Animalizing the Slave: The Truth of Fiction

by Keith Bradley
Animalizing the Slave: The Truth of Fiction
Keith Bradley
The Journal of Roman Studies
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In his discussion of natural slavery in the first book of the Politics

(I z54a17- I z54b39), Aristotle notoriously assimilates human slaves to non-human animals. Natural slaves, Aristotle maintains (1z54b16-zo), are those who differ from others in the way that the body differs from the soul, or in the way that an animal differs from a human being; and into this category fall 'all whose function is bodily service, and who produce their best when they supply such service'. The point is made more explicit in the argument (1z54bzo-4) that the capacity to be owned as property and the inability fully to participate in reason are defining characteristics of the natural slave: 'Other animals do not apprehend reason but obey their instincts. Even so there is little divergence in the way they are used; both of them (slaves and tame animals) provide bodily assistance in satisfying essential needs' (1z54bz4-6). Slaves and animals are not actually equated in Aristotle's views, but the inclination of the slave-owner in classical antiquity, or at least a representative of the slave-owning classes, to associate the slave with the animal is made evident enough. It appears again in Aristotle's later statement (1256bzz-6) that the slave was as appropriate a target of hunting as the wild animal.'

I say 'inclination' because this mode of thought was far from unusual in the classical world. It is especially noticeable for example in writers on domestic management. When recommending how to instil obedience in slaves, Xenophon (Oec. I 3.9) states that slaves should be treated in the same way as wild beasts by being given as much food as they want. The elder Cato (Agv. 2.7), ordering the farm-owner to dispose of everything superfluous as he inspects his estate, lists (intev alia) worn-out oxen, inferior cattle and sheep, and old and sickly slaves all in the same breath, as if they constitute a common category. And Varro (Rust. I. 17. I), defining the means with which land is worked, distinguishes slaves from animals by virtue of slaves' ability to speak but still perceives a common bond between them because like bvaggons they both fall under the rubric of 'means'. On the subiect of the ideal villa and its constituent elements. Columella (Rust. 1.6.8) moves easily from the topic of how to accommodate slaves to that of how to accommodate livestock, prescribing, in particular, that 'Cells for the herdsmen and shepherds should be adjacent to their respective charges (pecova), so that they may conveniently run out to care for them'. The ease of association between slave and animal, it might be concluded, was a staple aspect of ancient mentality, and one that stretched back to a very early period: the common Greek term for 'slave', andvapodon, 'man-footed creature', was built on the foundation of a common term for cattle, namely, tetvapodon, 'four-footed ~reature'.~

(I 994), 3 19, script were also offered by the Editorial Committee. compares Cj~rop. 8.43-4. Columella quotation: trans. For financial support of the research on which the Ash. Andrapodon: &I. I. Finley, Ancient Slavery and paper is based I wish to thank the Social Sciences and Modern Ideologj1(1980), 99; F. D. Harvey, 'Herodotus Humanities Research Council of Canada and the and the man-footed creature', in L. Archer (ed.), Killam Trusts. To Professor Francis 1\1. Ne\vton of Slaverj~ and Other Forms of Unfree Labour (1988), Dulte University I owe a special debt, and offer him 42-52, at 42. the final version of the paper as a personal tribute.

As Aristotle's evidence indicates. the association itself was due above all to the tendency to categorize the slave as human, but animal-like, property. And perhaps nothing illustrates the point more clearly in the Roman evidence for classical slavery than the Lex Aquilia, the statute passed at latest by the early third century B.C. from which all Rome's law of damage to property subsequently evolved. Its first provision reads: 'If anyone shall have unlawfully killed a male or female slave belonging to another or a four- footed animal (quad~,upedempecudevz), whatever may be the highest value of that in that year, so much money is he to be condemned to give to the owner.' The provision assumes that slaves and animals are commodities that by definition fall under the ownership of an erus and that they are com~arable commodities. That notion was reaffirmed almost five hundred years later by the jurist Gaius when commenting on the Lex Aquilia, still in use in his own day, as, indeed, it was still of interest and meaning to the compilers of the Digest in the early sixth century: 'It thus appears', Gaius stated (Dig., 'that the statute treats equally (exaequat) our slaves and our four-footed cattle (quadrupedes) which are kept in herds, such as sheep, goats, horses, mules, and asses (asini).' The same idiom is found in the Edict of the Aediles. which reauired the seller of beasts of burden (iumenta) to disclose any disease or defect in animal merchandise just as it required the seller of a slave to do the same. Failure to disclose provided grounds for cancellation of a sale. Commenting on the regulation that pertained to livestock, Ulpian wrote (Dig.

21.I .38.2-3): 'The reason for this edict is the same as that for the return of slaves. And in effect, the same applies as in respect of defects in or diseases of slaves, so that what we have said of them should be transferred to the present ~ontext.'~

Why was animalizing the slave such a persistent mode of thought in classical antiquity? What is its significance for understanding the history of the relationship between master and slave? These are the questions with which this paper is concerned. But before suggesting apossible way to answer them, I want to emphasize the importance of looking at the questions within their specific historical and cultural context by briefly comparing and contrasting some evidence of the connection made between slave and animal in later slave societies. It happens that the assimilation of the slave to the beast, particularly the black slave, has been a common phenomenon in the history of slavery at large. Thus an Arab poet wrote of the tenth-century black slave ruler of Egypt, Abu'l- Misk Kafur, 'I never thought I should live to see the day when a dog ~vould do me evil and be praised into the bargain'; while the New Jersey Quaker David Cooper wrote in 1772: 'The low contempt with which they are generally treated by the whites, lead (sic) children from the first dawn of reasons to consider people with a black skin, on a footing with domestic animals. form'd to serve and obev.' Here it is notable that the reference to 'domestic animals' fits well with the references to both tame and domestic animals given by the classical authors I cited earlier. But as both statements imply, an important distinction has to be drawn between the association made between slaves and animals in slave-owning regimes where owners were white and slaves were black, and that made in classical antiquity where slavery was not tied to race and skin c~lour.~

When English adventurers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries first began to encounter West Africans in their homelands, they were forcibly struck by African cultural characteristics and practices very different from their own -differences of

rlristotle's evidence: cf. Pol. 1253b: 'the slave is an Common phenomenon: K. Jacoby, 'Slaves by animate article of property' (Barlrer). Note also Pl., nature? Dornestic animals and human slaves', Slaverj~ Plt. 289b; Dio Chrys., Or. 15.24. Lex rlquilia: see & Abolition 15 (1994), 89-99, at 89-90, followed by A'I. H. Cra~t-ford(ed.), Roman Statutes (1996), 723-6 D. B. Davis, 'The problem of slavery', Introduction

A. Crook). First pro\rision: translation as in to S. Drescher and S. L. Engermann, A Historical Cra~t-ford(loc. cit.) from the reconstructed text (cf. Guide to World Slacerjl (1998), ix-xviii (first pub-
A. Crook, 'Lex rlquilia', Athenaeum 62 (1984), lished as 'At the heart of slavery', IVew I'o1.k Rerie7i of 67-77, especially 72 for the inclusion of pecudem in Books 43.16 (October 17, ~ggh), 5 1-4). Arab poet: al- the first provision); whether the third provision ori- hlutannabi, quoted by B. Lewis, Race and Slacery in ginally specified damage to slaves and anirnals is the Middle Bast: An Historical Enqzrirj~ (~ggo),59-60. unknown (Crawford, op. cit., 72h), but note Gai., David Cooper: quoted from If;. D. Jordan, White Inst. 3.217 (cf. 3.212, 3.21g);Dig. C~mpilers: Over Black: American Attitudes Tozcard the iVegro see Dig. 9.2passinz. Edict of the Aediles: Dig. 21. I. I. I, r550-1812 (1973), 276.

