Gerald Sandy, The Greek World of Apuleius: Apuleius and the Second Sophistic. Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1997. Mnemosyne Supplement 174. Pp. x + 276. ISBN 90-04-10821-1. Fl.144/US$90.00.
Stephen J. Harrison
Corpus Christi College, Oxford
I should at once declare an interest: this volume intersects in many ways with my own recently published work Apuleius: A Latin Sophist.[] Both books seek to fill an evident gap in Apuleian studies -- a general contextualising of Apuleius in his intellectual background in the Roman Empire of the second century AD and in relation to the contemporary Greek Second Sophistic, which is evidently so important a part of that background. In many ways, the two works are complementary, though inevitably (and pleasingly) there is also much common ground. The chief strength of The Greek World of Apuleius is its provision of a broad and valuable overview of Apuleian background and intellectual milieu rather than the depth of its analyses of Apuleian texts; it is also conveniently accessible to the non-Latinate reader through its frequent translations. Apuleius: A Latin Sophist, written for the Latinate reader, attempts to provide a kind of relatively detailed handbook to the lesser-known rhetorical and philosophical works of Apuleius.
The three large introductory chapters cover more than half the book. These cover Apuleius' life and works and general intellectual background. Here Sandy's account is full and helpful, though supplementary bibliography may be added and disagreement is often possible.
In Chapter 1, 'The Formation of A Latin Sophist' (pp. 1-41), Sandy is firmly convinced (pp. 9-12) of Apuleius' full bilingualism in Greek and Latin (my own view is that Apuleius exaggerates this for self-promoting purposes -- cf. ALS p. 15), and is confident (p. 1) that no date after 164 is discoverable in Apuleius' works (though he rightly notes (p. 8 n. 27) that Flor. 16 might be from the late 160's -- cf. ALS p. 7). He is strictly right to state (p. 3) that there is no firm evidence that Apuleius made an extended visit to Rome -- but Flor. 16.36f. and 17.4 suggest studies and social connections in Rome, as he notes on p. 8; he makes no mention of apparent journeys by Apuleius to Samos (Flor. 15.4) and Phrygian Hierapolis (Mu. 17), and this means that he makes Apuleius less cosmopolitan than he perhaps was (though of course Apuleius was keen to exaggerate his 'well-travelled' status, an important part of sophistic glamour). He classes the De Mundo and De Platone as clearly Apuleian (p. 4), a verdict with which I concur, but sees them as youthful works -- a natural view given their doxographical/derivative character, but one which does not confront the difficulties of their use of the cursus mixtus system of prose rhythm, raised by Axelson and Redfors, which strongly suggests a later date (cf. ALS pp. 178-80).[] He also goes for an early date for the Met. (p. 6), in good scholarly company, seeing it referred to by the phrase historiae variae at Flor. 9.27f. (AD 162-63); but I would regard that phrase as referring to Apuleius' lost Epitoma Historiarum (cf. ALS p. 24) and would like a later date for the Met. (180's) for many reasons (summarised at ALS pp. 9f.). He must, I think, be wrong (p. 7) in stating that only two ancient sources give Madauros as Apuleius' birthplace, and expressing undue scepticism on the issue -- there are also two references in Augustine, one in Sidonius and one in Cassiodorus (see ALS p. 1 n.3).
There is a useful analysis of the function of Carthage as a cultural centre (pp. 16-20), though here the article of Opeku would have been usefully cited,[] and of Apuleius' links with Fronto (Sandy rightly notes [p. 21] that it is surprising that Apuleius does not allude to Fronto); there is good use of epigraphic evidence for characters from the Apologia (p. 8 n. 25). The question on p. 23 'was Apuleius an alumnus of the Platonic Academy in Athens?' seems not to confront the arguments of Glucker (though the reference is cited in the bibliography)[] that the Academy was virtually non-functional in that period (cf. ALS p. 5 n. 19; though Apuleius does hint that he is in some sense an 'Academic' at Flor. 15.26 academicis meditationibus). The account of Apuleius' publication record (pp. 36-40) gives a good flavour of its variety, but was unfortunately unable to use the detailed researches of Sallmann.[] Perry's view that the lost Hermagoras was a novel is dismissed too lightly (p. 38; for contrary arguments, see ALS pp. 21f.), and the assertion that no-one now defends the Asclepius as Apuleian (p. 38) has been overtaken by Hunink;[] I concur with Sandy and most scholars on its inauthenticity (ALS pp. 12f.), not least on the ground that Apuleius elsewhere invariably refers to this divinity as 'Aesculapius'. Sandy favours (pp. 38f.) with many moderns the authenticity of the logical work Peri Hermeneias and its role as the third book of the De Platone (p. 39), though he is careful not to give final judgement (cf. p. 217); but the evidence of language, prose-rhythm and textual transmission could equally suggest the opposite conclusion (cf. ALS pp. 11f.).
