We cannot talk about Berber literature without referring to Apuleius who belongs to an era where literature was at the dawn of its expansion before the Renaissance comes to the world. The fact that all his work is essentially bundled in one book, does not deny his importance in the Berber literature growth. Some even consider him as the father of the novel.
His novel “ the Golden Ass “ is believed to be the first novel in the history, but that’s not our focus in here, we just want to show our readers through this article that the Berber literature is not from today as some malicious evil-intentioned authors pretend, but actually goes back to many centuries ago, thus the Berber intellectuals have existed through all the ages in the history, although in the language of the others some performed an outstanding work of genius.
The different successive military occupations in North Africa had a negative effect on the Berbers attempts to push ahead their written language. Despite the vicissitudes of the history, Berber authors had offered their culture and people the greatest service ever done, through their outstanding achievements and writings. As a Nobel Prize winner said, “The best way to help others is to write”.
Isn’t a pride for the Amazighs (Berbers) when talking about Saint Augustin, Apuleius, Juba II…? Around 123 A.D, Apuleius was born from local aristocratic Berber parents. Thus unlike the children of his age and race, he received a roman education. His elementary studies that started in his hometown Madaurus (Constantine in present Algeria) led him to the famous Carthage University and after at Athens in Greece where he studied platonic philosophy among other subjects, he also traveled to Egypt studying philosophy and religion.
In contact with different civilizations and cultures the small Berber had a lot changed, after the death of his father had interrupted his work and ceased his quest for knowledge, he went back to his hometown where he took over on his father’s wealth and became a person with an important authority. His intense interest in Carthage led him to move there and settle down to exercise his lecturer skills and broad knowledge to treat all kind of subjects, he could as well get involved in music and philosophy rather than magic, the scholars and the authorities made a sculpture depicting his influential personality in acknowledgement of his admirable and high qualities, Apuleius is really a complex and talented person with multiple professions, he was a lawyer at first and then priest, lecturer, miracle maker…polyglot able to communicate in many languages : Berber , Latin, Greek … His love for magic led some of his contemporaries to believe of being comparable to Jesus ,the great miracle maker .
Apuleius was an initiate in several cults or mysteries, including the Eleusis, Mithra, and Isis mysteries as well as the cult of Cabires to Samothrace and thousands more… of less interest. “He hoped to reveal the secret of things” said a specialist of his work. Indeed magic had a very important influence on his life and work, it was even told that his family-in-law accused him in using magic to gain attention of a wealthy widow. His major work “the Golden Ass “ consists of magical transformations and amusing stories. However magic is not the whole life of the multidisciplinary author, he also interested in philosophy, astronomy, and medicine. And his overall work shows how our man is into everything.
Apologia, Florida, Metamorphoses or Golden Ass, On the God of Socrates, On Plato and his Doctrine… This is the work of the great author that never ceases to amaze the world for centuries. It is a miracle that a Berber living under the Roman occupation had reached such a high level of merit. Not a lot known on his life and his death that remains mysterious, nobody knows neither the time nor the cause of his death. Apuleius is gone, leaving a rich and excellent work behind.