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Philemon and Baucis



“Philemon and Baucis”

n Ovid's moralizing fable (Metamorphoses VIII), which stands on the periphery of Greek mythology and Roman mythology, Baucis and Philemon were an old married couple in the region of Tyana, which Ovid places in Phrygia, and the only ones in their town to welcome disguised gods Zeus and Hermes (in Roman mythology, Jupiter and Mercury respectively), thus embodying the pious exercise of hospitality, the ritualized guest-friendship termed xenia. Zeus and Hermes came disguised as ordinary peasants and began asking the people of the town for a place to sleep during that night. They were rejected by all before they came to Baucis and Philemon's rustic and simple cottage. Though the couple were poor, they showed more piety than their rich neighbors, where were "all the doors bolted and no word of kindness given, so wicked were the people of that land." After serving the two guests food and wine, which Ovid depicts with pleasure in the details, Baucis noticed that although she had refilled her guest's beechwood cups many times, the wine pitcher was still full. Realizing that her guests were in fact gods, she and her husband "raised their hands in supplication and implored indulgence for their simple home and fare." Philemon thought of catching and killing the goose that guarded their house and making it into a meal for the guests. But when Philemon went to catch the goose, it ran onto Zeus's lap for safety. Zeus said that they did not need to slay the goose and that they should leave the town. Zeus said that he was going to destroy the town and all the people who had turned him away and not provided due hospitality. He said Baucis and Philemon should climb the mountain with him and not turn back until they reached the top. After climbing the mountain to the summit ("as far as an arrow could shoot in one pull"), Baucis and Philemon looked back on the town and saw that it had been destroyed by a flood. However, Zeus had turned Baucis and Philemon's cottage into an ornate temple. The couple was also granted a wish; they chose to stay together forever and to be guardians of the temple. They also requested that when it came time for one of them to die, the other would die as well. Upon their death, they were changed into an intertwining pair of trees, one oak and one linden, standing in the deserted boggy terrain. Baucis and Philemon do not appear elsewhere in Greek myth, nor anywhere in cult, but the sacred nature of hospitality was widespread in the ancient world. After Abraham and Sarah had feasted them, two strangers were revealed as "two angels" (Genesis 19:1; the story is in the previous chapter). Hebrews 13:2, which may be aware of Ovid as well as of Genesis, converts hospitality stories into a virtue injunction: "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it." The possibility that unidentified strangers in need of hospitality were gods in disguise was ingrained in first century culture. Acts 14:11-12 relates the ecstatic reception received less than two generations after Ovid's publication of the tale by Paul of Tarsus and Barnabas: "The crowds shouted 'The gods have come down to us in human form!' Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes".

Summary and Analysis on Ovid’s “PHILEMON and BAUCIS”
According to ancient Roman mythology and Ovid's Metamorphoses, Philemon and Baucis had lived out their long lives nobly, but in poverty. Jupiter, the Roman king of the gods, had heard of the virtuous couple, but based on all his previous experiences with humans, he had serious doubts as to their goodness. Jupiter was about to destroy mankind, but was willing to give it one final chance before starting over again. So, in the company of his grandson Mercury, the wing-footed messenger god, Jupiter went about, disguised as a worn and weary traveler, from house to house among the neighbors of Philemon and Baucis. As Jupiter feared and expected, the neighbors turned him and Mercury away rudely. Then the two gods went to the last house, the cottage of Philemon and Baucis, where the couple had lived all their long married lives. Philemon and Baucis were pleased to have visitors, and insisted that their guests rest before their little hearth fire. They even lugged in more of their precious firewood to make a greater blaze. Unasked, Philemon and Baucis then served their presumably starving guests, fresh fruits, olives, eggs, and wine. Soon the old couple noticed that no matter how often they poured from it, the wine pitcher was never empty. They began to suspect that their guests might be more than mere mortals. Just in case, Philemon and Baucis decided to provide the closest they could come to a meal that was fit for a god. They would slaughter their only goose in their guests' honor. Unfortunately, the legs of the goose were faster than those of Philemon or Baucis. Even though the humans were not as fast, they were smarter, and so they cornered the goose inside the cottage, where they were just about to catch it.... At the last moment, the goose sought the shelter of the divine guests. To save the life of the goose, Jupiter and Mercury revealed themselves and immediately expressed their pleasure in meeting an honorable human pair. Asked what divine favor they wanted, the couple said that they wished to become temple priests and die together. Their wish was granted and when they died they were turned into intertwining trees.

The Moral: Treat everyone well because you never know when you'll find yourself in the presence of a god. Philemon and Baucis story from Ovid Metamorphoses 8.631, 8.720.

Question: Do you consider this literature as a great one? Answer: Yes,why not. Because it has all the seven qualities and a critical reception of being such and as seen on the piece, evidences are: 1. It has a sense of beauty; it is artistically made because of the concept that gods can go down here, in form ofhumans and looking for food---which they themseloves can do it easily in just a blink of an eye,but they did it, they go down to Plinigo(Philemon and Baucis’ place) to find reasons to not to destroy the mankind. 2. It has intellectual value, in a sense that it will let you wander how the gods look like in their human form and the twist after the story really makes it subtle for the reader. 3. It has the quality associated with the emotional power of literature. It was seen when Jupiter was about to destroy the mankind but he didn’t because of his pity to some which have kind hearts. 4. It has spiritual value because when the couple said that they wished to become temple priests and die together. Their wish was granted and when they died they were turned into intertwining trees. 5. It has the quality of permanence, why? Because of its appealing and memorable moral lesson and the content itself, from the going down of the gods to their disguising, to thier meal with Philemon and Baucis, to the revelation upto the wish granted. That makes it permanent and will stay to the reader’s minds. 6. It is universal because of its reception and moral lesson that even the little kids when narrated to them will understand the essence of the lesson behind every words in the piece. 7. It has a great style in a way that it doesn’t went to any further segways, it was straight ot the point. I guess I can now say that this piece is a great literatue because of the evidences lend, and I hope that by this, I can encourage you to read and read more...

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