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Reading Myths: 'Baucis and Philemon'

In this activity, students will answer questions about the story, including retelling it themselves.

'Reading Myths: 'Baucis and Philemon'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:  Reading: Comprehension

Curriculum subtopic:  Increase Range of Texts

Difficulty level:  

down

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

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.

 

 

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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.

 

When and where was this story written?

Ancient Greece

Ancient Britain

Current-day Greece

What is a disguise?

Write your own definition for this word. 

Why did Zeus and Hermes disguise themselves?

What were the strange things that caused Baucis and Philemon to realise that their guests were not ordinary people?

Read the paragraph below again. 

Underline the phrase which means the same as: "Philemon didn't believe what he was seeing". 

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 then dawned on them that these were no ordinary visitors... They were the Gods from Mount Olympus.

Read the paragraphs below again.

Underline the phrase which means the same as: "Baucis and Philemon said they were sorry".

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!”

Why did Zeus want to punish the townspeople?

Select all the answers below that are true. 

Zeus wanted to punish the townspeople because...

they had not shared their food or offered them rest.

they trusted them.

they would not let them into their houses.

they were mean to them when they asked for help.

they thought they were trying to trick them.

they told them to go away.

Think about Baucis and Philemon, particularly how they acted and spoke.

Compare them to the other townsfolk by filling in the table below.

 Baucis and PhilemonTownsfolk
kind
rude
mean
trusting
respectful
suspicious

This story is an Ancient Greek myth. These myths were told to teach a lesson. What can we learn from this myth?

Write your answer in full sentences and using your own words. 

Ancient Greek myths used to be told orally. This mean that people used to tell the story to one another, they were not written down in books.

Try and tell the story of Baucis and Philemon to someone in your family or a friend.

How did it go?

Your parent can score your retelling using the guide in their account. 

  • Question 1

When and where was this story written?

CORRECT ANSWER
Ancient Greece
EDDIE SAYS
We know that this story takes place in Ancient Greece from the opening line: "Long, long ago, in Ancient Greece, there was a town called Tyana."
There are also many references in the story which are unfamiliar to Britain and the current time, such as: "skin of wine", "country folk", etc.
  • Question 2

What is a disguise?

Write your own definition for this word. 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Award one point for a similar answer:
A disguise is when someone dresses up to look different from their usual selves.
  • Question 3

Why did Zeus and Hermes disguise themselves?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Award one mark for a similar answer:
They disguised themselves so that the townspeople would not know who they were.

Award another mark for extra correct detail:
They wanted to see how the people would treat them.
  • Question 4

What were the strange things that caused Baucis and Philemon to realise that their guests were not ordinary people?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Award one mark for each of the following things:
The loaf of bread kept growing bigger.
The wine skin never emptied.
  • Question 5

Read the paragraph below again. 

Underline the phrase which means the same as: "Philemon didn't believe what he was seeing". 

CORRECT ANSWER
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 then dawned on them that these were no ordinary visitors... They were the Gods from Mount Olympus.
EDDIE SAYS
The phrase "Philemon thought his eyes were playing trick on him." has a similar meaning to "Philemon couldn't believe what he was seeing".
This phrase implies that what he was seeing could not be true and so it was difficult to believe.
  • Question 6

Read the paragraphs below again.

Underline the phrase which means the same as: "Baucis and Philemon said they were sorry".

CORRECT ANSWER
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!”
EDDIE SAYS
The phrase "Baucis and Philemon bowed low and apologised", has a similar meaning to "Baucis and Philemon said they were sorry".
In the past, bowing was a sign of respect.
The word "apologise" and the phrase "to say sorry" are synonyms so have a very similiar, or even exactly the same, meaning.
  • Question 7

Why did Zeus want to punish the townspeople?

Select all the answers below that are true. 

Zeus wanted to punish the townspeople because...

CORRECT ANSWER
they had not shared their food or offered them rest.
they would not let them into their houses.
they were mean to them when they asked for help.
they told them to go away.
EDDIE SAYS
In the story, Zeus wants to punish the townspeople because they did not welcome and help them when they visited Tyana.
The answers that support this view are:
"they had not shared their food or offered them rest."
"they would not let them into their houses."
"they were mean to them when they asked for help."
"they told them to go away."
The other options do not support this view so are incorrect.
  • Question 8

Think about Baucis and Philemon, particularly how they acted and spoke.

Compare them to the other townsfolk by filling in the table below.

CORRECT ANSWER
 Baucis and PhilemonTownsfolk
kind
rude
mean
trusting
respectful
suspicious
EDDIE SAYS
The townsfolk are rude, mean and do not help Zeus and Hermes.
They lock their doors which suggests that they are suspicious of the beggars.
In contrast, Baucis and Philemon are kind to the beggars and trusting.
The phrase "...we would be honoured to share it with you" implies that they are respectful, in addition to their general behaviour throughout the story.
  • Question 9

This story is an Ancient Greek myth. These myths were told to teach a lesson. What can we learn from this myth?

Write your answer in full sentences and using your own words. 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Award up to two marks for any similar answers:
We can learn that we should help people and be kind to those in need.
We can learn that it doesn't matter if we don't have much to share, it is still be kind to help others.
  • Question 10

Ancient Greek myths used to be told orally. This mean that people used to tell the story to one another, they were not written down in books.

Try and tell the story of Baucis and Philemon to someone in your family or a friend.

How did it go?

Your parent can score your retelling using the guide in their account. 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Award up to four marks for a good retelling of the story. These are the important points to remember:
1) The gods were in disguise.
2) Baucis and Philemon were the only people who offered help.
3) The loaf grew bigger and the wine never emptied.
4) Baucis and Philemon realised they were being tested by the gods.
5) Zeus and Hermes saved Baucis and Philemon because they shared what little they had, while the rest of the town was flooded.
6) Baucis and Philemon were offered a wish by the gods. They chose to stay together forever as husband and wife.
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