shoes.

[30] If ever I fell down through weariness and the weight of my load, that was the time when my suffering was intolerable; for, when he ought to have given me a helping hand, and lifted me up from the ground and taken off some of my load, he would never so much as give me a hand, but from his seat aloft he would start from my head and ears and batter me with his stick till his blows made me rise. Furthermore there was another intolerable trick he would play on me. He would gather a load of the sharpest thorns, tie them up and hang them behind me from my tail. When I started on my way, as you might expect, they dashed against me as they hung, pricking and wounding my posterior regions. I could not defend myself against this, for the spikes always followed me and hung to me; for if I went forward gingerly to guard against the onset of the thorns I was beaten to death by his sticks, while, if I avoided the sticks, then the sharp terror from behind assailed me. In short my driver made it his business to kill me.

[31] One day, when I had many woes to suffer and could bear them no longer, I directed a kick at him. This kick he never forgot. Once he had instructions to transfer some flax from one place to another. So he took me, collected a great quantity of the flax and tied it on to my back; he used a very uncomfortable rope to tie my load on very tight, so as to cook up great torment for me. Well, when we had to set out, he stole a stick while still hot from the fireside, and, when we had gone some distance from the farmhouse, plunged it into the flax. This, as was inevitable, at once started to burn and thereafter my load was one great fire. Perceiving that I would very soon be roasted, and coming upon a deep bog by the wayside, I hurled myself into the wettest part of it. Then I rolled the flax in the bog and twisted and turned till the mud had quenched my nasty scorching load. So in this way I was able to continue the rest of my journey in less danger; for the boy could no longer set light to me as the flax was mixed with wet mud. After his journey the impudent lad used this episode, too, to malign me, for he said that I had deliberately knocked against the hearth in passing. So that time I escaped from the flax though I little expected it.

[32] But the foul lad devised another far worse trick to play me. He took me to the mountain and put on my back a bulky load of wood, which he sold to a neighbouring farmer, but brought me back home without any wood on my back, and falsely accused me before his master of a scandalous deed, "Master, I don't know why we keep this ass, for he's terribly lazy and slow. Furthermore he now has a new habit. Whenever he sees a pretty young woman or a boy, he kicks me away and runs in pursuit of them, like a man in love making advances to his lady; he bites them with his show of kissing and forces his love on them. Because of this he'll bring you to court and cause you trouble, for he insults everyone and knocks them down. Just now, when he was carrying wood, he saw a woman going off into a field; he shook off all his wood and scattered it over the ground. The woman he knocked down on the road and tried to make love to her, till folk ran up from every side to protect her from being torn apart by this handsome lover."

[33] When his master heard this he said, "Well, if he won't walk and won't carry and loves like a human with his frenzy for women and boys, kill him and give his entrails to the dogs, but keep his flesh for our working men; and, if our owner asks how he died, put the blame on a wolf."

This delighted the vile lad who was my driver and he wanted to kill me at once. But it so happened that one of the neighbouring farmers was present, and he saved me from death by a terrible plan he had for me.

"You certainly mustn't kill an ass," he said, "that can grind corn and carry loads. It's quite easy; you must take him and castrate him, seeing that he rushes after humans with his mad passion. For the moment he's rid of his romantic inclinations, he'll grow gentle and fat, and carry heavy loads without complaining. If you have no personal experience of this type of surgery, I'll come here in three or four days' time and use my knife to make him gentler than a lamb for you."

The whole household applauded his advice, but I was already in tears at the immediate prospect of losing the manhood in my ass's body, and thought I didn't wish to live any longer if I should become a eunuch. I therefore decided to starve myself to death from that moment or to throw myself from the mountain, where, though hurled to a most miserable death, I could lie dead with my body whole and unmutilated.

[34] When it was now dead of night, a messenger came from the village to our farmhouse with news about the young bride who had been the prisoner of the robbers, and her bridegroom. He said that, while they had been walking on the shore late in the evening, the sea had suddenly risen and snatched them out of sight, and that their lives had thus ended in tragic death. Since the household had lost its young master and mistress, they decided no longer to remain in captivity, but ransacked the whole house and escaped with their loot. The keeper of the horses took me and seizing everything he could, tied it on to the mares, the other animals, and me. Though I was annoyed at having to carry the load of a real ass, I welcomed this reprieve from castration. All night long we followed a difficult route and after three further days' journey we reached Beroea, a large and populous city of Macedonia.

