Peter G. Walsh (ed.), Oxford World's Classics: Apuleius: The Golden Ass

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Editor’s Note4

   'For example, yesterday evening I was trying to compete with fellow-guests in greedily bolting down a largish portion of cheesecake. Because the stuff was so soft and sticky, it stuck in my throat and impeded my breathing so that I very nearly choked. Yet recently at Athens I saw with my own two eyes a pg 3contortionist performing in front of the Painted Porch; he swallowed a razor-sharp cavalry-sword with a lethal point. Then he was offered a small coin, and this encouraged him to thrust a hunting-spear deep into his gizzard, with the mortally dangerous end going in first. Then to my astonishment a handsome nancy-boy climbed up above the metal section, where the upturned shaft protruded from the man's throat up towards his head. With sinuous movements he performed a ballet-routine as though there was not a single sinew or bone in his body. Everyone watching was amazed; you would have said that it was the noble serpent which coils itself in slippery embraces round the staff of the god of healing, that knotted club with half-sheared branches which the god carries round with him. So do, please, now run through the story again which you had begun. I'll believe it, if this man won't, and I'll stand you lunch at the first inn we reach on our journey. That is the reward that I have in store for you.'

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Editor’s Note
1.4 Painted Porch: this was the covered colonnade adorned with paintings which was situated by the Athenian agora, and was the site of the Stoic school. There is an additional hint here of the philosophical connections of the hero Lucius.
Editor’s Note
the god carries round with him: the god of healing, Asclepius, is conventionally represented in art with a staff round which a serpent is entwined.
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