Apuleius, Lucius Apuleius

Algeria / Rome 125 – 180 CE

“Did not St. Augustine take literally the Golden Ass of Apuleius? Poor great men!”—Liber XLVI The Key of the Mysteries

“One realizes evil in books of morality ill-written far more than in the poetry of Catullus or the ingenious Allegories of Apuleius. There are no bad books, except those which are badly conceived and badly executed. Every word of beauty is a word of truth. It is a light crystallized in speech.”—Liber XLVI The Key of the Mysteries

“Apuleius comments upon these Mysteries but does so very reticently. He informs us that he had been initiated into those of the Great goddess Isis, as representing nature; and that though ceremonials of Serapis differed therefrom that the doctrine was the same. Damaskios asserts that the god appeared in a visible, but superhuman form, to his worshippers at Alexandria. The Rite, as in other Mysteries, required a nine days' fast and purification. Apuleius hints that the priests had other ceremonies, for he states that after Initiation into the Mysteries of Osiris he was made a Pastopheri of the temple and received into the College of Priests, exposing his bald head to the multitude, as a Catholic priest does his tonsure.”—ORIGIN AND ANTIQUITY OF THE ARCANE SCHOOLS. CHAPTER III. ARYAN CIVILISATION AND MYSTERIES.

“Apuleius in his account of his reception into the Isisic Mysteries, after being relieved of his brutish nature by eating roses, which was a flower sacred to Isis, proceeds to say that he approached the confines of Hades, having been borne through the elements, and that he saw the sun at midnight.”—ORIGIN AND ANTIQUITY OF THE ARCANE SCHOOLS. CHAPTER IV. THE MYSTERIES IN RELATION TO PHILOSOPHY.

“We learn from various writers that the Mysteries had their secret signs of recognition. Apuleius mentions in his 'Metamorphosis' that it was pointed out to him 'in a dream' that he would recognise a certain priest by his walking as if with a lame ankle; in the 'Apologia' we read: – 'If anyone happens to be present who has been initiated into the same Rites as myself, if he will give me the sign, he shall then be at liberty to hear what it is that I keep with so much care.'“—ORIGIN AND ANTIQUITY OF THE ARCANE SCHOOLS. CHAPTER IV. THE MYSTERIES IN RELATION TO PHILOSOPHY.

“At that period philosophy too flourished, and the Spirit of the Word was potent in faith to heal and save. If the prediction had been a forgery of Apuleius, or other cotemporary opponent of Christianity, the early fathers must have known it, which they did not as is plain from Lactantius, and St. Augustin mentioning, without expressing any doubt about its authenticity”—A Preliminary Account of the Hermetic Philosophy, with the more salient Points of its Public History

“But we are at Alexandria, and during that grand revival of philosophy which took place and continued there some centuries subsequent to the Christian epoch, Plotinus, Philo-Judæus, Proclus, Porphyry, Jamblicus, Julian, and Apuleius, each professing a genuine knowledge of the Theurgic art, and experimental physics on the Hermetic ground.”—A Preliminary Account of the Hermetic Philosophy, with the more salient Points of its Public History

“Among the ancient Romans the act of adoration was thus performed: The worshiper, having his head covered, applied his right hand to his lips, thumb erect, and the forefinger resting on it, and then, bowing his head, he turned round from right to left. Hence, Lucius Apuleius, a Roman author, born in the first century, in his Apologia sive oratio de magia, a defense against the charge of witchcraft, uses the expression to apply the hand to the lips, manum labris admovere, to express the act of adoration.”—Adoration in A Masonic Glossary of the Gnostic Mass

“The Step can hardly be called a mode of recognition, although Apuleius informs us that there was a peculiar step in the Osiriac initiation which was deemed a sign.”——Step in A Masonic Glossary of the Gnostic Mass

