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Eight Brief Tales of Lovers

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Baucis and Philemon

This story is written by Ovid.

In the Phrygian hill-country, there were once two trees which all peasants near and far pointed out as a great marvel, and no wonder, for one was and oak and the other a linden, yet they grew from a single trunk. The story of how this came about is proof of the immeasurable power of the gods, and also of the way they reward the humble and religious.

Sometimes when Jupiter grew tired of eating ambrosia, drinking nectar, and even a little weary of hearing Apollo's lyre and watching the Graces dance, he would come down to earth. He would disguise himself as a mere mortal and would often travel with Mercury for he was shrewd and resourceful. On this voyage to earth, it was their attempt to see what hospitality lie on earth, for it was he who was protector of all who seek shelter in a strange land.

The two gods accordingly, took on the appearance of lowly vagabonds. They walked door to door asking each home owner to admit them and provide food, but none would let them enter and the door was often barred to them. However as they reached the last house, one of which was poorer than all the rest, the door opened and a warm and cheerful voice bade them enter.

As they entered, the old man set a bench near the fire and told them to rest and stretch out their tired limbs. The old women threw a soft covering over it. Her name was Philemon, she told the strangers, and her husband's Baucis. As the visitors sat at the dining table, they noticed that one leg was propped up by a piece of broken dish for it was shorter than the rest.

As they served the food and the diluted wine, the couple realized that the mixing bowl kept full no matter how much had been taken out. As they saw this, their eyes were overcome with terror and dropping their eyes they prayed silently. Instead of trembling, they told their guests they had a goose and the old man attempted to catch the goose but failed in doing so. But when both painted exhausted from the chase the gods felt that is was time to take some action. "You have been hosts to gods," they said, "and you shall have your reward. This wicked country which despises the poor shall be punished, but not you." They then led the elderly couple out of the hut and then the elderly couple so in amazement as the country-side side that they had known before had disappeared. A great lake surrounded them. There lowly hut began to change into a stately pillared temple of whitest marble with a golden roof.

The god granted the two a wish, and as they did so they couple huddled and whispered. The couple had two requests, one that they become priest of this temple and two that they never die alone, and that they may die together. The gods agreed and were pleased with the two. A long time they served in the the grand edifice. By now they were in extreme old age. Suddenly as they exchanged memories of there former life, each saw the other put forth leaves. Hen bark grew around them both. They had time only to cry, "Farewell, dear companion." As the words passed their lips they became trees, but still they were together. The linden and the oak grew from one trunk.

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This story is written by the 3rd century poet, Theocritus.

This young man, whose name is so famous, has a very short history. Some poets say he was a kind, some a hunter, but most of them say he was a shepherd. All agree that he was of surpassing beauty and that was the cause of his unique fate. As Endymion guarded his flock of sheep she, the Moon Selene, often looked over him in love. She often came down to Earth to caress Endymion and stare at his gracefulness in sleep. In all the stories about him he sleeps forever, immortal, but never conscious. Night after night the Moon covered him with her kisses. It is said that this eternal slumber was her doing. She lulled him to sleep so as to be able to find him and caress him as she so pleased. But it is said, too, that her passion brings her only a burden of pain, fraught with many sighs.

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