Thursday, April 25, 2013

Baucis & Philemon: Not Your Average Hollywood Love Story

One of the worst kink clichés is "the deepest love is between a domme and a sub." Too bad if you are one of 7 billion people who is not into BDSM. You are forever condemned to an inferior kind of love. How can the depth of your love depend on your sexual preference?

Hollywood does not do a better job. Most movies are about young, attractive people who have to overcome some kind of obstacle before everlasting bliss starts. For a love story of a different kind look at the ancient Greeks.

Source: Redtree times

My favourite love story...
The very first post of this blog explains why I choose the name 11dutch and what it means. When I arrived at the number 11, I looked at the two 1's. I saw two connected and intertwined trees like the ones in the ancient Greek fable of Baucis and Philemon, not two numbers.

Baucis and Philemon were an elderly couple who provided food and shelter for the Greek gods Zeus and Hermes when everyone else turned them away. Zeus punished the town and its inhabitants for their lack of hospitality by destroying the town and all its people. The gods saved Baucis and Philemon and granted them one wish. Their wish was to stay together forever and to be guardians of the temple. They also request that when it was time for one of them to die, the other would die as wel. Upon their death, they were changed into an intertwining pair of trees, one oak and one linden.

Source: Aidelon on Deviant Art

...is a bit unconventional
The story teaches us about hospitality and piousness, but look deeper and you see a love story, just not a conventional one. The elderly couple make for unlikely heroes who "united when young, had grown old together." It is what most people wish for. Baucis and Philemon are regular people like  most of us. It is not the story of cat woman falling in love with the hulk, but something real life people can relate to.

"One need not look there for master or for servant; they two were the whole household, master and servant alike." For many kinky people the master-servant relationship has deep symbolic meaning but personally I believe that for love to prosper two people need to be equals in life and love.

Source: Gherkin-Chan on Deviant Art

A united wish
After flooding the town and turning their house into a temple the gods grant the couple one favour.
"Excellent old man, and woman worthy of such a husband, speak, tell us your wishes; what favour have you to ask of us?" Maybe they were once destined for one another but in old age they are worthy of each other. The text does not say so but the only way a woman can be worthy of her husband is if he is worthy of her.

"Philemon took counsel with Baucis a few moments; then declared to the gods their united wish."
Things get often lost in translation but "took council" is a beautiful way to describe what happens. Of course they are united in their wish. They love each other and "have passed our lives in love and concord." Everybody can relate to their wish "that one and the same hour may take us both from life, that I may not live to see her grave, nor be laid in my own by her.” Loosing the one you love to old age after spending your life together is hard for many reasons. Who will comfort you when the one who used too is the one you grieve about? I  have seen it and its finality makes it one of the hardest things there is.

Source: Redtree times

Nobody can promise anybody that they love them forever but by granting their wish the gods created a unbreakable bond between both spouses. They choose to be connected for the rest of their lives and beyond. Such was their love.

Growing old together
The couple grows very old until one day:
"Baucis saw Philemon begin to put forth leaves, and old Philemon saw Baucis changing in like manner. And now a leafy crown had grown over their heads, while exchanging parting words, as long as they could speak.

“Farewell, dear spouse,” they said, together, and at the same moment the bark closed over their mouths."
Even though they spend their last waking moments together it is still goodbye after a life shared. The lovers morph into an intertwining pair of trees, one oak and one linden. Did the thought that they would be together in death or perhaps in a next life comfort them in those final moment before the bark closed over their mouths?

Source: Anqila on Deviant Art

I cannot stop thinking how those two trees grew and blossomed year after year. The more they grew the more their roots grew too and the more their roots became intertwined. Under the ground, invisible to the eye, the roots of both trees support each other, creating a connection.
It is like waking up in the morning when the alarm goes. Before you realize what happens you feel the muscles in your legs flexing, searching for your girl's legs. At the same time you feel her muscles flex too. Her legs want the exact same thing. Surprise, your legs are already curled up. Tight, very tight, like the roots of those trees. Her and your subconsciousness beat your legs to it, probably hours ago.

Of change and love
People change. Time and experience does that to all of us. To quote Somerset Maugham:
"We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love.
It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person."
Change often spells the end for love. Baucis and Philemon spent a lifetime together before the gods granted them their wish. Their outlook on life and love changed after the gods granted them their wish to spend the rest of their lives together. Upon their death the meaning of love changed again, knowing they would still be together but never be able to see, feel or hear each other again. The one constant is their love.

Depending on the source, Baucis and Philemon changed into either two different trees, one oak and one linden, or two different trees growing from the same trunk so that they would live and die together. Ovid fable is the fourth incarnation of their love. That was 2000 years ago and even though Baucis and Philemon never existed it is the closest thing to everlasting love I know of.

"Form follows profit is the aesthetic principle of our times."
— Richard Rogers

This has been a long post. Love should be a long story too. It has nothing to do with BDSM, but it made me realize: if I have to choose, I always choose love.


Notes:
A translation of Ovid's original text into English can be found at sacred texts. Madeline Miller has some good comments on the story, while Greek gods and goddesses has a selection of artwork. Princeton retells the story in contemporary English and looks at how it influenced later texts like Aesop.

Yep. Been there, done that. That is not what matters.
It says, I'll never be without you, for you are in my heart. Forever.

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