21.I .38 pr. For criticism of treating slaves as beasts of burden, see Plut., Cato IVIaior 5.


colour and religion especially, but also differences in the way Africans dressed, lived in huts, in how they farmed, spoke, went to war, and governed themselves. These aspects of life they regarded as not just radically different from but essentially inferior to their own. Africans after all were 'heathens'. Together with the way they were captured, enslaved, and traded, this perception of Africans made the connection with animals easy and swift; and it was facilitated by the entirely fortuitous fact that early penetration of West Africa exposed adventurers for the first time not only to an enslavable indigenous human population but also, and simultaneously, to the higher forms of apes. Many shared characteristics between the two were immediately postulated, and, in particular, sexual union between African and ape was commonly assumed. Such views were long maintained, giving rise to various debates about the place of Africans and their slave descendants in the New World in the Great Chain of Being -the notion, very prevalent in the late eighteenth century, that all life forms could be positioned on a scale rising from lowest to highest. To some, notably Thomas Jefferson, it seemed that Africans were to be classified on a scala natuvae as creatures standing midway between beasts and human beings like themselves. Proximity to the beast -and in this instance it is the wild beast -thus reinforced and com~ounded the inferioritv of the African established by the difference of race, which itself provided the basic foundation for the growth and development of slavery systems in the New l~orld.~

The ori~ins of the idea of the Great Chain of Being. have been found in classical


antiquity, in the 'principle of plenitude' evident in the philosophy of Plato and the 'principle of unilinear gradation' in that of Aristotle. But debates about the place to be assigned in a classificatory scheme to African slaves could never be a major concern to classical philosophers, not because African slaves were altogether unknown, but because slavery in antiquity was never racially grounded as it was in the New World. There is little in fact to suggest that racial prejudice of the kind all too familiar from recent and contemporary history reached any serious level in antiquity at all. Classical slavery, it must be remembered, was an equal opportunity condition, available to men, women, and children of everv sort and condition. For Greeks and Romans. the association between the slave and the animal was undoubtedly due in part to the way in which both society and the natural world at large were hierarchically ordered: the slave by definition was inferior to the master and so closer to even more inferior forms of life. But the association can have had little to do with racial prejudice -there was no physiological or physiognomical imperative to drive it -but only with the commodification of the slave, the fact that a human being reduced to the status of a slave could be bought and sold, like livestock, as a piece of property. On the other hand, because classical slavery was not closely connected with race, the prospect that anyone at any time might become its victim was far more real than it could ever have been in the slave societies of the New World. A moralist such as Seneca (Ep. 47.10) might point this out for rhetorical effect, but as many examples show -Caesar's capture by pirates is sufficient -it was inescapably true.6

It happens that the ability of the capricious goddess Fortuna to render a man powerless is revealed in the opening pages of Apuleius' The Golden Ass, or Metafnoltph- oses, in the story of the travelling merchant Socrates (told by Aristomenes) who was

See Jordan, op. cit. (n. 4), 3-43, 232-4, 482-511; world: cf. A'I. Beagon, Roman ,Vature: The T/zougIzt of

D. B. Davis, The Problem of Slaverjl in Western Plinj~ the Elder (1992), esp. 124-58. Hierarchically Culture (1966), 453-64. For animalizing views of ordered: for texts on the theme of the supposed Blaclts in A~Iuslim sources, see Lewis, op. cit. (n. 4), superiority of animals to human beings, predicated on 52-3. the opposite starting assumption, see A. 0.Lovejoy

Origins: .I.0. Lovejoy, The Great Chain ofBeing: and G. Boas, Primitivism and Related Ideas in A Study ofthe Historj~ ofan Idea (1936), 52-8. Racial Antiquit)] (193s), 389-420. Co~nrnodification: also prejudice: A. N. Sherwin-White, Racial Prejudice in present in later European attitudes towards Africans Imperial Rome (1967); F. 1\1. Snowden, Jr., Before but inextricably enmeshed with racial views. Caesar's Color Prejudice: The Ancient Vie?*>of Blacks (1983); capture: Plut., Cues. 1.4-2.4; Suet.,Jul. 74. I.

L. A. Thompson, Romans and Blacks (1989). Natural

reduced to beggary by brigands and a beguiling witch. And the subjection of Lucius, the novel's main character, to fortune's dictates is of course one of the major themes of the work as a whole. As far as I know, there is no ancient source which reveals directly the social impact of the convention of assimilating the slave to the beast: but to the


extent that it deals fictively with the transformation of a human being into one of Gaius' types of four-footed animals, the Metamo~tphoses is a work that raises the possibility of understanding something of the process of animalization its story unfolds. In what follows therefore I propose to explore the ramifications of the connection between animal and slave as revealed in Apuleius' account of the adventures of his protagonist Lucius. whose dangerous desire to dabble in manic causes him to be turned into an ass


and to endure a series of terrible misfortunes before being restored to human form through the intervention of the goddess Isis. I shall contend that the transformation of Lucius can be taken as a paradipmatic illustration of the animalization of the slave in


real life, and as a guide to the meaning of animalization in the master-slave relationship. I shall suggest first that the Metamovphoses shows how animalizing the slave served the interests of slave-owners bv functioning as a mechanism of control and domination. and


secondly that the novel reveals the limits of how far manipulation of the slave could be taken. The abruptness in the Meta?novphoses of the transformation of Apuleius' Lucius into a beast of burden might be compared to the suddenness of the transformation


which any enslaved captive, such as Caesar, underwent in antiquity. And what I want to argue is that in this and various other respects the Metamo~tphoses, perhaps uniquely in classical literature. captures the essence of the process of enslavement and what that


process meant in human terms through the connections it establishes between animal and slave.'

The transformation of Lucius occurs towards the end of Book Three of the novel (Met. 3.24), by which time his identity has been firmly established. A young man of impeccable character and family pedigree, well educated and well travelled, Lucius is a cultured citizen of Corinth, who by his handsome looks, fine clothing, and modest demeanour communicates to everyone he meets that he belongs to the upper reaches of society. As the work opens, he poses the (in)famous question of himself, 'Quis ille?' (Met. I. I), and literary critics speculate endlessly on what an answer might be. But at the level of plain storytelling there is no doubt that by the time he becomes an ass the hero of the Metamo?,phoses is a young man, much like Apuleius himself, who belonged to the decurial sector of provincial Roman society, with all that that label implies about social origins, wealth, and education. (The novel is set in Greece, keep in mind, against the background of the Roman Empire of the second century.)' The asinine form into which he is suddenly changed, however, presents a total contrast: not a change simply from human to animal, but a change from the heights of human physical perfection to the depths of bestial ugliness: hair turns to bristles, skin to hide, fingers and hands become hooves, a tail grows, the face becomes enormous, with mouth distended, nostrils

P. Brule and J. Oulhen (eds), Escla.c:age, guerre, the novel, see S. J. Harrison, Apuleius: A Latin Ccononzie en GrZce ancienne: Hommages u I'von Garlan Sophist (zooo), 228, with references. Decurial sector: (1997), 101-19; cf. also W. Fitzgerald, Slavery and Lucius is never so identified, but it is clear that he the Roman Literarj~ Iuzagination (zooo), 87-1 14. belongs to the same social level as, for instance, the

"ransformation: G. F. Gianotti, 'Asini e schiavi: decurion introduced at lVIet. 10.1 or the Corinthian zoologia filosofica e ideologie della dipendenza nelle magistrate Thiasus, introduced at Met. 10.18; see ";Lletamorfosin apuleiane', Quaderni di storia 9 no. 18 H. J. Mason, 'The distinction of Lucius in Apuleius' (1983)) 121-53, draws attention (127-8) to relevant lVIetamorphoses', Phoenix 37 (1983), 135-43, who Platonic correspondences (e.g. Plzdr. 249b, Ti. makes the suggestion that Lucius may even have been 91d-qzc, Phd. 81c (especially interesting for its refer- of senatorial origin, and cf. Harrison, op. cit., 215-20, ence to the ass)). Firmly established: a comprehensi\~e who sees Lucius as an aspirant sophist. Baclrground: portrait of Lucius is not given at the beginning of the F. G. B. A'Iillar, 'The world of the Golden Ass', JRS lVIetamorphoses but is only revealed gradually through 71 (1g81), 63-75 = S. J. Harrison (ed.), Oxford various passing references; for the relevant details up Readings in the Roman ,\'oz.el (~qgq), 247-68 (a to the moment of transformation, see IVIet. 1.1, 1.2, fundamental study).

I I4 KEITH BRADLEY spreading, lips drooping, and ears long and hairy. The only consolation of which Lucius is aware is an increase in the size of his penis.9 The description of the metamorphosis is surely meant to be comic, in keeping with the narrator's early announcement of his intention to entertain his reader ('Lector intende: laetaberis' (Met. 1.1)). But humour quickly gives way to something more disquieting, even disturbing, as the narrator becomes aware that the change from the type of the civic decurion to the archetypal beast of burden is, quite literally, a true de- gradation, a descent from very near the top of a chain of being to very near the bottom. And the fall is one of which the human mind trapped within the body of the beast is very conscious and which induces severe emotional turmoil. For Lucius retains his human mind and personality within the body of the ass, and so almost immediately realizes that he cannot speak or gesture in any normal human way, that he is no longer himself but a dumb animal and a beast of burden. Instinctively (as it were) he thinks of retaliating against or protesting his plight by physically attacking and killing the agent of his misfortune, his lover Photis, the slave of his host Milo; but he is forced to abandon the idea because he knows that his hopes of restoration to human form depend on her. In the stable where his horse is housed, he tries to eat some roses, the antidote that Photis says will restore him to his proper form, but instead he finds himself humiliatingly beaten by his own slave. The slave has become the master and the master the slave. Then he is dragooned into service by some robbers who attack Milo's house and use him to help carry off the property they steal, beating him frequently in the process. He considers the option of appealing to Caesar -a plainly topical note -but he has no voice with which to speak: he has become an 'instrumentum inuocale'; and although another opportunity arises to eat some roses, his fear of being killed by the robbers deters him from taking it. Very quickly, it appears, Lucius has been tamed.'' Altogether, therefore, it can be said that in the immediate aftermath of his transformation Lucius undergoes an agonizing crisis of identity. Every facet of the human being that has been carefully revealed in the story so far is stripped away, and Lucius becomes utterly depersonalized as a result -unrecognizable and isolated, a dehumanized outcast. He is fully aware of his fall, finds it shaming, and learns that he must internalize his misfortune and resign himself to it. Is he still really Lucius or just an ass? The question, and the crisis of identity on which it depends, offers in my view a perfect metaphor for the situation of captive slaves, who, while not losing their voices in quite the same manner as Lucius, certainly lost the ability to speak openly and freely, and who, forfeiting identity with freedom, were able to form a new sense of being only in relation to the owners into whose power they had fallen. Varro (Ling. 8.9.21) tells how a slave bought at Ephesus might be named by his new master either after his previous owner, after the region in which the city was located, or after the city itself. But how did slaves actually respond to the imposition of a new name and a new identity? That is a question difficult to answer, but from the description of Lucius' metamorphosis the

