Apuleius 2

Apuleius 2 - Danielle Rendina T.A. Allyson Blomeley...

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Danielle Rendina T.A. Allyson Blomeley Classics 106 Term Paper Apuleius, The Magician In his fundamental essay on magic, Marcel Mauss declares, “It is…public opinion that creates the magician and influences he has. The individuals to whom the practice of magic is attributed already have….a distinct condition within the society that treats them as magicians.” Therefore, by his community making the accusation that he practiced magic, the Platonic philosopher Apuleius was by definition a magician, and was treated as such by his community. However, he attempts to establish his innocence in his defense Apologia sive de magia. Apuleius of Madaurus was a popular philosopher around in the second century C.E. He was born into a prosperous family and his father was the chief magistrate of the colony of Madaurus, a multicultural Roman colony. He received a broad and foreign education in Rome, Athens, and Carthage (MacLennon, 2002). He was an initiate in numerous mystery cults and was a student of natural science and medicine. In about 156 CE, Sicinius Pontianus introduced the philosopher to his mother, Pudentilla, a wealthy widow who was significantly older (MacLennon, 2002). After they married, some of her voracious relatives accused Apuleius of using erotic and malevolent magic to woo Pudentilla (Graf, 1997). The accusation of being a magician was a serious charge that could potentially lead to death. Her relatives supported the charge by claiming the
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philosopher possessed ritual objects, performed an exorcism over a young boy with only a few friends present, caused both a young boy and woman to collapse in his presence, and collected specimens of a sea slug with a name was similar to that of female genitalia (Harris, 1994). Eventually the philosopher was acquitted, but he never offered solid proof that he did not practice magic. The Apology was evasive and nimble, and cleverly alienated Apuleius from his ignorant prosecutors. Rather than prove that he did not practice magic, Apuleius battled his prosecutors by proving they lacked proper evidence to prove that the philosophers intentions were to commit injurious magic (Luck, 1996). Apuleius reduced his opponents to uneducated countrymen who where unaware of scientific exploration. Also, the philosopher cleverly assimilated himself to the judge, Claudius Maximus, through their knowledge of Plato’s philosophy (Graf, 1997). By doing so, Apuleius separated himself and the judge from common society, with the intention of causing the judge to relate to the philosopher and, therefore, give him the benefit of the doubt. Ironically, in his defense he demonstrates an extensive knowledge of magic and admits that nearly any material can be used in sorcery. As previously mentioned, Apuleius clearly appeals to the judge’s knowledge of
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course CLASS 40 taught by Professor Athanassakis during the Spring '08 term at UCSB.

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Apuleius 2 - Danielle Rendina T.A. Allyson Blomeley...

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