Bird Families

Dwarf Philemon / Philemon meyeri

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Philemon and Baucis

Philemon and Baucis are characters in the 8th book of Metamorphoses. Their story is told as an example of the need for piety. Jupiter and Mercury, having assumed human form, came to Phrygia, everyone refused them hospitality, except for Philemon and Baucis - the poor who lived together all their lives. They accept the gods humbly but welcoming. Only when they see that the wine on the table miraculously does not dry up, do they realize that there are gods in front of them, and they want to sacrifice their only goose to them. The gods forbid this and announce to the old people that the whole area will be punished for atheism and only they will be saved.

Philemon and Baucis climb the mountains and see that everything below is flooded with water and only their hut is intact and turns into a temple before our eyes. They ask as a reward for the right to become ministers of this temple and die in one day. They die at the same time and turn into oak and linden, growing from the same root.

The story ends with a maxim: "The gods keep the righteous: we honor the one who honors." Hospitality in traditional societies is a religious duty, hence the common story of gods asking for shelter in human form. Ovid presents this story as a small variation of the worldwide flood (which he told about in the 1st book, see: Deucalion and Pyrrha): in the whole area there are only two righteous people, all the rest are drowned as punishment.

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