‘Is gracili pauperie laborans fabriles operas praebendo parvis illis mercedibus vitam tenebat. Erat ei tamen uxorcula etiam satis quidem tenuit et ipsa, verum tamen postrema lascivia famigerabilis. Sed die quadam, dum matutino ille ad opus susceptum proficiscitur, statim latenter inrepti eius hospitium temerarius adulter. Ac dum Veneris conluctationibus securius operantur, maritus ignarus rerum ac nihil etiam tum tale suspicans inprovisus hospitium repetit. Iam clausis et obseratis foribus uxoris laudata continentia ianuam pulsat, sibilo etiam praesentiam suam denuntiante. Tunc mulier callida et ad huius modi flagitia perastutula tenacissimis amplexibus expeditum hominem dolio, quod erat in angulo semiobrutum, sed alias vacuum, dissimulanter abscondit, et patefactis aedibus adhuc introeuntem maritum aspero sermone accipit: "Sinice vacuus et otiosus insinuatis manibus ambulabis mihi nec obito consueto labore vitae nostrae prospicies et aliquid cibatui parabis? At ego misera pernox et perdia lanificio nervos meos contorqueo, ut intra cellulam nostram saltem lucerna luceat. Quanto me felicior Daphne vicina, quae mero et prandio matutino saucia cum suis adulteris volutatur!"

Sic confutatus maritus: "Et quid istic est?" ait "Nam licet forensi negotio officinator noster attentus ferias nobis fecerit, tamen hodiernae cenulae nostrae propexi. Vide sis ut dolium, quod semper vacuum, frustra locum detinet tantum et re vera praeter impedimentum conversationis nostrae nihil praestat amplius. Istud ego sex denariis cuidam venditavi, et adest ut dato pretio secum rem suam ferat. Quin itaque praecingeris mihique manum tantisper accommodas, ut exobrutum protinus tradatur emptori.?
E re nata fallaciosa mulier temerarium tollens cachinnum: "Magnum" inquit "istum virum ac strenuum negotiatorem nacta sum, qui rem, quam ego mulier et intra hospitium contenta iam dudum septem denariis vendidi, minoris distraxit."
Additamento pretii laetus maritus: "Et quis est ille" ait "qui tanto praestinavit?" At illa: "Olim, inepte," inquit "descendit in dolium sedulo soliditatem eius probaturus."

Nec ille sermoni mulieris defuit, sed exurgens alacriter: "Vis" inquit "verum scire, mater familias? Hoc tibi dolium nimis vetustum est et multifariam rimis hiantibus quassum" ad maritumque eius dissimulanter conversus: "Quin tu, quicumque es, homuncio, lucernam" ait "actutum mihi expedis, ut erasis intrinsecus sordibus diligenter aptumne usui possim dinoscere, nisi nos putas aes de malo habere?" Nec quicquam moratus ac suspicatus acer et egregius ille maritus accensa lucerna: "Discere," inquit "frater, et otiosus adsiste, donec probe percuratum istud tibi repraesentem"; et cum dicto nudatus ipse delato numine scabiem vetustam cariosae testae occipit exsculpere. At vero adulter bellissimus ille pusio inclinatam dolio pronam uxorem fabri superincurvatus secure dedolabat. Ast illa capite in dolium demisso maritum suum astu meretricio tractabat ludicre; hoc et illud et aliud et rursus aliud purgandum demonstrat digito suo, donec utroque opere perfecto accepit septem denariis calamitosus faber collo suo gerens dolium coactus est ad hospitium adulteri perferre.’

