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Philemon And Baucis

PHILEMON AND BAUCIS, the hero and heroine of a beautiful story told by Ovid (Melam. viii. 610-715), the scene of which is laid in Phrygia. Zeus, accompanied by Hermes, visited earth in human form; tired and weary, they sought shelter for the night, but all shut their doors against them except an aged couple living in a humble cottage, who afforded them hospitality. Before their departure the gods revealed themselves, and bade their hosts follow them to the top of a mountain, to escape the punishment destined to fall on the rest of the inhabitants. The country was overwhelmed by a flood; the cottage, which alone remained standing, was changed into a magnificent temple. The gods appointed Philemon and Baucis priest and priestess, and granted their prayer that they might die together. After many years they were changed into trees Philemon into an oak, Baucis into a lime. The story, which emphasizes the sacred duty of hospitality, is probably of local Phrygian origin, put together from two widely circulated legends of the visits of gods to men, and of the preservation of certain individuals from the flood as the reward of piety. It lingers in the account (Acts xiv.) of the healing of the lame man by Paul at Lystra, the inhabitants of which identified Paul and Barnabas with Zeus and Hermes, " come down in the likeness of men."

Similar stories are given in T. Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie (Eng. trans., 1883, ii. 580, and iii. 38).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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