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Apuleius not an initiate of Isis and Osiris?[edit]

The article briefly states that Apuleius was probably not an initiate of the mysteries of Isis and Osiris. Whose conclusion was this and what were their arguments? I've found several pages on the internet that claim he was an initiate, but none yet that take the opposite view. Can anyone give me some pointers? Thanks, Fuzzypeg 01:28, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

I strongly disagree about the need for citations in the first paragraph. These are not needed because they are basic facts about Apuleius that are well known to those who study his life and works. Moreover, the burden of proof should be on those making claims for which there is no evidence. For example, the first paragraph reads: “There is also a desire on the part of many to take details from his seemingly autobiographical novel and apply them to Apuleius, but this is not a reliable source (CITATION NEEDED) – most notably, the novel is misused as evidence that Apuleius was a worshiper of Isis, though there is good reason to think that this was not the case. (CITATION NEEDED) Another dubious conclusion is that "Lucius," the first name of the main character of the novel, was also the first name of Apuleius — wishful thinking for which there is no concrete evidence.(CITATION NEEDED).” In none of these cases is a citation needed: in the first case, I would think it rather obvious that just assuming a novel written in the first-person must be somewhat autobiographical is absolutely absurd (or do we make that assumption for every first-person novel?), so OF COURSE this novel is not a reliable source for the life of Apuleius, even if the author occasionally plays clever literary games in which he pretends to be writing about himself being the donkey-hero of the story; in the second case, there is zero evidence that Apuleius worshiped Isis, unless one makes the illogical assumption that just because he wrote movingly about the worship of Isis means he must have been a worshiper himself (but under that logic, Irving Berlin must have been a Christian rather than a Jew, because he wrote “White Christmas”!); and third, there is no evidence from the Roman period that Apuleius’s first name was Lucius (so how on earth can there be a citation provided for a negative?). Therefore, in these cases there should be no citation necessary, because these are all accepted facts among Apuleian scholars. (That said, I’ll refer anyone who cares to John Winkler’s book “Auctor and Actor: A Narratological Reading of Apuleius,” in which he shows the foolishness of assuming that Apuleius worshiped Isis. Winkler is also a perfectly good reference for the last two “citation needed” statements in the final paragraph.) (Posted by Gil 1970 on August 30, 2007)

EDIT: I just saw this part addressed to me after posting the above response. I'll say that since I have nothing in print on Apuleius I'm not someone who can be cited. The Winkler work I mentioned above would be the best place to go for some of this issue, but I stand by my statement that there is no need to cite statements questioning assumptions about Apuleius that cannot be proven (e.g., that his name was Lucius). The sad fact is that over the past hundred years there has been some terrible scholarship about Apuleius, and some very good scholarship, and unfortunately some of the conclusions by the bad scholars have leaked out of academia. In my opinion, these are best ignored by Wikipedia -- why confuse people by repeating wrong claims, even if an opposing point of view is included? To give an extreme example, one scholar some 50 or 60 years ago tried to argue that Apuleius may have been a Christian, and his article was nothing but a series of unfounded assumptions – surely we don’t repeat this claim, too? On the specific issue of Apuleius and the worship of Isis, you are absolutely correct that he (and his character Lucius) both belonged to certain mystery religions (Asclepius doesn't count, that was an honorary position given to Apuleius as a prominent citizen, and not a mystery religion anyway), but that still doesn't mean one should assume that Isis-worship was among them, even if it is perfectly possible that he was an Isis-worshiper. (Regarding your other question, Fuzzypeg, there is nothing in Apuleius’s description of the initiation that would have been secret from non-initiates, so Apuleius as a highly educated and curious individual simply might have known a lot about Egyptian religion.) I guess it is okay to say in the article that there has been SPECULATION that this was the case, but in no way should it be stated as fact, because there is no evidence other than the fact that the main character in Apuleius's novel experienced a conversion. (Posted by Gil1970 on August 30, 2007)

There's now an extensive argument to this effect within the article, but no citations for it. QuartierLatin1968 El bien mas preciado es la libertad 00:24, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
I've added several citation needed tags; can anyone help with supplying these references? Also, some statements read like opinion rather than simple presentation of facts. Are these the opinions of one of our editors, or of a reliable source? They should be attributed. In fact, I believe I'll put an "unverified" tag at the top; that should help hurry things along. Fuzzypeg 06:21, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

There is zero evidence for Apuleius being an initiate, despite what those websites claim. I have a Ph.D. in Classics and teach it at the university level, so I would hope that my authority means something. The ONLY reason people have for thinking that Apuleius worshiped the Egyptian gods was that his account of his FICTIONAL character's conversion includes lots of details and is profoundly emotional. By the same logic, Agatha Christie must have been a killer because she revealed a lot about committing murders in her books. The burden of proof is on those who claim Apuleius WAS a worshiper of Isis and Osiris to prove it. And they can't, because no source from antiquity supports the claim. (Posted by Gil1970)

Unfortunately unless you're a notable authority on the subject, your views, even if they're correct, don't help us with improving the referencing of the article. But you could be really helpful, with your knowledge, by pointing us to the important studies of the subject so we can read them and cite them. This article would be much improved if it had a discussion of this evidence and allowed the reader to draw informed conclusions.
This is exactly backwards. Professor Gil1970 needs absoluely no authority, nor even needs to be right, to point out that unsubstantiated claims have no place on Wikipedia. Unsourced statements are fair game for anyone who wants to remove them per Wikipedia policy. Rwflammang (talk) 16:50, 8 October 2012 (UTC)
I would be cautious saying that there is "zero evidence" for his involvement in those mysteries. The evidence may be circumstantial, but the many scholars who have made a case for his being an initiate were citing some evidence, the most important presumably being his descriptions of his (or the fictional Apuleius') initiation in Metamorphoses. Apuleius was known to be an initiate of several mysteries, and he was a provincial priest in Carthage of some cult, possibly that of Aesculapius. Would it not be reasonable to suspect that someone with such a mystical and priestly avocation might also have entered the very popular Isiac mysteries? And would he attempt to describe something that he was ignorant of, and risk embarrassment?
These are just my thoughts on the subject, and they may well be unfounded, but I'd like to know why. The article currently says "there is good reason to think that this was not the case ", but what is that reason? Is there actually evidence to the contrary, or just a perceived insufficiency of evidence in favour? If you're familiar with the arguments around his supposed initiation into the mysteries of Isis and Osiris, then you could either outline these arguments for us, or even better, point us to authoritative sources that explain the issue in detail, and which we can cite in the article. Thanks for your help. Fuzzypeg 22:29, 27 August 2007 (UTC)


"it is certainly the most entertaining example of Latin courtroom oratory to survive, though some fans of Cicero might disagree -- and firmly places Apuleius among the great humorists of his day."

This strikes me as a subjective opinion. Perhaps we could rephrase it to "it is a particularly entertaining example of Latin courtroom oratory and firmly places Apuleius among the great humorists of his day." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:19, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

"half-Numidian half-Gaetulian"[edit]

I'm not disputing the factuality of this statement, but because it purports to be a direct quotation from Apuleius himself, the work and section number should be cited. Some people might be interested enough in cultural self-identification in antiquity that they would want to read the passage in context. Cynwolfe (talk) 17:09, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

I fixed this. It turns out, like most biographical information about Apuleius, that the quote is from the Apology. Singinglemon (talk) 20:18, 30 November 2009 (UTC)