Sacred Texts  Classics  Index  Previous  Next 


How Apuleius was sold to two brethren, whereof one was a Baker, and the other a Cooke, and how finely and daintily he fared.

THE Souldier that payed never a peny for me, by the commandement of his Captaine was sent unto Rome, to cary Letters to the great Prince, and Generall of the Campe. Before he went, he sold me for eleven pence to two of his Companions, being Servants to a man of worship, whereof one was a Baker that baked sweet bread and delicates, the other a Cooke, which dressed fine and excellent meats for his Master. These two lived in common, and would drive me from place to place, to carry such things as was necessary, insomuch that I was received by these two, as a third Brother, and Companion, and I thought I was never better placed, then with them: for when night came that Supper was done, and their businesse ended, they would bring many good morsels into their Chamber for themselves. One would bring Pigs, Chickens, fish, and other good meates, the other fine bread, pasties, tarts, custards and other delicate Junkets dipped in hony. And when they had shut their chamber doore, and went to the bains: (O Lord) how I would fill my guts with these goodly dishes: neither was I so much a foole, or so very an Asse, to leave the dainty meats, and to grind my teeth upon hard hay. In this sort I continued a great space, for I played the honest Asse, taking but a little of one dish, and a little of another, wherby no man distrusted me. In the end, I was more hardier and began to devoure the whole messes of the sweet delicates, which caused the Baker and the Cooke to suspect, howbeit they nothing mistrusted me, but searched about to apprehend the theefe. At length they began to accuse one another of theft, and to set the dishes and morsels of meat in order, one by another, because they would learne what was taken away, whereby one of them was compelled to say thus to his fellow: Is it reason to breake promise and faith in this sort, by stealing away the best meat, and to sell it to augment thy good, and yet neverthelesse to have thy part in the residue that is left: if our partnership doe mislike thee, we will be partners and brothers in other things, but in this we will breake of: for I perceive that the great losse which I sustain, will at length be a cause of great discord betweene us. Then answered the other, Verily I praise thy great constancy and subtilnesse, in that (when thou hast secretly taken away the meat) [thou] dost begin to complaine first, whereas I by long space of time have suffered thee, because I would not seeme to accuse my brother of theft, but I am right glad in that wee are fallen into communication of the matter, least by our silence, like contention might arise betweene us, as fortuned betweene Eteocles and his Brother. When they had reasoned together in this sort, they swore both earnestly, that neither of them stale or tooke away any jote of the meate, wherefore they concluded to search out the Theefe by all kind of meanes. For they could not imagin or thinke, the Asse who stood alone there, would eate any such meates, neither could they thinke that Mice or Flyes, were so ravenous, as to devouer whole dishes of meat, like the Birds Harpies which carried away the meates of Phineus the King of Archadia. In the Meane season while I was fed with dainty morsels, I gathered together my flesh, my skin waxed soft, my haire began to shine, and was gallant on every part, but such faire and comely shape of my body, was cause of my dishonour, for the Baker and Cooke marvelled to see me so slick and fine, considering I did eate no hay at all. Wherefore on a time at their accustomed houre, they went to the baines, and locked their chamber doore. It fortuned that ere they departed away, they espyed me through a hole, how I fell roundly to my victuals: then they marvelled greatly, and little esteemed the losse of their meate, laughed exceedingly, calling the servants of the house, to shew them the greedy gorge and appetite of the Asse. Their laughing was so immoderate that the master of the house heard them, and demanded the cause of their laughter, and when hee understood all the matter, hee looked through the hole likewise, wherewith he took such a delectation that hee commanded the doore to be opened, that hee might see mee at his pleasure. Then I perceiving every man laugh, was nothing abashed, but rather more bold, whereby I never rested eating, till such time as the master of the house commanded me to be brought into his parler as a novelty, and there caused all kinds of meates which were never touched to be set on the table, which (although I had eaten sufficiently before, yet to win the further favour of the master of the house) I did greedily devoure and made a cleane riddance of all the delicate meates. And to prove my nature wholly, they gave met such meates as every Asse doth abhorre: for they put before mee beefe and vinegar, birds and pepper, fish and verjuice: in the meane season they that beheld met at the table did nothing but laugh. Then one of the servants of the house sayd to his master, I pray you sir give him some drinke to his supper: Marry (quoth hee) I thinke thou saist true, for it may be, that to his meate hee would drinke likewise a cup of wine. Hoe boy, wash yonder pot, and fill it with wine, which done, carry it to the Asse, and say that I have drunke to him. Then all the standers by looked on, to see what would come to passe: but I (as soone as I beheld the cup) staied not long, but gathering my lips together, supped up all the wine at one draught. The master being right joyfull hereat caused the Baker and Cooke which had bought me, to come before him, to whom he delivered foure times as much for me, as they paid, which done he committed me to one of his rich Libertines, and charged him to looke well to me, and that I should lacke nothing, who obeied his masters commandement in every point: and to the end he would creepe further into his favour, he taught me a thousand qualities. First he instructed me to sit at the table upon my taile, and how I should leape and dance, holding up my former feete: moreover hee taught me how I should answer when any body spake unto me, with nodding my head, which was a strange and marvailous thing, and if I did lacke drinke, I should looke still upon the pot. All which things I did willingly bring to passe, and obeyed his doctrine: howbeit, I could have done all these things without his teaching, but I feared greatly lest in shewing my selfe cunning without a master, I should pretend some great and strange wonder, and thereby be throwne out to wild beasts. But my fame was spred about in every place, and the qualities which I could doe, insomuch that my master was renowned throughout all the Country by reason of mee. For every man would say: Behold the Gentleman that hath an Asse, that will eate and drinke with him, that will dance, and understand what is said to him, will shew his fantasie by signes. But first I will tell you (which I should have done before) who my master was, and of what country. His name was Thiasus, hee was borne at Corinth, which is a principall towne of Achaia, and he had passed many offices of honor, till hee had taken upon him the degree Quinquenuall, according as his birth and dignity required, who to shew his worthinesse, and to purchase the benevolence of every person, appointed publike joyes and triumphs, to endure the space of three dayes, and to bring his endeavour to passe, he came into Thessaly to buy excellent Beasts, and valiant fighters for the purpose.

Next: The Forty-sixth Chapter