[35] There our drivers decided to settle themselves and us, and we animals were then offered for sale by a stentorian auctioneer who stood shouting in the middle of the marketplace. Those who approached wanted to open and inspect our mouths, and looked at the teeth of each of us to see our ages. The others were bought by various people, but I alone was left and the auctioneer told them to take me back home, saying, "This one alone, as you see, hasn't found a master." But Nemesis, the goddess who ever twists and changes so much, brought me a master too, though not the sort I would have chosen. For he was an old catamite and one of those who take the Syrian goddess around the villages and countryside and compel the goddess to beg alms. To this man was I sold for the princely sum of thirty drachmas, and with a heavy heart I now followed my new master.

[36] When we came to the house of Philebus - for that was the name of my purchaser - he at once raised a loud shout in front of the doors, "Girlies, I've bought you a handsome sturdy slave of Cappadocian stock." Now these "girlies" were a bevy of catamites who plied the same trade as Philebus, and they all clapped their hands at his words, for they all thought that the purchase really was a man. When they saw that the slave was an ass, they all jeered at Philebus, saying, "That's no slave you have there but a bridegroom for yourself. Where did you get him? I hope this glorious match proves an asset to you and you soon breed foals like the father."

[37] So saying, they laughed. But on the next day they mustered for work, as they themselves called it, dressed up the goddess and put her on my ack. Then we rode out of that city and went round the country. Whenever we came to a village, I, the bearer of the goddess, would stand still, while the company of pipers would blow their frenzied tunes, and the others would throw off their turbans, drop their heads and twist them round on their necks; they would cut their forearms with their swords, and each would stick his tongue out from his teeth and cut it, so that within a moment everything was full of effeminate blood. When I saw this, at first I would stand there trembling with the fear that the goddess might also need asses' blood. Whenever they cut themselves thus, they would make a copper and silver collection among the spectators standing around. Others gave them dried figs, cheeses, jars of wine and bushels of wheat and barley for the ass. From these they supported themselves and looked after the goddess who rode on my back.

[38] One day when we had invaded a village of that country, they hunted down a lusty young villager and brought him into the place where they were staying. Then they got from the villager the sort of treatment habitually popular with such foul catamites. This caused me inordinate distress at my changed shape and I wanted to cry out, "Cruel Zeus, to think that my sufferings have come to this!" But it was not my voice but that of the ass which rose from my throat and I produced a loud bray. Now it happened that some of the villagers were looking for an ass which they had just lost.

Upon hearing my loud bray, assuming that I was their property, they came in without a word to anyone and surprised the catamites at their unmentionable practices inside. This occasioned much laughter amongst the intruders, who then ran out and spread reports of the priests' lewdness throughout the whole village. But they were terribly ashamed at the exposure of these practices of theirs and without delay left the place that night. When they had reached a lonely part of the road, they began to express their angry rage at me as the betrayer of their rites. This terrible abuse of theirs I could stand, but what followed was no longer tolerable; for, after they had taken the goddess from my back and put her on the ground, they stripped off all my trappings, and tied me now naked to a large tree. Then they flogged me with that knucklebone whip of theirs till they had almost killed me, and told me thereafter to carry the goddess in silence.

Moreover they had planned to kill me after my flogging, because I had brought such insults upon them and had had them driven from the village before they had finished their business, but I was saved from death by the goddess, for she made them feel terribly ashamed of leaving her sitting on the ground without means of travelling.

[39] After my flogging, therefore, I took up the goddess and continued the journey. When it was now about evening, we stopped at a rich man's estate. He was at home, welcomed the goddess very gladly to his house, and brought her sacrifices. I was involved there to my certain knowledge in great personal danger. For a friend of the landowner had sent him a ham of wild ass as a gift. The cook had been given this to prepare, but had lost it through carelessness when a pack of dogs got in unnoticed. Fearing that he would be severely beaten and tortured for losing the ham, he had decided to hang himself, but his wife proved my evil genius. "Don't kill yourself, dearest" she said, "don't give in to such despair. For, if you listen to me, you'll settle all your troubles satisfactorily. Take the catamites' ass away to a deserted spot and then slit its throat and cut off that piece - it's the ham - and bring it here, cook it and serve it to your master, and throw the rest of the ass into some gully. It will be thought to have run away and disappeared. Can't you see how plump it is and superior in every way to that wild ass?"

