This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience.
Find out more on how we use cookies in our privacy policy.


Lucius Apuleius Marcellus

Latin writer, Platonic philosopher and rhetorician.

  • General view of the Mitraeum of the Seven Spheres

    General view of the Mitraeum of the Seven Spheres
    The New Mithraeum / Andreu Abuín (CC BY-SA) 

of Lucius Apuleius Marcellus

TNMP 136

In 1989, the Roman archaeologist and topographer Filippo Coarelli advanced the daring hypothesis that the proprietor of the Casa di Apuleio at Ostia was the same person as Apuleius of Madauros, the author of the (to us) well-known novel, the Golden Ass (or Metamorphoses). This identification, if true, is more than a mere prosopographical curiosity.

The Casa di Apuleio (I.viii.5) is contiguous with, and has access to, the Mithraeum of the Seven Spheres (’Sette Sfere’, II. viii.6). These two structures, in turn, are integrated into the design of a larger, pre-existing complex, the area of the ’Four Temples’ (Quattro Tempietti’, II.viii.2). The Ostian householder, then, seems to have been deeply involved in the religious life of his community, in particular with one of the mystery cults. So, of course, both in his own right and in the persona of his hero Lucius, was Apuleius the author.

The mysteries of the Golden Ass were those of Isis, while the mysteries celebrated in the complex of the Casa di Apuleio were those of Mithras. It is one of the enigmas of the novel that Mithras is the name chosen by Apuleius for the mystagogue and priest who first inducts Lucius into the mysteries of Isis. If Apuleius the novelist was indeed the Ostian householder and patron of the Mithraists of Sette Sfere, it would cast an interesting light not only on the author and his work but also on Mithraism in the local context.

—Beck (2000)

See also:
—Coarelli (1989)



Add a comment