CLASS II A (LICEO SCIENTIFICO)
YOUNG AND OLD TOGETHER
PHILEMON AND BAUCIS
The story of Philemon and Baucis is told in book VIII of Ovid‟s most
famous work “Metamorphoses”. It is about an old married couple who
lived in Phrygia, a region of modern Turkey.
We have chosen it because we thought it was meaningful for the values it
is based on and suitable to celebrate the essence of love and life
between a husband and his wife. After leading a simple and poor life,
living in harmony and peace, they welcomed Jupiter and his son Mercury
in their very humble, little house. The gods were travelling the area and,
without making themselves known, had asked for hospitality to all the
inhabitants, who had refused it.
Philemon and Baucis were very generous with them, fully honouring a
host‟s duties and offering them everything that their land supplied. The
gods appreciated their kindness and decided to reveal themselves and
recompense their generosity. Therefore, when the inhabitants of the
area were punished and their houses were covered with water, only
Philemon‟s house was saved and changed into a temple. And when Jupiter
invited them to express a wish, Philemon and Baucis asked to become
priests in that temple and they added the hope that one of them should
not outlive the other.
So that one day, already worn out by age, while they were remembering
the past events of the area, they suddenly saw leaves growing out of
«Mutua – dum licuit – reddebant dicta.» As long as it was possible they
spoke to each other. «„Vale‟ que „o coniunx‟ dixere simul, simul abdita
textis ora frutex. » “Farewell, my dear spouse”, they both said at the
same time while the tree bark covered their faces hiding them.
So Philemon and Baucis talked to each other until their humanity allowed
it, but they stuck together even after being transformed into tree
trunks. For young people, such as we are, this tale conveys a real message
of hope and it is appeasing to think that it has been communicated by two
old people to a world where human relations seem superficial and fickle.
Therefore we, like all the visitors to that place, would ideally like to lay
down a garland of flowers to honour them, but above all to pay a homage
to all elderly people.