How Apuleius told to the strangers, what he saw a jugler do in Athens.
The other night being at supper with a sort of hungry fellowes, while I did greedily put a great morsel of meate in my mouth, that was fried with the flower of cheese and barley, it cleaved so fast in the passage of my throat and stopped my winde in such sort that I was well nigh choked. And yet at Athens before the porch there called Peale, I saw with these eyes a jugler that swallowed up a two hand sword, with a very keene edge, and by and by for a little money that we who looked on gave him, hee devoured a chasing speare with the point downeward. And after that hee had conveyed the whole speare within the closure of his body, and brought it out againe behind, there appeared on the top thereof (which caused us all to marvell) a faire boy pleasant and nimble, winding and turning himself in such sort, that you would suppose he had neither bone nor gristle, and verily thinke that he were the naturall Serpent, creeping and sliding on the knotted staffe, which the god of Medicine is feigned to beare. But turning me to him that began his tale, I pray you (quoth I) follow your purpose, and I alone will give credit unto you, and for your paynes will pay your charges at the next Inne we come unto. To whom he answered Certes sir I thank you for your gentle offer, and at your request I wil proceed in my tale, but first I will sweare unto you by the light of this Sunne that shineth here, that those things shall be true, least when you come to the next city called Thessaly, you should doubt any thing of that which is rife in the mouthes of every person, and done before the face of all men. And that I may first make relation to you, what and who I am, and whither I go, and for what purpose, know you that I am of Egin, travelling these countries about from Thessaly to Etolia, and from Etolia to Boetia, to provide for honey, cheese, and other victuals to sell againe: and understanding that at Hippata (which is the principall city of all Thessaly), is accustomed to be soulde new cheeses of exceeding good taste and relish, I fortuned on a day to go thither, to make my market there: but as it often happeneth, I came in an evill houre; for one Lupus a purveyor had bought and ingrossed up all the day before, and so I was deceived.
Wherefore towards night being very weary, I went to the Baines to refresh my selfe, and behold, I fortuned to espy my companion Socrates sitting upon the ground, covered with a torn and course mantle; who was so meigre and of so sallow and miserable a countenance, that I scantly knew him: for fortune had brought him into such estate and calamity, that he verily seemed as a common begger that standeth in the streets to crave the benevolence of the passers by. Towards whom (howbeit he was my singular friend and familiar acquaintance, yet half in despaire) I drew nigh and said, Alas my Socrates, what meaneth this? how faireth it with thee? What crime hast thou committed? verily there is great lamentation and weeping for thee at home: Thy children are in ward by decree of the Provinciall Judge: Thy wife (having ended her mourning time in lamentable wise, with face and visage blubbered with teares, in such sort that she hath well nigh wept out both her eyes) is constrained by her parents to put out of remembrance the unfortunate losse and lacke of thee at home, and against her will to take a new husband. And dost thou live here as a ghost or hogge, to our great shame and ignominy?
Then he answered he to me and said, O my friend Aristomenus, now perceive I well that you are ignorant of the whirling changes, the unstable forces, and slippery inconstancy of Fortune: and therewithall he covered his face (even then blushing for very shame) with his rugged mantle insomuch that from his navel downwards he appeared all naked.
But I not willing to see him any longer in such great miserie and calamitie, took him by the hand and lifted him up from the ground: who having his face covered in such sort, Let Fortune (quoth he) triumph yet more, let her have her sway, and finish that which shee hath begun. And therewithall I put off one of my garments and covered him, and immediately I brought him to the Baine, and caused him to be anointed, wiped, and the filthy scurfe of his body to be rubbed away; which done, though I were very weary my selfe, yet I led the poore miser to my Inne, where he reposed his body upon a bed, and then I brought him meat and drinke, and so wee talked together: for there we might be merry and laugh at our pleasure, and so we were, untill such time as he (fetching a pittifull sigh from the bottom of his heart, and beating his face in miserable sort, began to say.