The cook applauded his wife's plan saying, "This suggestion of yours is excellent, wife, and my only means of escaping a flogging. I shall carry it out right away."

Such, then, was the plan hatched with his wife by the villain as he stood beside me planning to be my cook. [40] But I, already foreseeing what was coming, decided my best plan was to escape from his knife. I broke the rope by which I was led, kicked up my heels and rushed inside where the catamites were dining with the landowner. When I ran in, I knocked over light, tables and all with my kicking heels. I thought I had thus found a clever way to safety, and that the landowner would immediately order me to be kept safely locked up as being a high-spirited ass. But this clever plan brought me into extreme danger. For they now thought me mad, brought out swords galore and spears and long sticks to attack me, and prepared to kill me. When I saw my great danger, I rushed into the room where my masters would be sleeping. When they saw this, they closed the doors of the room securely from the outside.

[41] When it was now dawn, I took the goddess up again and left with the mountebanks. We reached another large and populous village, where they introduced a fresh monstrosity by insisting that the goddess should not stay in the house of a human but take up residence in the temple of the local goddess held in most honour amongst them. They were very glad to welcome the foreign goddess and gave her accommodation along with their own goddess, but assigned us to the house of some paupers. After they had spent many days there, my masters wished to leave for the nearby city and asked the goddess back from the local people. They entered the sacred precinct themselves, carried her out, put her on my back and rode off. Now when the impious fellows entered that precinct, they stole a golden bowl, a votive offering. This they carried off concealed in the person of the goddess. When the villagers discovered this, they gave immediate pursuit; then, upon drawing near, they leapt down from their horses and laid hold of the fellows in the road, calling them impious and sacrilegious, and demanding the return of the stolen offering. They searched everywhere and found it in the bosom of the goddess. They therefore tied up the effeminate fellows, dragged them off and threw them into prison; the goddess whom I had carried they took and gave to another temple, while the golden vessel they gave back to their local goddess.

[42] The next day they decided to offer the prisoners' effects, myself included, for sale; and I was bought by a foreigner who lived in the neighbouring village and was a baker by trade. He took men, loaded me with ten bushels of corn which he'd bought and drove me to his house along a difficult road. When we arrived, he took me to his mill-house, where I saw a great number of animals whose fellow slave I was to be; there were many mills all being turned by the animals and everything was full of flour. For the time being they let me rest there, as I was a new slave and had had a very heavy load to carry and a difficult road to cover. The next day, however, they blindfolded me, harnessed me to the beam of the mill and started me off. Though I knew from long experience how to grind, I pretended not to know, but my hopes were disappointed. For many of the millers took sticks and stood around me and surprised me, for I couldn't see, by smacking me all together, so that I suddenly started to spin like a top from their blows. Thus I learnt by experience that a slave should do his duty without waiting for his master's hand.

[43] Thus I became very thin and weak so that my master decided to sell me. I was bought from him by a nurseryman, who had a market garden to cultivate. Let me tell you about our work. At dawn my master would load me with vegetables and take them to market; when he had delivered them to the greengrocers, he would take me back to the nursery; then he would dig, plant and water while I stood idle. However life was terribly hard for me; in the first place it was now winter, and he could not afford bedding for himself, much less for me, and I had to tread unshod on damp clay or hard, sharp ice, while all that either of us had to eat was bitter, rough lettuces.

[44] One day as we were going out to the nursery, we met a gentleman in military uniform who addressed us at first in Latin and asked the nurseryman where he was taking me, the ass. He made no reply, because, I suppose, he didn't understand that language. The soldier, angry at an imagined insult, used his whip to strike the nurseryman who then grappled with him, tripped him up and sent him sprawling on the road. He then struck at him just as he lay, using his fists and his feet and a stone from the road. At first the soldier resisted and threatened to kill him with his sword, if ever he got to his feet again. As though warned by the soldier's own words, my master chose the safest course, drew the soldier's sword and threw it a long way off, before starting once again to pound his prostrate foe, who now saw that he could bear it no longer and pretended he had been killed by the blows. My master, terrified at this, left him lying there just as he was, but gave me the sword to carry and went off to the city.

