‘Iam primum omnibus laciniis se devestit Pamphile et arcula quadam reclusa pyxides plusculas inde depromit, de quis unius operculo remoto atque indidem egesta unguedine diuque palmulis suis adfricta ab imis unguibus sese totam adusque summos capillos perlinit multumque cum lucerna secreto conlocuta membra tremulo
succussu quatit. Quis leniter fluctuantibus promicant molles plumulae, crescunt et fortes pinnulae, duratur nasus incurvus, coguntur ungues adunci. Fit bubo Pamphile. Sic edito stridore querulo iam sui periclitabunda paulatim terra resultat, mox in altum sublimata forinsecus totis alis evolat.

Quam ego amplexus ac deosculatus prius utque mihi prosperis faveret volatibus deprecatus abiectis propere laciniis totis avide manus immersi et haurito plusculo uncto corporis mei membra perfricui. Iamque alternis conatibus libratis brachiis in avem similis gestiebam; nec ullae plumulae nec usquam pinnulae, sed plane pili mei crassantur in setas et cutis tenella duratur in corium et in extimis palmulis perdito numero toti digiti coguntur in singulas ungulas et de spinae meae termino grandis cauda procedit. Iam facies enormis et os prolixum et nares hiantes et labiae pendulae; sic et aures inmodicis horripilant auctibus. Nec ullum miserae reformationis video solacium, nisi quod mihi iam nequeunti tenere Photidem natura crescebat.  Ac dum salutis inopia cuncta corporis mei considerans non avem me sed asinum video…’

LINDSAY TRANSLATION (1932) pp. 84, 87-88
‘First of all Pamphile divested herself of all her clothes, and opening a certain coffer she fetched out several small boxes. Taking off a lid of one of these, she squeezed out some ointment and rubbed herself all over with it, till she was smeared from the ends of her toenails to the hairs on the crown of her head. Then she muttered a series of hushed charms over a lamp, and twitched her body and jerked it shiveringly. Gradually downy plumes began to jet and flutter out. These thickened into regular wings; her nose hooked itself hornily outwards; her nails bunched  together crookedly; and Pamphile became an owl. Uttering a mournful hoot, she tested out her new shape, making little leaps and runs; and soon, soaring aloft, she swooped wide-winged out of the house…
Pamphile transforms into an Owl - illustration by Percival Goodman
Pamphile transforms into an Owl - illustration by Percival Goodman

Apuleius is transformed into an Ass - illustration by Pecival Goodman
The Wrong Ointment - illustration by Pecival Goodman
  I quickly tore off all my garments, greedily dipped into the box, and took out a large handful, with which I plastered every limb. And then, flapping my arms up and down, I stood waiting and trying to feel birdlike. But no down appeared; no wings burst out. Rather, it was obvious that my hair was hardening into bristles, my tender skin was roughening to a hide. My toes and fingers lost their distinctness and clotted into solid hoofs; and from the end of my spine a long tail whisked out. My face became enormous; my mouth widened; my nostrils gaped open; my lips grew pendulous; and my ears shot hairily aloft. I could see no consolation in this calamitous change save that I was (in every respect) enlarged even beyond the capacity of Fotis. I was now past all help; and considering my shape I saw that I was not a bird but an ass.’

GRAVE'S TRANSLATION (1950) pp. 68-9, 70-1

‘[I] watched Pamphilë first undress completely and then open a small cabinet containing several little boxes, one of which she opened. It contained an ointment which she worked about with her fingers and then smeared all over her body from the soles of her feet to the crown of her head. After this she muttered a long charm to her lamp, and shook herself; and, as I watched, her limbs became gradually fledged with feathers, her arms changed into sturdy wings, her nose grew crooked and horny, her nails turned into talons, and soon there was no longer any doubt about it: Pamphilë had become an owl. She gave a querulous hoot and made a few little hopping flights until she was sure enough of her wings to glide off, away over the roof-tops…
  Then I quickly pulled off my clothes, greedily stuck my fingers into the box and took out a large lump of ointment which I rubbed all over my body. I stood flapping my arms, first the left and then the right, as I had seen Pamphilë do, but no little feathers appeared on them and they showed no sign of turning into wings. All that happened was that the hair on them grew coarser and coarser and the skin toughened into hide. Next, my fingers bunched together into a hard lump so that my hands became hooves, the same change came over my feet and I felt a long tail sprouting from the base of my spine. Then my face swelled, my mouth widened, my nostrils dilated, my lips hung flabbily down, and my ears shot up long and hairy. The only consoling part of this miserable transformation was the enormous increase in the size of a certain organ of mine; because I was by this time finding it increasingly difficult to meet all Fotis’s demands upon it. At last, hopelessly surveying myself all over, I was obliged to face the mortifying fact that I had been transformed not into a bird, but into a plain jackass.’

