Baucis and Philemon

In Ovid's moralizing fable 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, or theoxenia when a god was involved.

Jacob van Oost (I) - Mercury and Jupiter in the House of Philemon and Baucis
Jacob van Oost Mercury and Jupiter in the House of Philemon and Baucis
Adam Elsheimer 008
Jupiter and Mercury in the house of Philemon and Baucis, Adam Elsheimer, c1608, Dresden
Peter Paul Rubens17
Rubens, 1630–32


Zeus and Hermes came disguised as ordinary peasants, and began asking the people of the town for a place to sleep that night. They had been rejected by all, "so wicked were the people of that land," when at last they came to Baucis and Philemon's simple rustic cottage. Though the couple was poor, their generosity far surpassed that of their rich neighbours, among whom the gods found “doors bolted and no word of kindness."

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 pitcher was still full (from which derives the phrase "Hermes's Pitcher"). Realising that her guests were 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, but when he went to do so, it ran to safety in Zeus's lap. Zeus said they need not slay the goose and that they should leave the town. This was because he was going to destroy the town and all those who had turned them away and not provided due hospitality. He told Baucis and Philemon to climb the mountain with him and Hermes and not to turn back until they reached the top.

After climbing to the summit ("as far as an arrow could shoot in one pull"), Baucis and Philemon looked back on their town and saw that it had been destroyed by a flood and that Zeus had turned their cottage into an ornate temple. The couple's wish to be guardians of the temple was granted. They also asked that when time came for one of them to die, that the other would die as well. Upon their death, the couple were changed into an intertwining pair of trees, one oak and one linden, standing in the deserted boggy terrain.

Other versions

The story of Baucis and Philemon does not appear elsewhere in Greek mythology nor in any cult, but the notion of hospitality's sacred nature was widespread in the ancient world. After Lot and his wife had feasted them, two strangers were revealed as "two angels" (Genesis 19:1; the story is in the preceding chapter). Like the story of Baucis and Philemon, Lot and his family were told to flee to the mountains and not look back, before God destroyed the city that he was living in. In addition, Hebrews 13:2 reads "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. Less than two generations after Ovid's publication, Acts 14:11-12 relates the ecstatic reception given to Paul of Tarsus and Barnabas as they ministered in the city of Lystra: "The crowds shouted 'The gods have come down to us in human form!' Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes."

In later texts

See also

References and sources

  1. ^ Dubosarsky, Ursula. "Philemon and Baucis: The Goose Who Was Nearly Cooked" – via Amazon.
  • Ovid VIII, 611-724. (On-line)
  • Philemon and Baucis (2003). Mythology: Myths, Legends, & Fantasies. : ISBN 1-74048-091-0
  • Hall, James, Hall's Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art, 1996 (2nd edn.), John Murray, ISBN 0719541476
  • William Smith, ed. A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1873)
  • Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898)
1706 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1706.

1709 in poetry

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature (for instance, Irish or France).

172 Baucis

Baucis (minor planet designation: 172 Baucis) is a large main belt asteroid that was discovered by French astronomer Alphonse Borrelly on February 5, 1877, and named after a fictional character in the Greek legend of Baucis and Philemon. The adjectival form of the name is Baucidian. It is classified as an S-type asteroid based upon its spectrum.

Photometric observations of this asteroid from the southern hemisphere during 2003 gave a light curve that indicated a slow synodic rotation period of 27.417 ± 0.013 hours and a brightness variation of 0.25 in magnitude.Polarimetric study of this asteroid reveals anomalous properties that suggests the regolith consists of a mixture of low and high albedo material. This may have been caused by fragmentation of an asteroid substrate with the spectral properties of CO3/CV3 carbonaceous chondrites.

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A character in the Greek legend of Baucis and Philemon

Asteroid 172 Baucis

A Greek poet whose work is now lost, contemporaneous with Sappho and Erinna, apostrophized in Erinna's Distaff.


Boldness is the opposite of fearfulness. To be bold implies a willingness to get things done despite risks. Boldness may be a property that only certain individuals are able to display.

For example, in the context of sociability, a bold person may be willing to risk shame or rejection in social situations, or to bend rules of etiquette or politeness. An excessively bold person could aggressively ask for money, or persistently push someone to fulfill a request.

The word "bold" may also be used as a synonym of "impudent"; for example, a child may be punished for being "bold" by acting disrespectfully toward an adult or by misbehaving.

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It was revived at the Lookingglass Theatre Company in Chicago on 19 September 2012 and was produced in Washington, DC at the Arena Stage in 2013.

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Tyana (Ancient Greek: Τύανα; Hittite Tuwanuwa) was an ancient city in the Anatolian region of Cappadocia, in modern Kemerhisar, Niğde Province, Central Anatolia, Turkey. It was the capital of a Luwian-speaking Neo-Hittite kingdom in the 1st millennium BC.

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