LINDSAY TRANSLATION (1932) pp. 266-270
‘There was once a hard-up labouring-man who lived a pinched life on his wage as a journeyman-carpenter. He had a wifie as poor as himself, a little slip of a thing but (so scandal had it) incurably lecherous. One day when the carpenter had gone off to his work after breakfast, the wife’s lover sidled warily into the house. But while the adulterers were amorously parleying together and imagining themselves quite secure, the complaisant husband (without any suspicion of what was going on) unexpected returned. Finding the doors locked and bolted, he thought nothing but praise for his wife’s careful chastity; and he knocked and whistled to announce his arrival. The cunning wife, well-schooled in all naughty guiles, at once loosed her lover from her serpenting embraces and secreted him in an old empty tub that was half-sunk in a corner of the room. Then, throwing open the door, she ushered-in her husband with a nagging welcome.
  ”So you’ve come back empty-handed,” she cried, “a gentleman of leisure with your arms folded! What are we to live on if you can’t keep a job? Where’s the food coming from, I’d like to know? Here I am, wearing myself away, day and night, with twirling on my spindle, or there wouldn’t be even a lamp to give us a drop of light in our pokey room. Ah, how much happier is my nextdoor neighbour Daphne who wallows in food, drink, and fornication, from early morning to bedtime.”
 ”What’s all this noise about?” answered the abused husband. ”Although the foreman gave us a holiday, being called into town on some market-business, yet I drove a bargain myself to make sure of a sup tonight. Do you see that old tub? It’s no use, and it takes up such a great deal of space that it’s only a stumbling-block and nuisance in our little shanty. Well, I sold it to a fellow for fivepence. He’ll be here in a moment to pay me and cart it away. So tuck up your skirts and lend me a hand.” “A fine husband!” she exclaimed. ”And what a business-head he has. Why, he’s gone and sold at such a low price the very article that I (only a woman of course) just sold for sevenpence without setting foot out-of-doors.’
  Delighted to hear of the extra-tuppence, “Who is it”, asked the husband, “that paid so high for it?” 
Wife's Tub 1
The Adulteress and Her Lover - illustration by Jean de Bosschère
“You boob!” she replied, “he’s been down in the tub, testing and sounding it this long while.” The lover took his cue from this remark and instantly popped up. ”Look here, my good woman,” he cried, “do you want to hear the truth? Your tub is old, an crackt in I-can’t-count-how-many places.’ Then turning to the husband as to a stranger, “Why don’t you bring me a light, squab, whoever you are?” he went on. “I want to scrape off the dirt that’s crusted inside, and find out if the tub is any use at all. Hurry, unless you don’t think I’ve come honestly by my money.”
  The excellently keenwitted husband, suspecting nothing, fetched a light. “But come out, my friend”, he said, “Stand aside, and let me make that tub spick and span for you.” With these words he stripped, took up the lamp, and set hard to work chipping away the hardened dirt on the decayed sides.
   While this toil was proceeding, the delightful lad of a lover bent the wife over the tub on her belly, and then crouched down out of sight to do some other kind of tinkering. The woman had her head thrust down into the tub; and she amused herself with guying her husband with her harlotry-jokes. She kept pointing out with her finger spots to be rubbed, saying, “There…here…there…” until both jobs were finished. Then the cuckolded carpenter was paid his sevenpence and told to carry the tub on his shoulders to the adulterer’s house.’

GRAVE'S TRANSLATION (1950) pp. 196-198

‘This man depended for his livelihood on his small earnings as a jobbing smith, and his wife had no property either but was famous for her sexual appetite. One morning early, as soon as he had gone off to work, an impudent lover of his wife’s slipped into the house and was soon tucked up in bed with her. The unsuspecting smith happened to return while they were still hard at work. Finding his door locked and barred he nodded approval—how chaste his wife must be to take such careful precautions against any intrusions on her privacy! Then he whistled under the window, in his usual way, to announce his return. She was a resourceful woman and, disengaging her lover from a particularly tight embrace, hid him in a big tub that stood in the corner of the room. It was dirty and rotten, but quite empty. Then she opened the door and began scolding: “You lazy fellow, strolling back as usual with folded arms and nothing in your pockets! When are you going to start working for your living and bring us home something to eat? What about me, eh? Here I sit every day from dawn to dusk at my spinning wheel, working my fingers to the bone and earning only just enough to keep oil in the lamp. What a miserable hole this is, too! I only wish I were my friend Daphne: she can eat and drink all day long and take as many lovers as she pleases.”
   ‘Hey, what’s all this?” cried the smith, his feelings injured. “What fault of mine is it if the contractor has to spend the day in court and lays us off until tomorrow? And it isn’t as though I hadn’t thought about our dinner: you see that useless old tub cluttering up our place? I have just sold it to a man for five drachmae. He’ll be here soon to put down the money and carry it away. So lend me a hand will you? I want to move it outside for him.”
   She was not in the least disconcerted, and quickly thought of a plan for lulling any suspicions he might have. She laughed rudely: “What a wonderful husband I have, to be sure! And what a good nose he has for a bargain! He goes out and sells our tub for five drachmae. I’m only a woman, but I have already sold it for seven without even setting foot outside the house.’
   He was delighted. “Who on earth gave you such a good place?”
   “Hush, you idiot,” she said. “He’s still down inside the thing, having a good look to see whether it’s sound.”
   The lover took his cue from her at once. He bobbed up and said: “I’ll tell you what, ma’am, your tub is very old and seems to be cracked in scores of places.” Then he turned to the smith: “I don’t know who you are, little man, but I should be much obliged for a candle. I must scrape the inside and see whether it’s the sort of article I need. I haven’t any money to throw away; it doesn’t grow on apple-trees these days, does it?”
   So the simple-minded smith lighted a candle without delay and said: “No, no, mate, don’t put yourself to so much trouble. You stand by while I give the tub a good clean-up for you.”
   He peeled off his tunic, took the candle, lifted up the tub, turned it bottom upwards, then got inside and began working away busily.
   The eager lover at once lifted up the smith’s wife, laid her on the tub bottom upwards above her husband’s head and followed his example. She greatly enjoyed the situation, like the whore she was. With her head hanging back over the side of the tub she directed the work by laying her finger on various spots in turn with: “Here, darling, here!…Now there…” until both jobs were finished to her satisfaction. The smith was paid seven drachmae, but had to carry the tub on his own back to the lover’s lodgings.’

