How Apuleius by Roses and prayer returned to his humane shape.
When midnight came that I had slept my first sleepe, I awaked with suddaine feare, and saw the Moone shining bright, as when shee is at the full, and seeming as though she leaped out of the Sea. Then thought I with my selfe, that was the most secret time, when the goddesse Ceres had most puissance and force, considering that all humane things be governed by her providence: and not onely all beasts private and tame, but also all wild and savage beasts be under her protection. And considering that all bodies in the heavens, the earth and the seas, be by her increasing motions increased, and by her diminishing motions diminished: as weary of all my cruell fortune and calamity, I found good hope and soveraigne remedy, though it were very late, to be delivered from all my misery, by invocation and prayer, to the excellent beauty of the Goddesse, whom I saw shining before mine eyes, wherefore shaking off mine Assie and drowsie sleepe, I arose with a joyfull face, and mooved by a great affection to purifie my selfe, I plunged my selfe seven times into the water of the Sea, which number of seven is conveniable and agreeable to holy and divine things, as the worthy and sage Philosopher Pythagoras hath declared. Then with a weeping countenance, I made this Orison to the puissant Goddesse, saying: O blessed Queene of heaven, whether thou be the Dame Ceres which art the originall and motherly nource of all fruitfull things in earth, who after the finding of thy daughter Proserpina, through the great joy which thou diddest presently conceive, madest barraine and unfruitfull ground to be plowed and sowne, and now thou inhabitest in the land of Eleusie; or whether thou be the celestiall Venus, who in the beginning of the world diddest couple together all kind of things with an ingendered love, by an eternall propagation of humane kind, art now worshipped within the Temples of the Ile Paphos, thou which art the sister of the God Phoebus, who nourishest so many people by the generation of beasts, and art now adored at the sacred places of Ephesus, thou which art horrible Proserpina, by reason of the deadly howlings which thou yeeldest, that hast power to stoppe and put away the invasion of the hags and Ghoasts which appeare unto men, and to keepe them downe in the closures of the earth: thou which art worshipped in divers manners, and doest illuminate all the borders of the earth by thy feminine shape, thou which nourishest all the fruits of the world by thy vigor and force; with whatsoever name or fashion it is lawfull to call upon thee, I pray thee, to end my great travaile and misery, and deliver mee from the wretched fortune, which had so long time pursued me. Grant peace and rest if it please thee to my adversities, for I have endured too much labour and perill. Remoove from me my shape of mine Asse, and render to me my pristine estate, and if I have offended in any point of divine Majesty, let me rather dye then live, for I am full weary of my life. When I had ended this orison, and discovered my plaints to the Goddesse, I fortuned to fall asleepe, and by and by appeared unto me a divine and venerable face, worshipped even of the Gods themselves. Then by little and little I seemed to see the whole figure of her body, mounting out of the sea and standing before mee, wherefore I purpose to describe her divine semblance, if the poverty of my humane speech will suffer me, or her divine power give me eloquence thereto. First shee had a great abundance of haire, dispersed and scattered about her neck, on the crowne of her head she bare many garlands enterlaced with floures, in the middle of her forehead was a compasse in fashion of a glasse, or resembling the light of the Moone, in one of her hands she bare serpents, in the other, blades of corne, her vestiment was of fine silke yeelding divers colours, sometime yellow, sometime rosie, sometime flamy, and sometime (which troubled my spirit sore) darke and obscure, covered with a blacke robe in manner of a shield, and pleated in most subtill fashion at the skirts of her garments, the welts appeared comely, whereas here and there the starres glimpsed, and in the middle of them was placed the Moone, which shone like a flame of fire, round about the robe was a coronet or garland made with flowers and fruits. In her right hand shee had a timbrell of brasse, which gave a pleasant sound, in her left hand shee bare a cup of gold, out of the mouth whereof the serpent Aspis lifted up his head, with a swelling throat, her odoriferous feete were covered with shoes interlaced and wrought with victorious palme. Thus the divine shape breathing out the pleasant spice of fertill Arabia, disdained not with her divine voyce to utter these words unto me: Behold Lucius I am come, thy weeping and prayers hath mooved mee to succour thee. I am she that is the naturall mother of all things, mistresse and governesse of all the Elements, the initiall progeny of worlds, chiefe of powers divine, Queene of heaven! the principall of the Gods celestiall, the light of the goddesses: at my will the planets of the ayre, the wholesome winds of the Seas, and the silences of hell be diposed; my name, my divinity is