Thursday, December 18, 2008
Philemon and Baucis
I still enjoy rummaging through my old copy of The Reader’s Encylopedia. Yesterday morning, while taking a break from the arduous labor of feigned intelligence, I came upon and then added the following entry to You Don’t Say, my so-called “compendium of odd words and literary references”:
Philemon and Baucis. Poor cottagers of Phrygia, husband and wife, who, in Ovid’s story (Metamorphoses, iii. 631), entertained Jupiter so hospitably that he promised to grant them whatever request they made. They asked that both might die together, and it was so. Philemon became an oak, Baucis a linden tree, and their branches intertwined at the top.
In the second part of Goethe’s Faust, Philemon and Baucis are an old couple who refuse to sell their home at any price. Because theirs is a part of of the land that he is redeeming from the sea, Faust, with the aid of Mephistopheles, dispossesses them, and they die of the shock.
For a more complete rundown, see this Wikipedia article.
Image: Jupiter and Mercury in the house of Philemon and Baucis, by Adam Elsheimer, c. 1608, Dresden. (Click to enlarge.)
In the Forum: recording in a junkyard, otherwise known as Studio A.