Who is Jung’s Philemon?

Dr. Jung replied, “Only myself.” ~Carl Jung to Alice Raphael in 1935

My Philemon and Baucis… have nothing to do with that renowned ancient couple or the tradition connected with them. I gave this couple the names merely to elevate the characters. The persons and relations are similar, and hence the use of the names has a good effect. ~[ 6 June 1831, cited in Goethe, Faust, tr. W. Arndt, Norton Critical Edition, (New York, 1976, p. 428.)]

7th June 1955

Dear Mrs. Raphael!

Thank you for your interesting letter, which I will try to answer.

Ad Philemon and Baucis: a typical Goethean answer to Eckermann! trying to conceal his vestiges.

Philemon (= kiss), the loving one, the simple old loving couple, close to the earth and aware of the Gods, the complete opposite to the Superman Faust, the product of the devil.

Incidentally: in my tower at Bollingen is a hidden inscription: Philemon sacrum Fausti poenitentia.

When I first encountered the archetype of the old wise man, he called himself Philemon.

In Alchemy Philemon and Baucis represented the artifex or vir sapiens and the soror mystica (Zosimos-Theosebeia, Nicolas Flamel-Péronelle, Mr. South and his daughter in the XIXth Cent.) and the pair in the mutus liber (about 1677).

The opus Alchemical tries to produce the Philosopher’s stone sny. with the “homo altus” the Hermes or Christ.

The risk is, that the artifex becomes identical with the goal of his opus.

He becomes inflated and crazy: “multi perierunt in opere nostro!”

There is a “demon” in the prima materia, that drives people crazy.

That’s what happened to Faust and incidentally to the German nation.

The end was the great conflagration of German cities, where all the simple people burned to death.

It will be the death of nations if the H-bombs shall explode.

The fire allusions in Faust II are quite sinister: they point to a great conflagration, that leads up to the end of Faust himself.

In the thereafter he has to begin life again as a puer and has to learn the true values of love and wisdom, neglected in his earthly existence, whereas the true artifex learns them through and in his opus, avoiding the danger of inflation.

The wanderer in Alchemy refers to the peregrinatio of the artifex (Mich. Majer Symb. Aureae Mensae) through the four quarters of the world (individuation).

Faust II is a great prophecy of the future anticipated in alchemical symbolism.

The archetype is always past, present and future.

The puer Knabe Lenker, Homunculus, Euphorion, all three disappear in the fire, i.e., Faust’s own future will be destroyed through the fire of concupiscentia and its madness.

My best wishes,

yours sincerely,

C. G. Jung.

In later years, Jung explicitly linked his Philemon with the figure in the second part of Goethe’s Faust.1 On 5 January 1942, he wrote to Paul Schmitt:

You have hit the mark absolutely: all off a sudden with terror it became clear to me that I have taken over Faust as my heritage, and moreover as the advocate and avenger of Philemon and Baucis, who, unlike Faust the superman, are host of the gods in a ruthless and godforsaken age…

I would give the earth to know whether Goethe himself knew why he called the two old people “Philemon” and “Baucis.” Faust sinned against these first parents.

One must have one foot in the grave, though, before one understands this secret properly.

Here, the Faustian inheritance is redeemed through a movement back to the classical figures of Philemon and Baucis, through Goethe’s invocation of them; a movement from Goethe to Ovid.

In Memories, Jung recounted: when Faust, in his hubris and self-inflation, caused the murder of Philemon and Baucis, I felt guilty, quite as if I myself in the past had helped commit the murder of these the two old people.

This strange idea alarmed me, and I regarded it as my responsibility to atone for this crime, or to prevent its repetition. ~ C. G. Jung Letters, volume 1: 1906–1950, Ed. Gerhard Adler in with Aniela Jaffé, tr. R. F. C. Hull, (Bollingen Series, Princeton, Princeton University Press, pp. 309–10). See also Jung to Hermann Keyserling, 2 January 1928, ibid., p. 49.

My Philemon and Baucis… have nothing to do with that renowned ancient couple or the tradition connected with them. I gave this couple the names merely to elevate the characters. The persons and relations are similar, and hence the use of the names has a good effect. ~[ 6 June 1831, cited in Goethe, Faust, tr. W. Arndt, Norton Critical Edition, (New York, 1976, p. 428.)]

http://www.philemonfoundation.org/resources/jung_history/volume_2_issue_2/who_is_jungs_philemon_a_unpublished_letter
http://www.amazon.com/Goethe-Philosophers-Stone-Symbolical-Patterns/dp/B0007DKE4C/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1396706762&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=Goethe+and+the+Philosophers%E2%80%99+Stone%3A+Symbolical+Patterns+in+%E2%80%98The+Parable%E2%80%99+and+the+Second+Part+of+%E2%80%98Faust%E2%80%99

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