they kiss
Charite and Tlepolemus kiss -
illustration by Jean de Bosschère

WALSH'S TRANSLATION (1994) pp. 163-165
‘This fellow lived a hard life in grinding poverty. What little pay he obtained to keep body and soul together was gained by performing manual work. He had a slip of a wife who was likewise poverty-stricken, but she had a bad name for being extremely promiscuous. One day, after her husband had left early for a job which he had undertaken, her barefaced lover at once crept stealthily into her lodging. He and the wife were quite untroubled as they practised love’s wrestling-holds. But then the husband, blissfully ignorant and entertaining no suspicions of his wife’s conduct even at that stage of their marriage, unexpectedly returned to the house. Finding the entrance already closed and barred, he thought highly of his wife’s chaste behaviour. He hammered on the door and whistled to announce his arrival. Then that clever woman, who was quite resourceful in such unsavoury circumstances, freed the lover from her close embraces, and craftily hid him in a corn-jar lying half-buried in a corner, with nothing else in it. Then she opened the door, and greeted her husband as he entered by speaking to him sharply.
  “Is this how I find you,” she asked, “strolling about idly at leisure? Why are you not attending to your usual work to ensure our livelihood and to make provisions for our daily bread? Here am I, working desperately night and day, spinning wool till my arms ache, to see that our hovel has a lamp to light it if nothing more. How much happier my neighbour Daphne is! There she is, roistering with her lovers, flushed with wine and food from early morning!”
   This rattled the husband. “Whatever do you mean?” he asked. “It’s true that our foreman has a lawsuit on his hands and has give us the day off, but I’ve still made provisions for our supper today. Just take a look at that corn-jar. It’s for ever empty, occupying all that space to no purpose. The only contribution it makes is to get the way of our daily round. I have sold it to a buyer for six denarii, and he is on the point of stumping up for it and taking it with him as his property. So why not buckle to and lend me a hand to dig it out and pass it over at once to the buyer?”
    That guileful woman improvised, and with a shameless guffaw replied: “What a splendid husband, what a keen man of business I have here! I’m merely a house-bound woman, but I’ve already sold for seven denarii what he has disposed of for less!” The husband was delighted at the raised bid. “Who,” he asked, “has offered so much for it?” She answered: “You silly man, he has already climbed down into the jar to take a good look and ensure that it is in good shape.”
    The lover, duly prompted by the woman’s words, emerged smartly. “Do you want the candid truth, ma’am?” he asked. “This jar of yours is very old. It’s been knocked about and has gaping cracks in several places.” He then turned to her husband, pretending not to know who he was. “I don’t know you, little man,” he said, “but why don’t you look sharp and hand me a lamp? Then, when I’ve scraped off the dirt inside, I can take a careful look at the jar to see if it is serviceable. Or do you think that my money grows on fruit-trees?” That sharp-witted, admirable husband, as gullible as ever, lit a lamp without delay, and said: “Step out, brother; stand here and relax till I clean it out properly, and then I’ll show it to you.” As he spoke, he stripped off, took the lamp down inside, and began to scrape the long-standing grime from the mouldering jar.
    Then that handsome lover-boy the adulterer laid the workman’s wife face down over the jar, bent over her, and screwed her without fear of interruption. Meanwhile she thrust her hand into the jar, and with the wit of a lady of easy virtue made a fool of her husband. With her finger she pointed out various places that needed cleaning, until the job was completed both above and below. She took the seven denarii, while the hapless workman had to put the jar on his shoulders and carry it to the adulterer’s lodging.‘