[45] When we got there, he gave his nursery to a colleague to work, while he himself, fearing the risk of returning by the road, got one of his friends in the town to hide the two of us. Next day they adopted the following plan; they hid my master in a chest, while they carried me by the feet up a ladder to a loft, in which they shut me up. The soldier had eventually struggled to his feet, as they told us, and, dizzy with his blows, had reached the city, where he met his messmates and told them of the desperate conduct of the nurseryman. They went with the soldier and discovered our hiding-place. They then fetched the magistrates of the city, who sent in one of their constables and ordered all the inmates to come out. When they emerged, there was no sign of the nurseryman. The soldiers therefore insisted that he was inside along with me, his ass. The inmates however maintained that nothing, whether man or ass, was still left in the house. As this was occasioning great noise and much shouting in the gateway, I, headstrong, inquisitive creature, wished to find out who the shouters were, and poked my head down through the window. The soldiers saw me and immediately raised a shout, and our friends were caught out in their lies. The magistrates went in, searched everywhere and found my master in the chest. They seized him and sent him off to prison to await trial for his bold conduct, while I was carried down by them and handed over to the soldiers. They all laughed uncontrollably at the one that had turned informer from the loft and betrayed his own master. Thus I originated the saying, thereafter common among men, "from the peeping of an ass."

[46] What happened to my master I can't say, but the next day the soldier decided he would sell me, and I fetched twenty-five Attic drachmas. My purchaser was the servant of a very wealthy man from Thessalonica, the largest city in Macedonia. This man's business was to cook the meat for his master and he also had as his fellow-slave his brother, who was skilled in baking bread and making honey-cakes. These brothers were always messmates, lodging in the same place and keeping the tools of their trades together. Thereafter they established me with them in their quarters. After their master's dinner they would both bring in many left-overs, one of them of meat and fish, the other of bread and cakes. They used to shut me up with all this and go off to have a bath, leaving a most pleasant charge in my protection. I would then say a hearty goodbye to the barley put out for me and devote myself to the proceeds of my masters' skill, and would gorge myself on human food once again after so long. When they came in, at first they didn't notice my gormandising at all, because there was so much food lying about and I still showed fear and restraint when stealing my lunch. But once I had decided they were completely unaware of all this, and had started to eat the finest portions and a great deal besides, and they to notice their losses, at first they would look suspiciously at each other, and one would call the other robber and a shameless thief of the common store; thereafter they both kept a careful check and the titbits would be counted.

[47] But my life was one of pleasure and luxury, and normal food had made my body handsome again and my coat resplendent with a fine growth of hair. When these excellent fellows saw that I was big and fat, although my barley was not being used but remained at the same level, they began to suspect my daring deeds, and, pretending to go to their bath, they closed the door behind them, put their eyes to a chink in it and looked inside. Then, unsuspicious of their trick, I went and started my meal. At first they laughed to see this incredible meal in progress, but then they called their fellow-slaves to see me, and they all laughed so heartily that their master heard them because of the din outside his room. He asked one of them why those outside were laughing so heartily. When he heard the reason, he got up from the table, peeped inside and, on seeing me gulping down a portion of wild boar, came running in roaring with laughter. I was very upset at being exposed as a thief and glutton in the presence of my master. But he laughed heartily at me, and first ordered me to be brought into his dining-room, and then gave instructions for a table to be put before me with many of the things which no other ass could eat - meats, shell-fish, soups and fish, some soused in fish-sauce and olive oil, others covered in mustard. Since I now saw that fortune was smiling on me kindly, and realised that only this comic turn would save me, although I was already gorged, I stood beside the table and started to eat. The room rang with laughter and someone said, "This ass will drink wine too, if someone will dilute it for him and serve it to him." The master ordered this to be done and I drank what was brought to me.