Asinine form: Met. 3.24: 'sed plane pili mei lVIet. 3.26-9 (note especially 3.25, 'humano gestu crassantur in setas, et cutis tenella duratur in corium, si~nulet uoce priuatus'; 3.26, 'perfectus asinus et pro et in extimis pal~nulis perdito numero toti digiti Lucio iumentum'). Descent: cf. the literary use of coguntur in singulas ungulas et de spinae meae animal metaphors to connote an absence of civilization ter~ninograndis cauda procedit. Iam facies enor~nis et observed by 1'.Wiedemann, 'Between men and os prolixu~n et nares hiantes et labiae pendulae; sic et beasts: barbarians in rlmmianus A'Iarcellinus', in aures inmodicis horripilant auctibus. Nec ullu~n I. A'Ioxon, J. D. Smart and A. J. TVoodman (e+), Past ~niseraereformationis uideo solacium, nisi quod rnihi Perspectives: Studies in Greek and Roman Hzstorzcal iam nequeunti tenere Photidem natura crescebat.' See Writing (1986), 189-229; the connection made by Schlam, op. cit. (n. 7), 99-1 12, on the theme of animal F. Dupont, The Invention of Literature: From Greek and human in the Metamo~phoses,but with no refer- Intoxication to the Latin Book (~gqq),190-1, between ence to slavery (cf. 7 briefly). Gianotti, art. cit. (n. 8), Lucius' change of form and a putative abandonment maintains that loss of freedom is a key ethical theme of erotic interest for storytelling seems to me highly in the novel. Ugliness: cf. K. Hopltins, 'Novel evid- implausible. Topical: cf. K. R. Bradley, Slaves and ence for Roman slavery', P&P 138 (1993), 3-27> at IVIasters in the Roman Empire: A Study in Social 13, 15, on the appearance of Aesop; and for some Control (1987), 123-6. Tamed: confirmed at IVIet. 4.2, examples of a Roman taste for deformed slaves, see 'pecori'; cf. 7.13, 'iumentorum'.

R. Garland, The Eye of the Beholder: Deformitj~ and Disabilitjl in the G~aeco-Roman Hfo~ld (1995), 46-8.

function of animalization in destroying identity and replacing it with a sense of deracination is evident enough.''

Once the transformation has taken place, much of the remainder of the Meta?novph- oses is taken up with its practical consequences: Lucius' loss of independence and the exploitation of the Ass by a succession of characters into whose ownership he falls. Three rubrics can be set out, summarizing variations on recurring elements suggestive for understanding the animalization process, all of which link the animal to the slave.

First, stress is continually placed on the fact that Lucius the Ass is a beast of burden. and a beast almost albvavs at work. The Ass labours as a ~ack-animal for the robbers for a considerable interval, but subsequently carries burdens for a sequence of other figures: a cruel slave boy whose daily job it is to gather firewood, a group of herdsmen belonging to the noblewoman Charite who set off to find a new home when their mistress dies, some itinerant Syrian priests who use the Ass to carry, among other things, the image of the goddess they worship (the Dea Syria), a market-gardener who transports his produce to town every day, a swaggering soldier who requisitions the Ass for his commanding-officer's use, tm70 slave chefs, brothers, who need transportation for their baking equipment. The Ass is also twice set to the drudgery of turning a mill, a place long understood in literature as a suitable site for the punishment of slaves. All of this he finds demeaning and scarcely tolerable, but the Ass is completely unable to control the circumstances which surround him or to free himself from the life of unremitting toil into which he has been plunged. Unceasing physical labour of a servile sort is one immediate consequence of the dehumanization to which animalization has exposed him.12

Secondly, stress is continually placed on the fact that the Ass not only can but almost must suffer physical maltreatment. As with slaves in real life, who could pay in no other way, the Ass is answerable to his owners with his body alone, so that cruel floggings appear with numbing frecluency throughout the story. The Ass is beaten for the first time, as already mentioned, by his own slave when he is still at hlilo's house (the irony is that even a slave can beat a dumb animal), but afterwards, and always with impunity, by practically everyone he encounters. On one occasion the Ass falls lame from a beating, at other times he suffers truly sadistic treatment, from the cruel boy and the boy's mother, the Syrian priests, and a miller's wife; even the charitable Charite beats him. In turn the Ass has to learn how to deal with habitual. randomlv inflicted violence or its threat -the barbaric threat of castration for instance -as an elemental part of his new animal existence. Again he cannot control or prevent it; he can only learn to withstand it. Nor can he do anvthing to prevent the verbal attacks and abuse which


might accompany the physical trials. When the cruel boy falsely accuses the Ass of bestiality and his mother berates him for causing her son's death, loss of voice makes defence against the charges im~ossible.'~

Sexual exploitation is a related form of physical abuse to which the powerless Ass, again like the slave in everyday life, is exposed. Not unreasonably, the corrupt Syrian priests imagine that their leader Philebus has bought the Ass for their bestial pleasure: they already have a slave piper, purchased from the block, who doubles as a group

" Unrecognizable: IVIet. 3.26, 'agnitione'. Isolated: Flour in Classical Antiquitjl (19j8), 6j, for a list of >let. 3.27, 'in solitudinem'; cf. 4.1, 'solitudo'. Aware: passages from Plautus connecting slaves with punish- IVIet. 3.26, 'pro Lucio iumentum'. Shaming: IVIet. ment in the mill; cf. F. G. B. hlillar, 'Condemnation 3.26, 'contumelia'. Learns: IVIet. 3.26, 'melior me to hard labour in the Rornan Empire, frorn the Julio- sententia reuocauit'. Resign: Met. 3.29, 'casum prae- Claudians to Constantine', PBSR 52 (1984), 124-47, sentem tolerans'. Ability: cf. Sen., Ep. 47.3; on loss of at 143-4. Cf. Schlam, op. cit. (n. 7),99. voice and loss of identity, see E. D. Finkelpearl, l3 Met. 6.25 (lame); 7.17, 7.28, 8.30, 9.1 j (sadistic); IVIetamorphosis of Larguage in Apuleius: A Study of 6.28 (Charite); 7.23-4 (castration); 7.21-2 (bestiality); Allusion in the aVoz.el (1998), 192; the effect is not the 7.27 (mother). See also lVIet. 3.29, 4.3, 4.4, 7. I 5, 7.2 j, same in Orid's Il.fetaw~orphoses;see J. B. Solodo\v, The 9.11. Cf. Schlam, op. cit (n. 7), 72-3: 'Being beaten is World ofO.c:id's h~Ietamorphoses (1988), 190-1. the Ass's most frequent experience.' Answerable: on

l2 Met. 7.17 (cruel boy), cf. 7.18, 7.20; 8.1j (herds- the association between beating and servitude, see men), cf. 8.16; 8.27 (Syrian priests), cf. 8.28, 8.30, Finley, op. cit. (n. 2), 93-j; cf. R. P. Saller, 'Corporal 9.4; 9.32 (market-gardener), cf. 9.33; 9.39 (swaggering punishment, authority, and obedience in the Roman soldier), cf. 10.1; 10.13 (slave chefs); 7.15, 9.1 I (mill). household', in B. hl. Rawson (ed.), lVIarriage, Divorce, Long understood: see L. .I.Moritz, Grain-AWills and and Children in Ancient Rome (~ggr),144-65.


concubinus, and, adding to their sense of anticipation, the piper welcomes the Ass as his uicarius. If in the event anticipation goes unrealized, this is not the case when an oversexed Corinthian noblewoman pays the Ass's keeper to bed him, a bargain in which the Ass again has no say, though on this occasion he becomes a xvilling victim. However, once his owner, the decurion Thiasus, spots the chance to make money by publicly exhibiting him engaged in sex acts -there is nothing to stop him and a depraved female criminal is found to serve as partner -the sense of shame the Ass experiences becomes unendurable and he bolts from Corinth to Cenchreae.14

