Her choice of story is explicit: she reads to them of Baucis and Philemon (356), an elderly husband-and-wife pair made famous by the Roman poet Ovid in the eighth book of his epic poem, Metamorphoses.
When a thousand other houses in town shut their doors in the faces of two wayfaring strangers, Jupiter and Mercury in disguise, Baucis and Philemon receive them hospitably, sharing with the gods a modest repast of "olives, black or green, and cherries / Preserved in dregs of wine, endive and radish, / And cottage cheese, and eggs, turned over lightly / In the warm ash, with shells unbroken" (8.
The most notable hallmark of the Baucis and Philemon story, however, sits less well with the dramatic action of the novel.
Central elements of this thematic assertion include allusions coded into the lyrics of songs sung by Ada's family in the Epilogue, the Baucis and Philemon reference, and an archaeoastronomical image pattern that culminates in the Epilogue's seemingly tangential account of the amputation four years earlier of the first digit of Ada's forefinger.
5) The transformative process by which it has been achieved is, in turn, figured by the anecdote of Ada's amputated finger and its link to Baucis and Philemon.
Transformed magically into oak and linden, Baucis and Philemon mediate between lower and upper worlds, their roots digging deep into the earth, while their branches reach to the sky.
The spider woman Arachne, Actaeon the hunter become a stag, Midas and the Golden Touch, Theseus and the Minotaur, Orpheus and Eurydice, Jupiter and Io, Baucis and Philemon
, the tales of Persephone, Bacchus, and Tiresias, all these mythic tales and more are retold in language both as fresh, ancient, and rich as its original creator could ever wish.
The spatial and architectural motif of the myth, in particular, the humble cottage of Baucis and Philemon transformed into a sacred temple, clearly appealed to Calvino who sought to recognize and "give space" to what was not inferno.
To achieve his plan, however, Faust must drive out the established population, including Baucis and Philemon, who resist his land reclamation project:
In fact, alongside the Earth and the landscape of place, but beyond the temporal dimension of the ego, Calvino presents the pure exteriority of the book itself as object and as "spatialization of time," that is, as a means to counteract the temporality of the journey no less than the temple of Baucis and Philemon or the journey of Gilgamesh written down on stone tablets.