In the second chapter 'Literature and Learning in the Second Century' (pp. 42-91), Sandy is clearly somewhat unsympathetic to the modern rehabilitation of the Second Sophistic; he talks of the 'Cult of the Past' and its 'disruptive effect on the systematic development and expression of original thought' (p. ix), and of the 'uniformity of conditioned thought' (p. 60), and the impression often given is that the second century was an era of second-rate scholasticism and 'ossified conventions' (p. 63), somewhat misleading for a literary epoch now generally viewed as more creative. Much good and effective background is given on standard topics, anthologies and collections of moralising anecdotes in the second century (Gellius, Favorinus, Aelian), and the notion of culling and compilation is applied to Apuleius too, fair enough for his didactic works but not for major literary achievements such as the Apologia and the Metamorphoses. Here and elsewhere Sandy seems to share the reductive view of Helm and Perry, seeing Apuleius even in the Met. as a mere reworker of earlier literature, a view which is only partly true and from which much of modern scholarship has moved away. But overall this chapter gives a good idea of Greek sophistic literary culture, crucial for understanding Apuleius, and of the common Greco- Roman intellectual atmosphere of the high Empire (though it could be more stressed that second century Roman archaism differs from Greek Atticism in lacking an ideological agenda of political nostalgia/Greek self-assertion.)[]
The third chapter 'Sophistic Discourse' (pp. 92-130), provides a good account of the key features of the topics and techniques of sophistic rhetoric and its relevance to Apuleius. Sandy aptly brings in extensive illustration from Favorinus and Maximus of Tyre (Michael Trapp's excellent annotated translation of the latter[] unfortunately appeared too late for Sandy, who would have saved seven pages [pp. 95-102] of the first modern English translation of Maximus Or. 1), and good use is made of Vallette's 1908 book on the Apologia,[] which, as Sandy implies in his preface (p. ix), provides an extensive and stimulating general account of Apuleian rhetorical techniques and still deserves the close attention of scholars. The sophistic connections of Apuleius' didactic streak and interest in improvisation are rightly stressed; in tune with Sandy's general approach, Apuleius' tendency to deviation and divergence from the point in hand is seen as part of imperial/rhetorical decline (p. 110), but it could equally be seen as virtuoso play with an audience which appreciated the art of apparent irrelevance and 'improvisation' within a structure which was in fact carefully controlled and motivated.
The remaining chapters (pp. 131-255) treat individual Apuleian works. Here Sandy gives a good idea of the interpenetration on the ground of the philosophy, rhetoric and literary learning sketched out in his introductory chapters. Given the structure and length of the book, analyses cannot go into great detail (ALS has more for those who want it), but there is much useful material here, and those seeking illumination in English on Apuleius' lesser- known works should be duly grateful.
Chapter 4, 'Orator Sophisticus Latinus' (pp. 131-75), turns to two works, the Apologia and Florida, which Sandy rightly acknowledges as masterpieces of the Second Sophistic (though it is unclear precisely how high that counts as praise here). In the Apologia Sandy is good on its virtuoso qualities and rightly recognises the synergy of epideictic and forensic rhetoric (pp. 141-46); he does not see what I would view as the strong Ciceronian colour of the speech (cf. ALS p. 44), and his view that in it 'literature and scholasticism have pre- empted spontaneous living' (p. 148) seems to me to underestimate both the literary vitality and the contemporary realism of the speech, in which financial, social and cultural capital are all heavily in play (again it was unfortunate that the commentary of Vincent Hunink appeared too late for Sandy to use).[] On the Florida Sandy rightly stresses its common ground with the Apol. and has good material on the analogy of Apuleius and Pythagoras, and his extensive account of the way in which the fragments of the Flor. use the various established techniques of Greek sophistic rhetoric is very helpful, though it could be more fully stressed that many of Apuleius' rhetorical techniques are especially closely linked to the different disciplines of the progymnasmata ('preparatory exercises', cf. ALS, pp. 133f.). Perhaps wisely in a relatively short and general account, he does not engage with the complex issues of the Florida's genesis, transmission and anthology selection criteria; some material on this can be found in ALS pp. 90- 94 and 132-59.