adored throughout all the world in divers manners, in variable customes and in many names, for the Phrygians call me the mother of the Gods: the Athenians, Minerva: the Cyprians, Venus: the Candians, Diana: the Sicilians Proserpina: the Eleusians, Ceres: some Juno, other Bellona, other Hecate: and principally the Aethiopians which dwell in the Orient, and the Aegyptians which are excellent in all kind of ancient doctrine, and by their proper ceremonies accustome to worship mee, doe call mee Queene Isis. Behold I am come to take pitty of thy fortune and tribulation, behold I am present to favour and ayd thee, leave off thy weeping and lamentation, put away all thy sorrow, for behold the healthfull day which is ordained by my providence, therefore be ready to attend to my commandement. This day which shall come after this night, is dedicated to my service, by an eternall religion, my Priests and Ministers doe accustome after the tempests of the Sea, be ceased, to offer in my name a new ship as a first fruit of my Navigation. I command thee not to prophane or despise the sacrifice in any wise, for the great Priest shall carry this day following in procession by my exhortation, a Garland of Roses, next the timbrell of his right hand: follow thou my procession amongst the people, and when thou commest to the Priest make as though thou wouldest kisse his hand, but snatch at the Roses, whereby I will put away the skin and shape of an Asse, which kind of beast I have long time abhorred and despised, but above all things beware thou doubt not nor feare any of those things, as hard and difficill to bee brought to passe, for in the same houre that I am come to thee, I have commanded the Priest by a vision what he shall doe, and all the people by my commandement shall be compelled to give thee place and say nothing! Moreover, thinke not that amongst so faire and joyfull Ceremonies, and in so good a company that any person shall abhorre thy ill-favoured and deformed figure, or that any man shall be so hardy, as to blame and reprove thy suddaine restoration to humane shape, wherby they should gather or conceive any sinister opinion: and know thou this of certaine, that the residue of thy life untill the houre of death shall be bound and subject to me! And think it not an injury to be alwayes serviceable towards me, since as by my meane and benefit thou shalt become a man: thou shalt live blessed in this world, thou shalt live glorious by my guide and protection, and when thou descendest to Hell, where thou shalt see me shine in that subterene place, shining (as thou seest me now) in the darkness of Acheron, and raigning in the deepe profundity of Stix, thou shalt worship me, as one that hath bin favourable to thee, and if I perceive that thou art obedient to my commandement, addict to my religion, and merite my divine grace, know thou, that I will prolong thy dales above the time that the fates have appointed, and the celestial Planets ordeined.
When the divine Image had spoken these words, she vanished away! By and by when I awaked, I arose, haveing the members of my bodie mixed with feare, joy and sweate, and marvailed at the cleare presence of the puissant goddesse, and being sprinkled with the water of the sea, I recounted orderly her admonitions and divine commandements. Soone after, the darknes chased away, and the cleare and golden sunne arose, when as behold I saw the streets replenished with people going in a religious sort and in great triumph. All things seemed that day to be joyfull, as well all manner of beasts and houses, as also the very day it selfe seemed to rejoyce. For after the hore-frost, ensued the hot and temperat sun, whereby the little birds weening that the spring time had bin come, did chirp and sing in their steven melodiously: the mother of stars, the parent of times, and mistres of all the world: The fruitfull trees rejoyced at their fertility: The barren and sterill were contented at their shadow, rendering sweete and pleasant shrills! The seas were quiet from winds and tempests: the heaven had chaced away the clouds, and appeared faire and cleare with his proper light. Behold then more and more appeared the pomps and processions, attired in regall manner and singing joyfully: One was girded about the middle like a man of armes: Another bare and spare, and had a cloake and high-shooes like a hunter! another was attired in a robe of silke, and socks of gold, having his haire laid out, and dressed in forme of a woman! There was another ware legge-harnesse, and bare a target, a sallet, and a speare like a martial souldier: after him marched one attired in purple with vergers before him like a magistrate! after him followed one with a maurell, a staffe, a paire of pantofles, and with a gray beard, signifying a philosopher: after him went one with lime, betokening a fowler, another with hookes declaring a fisher: I saw there a meeke and tame beare, which in matron habite was carried on a stoole: An Ape with a bonet on his head, and covered with lawne, resemling a shepheard, and bearing a cup of gold in his hand: an Asse which had wings glewed to his backe, and went after an old man, whereby you would judge the one to be Pegasus, and the other Bellephoron. Amongst