That I to thee
some joyous jests
may show in gentle gloze,
And frankly feed thy bended eares
with passing pleasant prose:
So that thou daine in seemly sort
this wanton booke to view,
That is set out and garnisht fine,
with written phrases new.
I will declare how one by hap
his humane figure lost,
And how in brutish formed shape,
his loathed life he tost.
And how he was in course of time
from such a state unfold,
Who eftsoone turn’d to pristine shape
his lot unlucky told.
What and who he was attend a while, and you shall understand that it was even I, the writer of mine own Metamorphosie and strange alteration of figure. Hymettus, Athens, Isthmia, Ephire Tenaros, and Sparta, being fat and fertile soiles (as I pray you give credit to the bookes of more everlasting fame) be places where myne antient progeny and linage did sometime flourish: there I say, in Athens, when I was yong, I went first to schoole. Soone after (as a stranger) I arrived at Rome, whereas by great industry, and without instruction of any schoolmaster, I attained to the full perfection of the Latine tongue. Behold, I first crave and beg your pardon, lest I should happen to displease or offend any of you by the rude and rusticke utterance of this strange and forrein language. And verily this new alteration of speech doth correspond to the enterprised matter whereof I purpose to entreat, I will set forth unto you a pleasant Grecian feast. Whereunto gentle Reader if thou wilt give attendant eare, it will minister unto thee such delectable matter as thou shalt be contented withall.
THE FIRST CHAPTER
How Apuleius riding in Thessaly, fortuned to fall into company with two strangers, that reasoned together of the mighty power of Witches.
As I fortuned to take my voyage into Thessaly, about certaine affaires which I had to doe ( for there myne auncestry by my mothers side inhabiteth, descended of the line of that most excellent person Plutarch, and of Sextus the Philosopher his Nephew, which is to us a great honour) and after that by much travell and great paine I had passed over the high mountaines and slipperie vallies, and had ridden through the cloggy fallowed fields; perceiving that my horse did wax somewhat slow, and to the intent likewise that I might repose and strengthen my self (being weary with riding) I lighted off my horse, and wiping the sweat from every part of his body, I unbrideled him, and walked him softly in my hand, to the end he might pisse, and ease himself of his weariness and travell: and while he went grazing freshly in the field (casting his head sometimes aside, as a token of rejoycing and gladnesse) I perceived a little before me two companions riding, and so I overtaking them made a third. And while I listened to heare their communication, the one of them laughed and mocked his fellow, saying, Leave off I pray thee and speak no more, for I cannot abide to heare thee tell such absurd and incredible lies; which when I heard, I desired to heare some newes, and said, I pray you masters make me partaker of your talk, that am not so curious as desirous to know all your communication: so shall we shorten our journey, and easily passe this high hill before us, by merry and pleasant talke.