[48] He, naturally enough, saw that I was a marvellous treasure and told one of his stewards to give my purchaser twice what he had paid for me. He handed me over to a young freedman of his personal staff and told him to instruct me in all things I could do to afford him the greatest entertainment. Everything was quite simple for him, as I immediately obeyed my instructor in every respect. First of all he made me lie on a couch on my elbow just like a human being, then wrestle with him, yes and dance standing upright on my two legs, nod "yes" or "no" when spoken to, and do all the things which I could have done even without being taught. All this became the talk of the town - an ass at his master's beck and call, an ass that drank wine, wrestled and danced. But my greatest claim to fame was that, when talked to, I would nod "yes" or "no" at the right time. Whenever I wanted a drink, I would give the wine-waiter a push and ask for it with my eyes. They were all amazed at this as something extraordinary, not knowing there was a man in the ass, but I used their ignorance to ensure my luxury. Moreover I learned to walk with my master on my back, and to run at a trot which was most comfortable and scarcely felt by my rider. I had expensive trappings and was caparisoned in purples; my bridle was ornamented with silver and gold, and I had hanging to me bells which tinkled out melodiously.

[49] Our master, Menecles, had, as I said, come there from Thessalonica; he had done so because he had promised to give his native city a gladiatorial show. The gladiators were already in training for the fight and the time to set out had come. We left at dawn, and I carried my master whenever it was a rough part of the road and difficult for the carriages to cross. When we reached Thessalonica, the whole town rushed to enjoy the spectacle and to see me; for I had been preceded from afar by the fame of the many roles I played and my human skill in dancing and wrestling. However it was only to his most distinguished fellow-citizens that my master exhibited me over the wine, regaling his guests with these amazing comic acts of mine. [50] My keeper found a source of considerable income in me; for he locked me in a room, and kept me standing there, and would exact a fee before opening the door to those who wished to see me and my marvellous feats. They would bring in various eatables and particularly the things thought offensive to the stomach of an ass. These I would eat, so that by sharing meals with my master and the folk of the city within a few days I had already become wonderfully big and fat.

One day a foreign lady of great wealth and considerable beauty came in to see me at a meal, and fell passionately in love with me, partly because she had seen I was a handsome ass, but also because my extraordinary accomplishments made her eager to have intercourse with me. She spoke to my keeper, promising him a substantial bribe if he would allow her to sleep the night with me. As he did not care whether she would get anything out of me or not, he accepted the bribe. [51] When it was now evening and our master had dismissed us from the dining-room, we returned to our sleeping quarters to find that the woman had long been ensconced in my bed. Soft pillows had been provided for her, bedding brought in and a bed was all ready for us on the floor. Then the lady's servants settled for the night somewhere near at hand outside the room, while inside she lit a large, bright lamp. Then she stripped, stood stark naked beside the lamp, poured out ointment from an alabaster vase and rubbed it on. Then she rubbed ointment from the vase over me as well, smearing it particularly thickly over my nose. Then she kissed me, spoke to me as if I was her beloved and a human, took me by the halter and dragged me on to the bed. I needed no invitation; I was half-soused with much old wine, my skin was excited by the ointment, and I saw that she was a beautiful wench in every particular. I lay down, but was most uncertain how to mount the woman; for ever since I had become an ass, I had had no intercourse even of the normal asinine kind, nor had I had anything to do with a female ass. Moreover I was beset by an inordinate fear that she would be too small for me and would be torn asunder, while I would have a fine penalty to pay as her murderer. I didn't know that I needn't have feared, for she encouraged me with many kisses and passionate ones at that, and when she saw that I could not hold myself back, she lay beside me as though I was a man, embraced me, lifted me in and received the full extent of my member. I, poor coward, was still afraid, and was gently drawing myself away, but she clung to my member, so that it could not withdraw and followed it as it retreated. Once I was absolutely convinced that I needed to do something more to ensure her pleasure and enjoyment, I served her thereafter without fear, considering myself no worse than Pasiphae's lover. The woman was so ready for love and so insatiable for the pleasures of copulation that she devoted the whole night to me.

