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THE UNKNOWN VISITOR IN FAIRY TALES AND DREAMS IN THE METAMORPHOSES (VIII, 620f.), the poet Ovid tells how once again the gods got the impression that human beings were neglecting them. Thus Jupiter and Mercury decided to come down to earth, disguised as poor wayfarers, to test human beings. And wherever they knocked and begged for shelter, they were haughtily turned away. Finally they arrived at a miserable hut belonging to an old married couple, Philemon (“having a loving disposition”) and Baucis (“the tender one”), who was a servant of the Great Mother. (The name Baucis is related to that of Baubo, the servant of Demeter who, after the kidnapping of Persephone, first made her mistress laugh again by baring her own bottom. A number of inscriptions would lead one to conclude that Baubo is an aspect of the great goddess herself.) The two old people welcomed the wayfarers into their hut and prepared a meal for them, slaughtering their only gander in the wayfarers’ honor. On the following day the gods revealed themselves to the old people in their full glory and rewarded them by granting them a wish. The two asked to be allowed to remain together until death and even afterward. Thereupon their hut was transformed into a magnificent temple, in which from then on Philemon and Baucis lived as priest and priestess. When they had reached the ends of their lives, they died at the same time and were changed into two trees, which stood so close together that their branches entwined in eternal embrace. The scoundrels who had refused the gods shelter were drowned in a great flood and repaid in this way for their godlessness. This tale of Ovid’s was extremely timely: as happens periodically in the course of history, all religious life in his time had become calcified into purely external state ceremonies and had thus lost its psychic influence on humanity. In the Roman ruling class, power prevailed rather than interpersonal Eros, form rather than inner experience. Jupiter was no longer a living archetypal figure of order in the human psyche, but rather the guarantor of power to the Roman Empire. As for Mercury, it was primarily his mercantile side that had developed, his deceitful and thievish character.

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Marie - Louise Von Franz - Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche -  

Marie - Louise Von Franz - Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche -  

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