Chapter 5, 'Philosophicus Sophisticus Latinus' (pp. 172- 232), casts welcome light on the neglected philosophical works and on the interface between Apuleius' literary activity and his professed Platonism, beginning with a good discussion of the ambivalent relationship between philosophy and rhetoric in the Second Sophistic. The brief discussion of the issue of the authenticity of the De Mundo and De Platone rightly sees the basic problems of evidence, but a good deal more could be said and many further discussions cited (cf. e.g. ALS pp. 174-80), and Sandy's use of the name 'Albinus' rather than 'Alcinous' (cf. esp. p. 215 n. 93) perhaps needs reconsideration in the light of Whittaker's recent Budé,[] though he is quite right to stress that Apuleius is derivative as a philosopher. The discussion of the De Deo Socratis (pp. 191-213) provides an effective and valuable analysis of a number of issues, rightly stressing the Latin-speaking audience, Apuleius' use of Platonic demonology, and his links with Maximus of Tyre. On the vexed issue of the 'False Preface' transmitted with the DDS (pp. 192-96), Sandy holds with Ben Hijmans[] that its fifth paragraph might be an introduction to a lost Greek section of the DDS, but the Latinate audience for the work which needs even its Homer translating (DDS 145) is unlikely to have relished such a performance; along with most moderns, I would assign the whole of the 'False Preface' to the Florida, as wrongly divided from it in transmission; for this and other connected problems, see ALS pp. 91f. and 141- 44. The discussion of the De Mundo (pp. 224-30) is good on Apuleius' adaptation of the Greek text for a Roman reader, but could certainly have benefited from the detailed treatment of this issue in Antonio Marchetta's 1991 monograph.[]
The last chapter, 'Fabulator Latinus' (pp. 233-55), provides a brief account of the Metamorphoses or Golden Ass (like Sandy, I am happy to accept a dual title -- cf. ALS p. 210). Sandy rightly begins by stating that no single chapter can cover all the key issues of this rich work, and limits himself to the issues of compilation from Greek sources and relationship to the Greek novel. Sandy's unwillingness to provide references even to the key general discussions (cf. p. 233 n. 1) is understandable in an era when publications on the Met. are emerging at an alarming rate, but one remarkable omission is Winkler's Actor & Auctor,[] a work which most Apuleian scholars would regard as a crucial contribution to the interpretation of the work on almost every level, and which certainly touches the concerns dealt with by Sandy in his chapter.
Sandy's analysis of the work's famously problematic prologue assumes that Lucius is the narrator, but that has been questioned by a number of scholars, and one misses especially a reference to the article of Smith, which argues that the speaker is an anonymous Plautine prologus.[] Sandy's analysis of the term 'Milesian' as 'made-in-Greece' (p. 234) is important,[] and he provides a good brief account (pp. 235f.) of the crucial passage of Photius comparing the extant Onos and the lost Greek Metamorphoses. But the chief contribution of this chapter is the comparison of the Met. with Greek novels (pp. 242- 51), sharing much with Sandy's article in ANRW.[] This importantly stresses that the papyrus discoveries of Greek low-life novels such as the Iolaus narrative and Lollianus' Phoinikika provide important predecessors for Apuleius.[] Sandy's view of Apuleian allusion here seems rather ambivalent: he can state that 'Apuleius rarely develops and sustains literary imitation beyond isolated phrases' (p. 252), but also that 'Apuleius' use of literary allusion is far more complex than appears to be the case in any of the Greek novels . . . one finds here subtleties worthy of Alexandrian writers and their Roman disciples in the Augustan period and what would now be called intertextuality' (p. 252). The latter approach would I think be that more widely held by modern Apuleian scholars, and there is now a vast bibliography.[]
In sum, Apuleian scholars should be grateful to Sandy for his achievement in supplying the first broadly effective modern account of Apuleius' cultural and intellectual background. While this work does not provide the last word in bibliography, survey of scholarly debate or detailed analysis, there is no doubt that it provides a firm contextualisation of its author, and many useful contributions to ongoing Apuleian arguments and issues.