the pleasures and popular delectations, which wandered hither and thither, you might see the pompe of the goddesse triumphantly march forward: The woman attired in white vestiments, and rejoicing, in that they bare garlands and flowers upon their heads, bedspread the waies with hearbes, which they bare in their aprons, where this regall and devout procession should passe: Other caried glasses on their backes, to testifie obeisance to the goddess which came after. Other bare combs of Ivory, and declared by their gesture and motions of their armes, that they were ordained and readie to dresse the goddesse: Others dropped in the wayes as they went Balme and other pretious ointments: Then came a great number, as well of men as women, with Candels, torches, and other lights, doing honour to the celestiall goddesse: After that sounded the musical harmony of instruments: then came a faire companie of youth, apparelled in white vestiments, singing both meter and verse, with a comely grade which some studious Poet had made in honour of the Muses: In the meane season, arrived the blowers of trumpets, which were dedicated unto Serapes, and to the temple before them were officers and beadles, preparing roome for the goddess to passe. Then came the great company of men and women, which had taken divine orders, whose garments glistered all the streets over. The women had their haire annointed and their heads covered with linnen: but the men had their crownes shaven, which were the terrene stars of the goddesse, holding in their hand instruments of brasse, silver and gold, which rendered a pleasant sound.
The principall Priests which were apparelled with white surplesses hanging downe to the ground, bare the relikes of the puissant goddesse. One carried in his hand a light, not unlike to those which we used in our houses, saving that in the middle thereof appeared a bole which rendred a more bright flame. The second attired hike the other bare in his hand an Altar, which the goddesse her selfe named the succor of nations. The third held a tree of palme with leaves of gold, and the verge of Mercurie. The fourth shewed out a token of equitie by his left hand, which was deformed in every place, signifiing thereby more equitie then by the right hand. The same Priest carried a round vessell of gold, in forme of a cap. The fifth bare a van, wrought with springs of gold, and another carried a vessell for wine: By and by after the goddesse followed a foot as men do, and specially Mercurie, the messenger of the goddesse infernall and supernall, with his face sometime blacke, sometime faire, lifting up the head of the dogges Annubis, and bearing in his left hand, his verge, and in his right hand, the branches of a palme tree, after whom followed a cow with an upright gate, representing the figure of the great goddesse, and he that guided her, marched on with much gravity. Another carried after the secrets of their religion, closed in a coffer. There was one that bare on his stomacke a figure of his god, not formed like any beast, bird, savage thing or humane shape, but made by a new invention, whereby was signified that such a religion should not be discovered or revealed to any person. There was a vessel wrought with a round bottome, haveing on the one side, pictures figured like unto the manner of the Egyptians, and on the other side was an eare, whereupon stood the Serpent Aspis, holding out his scaly necke. Finally, came he which was appointed to my good fortun according to the promise of the goddesse. For the great Priest which bare the restoration of my human shape, by the commandement of the goddes, Approached more and more, bearing in his left hand the timbrill, and in the other a garland of Roses to give me, to the end I might be delivered from cruel fortune, which was alwaies mine enemie, after the sufferance of so much calamitie and paine, and after the endurance of so manie perilles: Then I not returning hastilie, by reason of sodaine joye, lest I should disturbe the quiet procession with mine importunitie, but going softly through the prease of the people, which gave me place on every side, went after the Priest. The priest being admonished the night before, as I might well perceive stood still and holding out his hand, thrust out the garland of roses into my mouth, I (trembling) devoured with a great affection: And as soone as I had eaten them, I was not deceived of the promise made unto me. For my deforme and Assie face abated, and first the rugged haire of my body fell off, my thick skin waxed soft and tender, the hooves of my feet changed into toes, my hands returned againe, my neck grew short, my head and mouth began round, my long eares were made little, my great and stonie teeth waxed lesse like the teeth of men, and my tayle which combred me most, appeared no where: then the people began to marvaile, and the religious honoured the goddesse, for so evident a miracle, they wondered at the visions which they saw in the night, and the facilitie of my reformation, whereby they rendered testimonie of so great a benefit which I received of the goddesse. When I saw my selfe in such estate, I stood still a good space and said nothing, for I could not tell what to say, nor what word