Page images
PDF
EPUB

But if we look more nearly into this beautiful Fable, we shall find that, besides its general purpose, it has one more particular.

We have observed that the corrupt state of the Mysteries, in the time of Apuleius, was one principal reason of his undertaking their apology. These corruptions were of two kinds, DEBAUCHERIES and MAGIC. Their debaucheries have been taken notice of above. Their MAGIC was of three sorts : 1. The Magic of invocation or NECROMANCY. 2. The Magic of transformation or METAMORPHOSIS. 3. And the Magic of divine communication under a visible appearance or THEÜRGY. The ORACULAR RESPONSES, introduced late into the Mysteries, seem to have given birth to the first: The Doctrine of the METEMPSYCHOSIS taught therein, to the second : and the ANOPPHTA concerning the DIVINE NATURE, to the third. The abomination of the two first sorts was seen by all, and frankly given up as criminal: but the fanatic Platonists and Pythagoreans of the latter ages, espousing the third, occasioned it to be held in esteem and reve

So that, as Heliodorus tells us, the Egyptian priests (between whose fanaticisin and that of the Platonists there was, at this time, a kind of coalition *) affected to distinguish between the magic of Necromancy and the magic of Theürgy; accounting the first infamous and wicked; but the last very fair, and even commendable. For now both those philosophic Enthusiasts had their mystericus Rites, which consisted in the practice of this THEÜRGIC MAGIC. These were the Mysteries, to observe it by the way, of which the Emperor Julian was so fond, that he placed his

rence.

* See Book iii. Sect. 4. towards the end.

principal

principal felicity (in what the Christians placed his principal crime) their celebration. But our Author, who had imbibed his Platonism, not at the muddy streams of those late Fanatics, but at the pure

fountain head of the Academy itself, well understood how much this superstition, with all it's plausible pretences, had polluted the Mysteries ; and, therefore, as in the course of the adventures of his golden Ass, he had stigmatized the two other kinds of Magic, he composed this celebrated tale (hitherto so little understood) to expose the Magic of THEÜRGY. It is, as we said, a philosophic Allegory of the progress of the Soul to perfection, in the possession of Divine Love and the reward of immortality, delivered in the adventures of Psyche, or the Soul: whose various labours and traverses in this Progress, are all represented as the effects of her indiscreet passion for that species of magic called THEÜRGY.

To understand this, we must observe, that the fanatic Platonists, in their pursuit of the SUPREME Good, the Union with the Deity, made the completion and perfection of it to consist in the Theurgic Vision of the Aŭtomlov "Agadja or SELF-SEEN IMAGE, i.e. seen by the splendour of its own light. Now the story tells us, there were three Sisters, the youngest of whom was called PSYCHE ; by which we are to understand, the three peripatetic souls, the sensitive, the animal, and the rational; or in other words, sense, appetite, and reason.

That the two elder Sisters, Sense and Appetite, were soon disposed of in marriage; but that the younger, Psyche or the rational Soul, was of so transcendent and divine a beauty, that though men forsook the 13

altars

altars of the Gods to follow and worship her *, having paid her their full homage of admiration, not so much as one aspired to a closer union with her: intimating the general preference given to temporal things above spiritual :

Virtus laudatur & alget. However, amidst this neglect, she is happily contracted to, and possesses, the celestial Cupid, or diviNE LOVE, who cohabits with her INVISIBLY amidst a scene of paradisaical pleasures and enjoyments. But is warned by Cupid not to hearken to the pernicious counsel of her sisters, whose envy at her happiness, from their own choice of husbands diseased and avaricious t, the lot of those under the dominion of their appetites, would soon bring them to attempt her ruin, in persuading her to get a sight of her invisible spouse, Against which saCRILEGIOUS CURIOSITY, as what would deprive her of all her happiness I, and to which her sisters would endeavour to inflame her mind, he carefully warns her. By all which the Author would insinuate, that they are the irregular passions and the ungovernable appetites which stir up men's curiosity to this species of magic, the TueÜRGIC Vision. However, Psyche falls into the snare her sisters had

Apuleii Met. ed. Pricæi, p. 85. Interea Psyche, cum sua sibi præcipua pulchritudine nullum decoris sui fructum percipit. Spectatur ab omnibus; laudatur ab omnibus, nec quisquam-cupiens ejus nuptiarum petitur accedit. + P. 94

Identidem mopuit, ac sæpe terruit, ne quando sororum pernicioso consilio suasa, de forma Mariti quærat: neve se SACRL LEGA CURIOSITATE de tanto fortunarum suggestu pessum dejiciat; nec suum postea contingat amplexum. P. 92.

laid for her, and against the express injunction of the God, sacrilegiously attempts this forbidden sight; though he assured her, that if she kept the religious secret, the child to be born of them should be immortal; but if she prophaned it, the child would be mortal, intiinating, that Theurgic Magic was so far from rendering the participants divine, that it loaded them with impiety. In a word, she indulges her inordinate appetite, and is undone: Divine Love for sakes her; the happy scenes of her abode vanish; and she finds herself forlorn and abandoned, surrounded with miseries, and pursued with the vengeance of heaven by its instrument the Celestial Venus.

In this distress she first comes to the temple of CERES for protection; by which is meant the custom of having recourse to the Mysteries against the evils and disasters of life, as is plainly intimated in the reason given for her application" nec ullam vel du“ biam SPEI MELIORIS viam volens omittere ti Spes melior being the common appellation for what was sought for in the Mysteries, and what they promised to the participants. With these sentiments she addresses Ceres in the following observation : "Per

ego te frugiferam tuam dextram istam deprecor

per tacita sacra cistarum-per-per, et cetera quæ silentio tegit Eleusinis Atticæ sacrarium-I" But Psyche is denied any protection both here and at the temple of Juno: for the purer Mysteries discouraged all kind of magic, even the most specious. However, she is pitied by both. The reason Ceres

• Infantem-si texeris nostra secreta silentio, divinum; si profanaveris, mortalem, P.96. + P. 112.

I P. 111.

gives her for not complying with her request is remarkable. She had entered, she said, into an ancient league with Venus, which she could not violate *. By which is intimated, that all the Mysteries had one - and the same end. And Psyche, she said, had reason to thank her that she did not seize on her and detain her prisoner t; alluding to the obligation that all were under to bring to punishment the violators of the Mysteries.

Juno excuses herself, from imparting any assistance,

out of reverence to the Laws, which forbid any “ one to entertain another's runaway servant 1. For those who had violated the Mysteries of one God could not be admitted to those of another.

In this distress PsychE resolves at last to render herself to the offended Parties, and implore their pardon. Venus imposes on her a long and severe penance; in which the author seems to have shadowed out the trials and labours undergone by the aspirants to the Mysteries, and the more severe in proportion to the delinquencies of the aspirants, intimated in the words of Venus to her-Sed jam nunc ego sedulo periclitabor an oppido forti animo, singularique prudentia sis prædita .

During the course of these trials, Psyche falls once more into distress by her rash curiosity ll, and would be undone but for the divine assistance, which

cum qua etiam antiquum foedus amicitiæ colo. P.11. + quod a ine retenta custoditaque non fueris optimi consule. P. 112.

| – tunc etiam Legibus, quæ servos alienos profugos, invitis Dominis, vetant şuşcipi, prohịbeor, P. 112,

§ P. 118.
!! Mente capitur TEMERARIA CURIOSITATE, p. : 23.

all

« EelmineJätka »