[52] At daybreak she got up and left, arranging with my keeper to pay the same fee for the same privileges that night. As he wished to enrich himself from my attainments and at the same time to show his master a fresh trick of mine, he locked me up with her, and she overworked me terribly. One day my keeper went to my master to report on my feat, pretending he himself had taught me it, and, when it was now evening, unknown to me brought him to our bedroom, and through a chink in the door showed me bedded inside with the wench. Delighted with the spectacle, he conceived the desire of exhibiting me doing this in public and told him to keep it a secret, "so that," he said, "on the day of the show we may introduce him in the amphitheatre with a condemned woman, and he will mount her before the eyes of everyone." Then they brought in to me a woman condemned to be killed by the animals, and told her to make advances to me and fondle me.

[53] Then finally when the day came for my master to show his munificence, they decided to take me to the amphitheatre. When I entered, I found a huge couch made of Indian tortoise-shell and inlaid with gold. On this they made me lie and the woman lie on it by my side. Then they put us on a trolley, wheeled us into the arena and deposited us in the middle. The people raised a loud shout and all clapped their hands to applaud me; a table was placed at one side with many of the dainties which epicures have at dinner. Handsome wine-boys stood beside us, serving us wine in golden goblets. My keeper stood behind me and told me to eat. But I was not only ashamed to be reclining in the amphitheatre but also afraid that a bear or lion would leap on me.

[54] Meanwhile a man passed carrying flowers, amongst which I noticed fresh rose-petals. No longer afraid I leapt to my feet and jumped off the couch. They all thought I was standing up to dance, but I went through the flowers one by one, picked out the roses and gulped them down. While they were still watching me in astonishment, that bestial appearance left me and vanished, the ass of old disappeared, and Lucius himself was standing naked on the spot I occupied. All were amazed at this strange, unexpected spectacle and raised a terrible din. The audience were divided into two opinions. Some thought that I should be burnt to death immediately as a scoundrel versed in terrible spells and able to adopt many shapes; the others advocated waiting and learning what I had to say before deciding on the matter. I rushed up to the governor of the province, who was among the spectators, and told him from down there that a Thessalian witch, the slave of a Thessalian witch, had anointed me with a magic unguent and made me into an ass, and I begged him to arrest me and keep me in custody till I convinced him of the truth of my story.

[55] The governor said : " Tell us your name and that of your parents and any relatives you claim to have, and that of your city."

I replied: " My father is ... , my name is Lucius, and that of my brother is Gaius, and the other two names we share with our father. I write histories and other prose works, while he is an elegiac poet and a skilled prophet. Our native city is Patrae in Achaia."

When the governor heard this, he said: "You are the son of folk most dear to me, friends who have welcomed me in their home and honoured me with gifts. I know you are absolutely truthful if you are their son." Then he leapt up from his seat, embraced me and kissed me many times and took me to his own home. Meanwhile, too, my brother had arrived with money and many other things for me, and the governor publicly declared that he was releasing me. We went down to the sea, looked for a ship and put our baggage aboard.

[56] I then thought it best to visit the lady who had loved me when an ass, telling myself she would think me handsomer now I was in human form. She gladly welcomed me, because, I suppose, she was delighted at this extraordinary situation, and she begged me to dine and sleep with her. I agreed, for I thought I would deserve the jealousy of heaven if upon becoming human the ass who had received affection took excessive airs and scorned her who had loved him. I dined with her, anointed myself richly with sweet oil and garlanded myself with roses, the dear flowers which had restored me to human form. When the night was now advanced and it was time to go to bed, I got up and stripped as though conferring a great favour and stood naked before her, imagining that I would please her still more by the contrast I formed with the ass. But when she saw that every part of me was human, she spat at me and said, "Get to blazes away from me and my house; don't sleep anywhere near me."

When I asked what heinous offence I'd committed, she replied, "By heavens, I didn't love you but the ass in you and he was the one I slept with, not you. I thought that, if nothing else, you would still have kept trailing around with you that mighty symbol of the ass. But you have come to me transformed from that handsome, useful creature into a monkey."

She immediately called her servants and had me carried out of the house aloft on their backs. I was thrust out of the door and there I lay naked in my fine garlands and unguents, with only the bare earth to embrace. At crack of dawn I ran naked to the ship and told my brother of my ridiculous misadventure. Then we sailed away from that city on a favouring wind and within a few days I reached my native city. Then I sacrificed and dedicated offerings to the gods who had saved me, now that after so very long and with such difficulty I had escaped, not from the dog's bottom of the fable, by Zeus, but from the curiosity of an ass.

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