108. Baucis and Philemon

Once upon a time, the river-god Achelous was hosting his guests, Theseus and his hero friends. Then, the hero Lelex, wise in years, recounted that once on the hills of Phrygia, he saw two sacred trees, an oak and a lime tree, which grew so close that their branches interlaced with each other. The story of the two trees was told truthfully by old men, who had nothing to gain by deception.

Long ago, the mighty Jove and his son Mercury, disguised as travelers, wandered over the land begging for food and bed. They received nothing, not even a kind word, as the land was inhabited by wicked folks. Then they arrived at a small cottage, where a kind old dame Baucis and her old husband Philemon, lived.

Baucis and Philemon welcomed the two weary travelers, without knowing that the travelers were Gods. The poor old couple prepared beds, and served fresh food and wine in earthen plates and cups. Although they were poor, yet their cordial hospitality was enhanced by their congenial smiles and willing service. However, the old couple noticed that the drained wine cups, got filled on their own. This strange event convinced them that the guests were not mortals, but deities. Raising their hands in supplication, they requested their forgiveness, for not being able to serve in any better way. With kindness, Jove asked the old couple to climb the mountain with them, and the old couple obeyed. When they looked back, they saw that all the houses and fields were turned to morass, while their own cottage was turned to a temple of the Gods.

Then Jove asked the old couple to tell their desire. The old couple replied that they wished to take care of the temple, and further wished that may both of them die at the same hour. The Gods granted their wish and vanished. Baucis and Philemon took care of the temple, and later, when both died at the same hour, their bodies changed to the two sacred trees.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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