The Golden Ass

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Chapter 3

How the Priests of the goddesse Siria were taken and put in prison, and how Apuleius was sold to a Baker.

After that we had tarried there a few dayes at the cost and charges of the whole Village, and had gotten much mony by our divination and prognostication of things to come: The priests of the goddesse Siria invented a new meanes to picke mens purses, for they had certaine lotts, whereon were written:

Coniuncti terram proscindunt boves ut in futurum loeta germinent sata

That is to say: The Oxen tied and yoked together, doe till the ground to the intent it may bring forth his increase: and by these kind of lottes they deceive many of the simple sort, for if one had demanded whether he should have a good wife or no, they would say that his lot did testifie the same, that he should be tyed and yoked to a good woman and have increase of children. If one demanded whether he should buy lands and possession, they said that he should have much ground that should yeeld his increase. If one demanded whether he should have a good and prosperous voyage, they said he should have good successe, and it should be for the increase of his profit. If one demanded whether hee should vanquish his enemies, and prevaile in pursuite of theeves, they said that this enemy should be tyed and yoked to him: and his pursuits after theeves should be prosperous. Thus by the telling of fortunes, they gathered a great quantity of money, but when they were weary with giving of answers, they drave me away before them next night, through a lane which was more dangerous and stony then the way which we went the night before, for on the one side were quagmires and foggy marshes, on the other side were falling trenches and ditches, whereby my legges failed me, in such sort that I could scarce come to the plaine field pathes. And behold by and by a great company of inhabitants of the towne armed with weapons and on horsebacke overtooke us, and incontinently arresting Philebus and his Priests, tied them by the necks and beate them cruelly, calling them theeves and robbers, and after they had manacled their hands: Shew us (quoth they) the cup of gold, which (under the colour of your solemne religion) ye have taken away, and now ye thinke to escape in the night without punishment for your fact. By and by one came towards me, and thrusting his hand into the bosome of the goddesse Siria, brought out the cup which they had stole. Howbeit for all they appeared evident and plaine they would not be confounded nor abashed, but jesting and laughing out the matter, gan say: Is it reason masters that you should thus rigorously intreat us, and threaten for a small trifling cup, which the mother of the Goddesse determined to give to her sister for a present? Howbeit for all their lyes and cavellations, they were carryed backe unto the towne, and put in prison by the Inhabitants, who taking the cup of gold, and the goddesse which I bare, did put and consecrate them amongst the treasure of the temple. The next day I was carryed to the market to be sold, and my price was set at seaven pence more then Philebus gave for me. There fortuned to passe by a Baker of the next village, who after that he had bought a great deale of corne, bought me likewise to carry it home, and when he had well laded me therewith, be drave me through a thorny and dangerous way to his bake house; there I saw a great company of horses that went in the mill day and night grinding of corne, but lest I should be discouraged at the first, my master entertained me well, for the first day I did nothing but fare daintily, howbeit such mine ease and felicity did not long endure, for the next day following I was tyed to the mill betimes in the morning with my face covered, to the end in turning amid winding so often one way, I should not become giddy, but keepe a certaine course, but although when I was a man I had seen many such horsemills and knew well enough how they should be turned, yet feining my selfe ignorant of such kind of toile, I stood still and would not goe, whereby I thought I should be taken from the mill as an Asse unapt, and put to some other light thing, or else to be driven into the fields to pasture, but my subtility did me small good, for by and by when the mill stood still, the servants came about me, crying and beating me forward, in such sort that I could not stay to advise my selfe, whereby all the company laughed to see so suddaine a change. When a good part of the day was past, that I was not able to endure any longer, they tooke off my harnesse, and tied me to the manger, but although my bones were weary, and that I needed to refresh my selfe with rest and provender, yet I was so curious that I did greatly delight to behold the bakers art, insomuch that I could not eate nor drinke while I looked on.

O good Lord what a sort of poore slaves were there; some had their skinne blacke and blew, some had their backes striped with lashes, some were covered with rugged sackes, some had their members onely hidden: some wore such ragged clouts, that you might perceive all their naked bodies, some were marked and burned in the heads with hot yrons, some had their haire halfe clipped, some had lockes of their legges, some very ugly and evill favoured, that they could scarce see, their eyes and face were so blacke and dimme with smoake, like those that fight in the sands, and know not where they strike by reason of dust: And some had their faces all mealy. But how should I speake of the horses my companions, how they being old and weake, thrust their heads into the manger: they had their neckes all wounded and worne away: they rated their nosethrilles with a continuall cough, their sides were bare with their harnesse and great travell, their ribs were broken with beating, their hooves were battered broad with incessant labour, and their skinne rugged by reason of their lancknesse. When I saw this dreadfull sight, I began to feare, least I should come to the like state: and considering with my selfe the good fortune which I was sometime in when I was a man, I greatly lamented, holding downe my head, and would eate no meate, but I saw no comfort or consolation of my evill fortune, saving that my mind was somewhat recreated to heare and understand what every man said, for they neither feared nor doubted my presence. At that time I remembred how Homer the divine author of ancient Poetry, described him to be a wise man, which had travelled divers countries and nations, wherefore I gave great thanks to my Asse for me, in that by this meanes I had seene the experience of many things, and was become more wise (notwithstanding the great misery and labour which I daily sustained): but I will tell you a pretty jest, which commeth now to my remembrance, to the intent your eares may be delighted in hearing the same.

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