Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mythologizing Trees

I read into trees. In them I see symbols of strength, perseverance, stability, renewal. I'm not alone. In revisiting Ovid's Metamorphoses, I came across the beautiful story of Baucis and Philemon. I'd like to share it here. Enjoy.

One day, Jupiter and Mercury visit Phrygia disguised as world-worn travelers in search of shelter and kindness. House after house, the gods are turned away, until they come a hovel and are welcomed by an elderly couple, Baucis and Philemon. The couple is near destitute, but generous nonetheless. Moreover, they are happy and not at all ashamed or self-pitying. Jupiter and Mercury are impressed and resolve to reveal themselves.

As Baucis serves a modest meal, she and Philemon notice that the wine stays plentiful, seeming to replenish itself. The couple realizes they are in the presence of gods and hastily apologizes for the humble offerings. Jupiter and Mercury transform the hovel into a temple and assign Baucis and Philemon as priests, agreeing to grant the couple’s wish that neither should outlive the other.

And so Baucis and Philemon attend to the temple until one day, while reminiscing over their long and happy life together, each notices the other putting forth leaves. "Fairwell, dear companion," they whisper as they transform into an oak and a linden tree, sprouting from the same trunk.

For Alex, my oak tree.


  1. actually it was Mom, not Dad.

  2. Well, this is actually Dad. And I love this entry.