KENNEY'S TRANSLATION (1998) pp. 149-151
‘This man was extremely poor; he made his living by hiring himself out as a day-labourer at very low wages. He had a wife, as poor as himself, but notorious for her outrageously immoral behaviour. One day, directly he had left early for the job he had in hand, there quietly slipped into the house her dashing blade of a lover. While they were busily engaged with each other, no holds barred, and not expecting visitors, the husband, quite unaware of the situation, and not suspecting anything of the kind, unexpectedly came back. Finding the door closed and locked he commended his wife’s virtue, and knocked, whistling to identify himself. The cunning baggage, who was past mistress in goings-on of this kind, disentangled her lover from her tight embraces and quietly ensconced him in an empty storage-jar which stood half hidden in a corner. Then she opened the door, and before her husband was well inside she greeted him acidly. “So,” said she, “I’m to watch you strolling about idly, doing nothing and with your hands in your pockets instead of going to work as usual and seeing about getting us something to live on and buy food with? Here am I wearing my fingers to the bone night and day with spinning wool, just to keep a light burning in our hovel! Don’t I wish I was Daphne next door, rolling about in bed with her lovers and already tight by breakfast-time!”
   Her husband was put out. “What’s all that for?” he asked. “The boss has got to be in court, so he’s given us the day off; but I have done something about today’s dinner. You know that jar that never has anything in it and takes up space uselessly – doing nothing in fact but get in our way? I’ve just sold it to a man for six denarii, and he’s coming to pay up and collect his property. So how about some action and lending me a hand for a minute to rout it out and hand it over?” The crafty minx was quite equal to this and shrieked with laughter. “Some husband I’ve got! Some bargainer! He’s disposed of it for six, and I, a mere woman, I’ve already sold it for seven without even leaving the house!” Her husband was delighted by the increased price. “Where is this chap who’s made such a good offer?” he asked. “He’s inside it, stupid,” she answered, “giving it a good going-over to see if it’s sound.”
   Her lover did not miss his cue. Emerging at once, “If you want me to be frank, ma’am,” he said, “that jar of yours is pretty antique, and there are yawning cracks all over it”; and turning to the husband as if he had no idea who he was, “Come on, chum, whoever you are, get cracking and fetch me a light so I can scrape away all the inside dirst and see if the thing’s fit to use – money doesn’t grow on trees, you know.” Her admirable husband, sharp fellow, suspected nothing, and at once lighted a lamp. “Come out, old man,” he said. “Sit down and make yourself comfortable, and let me get it cleaned out properly for you.” So saying, he stripped and taking the lamp in with him started to scrape the encrusted deposits off the rotten old jar. Meanwhile her smart young gallant made the man’s wife lean face downwards across the jar, and without turning a hair gave her too a good going-over. She lowered her head into the jar and enjoyed herself at her husband’s expense like the clever whore she was, pointing at this place or that or yet another one that needed scouring, until both jobs were finished. Then the unfortunate artisan took his seven denarii and was made to carry the jar himself to the adulterer’s house.‘