I shoulde first speake, nor what thanks I should render to the goddesse, but the great Priest understanding all my fortune and miserie, by divine advertisement, commanded that one should give me garments to cover me: Howbeit as soone as I was transformed from an asse to my humane shape, I hid the privitie of my body with my hands as shame and necessity compelled mee. Then one of the company put off his upper robe and put it on my backe: which done, the Priest looked upon me, with a sweete and benigne voice, gan say in this sort: O my friend Lucius, after the endurance of so many labours, and the escape of so many tempests of fortune, thou art at length come to the port and haven of rest and mercy: neither did thy noble linage, thy dignity, thy doctrine, or any thing prevaile, but that thou hast endured so many servil pleasures, by a little folly of thy youthfullnes, whereby thou hast had a sinister reward for thy unprosperous curiositie, but howsoever the blindnes of fortune tormented thee in divers dangers: so it is, that now unwares to her, thou art come to this present felicitie: let fortune go, and fume with fury in another place, let her finde some other matter to execute her cruelty, for fortune hath no puissance against them which serve and honour our goddesse. For what availed the theeves: the beasts savage: thy great servitude: the ill and dangerous waits: the long passages: the feare of death every day? Know thou, that now thou art safe, and under the protection of her, who by her cleare light doth lighten the other gods: wherefore rejoyce and take a convenable countenance to thy white habit, follow the pomp of this devout and honorable procession, to the end that such which be not devout to the Goddes, may see and acknowledge their errour. Behold Lucius, thou art delivered from so great miseries, by the providence of the goddesse Isis, rejoyce therefore and triumph of the victory of fortune; to the end thou maist live more safe and sure, make thy selfe one of this holy order, dedicate thy minde to the Obsequy of our Religion, and take upon thee a a voluntary yoake of ministrie: And when thou beginnest to serve and honour the goddes, then thou shalt feele the fruit of thy liberty: After that the great Priest had prophesied in this manner, with often breathings, he made a conclusion of his words: Then I went amongst the company of die rest and followed the procession: everie one of the people knew me, and pointing at me with their fingers, said in this sort: Behold him who is this day transformed into a man by the puissance of the soveraigne goddesse, verily he is blessed and most blessed that hath merited so great grace from heaven, as by the innocencie of his former life, and as it were by a new regeneration is reserved to the obsequie of the goddesse. In the meane season by little and little we approached nigh unto the sea cost, even to that place where I lay the night before being an Asse. There after the images and reliques were orderly disposed, the great Priest compassed about with divers pictures according to the fashion of the Aegyptians, did dedicate and consecrate with certaine prayers a fair ship made very cunningly, and purified the same with a torch, an egge, and sulphur; the saile was of white linnen cloath, whereon was written certaine letters, which testified the navigation to be prosperous, the mast was of a great length, made of a Pine tree, round and very excellent with a shining top, the cabin was covered over with coverings of gold, and all the shippe was made of Citron tree very faire; then all the people as well religious as prophane tooke a great number of Vannes, replenished with odours and pleasant smells and threw them into the sea mingled with milke, untill the ship was filled up with large gifts and prosperous devotions, when as with a pleasant wind it launched out into the deep. But when they had lost the sight of the ship, every man caried againe that he brought, and went toward the temple in like pompe and order as they came to the sea side. When we were come to the temple, the great priest and those which were deputed to carrie the divine figures, but especially those which had long time bin worshippers of the religion, went into the secret chamber of the goddesse, where they put and placed the images according to their ordor. This done, one of the company which was a scribe or interpreter of letters, who in forme of a preacher stood up in a chaire before the place of the holy college, and began to reade out of a booke, and to interpret to the great prince, the senate, and to all the noble order of chivalry, and generally to all the Romane people, and to all such as be under the jurisdiction of Rome, these words following (Laois Aphesus) which signified the end of their divin service and that it was lawfull for every man to depart, whereat all the people gave a great showt, and replenished with much joy, bare all kind of hearbs and garlands of flowers home to their houses, kissing and imbracing the steps where the goddesse passed: howbeit I could not doe as the rest, for my mind would not suffer me to depart one foot away, so attentiv was I to behold the beauty of the goddesse, with remembrance of the great miserie I had endured.