Thirdly, consider the number of times the Ass, like the slave piper (who might represent any slave in real life), is sold. First by Charite's herdsmen to Philebus; to a miller by some villagers who take the Ass from the Syrian priests; to the market- gardener by the miller's daughter after her father's death; to the two slave brothers by the swaggering soldier; and finally to their owner Thiasus by the slave brothers. (Each time, incidentally, the price paid for the piece of property, unrealistically and insultingly loxv, is indicated.) On no occasion is the Ass able to do anything but passively accept the result of the transaction and to bow repeatedly to decisions made for him by others. The contrast with the independence and active pursuit of learning by the human Lucius in the early part of the story is obvious but important. As the commodity to which animalization has reduced him, the Ass has altogether lost the individual autonomy of the human being, and his inability to speak with a human voice only emphasizes how impotent, what a non-person, he has become. He cannot protest when he hears that Lucius has been falsely accused of having robbed Milo; nor can he vent his outrage when the Syrian priests bring a young man home with them from the baths for dinner and group sex: no words, only braying sounds, will leave his mouth. He is not the ass of Phaedrus' fable xvho can voice the wisdom of the suffering servant. The Ass therefore is compelled to accept his powerlessness, but this leads only to confusion and under extreme circumstances -the prospect of castration or public sex -the contemplation of suicide. Even pleasure, on the rare occasions it is felt, has to be enjoyed within and in silence. The frustrations of impotence become palpable.15

The result is that in beinn transformed from human to beast Lucius the Ass


becomes a passive commodity who, or which, can apparently be turned to any purpose his various owners wish, and to whose servitude there is no easily foreseeable end. Animalization converts Lucius to a state of mute acceptance of all that is required once his human identity and independence have been removed, and it seems to give his owners complete control over him with little danger of their will being denied. For the Ass's owners, in other words, Lucius' animalization emerges as a mechanism of empowerment.

l4 Syrian priests: Met. 8.26; cf. EIopkins, art. cit. 'praeter pudorem obeundi publice concubitus'). Cf.

(n. g), 16-17, on the sale of Aesop. Corinthian Schlam, op. cit. (n. 7), 72-3. For sources on the sexual noblewoman: 12Iet. 10.19-22. \Villing victim: cf. the exploitation of slaves, see J. Kolendo, 'L'esclavage et reference in Lewis, op. cit. (n. 4), 97, to 'a Persian la vie sexuelle des hommes libres a Rome', Index 10 manuscript of the famous :l/lasnaai of Rumi, com- (1981), 288-97. pleted in Tabriz in about I 530, illustrating an episode I5Times: 12Iet. 8.23-5, 9.10, 9.31, 10.13, 10.17. in the poem in which a woman discovers her maidser- Unrealistically: R. Duncan-Jones, The Economy of the vant copulating with an ass and tries, with disastrous Roman Empire (1974), 249. Protest: 12Iet. 7.3. Vent: results, to do the same' (Illus. 22). It is notable that ,Wet. 8.29. Fable: Phaedr. I.I 5. Suicide: ,Wet. 7.24, scenes of sexual union between women and cluadru- 10.29. Pleasure: ,Wet. 7.26, 'tacitus licet serae uindic- peds (perhaps asses) appear on Greek lamps of the tae gratulabar'. On the pyschological effects of sale, imperial age from Athens and Corinth, and may have note the response of the Tolpuddle martyr James a connection with a pre-Apuleian version of the ass EIammet when asked why he refused to talk about his story; see Ph. Bruneau, 'Illustrations antiques du coq experiences as a convict labourer: 'If you'd been sold et de 1'8ne de Lucien', BCH (1965), 349-57 Publicly like a sheep for AI would you want to talk about it?' exhibiting:Met. 10.23, 10.29 (note 'ingentique angore (E. P. Thompson, Making Historjl: Writings on His- oppido suspensus', 'clades ultimas'), 10.34-5 (note to~yand Culture (1994), 191).

For many slaves, obviously enough, unremitting labour, harsh physical treatment (including sexual abuse), and arbitrary disposal by sale were staple aspects of life, just as they are for the Ass. Any ancient reader of the Metamorphoses therefore might well have thought of the Ass as a slave. Apuleius leaves the matter in no doubt, for his protagonist is identified or identifies himself as a slave or beine in a state of servitude several times. As the Ass he is the 'fellow-slave' (co?zsevuus) of %is own horse and the cruel boy; he enters a state of 'slavery' (se~uitium) when consigned to the mill or sold to a new owner; and the priest Mithras who presides over his reformation considers his whole experience as the Ass a period of servitude (se~uitiunz). Lucius, moreover, can be condemned for a propensity for pursuing 'servile pleasures', a notoriously provocative phrase. The truth is that like a real slave Lucius the Ass comes to find himself regarded as non-existent


as humans for example engage in conversation around him -to be living as if in a state of death.16

Two passages make the assimilation of the Ass to a slave impossible to avoid. First, the account of his sale to Philebus (Met. 8.23-6). Here, the careful inspections the Ass undergoes from potential purchasers and the description the auctioneer gives of his qualities match, and parody, the manner in which slaves were treated on the block, so that the whole episode is bound to have been understood by contemporary readers as a version of a slave sale. Making an obvious servile allusion, the auctioneer jokingly refers to the Ass as a 'Cappadocian' before Philebus takes away what he calls his 'novice servant' (nouicium fanzulunz), a phrase which also puns on servile language. The account as a whole is in fact full of servile vocabulary. Livestock for sale were of course disposed of in the same way: 'et de sanitate ac noxa solet caueri', Varro (Rust. 2.6.3) observes of the sale of an ass; a statement which actual sales documents verify. But that is the point: the sale of an animal and the sale of a slave were indistinct from one another, as the Aedilician Edict proves. Secondly, the Ass's description of his fellow victims in the second mill in which he works (1VIet. 9.12-13). The workers fall into two pitiful groups: the (human) slaves, filthy, emaciated men who wear nothing but rags, whose bodies are marked bv brands and scars. whose feet are shackled: and the other asses who turn the mills -mangy, sickly animals worn out, even deformed, from constant toil and beatings. Again, there is no difference between man and beast, and together they constitute a familia. The authenticity of the collocation is confirmed by iconographic sources -the tomb of the baker M. Vergilius Eurysaces in Rome is a notable example in which the presence of the whip is a common feature.17

In the 1VIetamovphoses the Ass is in many respects a figure of fun. The reader after all knows throughout the story that the Ass is really Lucius, and that the change from human to animal is essentially a comic fiction. None the less, the Ass is a particularly suitable symbol of servitude given the reputation of the ordinary ass, the 'uilis . . . uulgarisque asellus' (Col., Rust. 7.I. I), in everyday life. Varro, Columella, and the elder Pliny all make clear how valued and serviceable the animal was, capable of performing a variety of jobs at relatively little cost to its owner: turning mills, hauling waggons,

Ih Met. 7.3, 7.27 (fellow-slave); 9. I I (mill); 9.32 (new 'Novice servant': iVIet. 8.26. Servile vocabulary: ;l.i'et. owner); I I.I 5 (Mithras, 'servile pleasures' (on which 8.24, 'ciuem Romanum pro seruo', 'bonum et frugi see the Appendix)); 7.12 (non-existent: 'contempta mancipium'; 8.26, 'seruum . . . pulchellum', 'homi- mea praesentia quasi uere mortui'; cf. 3.29, 'nihil a nem seruulum', 'seruum', 'uicarius'. Sales documortuo differebam'). For the notion of slavery as ments: for a catalogue of 157 attestations of donkey social death, see 0. Patterson, Slaae~y and Social sales from Egypt (mid-second century n.c.-sixth/ Death: A Conzparatitse Study (1982); cf. in a different seventh century A.D.), see N. Litinas, 'P. Lond. 111 I sense Gianotti, art. cit. (n. 8), 136-7. C. \V. 128: sale of a donkey', ZPE 124 (1999), 195-204. Bowersock, Fiction as Histo~y: *\'e\~ero to Julian (~gqq), Fanzilia: ;l.i'et. 9.13 (which to my mind resolves the 109, draws a connection between death and 'the doubts of Millar, art. cit. (n. IZ), 129-30, on the servility of a captive' through Apuleius' use of the workers' servile status). Iconographic sources: llor- phrase 'postliminio mortis' at Afet. 10.12 (cf. 2.28, itz, op. cit. (n. 12), 78-9; cf. 100. Tomb: E. Nash, 3.25). Pictorial Dictioizai,y of Ancient Rome (1981), 11,

l7 'Cappadocian': Ai'et. 8.24 (cf. Mart. 6.77, 10.76). 329-32.


