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Magic and Property: The Legal Context of Apuleius’ Apologia *

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 12:48 authored by Tristan TaylorTristan Taylor
This paper examines Apuleius’ Apologia from the perspective of its legal context. The paper asks three questions: first, what was the legal situation in relation to the property issues central to the motivations of Apuleius’ accusers? Second, what would the legal effects of a conviction have been on these property concerns? And, finally, what light do our answers to these questions shed on the Apologia itself? The applicable legal rules suggest both that some of the concerns of the prosecutors were ill-founded and that the prosecution would have achieved little in a legal sense in terms advancing their alleged ends. These observations suggest several potential conclusions: first, that Apuleius’ accusers sincerely believed their accusation of magic and thought that it was only the magical skill of Apuleius that threatened their aspirations to Pudentilla’s estate. Conversely, it may be that the accusers were simply ignorant about the law, vindictive towards Apuleius, or both. Third, that Apuleius has misrepresented his accusers’ motivations. Finally, these conclusions on matters of law could even be taken to suggest that the speech does not represent a genuine case, but rather is a work of fiction concocted by Apuleius for literary purposes.


Publication title









School of Humanities


Cambridge University Press

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2011 Australasian Society for Classical Studies

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Understanding Europe’s past

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