‘There was a poor man who had nothing to subsist on but his scanty earnings as a journeyman carpenter. He had a wife who was also very poor, but notorious for her lasciviousness. One day, when the man had gone out betimes to his work, an impudent gallant immediately stepped into his house. But whilst he and the wife were warmly engaged, and thinking themselves, secure, the husband, who had no suspicion of such doings, returned quite unexpectedly. The door being locked and bolted, for which he mentally extolled his well-conducted wife, he knocked and whistled to announce his presence. Then his cunning wife, who was quite expert in such matters, released the man from her close embraces, and hid him quickly in an old empty butt, that was sunk half-way into the ground, in a corner of the room. Then she opened the door, and began to scold her husband the moment he entered. “So you are come home empty-handed, are you?” said she “to sit here with your arms folded, doing nothing, instead of going on with your regular work, to get us a living and buy us a bit food; while I, poor soul, must work my fingers out of joint, spinning wool day and night, to have at least as much as will keep a lamp burning in our bit of a room. Ah, how much better off is my neighbour Daphne, that has her fill of meat and drink from daylight to dark, and enjoys herself with her lovers.”
  “What need of all this fuss?” replied the abused husband; “for though our foreman has given us a holiday, having business of his own in the forum, I have nevertheless provided for our supper to-night. You see that useless butt, that takes up so much room, and is only an incumbrance to our little place; I sold it for five denars to a man who will be here presently to pay for it and take it away. So lend me a hand for a moment, till I get it out to deliver it to the buyer.”
   Ready at once with a scheme to fit the occasion, the woman burst into an insolent laugh: “Truly I have got a fine fellow for a husband; a capital hand at a bargain, surely, to go and sell at such a price a thing which I, who am but a woman, had already sold for seven denars, without even quitting the house.”
   Delighted at what he had heard, “And who is he,” said the husband, “who has bought it so dear?”
  “He has been down in the cask ever so long, you booby,” she replied, “examining it all over to see if it is sound.”
  The gallant failed not to take his cue from the woman, and promptly rising up out of the butt, “Shall I tell you the truth, good woman?” he said; “your tub is very old, and cracked in I don’t know how many places.” Then turning to the husband, without appearing to know him: “Why don’t you bring me a light, my tight little fellow, whoever you are, that I may scrape the dirt from the inside, and see whether or not the tub is fit for use, unless you think I don’t come honestly by my money?”
   That pattern of all quick-witted husbands, suspecting nothing, immediately lighted a lamp, and said, “Come out, brother, and leave me to make it all right for you.” So saying, he stripped, and taking the lamp with him into the tub, went to work to scrape off the old hardened dirt. And while he was polishing the inside, the charming gallant polished off the carpenter’s wife, laying her on her belly on the outside, she meanwhile amusing herself, like the harlot she was, with making fun of her husband, poking her head into the tub, and pointing out this place and that to be cleaned, and then another, and another; until both jobs being finished, the unfortunate carpenter received his seven denars, and had to carry the butt on his back to the adulterer’s house.’

Cleaning the Tub
Cleaning the Tub - illustration by Percival Goodman
ADLINGTON TRANSLATION (1639) pp. 202-204
‘There was a man dwelling in the towne very poore, that had nothing but that which he got by the labour and travell of his hands: his wife was a faire young woman, but very lascivious, and given to the appetite and desire of the flesh. It fortuned on a day, that while this poore man was gone betimes in the morning to the field about his businesse, according as he accustomed to doe, his wives lover secretly came into his house to have his pleasure with her. And so it chanced that during the time that shee and he were basking together, her husband suspecting no such matter, returned home praising the chast continency of his wife, in that hee found his doores fast closed, wherefore as his custome was, he whistled to declare his comming.
   Then his crafty wife ready with shifts, caught her lover and covered him under a great tub standing in a corner, and therewithall she opened the doore, blaming her husband in this sort: Commest thou home every day with empty hands, and bringest nothing to maintaine our house? thou has no regard for our profit, neither providest for any meate of drinke, whereas I poore wretch doe nothing day and night but occupie my selfe with spinning, and yet my travell will scarce find the Candels which we spend. O how much more happy is my neighbour Daphne, that eateth and drinketh at her pleasure, and passeth the time with her amorous lovers according to her desire.
    What is the matter (quoth her husband) though our Master hath made holiday at the fields, yet thinke not but I have made provision for our supper; doest thou not see this tub that keepeth a place here in our house in vaine, and doth us no service? Behold I have sold it to a good fellow (that is here present) for five pence, wherefore I pray thee lend me thy hand, that I may deliver him the tub.
     His wife (having invented a present shift) laughed on her husband, saying: What marchant I pray you have you brought home hither, to fetch away my tub for five pence, for which I poore woman that sit all day alone in my house have beene proferred so often seaven: her husband being well apayed  of her words demanded what he was that had bought the tub: Looke (quoth she) he is gone under, to see where it be sound or no: then her lover which was under the tub, began to stirre and rustle himselfe, and because his words might agree to the words of the woman, he sayd: Dame will you have me tell the truth, this tub is rotten and crackt as me seemeth on every side. And then turning to her husband sayd: I pray you honest man light a Candle, that I may make cleane the tub within, to see if it be for my purpose or no, for I doe not mind to cast away my money wilfully: he by and by (being made a very Oxe) lighted a candle, saying, O pray you good brother put not your selfe to so much paine, let me make the tub cleane and ready for you. Whereupon he put off his coate, and crept under the tub to rub away the filth from the sides.
In the meane season this minion lover cast his wife on the bottome of the tub and had his pleasure with her over his head, and as he was in the middest of his pastime, hee turned his head on this side and that side, finding fault with this and with that, till as they had both ended their businesse, when as he delivered seaven pence for the tub, and caused the good man himselfe to carry it on his backe againe to his Inne.’

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