“One explanation may be that sihr, “magic,” should be understood in the narrow sense of “enchantment” or “illusion,” i.e., specifically those transformation which make what is false or unreal appear true or real. This is the particular variety of magic at which the Thessalian witches, who figure prominently in Apuleius’ Golden Ass, are adept.”—Powers, Watchers, and Archangels: The Paradox of Manichaean Magic

“The pages of Ovid are full of examples of the various repressions, compensations, and metamorphoses to which the human psyche is subject. Among the more relevant to this topic are the stories of Pasiphae and the bull, Jupiter and Io, Jupiter and Callisto, and especially Jupiter and Europa. Perhaps the most relevant exposition of all is found in the classic Greco-Roman novel, 'The Golden Ass of Apuleius'. At the initiated level the meanings of these terms are perhaps best revealed by study of Liber Tzaddi, particularly the 'glittering Image in the place ever golden' and the 'Blind Creature of the Slime'.”—The Gnostic Mass: An Appreciation

The Golden Ass, by Apuleius. Crowley says, 'Valuable for those who have wit to understand it.'“—E.G.C. “SECTION 2” Reading List

“This Book be your Romaunt, the pillow of your slumbers, the candle of your vigils; and you shall salute me Guardian of the Graal, because I stood with Shakespeare and Aristophanes and Apuleius and Cervantes and Rabelais and Balzac and Sir Richard Burton who liked life whole and wholesome, hardy to the four winds, not mewling, puking, piffling, twaddling, bellelettrizing, Dameauxcameliarizing, Murgerizing, Lukizing, Omarizing, Wertherizing, Littlenellizing, sentimentalizing, squalling, squawking, weeping, deploring, and all the other participles in the language and outside it that may be quintessentialized as finding favour with the burgess.”—Alas! Poor Yorick!

“Even in the pagan Mysteries
Of Greece and Rome
We find the proximity of the donkey
To the essence and vitality of religion
The Metamorphoses of Apuleius
Is a text better known as The Golden Ass
Because its protagonist Lucius
Attains to the mysteries of the Goddess
After being magically transformed into a donkey”—Manifestation of the Ass

“There are also various classics of the subject, helpful to assimilate the romantic and enthusiastic atmosphere proper to practice of the Art; one may instance Catullus, Juvenal (especially the Sixth Satire), Martial, Petronius Arbiter, Apuleius, Boccaccio, Masucci, Francois Rabelais, de Balzac (Contes Drolatiques), de Sade (Justine, Juliette, et al), Andre de Nerciat, Alfred de Musset et Georges Sand (Gamiani: ou Deux nuits d'exces), Sacher-Masoch (Venus in Furs), with English and American too numerous to list, but notably the poets in Holy Orders: Swift, Sterne, Herrick, Donne, and Herbert.”—Liber Artemis Iota vel de Coitu Scholia Triviæ sub figura DCLXVI

  • Born c. 124 at Madaurus, Numidia
  • Died c. 170

Pagan; early Latin, not Greek author Ancients; Neoplatonism; Isis cult worship; Gnostic; @ same time as Valentinus;


Plato; Socrates; Lucius of Patrae; Aesculapius;


Saint Augustine; Thomas Taylor; John Louveau; La Croix du Maine; Claudius Micard; Samuel Thiboust; George de la Bouthiere AKA de la Boutier; John de Tournes; William Gazeau;


initiate of several Greek and Egyptian Mystery sects devoted to Osiris, Isis and the Dionysian mysteries; priest of Aesculapius;


Metamorphoses AKA The Golden Ass (Asinus Aureus); Apologia (A Discourse on Magic); Florida. snippets from various speeches; On Plato and his Doctrine; De Deo Socratis (On the God of Socrates); On the Universe AKA De Mundo; translated Plato's Phaedo


Do you want to help build the Hermeneuticon wiki? Apply to become an editor, and help contribute your knowledge toward increasing the shared wisdom of this resource for the wider community.

Send an email to the librarian via