apuleius is transformed

Apuleius is transformed into an ass - illustration by H.J. Ford

WALSH'S TRANSLATION (1994) pp. 51-52, 53

‘Pamphile first divested herself of all her clothing. She then opened a small casket and took from it several small boxes. She removed the lid from one of these, and extracted ointment from it. This she rubbed for some time between her hands, and then smeared it all over herself from the tips of her toes to the crown of her head. She next held a long and private conservation with the lamp, and proceeded to flap her arms and legs with a trembling motion. As she gently moved them up and down, soft feathers began to sprout on them, and sturdy wings began to grow. Her nose became curved and hard, and her nails became talons. In this way Pamphile became an owl; she uttered a plaintive squawk as she tried out her new identity by gradually forsaking the ground. Soon she rose aloft, and with the full power of her wings quitted the house…
  Then I hastily tore off all my clothes, dipped my hands eagerly into the box, drew out a good quantity of the ointment, and rubbed all my limbs with it. I then flapped my arms up and down, imitating the movements of a bird. But no down and no sign of feathers appeared. Instead, the hair on my body was becoming coarse bristles, and my tender skin was hardening into hide. There were no longer five fingers at the extremities of my hands, for each was compressed into one hoof. From the base of my spine protruded an enormous tail. My face became misshapen, my mouth widened, my nostrils flared open, my lips became pendulous, and my ears huge and bristly. The sole consolation I could see in this wretched transformation was the swelling of my penis—though now I could not embrace Photis.
   As I helplessly surveyed the entire length of my body, [I] came to the realization that I was not a bird but an ass…’

KENNEY'S TRANSLATION (1998) pp. 50-51, 52
‘First Pamphile completely stripped herself; then she opened a chest and took out a number of small boxes. From one of these she removed the lid and scooped out some ointment, which she rubbed between her hands for a long time before smearing herself with it all over from head to foot. Then there was a long muttered address to the lamp during which she shook her arms with a fluttering motion. As they gently flapped up and down there appeared on them a soft fluff, then a growth of strong feathers; her nose hardened into a hooked beak, her feet contracted into talons – and Pamphile was an owl. Hooting mournfully she took off and landed once or twice to try her wings; then she launched herself into full flight out of the house and away high into the sky…
  …then I tore off my clothes, and plunging my hands into [the box] scooped out a generous portion of the ointment and rubbed it all over myself; then I flapped my arms up and down in imitation of a bird. But no down or feathers appeared; instead my hair became coarse and shaggy, my soft skin hardened into hide, my fingers and toes lost their separate identity and coalesced into hooves, and from the end of my spine there protruded a long tail. My face became enormous and my mouth widened; my nostrils dilated and my lips hung down; and my ears became monstrously long and hairy. The only redeeming feature of this catastrophic transformation was that my natural endowment had grown too—but how could I embrace Photis like this? In this hapless state I looked myself over and saw that I was now no bird, but an ass…’