carrying panniers, pulling a plough. The ass was an important asset to farmers, and also to merchants who traded in such commodities as oil, wine, and grain. It required little upkeep, rarely fell ill, needed little supervision, and could put up with hard labour, hunger, and beatings. Prize specimens from Arcadia in Greece or Reate in Italy commanded high prices, and the quality of the animal would have been something to think about when mule breeding was at issue. Moreover, as other evidence indicates, agents of the emperor himself relied on the animal for transportation when conducting official business. The ass, therefore, was the ideal servant, adaptable, hard working, and compliant -a model in fact of what the slave should be. A graffito from a paedagogium on the Palatine accompanying a sketch of an ass turning a mill suggests how the animal popularly connoted routine toil, even to a child: 'Labora, aselle, quomodo ego laboraui, et proderit tibi'; while a terracotta image of a classroom whose pupils are rows of monkeys shows the schoolmaster as a -presumably long-suffering -ass. The picture of the Ass in the nfetamovphoses, enduring constant work, incessant beatings, and also poor food, is very much drawn from the real world, and no ancient reader is likely to have missed the servile associations of the animal whose form Lucius adopts. To the contemporary interpreter of dreams Artemidorus, the ass was the very symbol of misery and ~lavery.'~

It becomes possible consequently to posit that if in the Metamo~phoses the animalization of Lucius is a literal, fictive phenomenon, the metaphorical animalization of the slave in real life was an empowering device of considerable value to the slave- owner. Lucius' transformation suggests that as a strategy of control and domination, animalization was a means of depriving slaves of their personal identitities and of inculcating in them an ethic of shameful non-personhood, a strategy that was perhaps immediately effective at the moment of enslavement when the significance of the shift from freedom to slavery arguably first made itself felt. It offered the prospect of converting human beings to a state of mute and unquestioning docility and obedience, in which there were virtually no limits to the demands of work, punishment, and disposal that might be made of them, and in which slaves' ability to exercise their will and make independent decisions might be completely destroyed. Freedom of movement and reproductive capacity for example were two aspects of personhood that translation to the state of the tamed animal took away from slaves; and as noted earlier even the ordinary human function of speech could be restricted. Animalization also served to sanction and to justify the way masters treated their slaves, in the sense that once slaves were set on the level of beasts all need to cater to their human sensibilities was removed. It did not matter any more what slaves were given to eat, or to wear, what they felt or thought, what human bonds they had formed once their humanity had been negated; masters had only to meet the requirements of sensible proprietorship, as with any other item of livestock (an ass for example). Moreover, in a slave society where race did not immediately connote and could not compound servile associations, the strategy perhaps

Varro: Rust. 2. I. 14, 2.6.1-6, 3.17.6. Columella: (Xlitchell, art. cit., I 14-15) cf. Met. 9.39, Graffito: Rust. 7.1.1-3. Pliny: IVH 8.167-70. On the ordinary CLE 1978, shown in S. F. Bonner, Education iiz ass, see I<. D. White, Roman Farnzing (1970), 293-4, Aizcieizt Rome: From the Elder Cato to the Younger 299-300; J. M. C. Toynbee, Aizimals in Roman Life Pliny (1977)) 123 (fig. 12); cf. Moritz, op. cit. (n. IZ), and Alpt (1973)~ 192-7; cf. at great length RE T'I, I 83. Terracotta: shown in Bonner, op. cit., 124 (fig.

s.r. 'Esel' (Olck). Agents: asses are required of the 13). Poor food: for references to the Ass's food supply,
city of Sagalassus in Pisidia for official imperial use, see Afet. 3.29, 4.3, 7.14, 7.15, 9.32, 10.13, 10.16; cf.
in the event of an absence of mules, in an inscription J. R. Heath, 'Narration and nutrition in Apuleius'
from the early reign of Tiberius published by S.Mit-Afetamorphoses', Rarnus I I (1982), 57-77. Very sym-
chell, 'Requisitioned transport in the Roman Empire: bol: Artem. 1.24, 1.37; cf. Gianotti, art. cit. (n. 8),
a new inscription from Pisidia', JRS 66 (1,976), 131-2.
106-31; with the common abuse of local facllitles

had a special importance in supporting the other instruments of control masters deployed to instil in their slaves a psychology of sub~rdination.'~

Evidence from later slave societies lends this notion of empowerment a certain plausibility. The American fugitive Harriet Jacobs wrote in her autobiography of the depths to which the slave reduced to the level of the brute might sink: 'Some poor creatures have been so bvutalized by the lash that they will sneak out of the way to give their masters free access to their wives and daughters', and she makes clear how a white woman could exploit the brutalized black male for her own sexual satisfaction. She was aware, too, of how the tie between slave and animal might render some slaves positively insensate: 'I know that some are too much brutalized by slavery to feel the humiliation of their position'. Another fugitive, Frederick Douglass, wrote of the levelling effects, the loss of dignity involved, of putting slaves up for sale not just in the manner of, but together with, livestock, when recalling how his first master's property had been assessed upon the master's death; he communicated simultaneously how the tie affected both slaves and their masters: 'We were all ranked together at the valuation. Men and women, old and young, married and single, were ranked with horses, sheep, and swine. There were horses and men, cattle and women, pigs and children, all holding the same rank in the scale of being, and were all subjected to the same narrow examination. Silvery-headed age and sprightly youth, maids and matrons, had to undergo the same delicate inspection. At this moment, I saw more clearly than ever the brutalizing effects of slavery upon both slave and slaveholder.' The point is further illustrated by a report written in 1843 by H. Augustus Cowper, British Consul in Recife, Brazil, on slave conditions in the province of Pernambuco. Although aware that the treatment of slaves varied from place to place and that some owners were relatively benign, Cowper observed that in most of its victims slavery destroyed all power of reason and intellect, and that this loss enabled them, by a sort of transference of power, to tolerate the physical hardships and degradations of slavery in a way that human beings normally could not. There were other burdens to bear: no civic or legal rights of any kind, and no natural rights -in matters of sex for example. Cowper concluded that 'the endeavour of the master is to suppress alike the intellect, the passions, and the senses of these poor creatures, and the laws aid them in transforming the African man into the American beast'. Seneca (Ep.47.5), lamenting his peers' abuse of their slaves as if they were not men (homines) but beasts of burden (iumenta), would have understood. Sympathetic to the slaves but undeniably authentic, Cowper's account actualizes the figurative account of Apuleius and makes unmistakable the controlling consequence of animalizing the slave.20

According to the elder Pliny (HN 8.I 69), asses in antiquity needed to be quartered in wide stalls because of their habit of kicking while asleep. If an ass such as the single specimen with which Apuleius in the Apology (23.6) says his Tripolitanian kinsman Sicinius Aemilianus worked his farm in Zarath were to have kicked, or perhaps bolted, while turning a mill or carrying a load, the driver always had the option of beating the

I" Docility: Afet. 8.24, 'de mansuetudine'; cf. 10.35, art. cit. (n. 4). Significantly the 'progressive jureniliz- 'tam mansuetun1 . . . asinum'. Other instruments: ation' morphologically risible in domesticated Bradley, op. cit. (n. lo), passim. Note that Jacoby, art. animals is not erident in historical slave populations. cit. (n. 4), draws a parallel between the domestication 20 Harriet Jacobs: J. F. Yellin (ed.), Incidents iiz the of animals following the Neolithic Revolution and the Life of a Slave Girl I.17ritteiz by Herself, by Harriet rise of slavery (especially in Mesopotamia), thereby A. Jacobs (1987), 44, 28 (my emphasis; cf. 52 'She characterizing slarery as a domestication of human selected the most brutalized, over whom her authority beings in which the urge to control xras as strong as in could be exercised with less fear of exposure'). Freder- the domestication of wild beasts. The parallel has ick Douglass: H. L. Gates, Jr., The Classic Slave much appeal, but the overall argument, corering an Xarratives (1987), 282. H. Augustus Cowper: R. E. enormous amount of time and space, is clearly very Conrad, Children of God's Fire; A Documeiztarj~ speculative. It is accepted wholeheartedly by Daris, Histoiy of Back Sla7;ei.y in Brazil (1983), 71-6.


animal into submission. And the ass was almost proverbial in antiquity for the physical abuse to which it was subjected. As I have noted, the Ass in the Metamo~phoses endures innumerable beatings, among other misfortunes, sometimes stoically. But from the earliest moments of the transformation his ability to 'kick' not in sleep but while awake is brought out in the way he almost kills the gardener who gives him one of his earliest floggings. Indeed, his ability to respond to the suddenly imposed state of servitude is evident in the debate he immediately has with himself whether to assault and murder Photis. The Ass therefore is not an utterly passive being, and on many occasions he takes action, or at least contemplates action, to alleviate his sufferings. Apart from trying to appeal for help to the emperor, he can form a plan to stand rooted to the ground in the hope that the robbers will abandon him, or run away from their cave (after careful deliberation about a safe destination) when he hears of their plan to kill him. He twice considers suicide, as already seen, can shower dung on the cruel boy's mother when she tortures him with a firebrand, or hide in the middle of the pack of the herdsmen's baggage animals when he fears being attacked by wolves. He runs away when threatened with execution by a slave cook, bolts again when attacked by servants who believe he is rabid, pretends not to know how to turn a mill in order to avoid work (only to be beaten into compliance). He takes revenge on a cruel woman by revealing her adultery to her husband, pilfers food from his owners the chef and the pastry cook, runs away once more when he cannot allow himself to appear in the public sex show. All in all, when opportunity permits the Ass devises whatever tricks (dola) and schemes Cfraudes) he can to extricate himself from the torments and indignities of being a beast of burden, the simple art of dissembling incl~ded.~'

