LOTH, Johann Karl
(b. 1632, München, d. 1698, Venezia)
Jupiter and Mercury at Philemon and Baucisbefore 1659
Oil on canvas, 178 x 252 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Philemon and Baucis was an old couple who, according to Ovid (Met. 8:621-96) once gave hospitality in their humble cottage to two travellers who had been turned away from other, richer houses. During supper, to the hosts' astonishment, the wine bowl miraculously replenished itself; their only goose, which they would have killed for the occasion, flew to the visitors for refuge. Jupiter and Mercury, for it was they, then revealed themselves to Philemon and Baucis, and took them up to the mountainside where they observed that the whole country was covered with flood waters, except for the cottage which had been changed into a temple. Granted a wish by Jupiter, the old man and woman chose to be priests of the temple. At their death they were changed into an oak and a lime tree.