[] S. J. Harrison, Apuleius: A Latin Sophist (Oxford 2000). The delay in the appearance of this review (entirely my own fault) has at least conferred the opportunity of comparing Sandy's views with those published in my book, which I hope will be of benefit to the reader; I must apologise in advance for the disproportionate amount of self-citation this necessarily involves, and it is not implied that my own view is automatically authoritative. In what follows, Apuleius : Apuleius Latin Sophist is abbreviated to 'ALS', and the works of Apuleius are abbreviated as follows: Apol. = Apologia, DDS = De Deo Socratis, Flor. = Florida, Met. = Metamorphoses, Mu. = De Mundo, Pl. = De Platone .
[] B. Axelson, Akzentuierender Klauselrhythmus bei Apuleius (Lund 1952); J. Redfors, Echtheitskritische Untersuchung der apuleischen Schriften. De Platone und De Mundo (Lund 1960).
[] F. Opeku, 'Popular and Higher Education in Africa Proconsularis in the Second Century AD', Scholia ns 2 (1993) 31-44.
[] J. Glucker, Antiochus and the Late Academy (Göttingen 1978).
[] K. Sallmann (ed.), Die Literatur des Umbruchs: von der römischen zur christlichen Literatur, 117 bis 284 n. Chr. (Munich 1997); for a fuller list and discussion of the lost and fragmentary works, see now ALS pp. 10-38.
[] V. Hunink, 'Apuleius and the Asclepius' Vig. Christ. 50 (1996) 288-308.
[] See, for example, Simon Swain's Hellenism and Empire (Oxford 1996).
[] Michael Trapp, Maximus of Tyre: The Philosophical Orations (Oxford 1997).
[] P. Valette, L'Apologie d'Apulée (Paris 1908).
[] V. Hunink, Pro se de magia (Apologia). Volume 1: Introduction, Text, Bibliography, Indices. Volume 2: Commentary (Amsterdam 1997).
[] J. Whittaker, Alcinoos: enseignment des doctrines de Platon (Paris 1990).
[] B. L. Hijmans, 'Apuleius Orator: "Pro se de magia" and "Florida"', ANRW II.34.2 (1994) 1708-84.
[] A. Marchetta, L'autenticitŕ apuleiana del De Mundo (L'Aquila 1991); for other references, see ALS pp. 174- 203.
[] J. J. Winkler, Auctor & Actor: A Narratological Reading of Apuleius' Golden Ass (Berkeley & Los Angeles 1985).
[] W. S. Smith, 'The Narrative Voice in Apuleius' Metamorphoses', TAPhA 103 (1972) 513-34; for my own view that the book is the speaker, see S. J. Harrison, 'The Speaking Book: The Prologue to Apuleius' Metamorphoses', CQ n.s. 40 (1990) 507-13.
[] On further aspects of the Milesian character of Apuleius, see now my article, 'The Milesian Tales and the Roman Novel', in GCN 9 (1998) 61-73.
[] G. Sandy, 'Apuleius' Metamorphoses and the Greek Novel' ANRW II.34.2 (1994) 1511-74.
[] For more of this, see Alessandro Barchiesi's article 'Tracce di narrativa greca e romanzo latino', in Semiotica della novella latina (1986) 219-36, now reprinted in English in my Oxford Readings in the Roman Novel (Oxford 1999) 124- 41.
[] See, for example, Ellen Finkelpearl's Metamorphosis of Language in Apuleius (Ann Arbor 1998); cf. also S. J. Harrison (ed.), Oxford Readings in the Roman Novel (Oxford 1999) xxxivf.