BOHN'S LIBRARY TRANSLATION (1902) pp. 60-61, 62
‘In the first place, Pamphile divested herself of all her garments, and having unlocked a certain cabinet, took out of it several little boxes. Taking the lid off of one of them, and pouring some ointment therefrom, she rubbed herself for a considerable time with her hands, smearing herself all over from the tips of her toes to the crown of her head. Then, after she had muttered a long while in a low voice over a lamp, she shook her limbs with tremulous jerks, then gently waved them to and fro, until soft feathers burst forth, strong wings displayed themselves, the nose was hardened and curved into a beak, the nails were compressed and made crooked. Thus did Pamphile become an owl. Then, uttering a querulous scream, she made trial of her powers, leaping little by little from the ground; and presently, raising herself aloft, on full wing, she flies out of doors…
  I hastily divested myself of all my garments, then greedily dipping my fingers into the box, and taking thence a considerable quantity of the ointment, I rubbed it all over my body and limbs.  And now, flapping my arms up and down, I anxiously awaited my change into a bird.
  But no down, no shooting wings appeared, but my hairs evidently became thickened into bristles, and my tender skin was hardened into a hide; my hands and feet, too, no longer furnished with distinct fingers and toes, formed as many massive hoofs, and a long tail projected from the extremity of my spine. My face was now enormous, my mouth wide, my nostrils gaping, and my lips hanging down. In like manner my ears grew hairy, and of immoderate length, and I found in every respect I had become enlarged.  Thus, hopelessly surveying all parts of my body, I beheld myself changed not into a bird, but an ass.'

ADLINGTON TRANSLATION (1639) pp. 70-71, 72-73
‘[F]irst I saw how shee put of all her garments, and tooke out of a certain coffer sundry kindes of Boxes, of the which she opened one, and tempered the ointment therein with her fingers, and then rubbed her body therewith from the sole of the foot to the crowne of the head, and when she had spoken privily with her selfe, having the candle in her hand, she shaked the parts of her body, and behold, I perceived a plume of feathers did burgen out, her nose waxed crooked and hard, her nailes turned into clawes, and so she became an Owle. Then she cried and screeched like a Bird of that kinde, and willing to proove her force, mooved her selfe from the ground by little and little, til at last she flew quite away…
  And then I put off all my garments, and greedily thrust my hand into the box, and took out a good deale of oyntment and rubbed my selfe withall. After that I had well rubbed every part and member of my body, I hovered with myne armes, and moved my selfe, looking still when I should bee changed into a Bird as Pamphiles was, and behold neither feathers nor appearance of feathers did burgen out, but verily my haire did turne in ruggednesse, and my tender skin waxed tough and hard, my fingers and toes losing the number of five, changed into hoofes, and out of myne arse grew a great taile, now my face became monstrous, my nosthrils wide, my lips hanging downe, and myne eares rugged with haire: neither could I see any comfort of my transformation, for my members encreased likewise, and so without all helpe (viewing every part of my poore body) I perceived that I was no bird, but a plaine Asse.’
Pamphile transforms into an Owl
 Pamphile transforms into an Owl -
 illustration by Jean de Bosschère

Apuleius. Apulei Platonici Madaurensis Metamorphoseon Libri XI (Apulei Opera Quae Supersunt, vol I). edition & commentary by Rudulfus Helm.
Bibliotheca Teubneriana, 1907.
Apuleius. The Golden Ass. translation, notes, preface by Jack Lindsay. illustrated by Percival Goodman. New York: The Limited Editions Club, 1932.
Apuleius. The Golden Ass.translation, notes, preface by P.G. Walsh. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999 (1994).
Apuleius. The Golden Ass or Metamorphoses. translation, notes, preface by E.J. Kenney. London: Penguin, 1998.
Apuleius. The Golden Asse. translation, notes by William Adlington. preface by E.B. Osborn. illustrated by Jean de Bosschère. 
London: John Lane - The Bodley Head, 1923.
Apuleius. The Transformations of Lucius, otherwise known as The Golden Ass. translation, notes by Robert Graves. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000 (1950).
Apuleius. The Works of Apuleius, comprising The Metamorphoses, or Golden Ass, The God of Socrates, The Florida and His Defence, or a Discourse on
    Magic (a new translation); to which are added, A Metrical Version of Cupid and Psyche and Mrs. Tighe's Psyche (a Poem in six Cantos).
translation, notes,
    preface by unknown. Bohn's Libraries. London: George Bell & Sons, 1902.


last modified 27-Jan-2002