All these actions depend on Lucius' retention of his human mind in his animal body and his ability to respond to servitude, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, by exercising his human will. In the first instance this is no more than a conceit necessary for the telling of the story. But it presents the Ass with a predicament -to act or not to act -that seems to me to correspond closely to the plight of slaves, and especially newly captive slaves, who retained human intelligence and emotion in bodies no longer their own, and whose freedom to act on the impulse of intelligence and emotion was threatened with near extinction by submission to a superior force. Even the comfort of sleep, the novel suggests, was not to be taken for granted. Under such circumstances, the human responses available, as the history of both ancient and modern slavery shows, have covered a spectrum of options, ranging from total accommodation to submission at one extreme to outright revolt against it at the other. In the iVIetamo~phoses the behaviour of the Ass covers a comparable range. At times he is acquiescent when acquiescence is the more sensible course, learning from the fate of his peers, even rejecting the chance of freedom if liberty should seem to lead to death; at others, as the catalogue I have just given indicates, when the pressures and tribulations of servitude can no longer be borne, he resists.22

The story of Lucius, therefore, communicates the reality that slave-owners have always had to face, that all slaves cannot be reduced to a condition of total subservience and compliance all the time, that the human will cannot always be completely suppressed. Reducing the slave to the level of the domesticated animal remained in the last analysis only a slave-owner's aspiration, no matter what stress men such as Cicero (Off. 2.24) placed on using force to maintain the slave's subjection, and it remains a fact that throughout antiquity many slaves drew upon their human capacity in order to defy their owners. The relationship between the master and the slave, it follows, could never be as one-sided as that between the master and his livestock (if 'relationship' is the right

*' Bolted: cf. Dig. Prorerbial: Plaut., 22 Human mind: see Schlam, op. cit. (n. 7), 153 n. 5 Pseud. 135; OV., Am. 2.7.15-16. Gardener: Met. 4.3. for passages stressing the Ass's 'sensus humanus'. Photis: 1VIet. 3.26. 1Iany occasions: Met. 3.29 Sleep: cf. iVIet. 9.2. Human responses: K. R. Bradley, (emperor), 4.4 (rooted), 6.26 (run away; cf. also 6.27), S1a.c~er.y and Society at Rome (1994)~ 107-3 I, with 7.24, 10.29 (suicide), 7.28 (dung), 8.16 (hide), 9.1 reference to comparative material. Acquiescent: Met. (slave cook), 9.2 (bolts again), 9.11 (mill), 9.26-7 4.5; 3.29. (takes revenge), 10.13-14 (pilfers), 10.35 (once more),

4.5 (tricks, schemes, dissembling); cf. also 8.25.

word there). Like Lucius the Ass, and like the slave, a real ass could be enticed to work by the prospect of a reward (becoming a breeder of mules) and be treated kindly afterwards. It could also be beaten, stubbornly refuse to carry its load, even run away. But it could not reflect on the misfortunes of Fortune and lament the fall to quadruped state -the lowest condition of all that bent the animal to the ground, in contrast to the erect posture of a man -as if conscious of its liability under the Lex Aquilia; it could not deliberate whether to take its own life or think in terms of taking revenge against its owner; it could not feel the shame of being exhibited as a public spectacle, or the shame of subservience. These were human responses, which lead in the story to actions that in turn require further responses from the Ass's various owners. The autonomy of Lucius is in fact never utterly destroyed by his animal form but only diminished, and as long as a vestige of agency remains his owners have to react accordingly, especially because of his value as a commodity to them. Here again the correspondence with the real world of slaves and masters seems to me compelling, because the forms of behaviour the Ass adopts to express his resistance -physical assaults, running away, deceit and trickery have much in common with those recorded of real slaves in the everyday life of classical antiquity. Because they were valued as commodities slaves were never altogether powerless, and so the relationship with the owner was one which had to be continually defined, adjusted, and redefined, as their response to slavery manifested itself from moment to moment.23

Was it Apuleius' intention to reveal the historical truth that the slave-owner could never count on converting the slave into a tamed animal? That is a question impossible to answer. Important critical studies have shown that the 1VIetamovphoses is a complex work in which the search for meaning is if not illusory then certainly arduous. On one highly influential view the novel can apparently mean anything the reader wants it to mean because nothing is 'authorized' by its author. On another, the meaning lies in recognizing that the basis of the novel is a conversion narrative chronicling Lucius' fall from grace and subsequent redemption. On yet another, it lies in seeing the parallel between Lucius' journey towards self-discovery and the creation of a new form of literature. The choice is wide open, and it may be that the full complexity of the work is still to be revealed, even if the fundamental pattern of Lucius' progression from guilt to punishment to redemption to blessedness, which implies of course a strong authorial interest in personal spirituality, is largely uncontroversial. Against this background, however, and given the perennial danger of ascribing intent to any author of fiction, I hesitate to speculate on Apuleius' object in composing the nfetamovphoses. But I think it plausible all the same that the theme of animalization that I have outlined is an expression, perhaps unconscious for the most part, of a wider social issue -the problematic human relationship between master and slave -that to judge from surviving classical literature was never faced squarely, but that in ordinary life was always in the forefront of slave-owners' minds.24

Slaves at least are ubiquitous in the novel, as they were in classical life and culture at large. The wealthy have their domestic entourages to cater to their every need, and rural slaves to work their landed estates and mills. Lucius himself has a slave

23 Reality: cf. Daris, art. cit. (n. 4), xv. Enticed: in Apuleius'iVIetamorphoses(1996); cf. K. R. Bradley, Bradley, op. cit. (n. IO), passim. Reward: iVIet. 7.15; 'Contending with conversion: refections on the cf. 7.16 ('liber asinus laetus'). Quadruped: Met. 4.1, reformation of Lucius the Ass', Phoenix 52 (1998), 6.27, 6.28, 7.3 (note 'in bestiam et extremae sortis 3I 5-34. Yet another: Finkelpearl, op. cit. (n. I I). Full quadripedem' with Bakhtin, op. cit. (n. 8), 121 for the complexity: Bakhtin, op. cit. (n. 8), I I j (for a sound notion that the condition of the ass was lower than introductory study, see Schlam, op. cit. (n. 7, 1992); that of the slave); cf. also 7.27, 11.12. Forms of cf. Harrison, op. cit. (n. 8), stressing the importance behaviour: Bradley, op. cit. (n. 22), 107-31; cf. P. A. of 'literary entertainment and cultural display' (259) Cartledge, 'Rebels and Sambos in Classical Greece: a in the work). Fundamental pattern: Balthtin, op. cit. comparative view', in P. A. Cartledge and F. D. (n. 8), I 18; cf. 12I (the Christianizing terminology is Harvey (eds), Crux: Essays Presented to G. E. M. de problematical, but that may be the responsibility of Ste. Croix on his 7jth Birthday (1985), 16-46. \'slued: the translators rather than the author ipse). Faced cf. il4et. 8.29: the Ass as a valuable piece of livestock squarely: for discussion of the problem of slavery in to be tracked down if stolen. antiquity, see Garnsey, op. cit. (n. I); cf. K. R.

24 Influential view: J. J. Winkler, Auctor &3 Actor: A Bradley, 'The problem of slarery in classical culture', Narratological Reading of Apuleius's The Golden Ass CP 92 (1997),273-82. (1985). Another: N. Shunlate, C1,isi.r and Cont~ersion


accompanying him on his travels, and even the niggardly Milo cannot do without Photis. Moreover, the treatment and behaviour of the Ass are consistent with the treatment and behaviour of the novel's other slave characters. In the wav that the Ass is repeatedly and capriciously tortured, so an adulterous steward is executkd by his owner in a wonderfully grisly manner: the errant slave, covered in honey, is tied to a fig-tree, and then slowly eaten to death, right down to the bones, by the ants that nest inside the tree-trunk. As the Ass becomes a fugitive, so Charite's herdsmen, alarmed by the news of their mistress's death and afraid of what a new owner might have in store for them, flee en masse from their homes, taking their wives, children and all that they can carry on their pack-animals in search of a more secure place in which to live. And as the Ass in the depths of desperation thinks of suicide, so a terrified cook prepares to hang himself when faced with his master's demand to serve for dinner a stag, given as a special gift, that a dog has stolen. These incidents are fabrications, but they reflect what was taken as normative when the Metamo~phoses,an 'adventure novel of everyday life', as it has been called. was written. Slaves in antiauitv did commit suicide and run awav

