The lives of the lower class people as depicted by Apuleius are different in a multitude of ways. There is a "lower class" status as many people are correctly labeled throughout the story, but there are many different types of lower class citizens. There are slaves, freed ex-slaves, farmers, and just really poor people who are forced to fight for survival. All of these types of people can be correctly identified as "lower class." Some lower class people are treated much more relentlessly by masters, the law, and everyone else in general. By no means does the lower class have a vague and colloquial lifestyle, and Apuleius continuously proves this theory throughout the story.
The lives of the lower class during antiquity were a lot more physically demanding and problematic compared to the rest of society. Farmers often had a lot of "down time" and slaves were not often over-worked, but they easily exceeded the rest of society in work accomplished throughout a day. A lower class citizen fought for everything they received and they were rarely acknowledged for their accomplishments. A prime example of working to stay alive comes in the case of the priests that bought Lucius. Wretchedly beating each other with whips and such, one of the priests being whipped
"scourged himself with lashes from this heavily knotted weapon, withstanding
the pain of the blows in remarkable fashion by gritting his teeth. You could see
the ground getting soaked with the filthy blood of the catamites as a result of the
incisions of the swords and the blows of the whips" (Apuleius 157).
Beating the life out of yourself for some "coppers" (Apuleius 157), a "cask of wine, milk, cheeses, and a quantity of spelt and fine flour" (Apuleius 157), that is a highly unusual occurrence. You have to do what you have to do when it comes to salvation or preservation or deliverance from difficulty, and the priests exhibit this thoroughly.
Another stellar example of fighting for survival is the market-gardener. The market-gardener was fighting for his life more so than any other character in the story, besides possibly Lucius. The market-gardener relies on his vegetables and other market goods to eat and sell. He produces very little, and has little money to his name. He is forced to live in complete and utter squalor as he resides in a "leafy enclosure of a tiny hut" (Apuleius 182) and could not even afford to "buy a blanket or thin coverlet for himself" (Apuleius 182). The market-gardener was among the poorest of the people Lucius was bought by and one of the worst off in the fight for survival. Of all the peasants in the story, the market-gardener truly illustrates one of the poorer peasants. The market-gardener was a free man. Realizing his life's struggles, one must wonder about the horrible lifestyle a slave was forced to live.
Slavery is one of the worst things that can happen to a person. To be a slave, owned by another...