Metamorphoses Book 8, lines 679 - 724

Philemon and Baucis concluded

by Ovid

Entertaining Jupiter and Mercury in disguise, old Philemon and Baucis realise that these are no ordinary guests. They are terrified, but they will be justly repaid for having acted so generously in keeping with the ancient laws and traditions of hospitality. The lessons are that virtue will be rewarded and slights to the Gods punished, however rich or poor you may be. The old couple are granted a wish, and the one that they choose will give them their place in legend as the embodiment of mutual devotion between husband and wife.

See the illustrated blog post here.

See the conclusion of the story here.

To listen, press play:

To scroll the original and English translation of the poem at the same time - tap inside one box to select it and then scroll.

Interea totiens haustum cratera repleri
sponte sua per seque vident succrescere vina:
attoniti novitate pavent manibusque supinis
concipiunt Baucisque preces timidusque Philemon
et veniam dapibus nullisque paratibus orant.
unicus anser erat, minimae custodia villae:
quem dis hospitibus domini mactare parabant.
ille celer penna tardos aetate fatigat
eluditque diu tandemque est visus ad ipsos
confugisse deos. Superi vetuere necari
“di” que “sumus, meritasque luet vicinia poenas
impia” dixerunt; “vobis inmunibus huius
esse mali dabitur. modo vestra relinquite tecta
ac nostros comitate gradus et in ardua montis
ite simul.” parent ambo baculisque levati
nituntur longo vestigia ponere clivo.
tantum aberant summo, quantum semel ire sagitta
missa potest: flexere oculos et mersa palude
cetera prospiciunt, tantum sua tecta manere.
dumque ea mirantur, dum deflent fata suorum,
illa vetus, dominis etiam casa parva duobus
vertitur in templum: furcas subiere columnae,
stramina flavescunt, aurataque tecta videntur
caelataeque fores adopertaque marmore tellus.
talia tum placido Saturnius edidit ore:
“dicite, iuste senex et femina coniuge iusto
digna, quid optetis.” cum Baucide pauca locutus
iudicium superis aperit commune Philemon:
“esse sacerdotes delubraque vestra tueri
poscimus; et quoniam concordes egimus annos,
auferat hora duos eadem, ne coniugis umquam
busta meae videam neu sim tumulandus ab illa.”
Vota fides sequitur. Templi tutela fuere,
donec vita data est. annis aevoque soluti
ante gradus sacros cum starent forte locique
narrarent casus, frondere Philemona Baucis,
Baucida conspexit senior frondere Philemon
Iamque super geminos crescente cacumine vultus
mutua, dum licuit reddebant dicta “vale” que
“o coniunx” dixere simul, simul abdita texit
ora frutex. ostendit adhuc Thyneius illic
incola de gemino vicinos corpore truncos.
haec mihi non vani (neque erat cur fallere vellent)
narravere senes: equidem pendentia vidi
serta super ramos, ponensque recentia dixi
“cura deum di sint, et qui coluere colantur”

But now they notice that every time the wine-bowl is emptied, it fills again of its own accord, and the wine wells up again on its own! Amazed at this marvel, Baucis and Philemon are afraid, pray with hands held up in supplication and beg forgiveness for their food and unfitting entertainment. There was just one goose, their watchdog, which the masters of their tiny estate were getting ready to kill for their godly guests. But the is a fast flier and tires them out, slow as they are with age, and kept eluding them until they saw that he had run for refuge to the gods themselves. They told them not to kill him: “We are Gods!” they said, “This impious neighbourhood will pay the penalty they deserve, but you will be granted safety from it. Now leave your home, come with us and up the mountain slopes.” The pair obey, getting up with the help of their sticks, and struggle along, making their way up the long hill. When they were just a bowshot from the top, they looked back, seeing that their house alone remained, and the rest were sunk into a swamp. Dumbfounded, they were weeping for the people they knew, when they saw their little old cottage, small even for the two of them, turned into a temple. Columns replaced the timber props, the thatch shines like gold, a gilded roof and carved gates appear, and the ground is paved with marble. Then Jupiter calmly said: “Speak, you upright old man and you, his worthy wife, name your wish.” Philemon spoke briefly to Baucis, then gave their shared decision to the Gods: “We ask to be priests, and to keep your shrine; and, since we have lived our years in harmony, let the same hour see us both pass away, so that I may never have to see my wife’s pyre, nor may she have to bury me.” Their wish was granted. They were the guardians of the temple, while life was granted them. Then, when, worn down by age and the years, they happened to be standing in front of the temple steps and telling the story of the place, Baucis saw Philemon, and the old man saw her, break out into a leafy crown, and as it grew over both their faces, in the same moment they exchanged their last words while they could – “farewell husband!” Farewell wife!” – as the growth covered their mouths. And locals still point out their trees, growing side by side from their twin trunk. The old men who told me the tale were no liars – why should they lie – and indeed I have seen the garlands hanging from the boughs, and said, as I only lately laid my own: “may those dear to the Gods be gods themselves, and those who cared be cared for.”