L ,

in response to the rigours of servitude. And slaves zuepe sadistically punished by their owners: recollection of Vedius Pollio -who incidentally once had an interest in the wild asses of central Asia Minor -is enough to make the point and to validate Apuleius' (at first blush preposterous) story of death by ants. IVith its record of acts of crude emasculation, injecting pepper vinegar into women's vaginas, and boiling alive in a sugar boiler, the report of H. A. Cowper mentioned earlier is a reminder that human ingenuity in inflicting forms of punishment upon slaves has been limitless.25

There is a tendency in criticism of the Metamo~phosesto regard the work as if it exists in a hermeneutic vacuum. But like anv other work of literature. the Metnmov~hoses is first and foremost a cultural artefact, the product of an author who can be located in time and place. It is a work therefore of historical significance, and a presumably recoverable significance. Its date of com~osition is unknown and unknowable. and its


plot is not original. The story was adapted from a Greek precursor, and while critics agree that there are many portions of the 1VIetanzovphoses which are Apuleius' own creation, the elements of hard labour, beating, and disposal of the Ass by sale are aspects of the basic story Apuleius took over, as the surviving epitome of the Greek original, the Onos attributed to Lucian, shows. None the less, whatever Apuleius' debt to the earlier, though perhaps not much earlier, Greek version, it seems that just as his work clearly mirrors the political, administrative, and economic structures of the Roman Empire of the mid-second century, so it conveys a sense of contemporary social structures and general social assumptions. The story of the Ass is set in an historically recognizable world and a world, it must follo\v, that is drawn to a considerable extent from Apuleius' own e~perience.~~ Auuleius came from the relativelv obscure Romano-African citv of A/Iadauros. But he was of decurial background, and privileged enough in his ea;ly life to travel to Carthage, Athens, and Rome in order to acquire the literary and philosophical education that eventually propelled him to distinction. Consequently he can be presumed to have fully absorbed the idioms of the slave-owning classes by the time he reached maturity. He himself was a slave-owner: when he arrived in the Tripolitanian city of Oea c. I 56, en route to Alexandria where he intended to study further, he was travelling with at least 25 Domestic entourages: l%Iet. 2. 19; 4.24, 7.13; 8.3 I, the llatthaean parables', Jourizal ofRiblica1 Literature 9.2; 10.13, 10.15, 10.16, 10.17, ~o.zo. Rural slares: 119 (zooo), 67-90, at 80). Called: Bakhtin, op. cit. A4et. 7.15-16, 7.17-28, 8.1, 8.15-23; 9.10-13. Lucius (n. 8), I I I. Commit suicide: Bradley, op. cit. (n. 22), himself: Met. 2.3 I, 3.27; cf. I I. 18, I I .20. Milo: iVIet. 44, 48, 110, 111-12. Run away: Bradley, op. cit. I .ZI, 1.23, 1.26. For a list of slave personnel in the (n. zz), I 17-21, 126-8. Vedius Pollio: R. Syme, 'Who iVIetanzorphoses and Apuleius' other writings, see xras Vedius Pollio?',JRS 51 (1961), 23-30 (= Ronzan F. Norden, Apulejus von iVIadaura uizd das r6mische Papers I1 (1979)) 518-z9), at 23-4, 29; cf. Bradley, Priaatrecht (I~IZ), op. cit. (n. IO), 121, 126. Cowper: Conrad, op. cit. 72 n. I. Adulterous steward: Met.

8.22. Herdsmen: Met. 8.15-23. Terrified cook: ;l.Iet. (n. 20),73-5.

8.31. Note how at iVIet. 9.2 Myrmex is depicted as a 2h Date of composition: Schlam, op. cit. (n. 7), 12. typical thieving slare -one \rho will steal shoes at Ada~ted: Schlam, OD. cit.. 22-8. Aswects: Onos ~q.


the baths, and \rho becomes the object of violence 16, 18, 19, 22, 24, 29, 30, 42 (beatings); 16, 19, 28, 34, from a free citizen without any discomfiture on his 37, 39, 41 (labour); 35, 42, 43, 46, 48 (disposal). owner's part (cf. J. 4. Glancy, 'Slaves and slavery in llirrors: Millar, art. cit. (n. 8).

one slave attendant and the enemies he made in Oea could later claim that he had manumitted three others in a single day, as if there were something sinister to the matter. His marriage in Oea to the wealthy widow Aemilia Pudentilla joined him to a slave-owner on the grand scale, a woman who was able on one occasion to transfer control of four hundred of her slaves to her sons from a previous marriage.27

Oea, moreover, and its companion cities on the Tripolitanian coast, Lepcis Magna and Sabratha, were important centres of a trade that brought black slaves along desert passages from sub-Saharan Africa to the shores of the Mediterranean. The Garamantes, an intractable people with whom Rome never seems to have achieved stable relations, were its essential intermediaries. Conceivably the trade benefited Pudentilla and Apuleius. It is reflected at least both in the occasional literary source such as an epigram from Hadrumentum that suggests the shock that the sight of a black slave could produce locally, and in the mosaics and other objects of art with which members of the Romano- African elite like Apuleius and Pudentilla decorated their houses and villas -mosaics showing camel-drivers or stoker-slaves at bath-houses, and objects such as statuettes of captives, an image of perpetual appeal to Romans. Its extent is difficult to determine but the trade seems to have long outlived Roman rule and to have survived, even flourished, along the same oasis routes well into the nineteenth century. During the years he spent in Tripolitania, Apuleius can hardly have been unaware of it, any more than he can have been unaware of the general presence of slavery all around him. There were even fourteen slave witnesses at the trial he underwent at Sabratha in I 581159 on the charge of having practised magic. Nor can he have failed to know the importance in ordinary daily life of the ass -still highly visible as a beast of burden on the coastal plain of Tripolitania today -as his denigrating comment on the farmer of Zarath reveals."

The story of Lucius' metamorphosis is the story of a man temporarily living in the body of an ass. But it is also a story of a fall into and eventual rescue from slavery. Its special significance for slavery historians is that it allours the process of animalization, a common aspect of the relationship between master and slave in classical society, to be seen, and its immediate consecluences to be understood, in a remarkably graphic manner. To animalize the slave was to project ugliness, always a mark of inferiority, onto a human victim for whom a condition of subservience others had determined; and it was to ostracize the slave from free society by denying the slave any shred of personal identity or human capacity. To assimilate the slave to a lower life form was to assert an incontestable domination of the slave, to adopt a strategy of total commodification physically and of total humiliation psychologically. The functional value of the strategy

27 Rlaturity: for details of Apuleius' biography, see Black in T.17estern Art (1976), I, 260-5; K. M. D.

G. XI. Sandy, The Greek T.170rld ofApuleins: Apuleius Dunbabin, The 1Wosaics of Roman *Vorth Africa and the Second Sophistic (1997)~ 1-36; Harrison, op. (1978), 274, 275 (cf. 162); Snowden, op. cit. (n. 6), 88. cit. (n. 8), 1-10. Slave-owner: Apul., Apol. 17; cf. J. RI. Blasquez, 'Representaciones de esclavos en 1'. Hunink (ed.), Apnleins of Afadanros Pro Se De mosaicos africanos', L'Ajrica romana 12 (1998), Magia (1997), 11, 68-71. Four hundred: Apul., Apol. 1029-36. Perpetual appeal: it is enough to refer in

93.4. general to relevant scenes from the Column of Trajan

28 Trade: R. C. C. Law, 'The Garamantes and trans- and the Column of llarcus Aurelius (see N. Hannes-Saharan enterprise in classical times', Journal of tad, Roman Art and Imperial Policy (1988), 160-1, African History 2 (1967), 181-200. It is worth noting 238-41), and for local manifestations of the image in that slaves are mentioned together with with various Tripolitania to the Arch of hlarcus Aurelius at Oea animals (and other commodities) -horses, mules, and the Arch of Septimius Severus at Lepcis :\Iagna. asses, cows, bulls, pigs, sheep, goats -in the Zarai Extent: Desanges, op. cit., 254, 257 (highly sceptical); tariff inscription (C'IL VII1.4508); cf. T. Frank (ed.), cf. Snowden, op. cit., 123 n. 71. Kineteenth century: An Eco~omic SILI.'L.~~of Ancient Rorne, Volurne IT7 J. hyright, '1'lurzuk and the Saharan slave trade in the (1938), 80-2 (R. :\I. Haywood). Epigram: Anth. Lat. 19th century', Libyan Stndies 29 (1998); cf Lewis, op. 183; cf. Snowden, op. cit. (n. 6), 83-4; Thompson, cit. (n. 4), 11-13, 41, 57-9, 72-3. Slave witnesses: op. cit. (n. 6), 36-8. hlosaics, objects of art: ppul., Apol. 44.6-7, 45.1. Trial: cf. K. R. Bradley,

J. Desanges, 'The iconography of the Black in ancient Law, magic, and culture in the Apologia of Apuleius', Sorth Africa', in J. Vercoulter, J. Leclant, F. 1'1. Phoenix 51 (1997), 203-23. Daily life: cf. Plin., HN Snowden, Jr., and J. Desanges (eds), The Image of the 17.41 on the ass used for ploughing in Byzacium.

