The following is a remarkable story of personal transformation, originally written about 150 AD, by Lucius Apuleius. As described in the narrative, Apuleius, in the latter part of his life, became a priest in the cult of Isis. His descriptions of the ritual and practices of that mystery-religion are practically all that has come down to us from ancient times on the subject, and even then, Apuleius is decidedly circumspect. Information about the mysteries was jealously guarded throughout antiquity; the penalty for betraying their inner secrets was death. But while outward revelation in the narrative is exceedingly sparce, the text is rich in symbolism, and much can be read between the lines by the observant reader. In many respects, the Isis cult perpetuated some of the oldest religious teachings in human history.
The translation offered here was made in the year 1566 by one William Adlington, a graduate of University College, Oxford. Though dated somewhat by its language, the charm and humor of this translation have never been surpassed. The minor obstacles presented by antiquated spellings are overcome after only a few pages, and then become hardly noticable in face of the compelling action.