The tale of Baucis and Philemon comes from Ancient Greece. Read the story and then answer the questions. Remember that you can look back at the story as often as you like by clicking the Help button.
The Tale of Baucis and Philemon
Long, long ago, in Ancient Greece, there was a town called Tyana. The two gods, Zeus and his son Hermes, came down from Mount Olympus disguised as beggars, to visit the country folk. They knocked on doors, asking for food and somewhere to rest, but the people turned them away and locked their doors. After a while, they came to the house of a poor peasant couple, Baucis and Philemon. They knocked on the door and said: “We are hungry from our travels. Can you spare some food and let us rest a while in your house?”
“Alas, we only have half a barley loaf and a small skin of wine,” said Baucis and Philemon, “but we would be honoured to share it with you.”
So Zeus and Hermes sat with Baucis and Philemon and shared their simple meal. After a while, Baucis noticed that a very strange thing was happening. Every time she cut a slice of bread, the loaf grew a little. Although Philemon filled their guests’ cups many times, the wine skin never emptied. Philemon thought his eyes were playing tricks on him. It was then that it dawned on them that these were no ordinary visitors... They were the Gods from Mount Olympus.
Baucis and Philemon bowed low and apologised for the simple food they had offered to their guests. “I must kill the goose that guards our doorway, so I can cook it and serve you a good meal,” said Baucis.
Zeus replied: "Do not kill your goose. When you have shared your best, there is never a need to apologise. You must come with us to the top of the mountain, I shall punish all the townspeople by destroying the town!”
So Baucis and Philemon climbed to the top of the mountain and, when they looked back, the town was flooded, except for their own house, which had turned into a shining temple. “Now,” said Zeus, “as you have been so kind and generous, your greatest wish shall be granted. What might that wish be?”
“We have only one wish, which is to remain together as husband and wife, always,” said Baucis. Philemon nodded in agreement. And so it came to be that when Baucis and Philemon died, an oak and a linden tree grew with their trunks entwined around each other, on the spot where the couple lay buried.