I24 KEITH BRADLEY for slave-owners is self-evident: together with the rewards and punishments of the kind Lucius comes to know after his fall, animalization was a mechanism by which slave- owners in antiquity sought to control and manage their slaves, and as with other mechanisms it was apparently successful enough to be maintained over an enormous period of time. But the Metamo~.plzosesalso shows that animalization could no more guarantee the slave-owner success in the management of his slave property than any other means of control; and it reveals what the experienced slave-owner feared all along, that if the demands of servitude were pressed to an unbearable limit the response of resistance might always present itself. The humanity of the slave, that is to say, could never be altogether eradicated. Offering truly novel evidence for classical slavery, the Metanzovphoses is a cautionary tale which compels its reader to acknowledge that in any slave society, and particularly perhaps in a non-racial slave society, the slave who took the risk of running away, as the Ass finally ran from Corinth to Cenchreae, might always stand a chance of reclaiming liberty and, with liberty, a once lost identity; for it was in resistance that the key to the slave's recovery of personhood lay. Harriet Jacobs knew that slaves could easily think of themselves as the tamed animals their masters wanted them to become: dogs, horses, cattle, pigs; but she also knew that what she tellingly called the 'wild beast of Slaverv' was a beast that could be overcome if the 'tamed' slave grasped the chance to become free, to draw, as she did, on the inner reserves of an untamed animal such as the tiger, and to flourish under freedom. Apuleius conveys to his reader the knowledge that for every slave in his world there was always the promise of a beautiful, gleaming rose to inspire hope.29 The vast chronological duration of classical slavery cannot to my mind be overemphasized. Of a later age the suggestion has been made that the impossibility of fully bestializing the slave 'provided the substance for a revolution in moral perception' from which the abolition of slavery was eventually to follow. The substance of that revolution, 'a recognition that slaves could become masters or masters slaves', was equally well known to classical antiquity, and finds one expression in Apuleius' story of a slave-owner who himself becomes a slave. Yet never in the ancient world did this knowledge stimulate any comparable impetus to change. While it may be true, therefore, to believe that the slave's essential humanity presented classical society, as later slave societies, with a practical, mechanical problem, the more fundamental issue is that for a thousand years and more slavery never produced any serious moral crisis in the classical world at all.30

Mithras speaks: 'Nec tibi natales ac ne dignitas quidem, uel ipsa, qua flores, usquam doctrina profuit, sed lubrico uirentis aetatulae ad seruiles delapsus uoluptates curiositatis inprosperae sinistrum praernium reportasti' (1Wet. I I. I j).

The phrase 'seruiles uoluptates' draws a connection between Lucius (not Lucius the Ass) and slavery. In the ordinary logic of the story the phrase can refer only to his adventures with Photis, from which his ordeal as the Ass results. That is, adventures in sex and magic. Critics have nuanced the fact, variously emphasizing one element over the other. A link is often made with Met. 3.19, where Lucius uses the language of slavery to describe his infatuation with Photis: 'in seruilem modum addictum atque mancipatum teneas uolentem.' Photis herself is of course a slave. It can be said therefore that Lucius is metaphorically 'enslaved' by Photis, or by his desire for her. It is unlikely, however, that the reader of Met. I I. I j will immediately and automatically

29 Novel evidence; cf. Hopltins, art. cit. (n. 8).Tamed writing in reference to her daughter: 'I thought of animals: Yellin, op. cit. (n. zo), 21, 22, q8,76,92, 106, what I had suffered in slavery at her age, and my heart 156;cf. 161,on considerate treatment from sympath- was lilte a tiger's when a hunter tries to seize her etic Sortherners: 'Hoxv gratifying this \\.as, can be young.' Rose: Afrt. 3.29, 'spe salutis alacer'; 4.1, fully understood only by those who have been accus- 'candens . .. rosarium'; I I. I 3, 'rosis amoenis'. tolned to be treated as if they were not included within 30 Suggestion: Davis, art. cit. (n. 4), xviii (quoted). the pale of human beings.' 'TT'ild beast of Slavery': Issue: Bradley, art. cit. (n. 24), 282. Yellin, op. cit., 3j. Tiger: Yellin, op. cit., 199,Jacobs

recollect the precise vocabulary of lWet. 3.19; and because the adjective 'seruilis' means 'belonging to or appropriate to a slave', the phrase 'seruiles uoluptates' cannot obviously mean the sexual enioyment of a slave woman in a narrow sense, with specific reference to the slave Photis. It is

-. difficult consequently to understand what it means to interpret 'slavish pleasures' as 'sexual obsession' or 'sexual slavery', a type, that is, of 'slavish sensuality' (P. G. IValsh, The Ro?na?~ hTovel(1970), 177); to see how 'slavish pleasures' can be construed to mean servitude to pleasure (G. ILI. Sandy, 'Sel,viles volz~ptates in Apuleius' Metamo~phoses', Phoenix 28 (1971), 231-14) or how 'in seruilem modum' at lWet. 3.19 can be taken as an 'obviousreference to "slavish pleasure"' (J. L. Penwill, 'Slavish pleasures and profitless curiosity: fall and redemption in Apuleius' Metarnovphoses', Ranzus 4 (197j), 49-82, at 70, my emphasis); and it is extremely difficult to believe that the phrase picks up an elaborate economic metaphor introduced by 'mutuo nexu' at Met. 1.1 (Winliler, op. cit. (n. 24, 1985), 188-91). Sex and magic were not by definition in antiquity the exclusive province of slaves, and slavery was not a condition normally associated with pleasure. So why can sex and magic be called 'slavish' or 'slarelike' or 'appropriate to slaves' ? Through Wlithras Apuleius projects onto slaves the idea of pleasure, assuming that the delights of sex and magic will somehow be recognized as servile by his readership. In what other context are pleasurable activities attributed to slaves? A lrey passage is Col., Rust. I .8.1-2: 'Igitur praemoneo ne uilicum ex eo genere seruorum, qui corpore placuerunt, instituamus, ne ex eo quidem ordine, qui urbanas ac delicatas artes exercuerit. Socors et somniculosum genus id mancipiorum, otiis, campo, circo, theatris, aleae, popinae, lupanaribus consuetum, numcluam non easdem ineptias somniat.' Here the ability of slaves to enjoy a variety of amusements is understood, but the passage, clearly moralistic, indicates strong disapproval: slaves who engage in the forms of pleasure listed are irresponsible and unsuitable for elevated positions in the slave labour hierarchy. In other words they are bad slaves. Lucius' birth (nutales), social standing (dignitas)and learning (doctri?~~) fit him for serious concerns -the concerns of the decurial order. He is not supposed to devote himself to frivolity. But he does and in so doing behaves like a stereotypically bad slave. Sex and magic are 'servile' pleasures for Lucius, therefore, because they represent a lacli of responsibility on his part, a failure to live up to expectation that is comparable to the failure of slaves who waste time at entertainments instead of doing their jobs. In the absence of slave testimony, what slaves really regarded as pleasure cannot be known. Only slave-owners branded and condemned behaviour as 'slavish'. Uniuevsity of Victovia

Opening pages: Met. 1.6-8. l\Iajor themes: C. C. 1.20, 1.23, 1.24, 1.26, 2.2, 2.3, 2.31, 3.11, 3.15. 'Quis Schlam, The dVfetamorphoses of Apuleius: On ille?': on the fundamental theme of identity, see 1\1. M. an Ass of Oneself (1992), 58-66 On slavery in the Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imaginatiolz: Four Essays, i!4etanzorplzoses, see also J. Annequin, 'h'I6taphore de edited by A'I. Holquist (1981), I I 1-29; for a summary l'esclavage et esclavage comme metaphore', in of the problem of who is speaking at the beginning of

* The original version of this paper was read at the cf. also Arist., IVIet. 1075azo-2: in the household Second A'I. I. Finley Colloquium on Ancient Eco- slaves and animals show little responsibility and nomy and Society held at Darwin College, Cam-generally act at random. Quotations: trans. Barlrer. bridge, in June 1999; I am grateful to Walter Scheidel, For discussion of Aristotle's views, see P. .I.Brunt, its organizer, for inviting me to participate. The paper 'Aristotle and slavery', in Studies in Greek Historj~ and has benefited from comments made by members of Thought (1993), 342-88; P. D. A. Garnsey, Ideas of the audience in Cambridge, and also from audiences Slavelyfronz Aristotle to Augustine (1996), I 10-1 5. at Duke University, Ehrk Lniversity (Toronto), and Xenophon: S. B. Pomeroy, Senophon Oeconom- Stanford University. Helpful remarks on the manu- icus: A Social and Historical Cow~w~entarj~

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