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 9781463230210

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The Fountain of Youth

Analecta Gorgiana

776

Series Editor George Anton Kiraz

Analecta Gorgiana is a collection of long essays and short monographs which are consistently cited by modern scholars but previously difficult to find because of their original appearance in obscure publications. Carefully selected by a team of scholars based on their relevance to modern scholarship, these essays can now be fully utilized by scholars and proudly owned by libraries.

The Fountain of Youth

E. Washburn Hopkins

1 gorgias press 2010

Gorgias Press LLC, 954 River Road, Piscataway, NJ, 08854, USA www.gorgiaspress.com Copyright © 2010 by Gorgias Press LLC Originally published in All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise without the prior written permission of Gorgias Press LLC. 2010 " ^

1 ISBN 978-1-61143-154-4

ISSN 1935-6854

Extract from Journal of the American Oriental Society 26 (1905)

Printed in the United States of America

JOURNAL OF THE

AMERICAN ORIENTAL SOCIETY. The Fountain of Youth.—By E. W a s h b d k n H o p k i n s , Professor in Yale University, New Haven, Conn. W h e n preparing for publication the text of the Jaiminiya legend of Cyavana, which is built about the myth of the Fountain of Youth, I expected to find some systematic presentation of the different phases of this popular tale, as they are found in the Orient, in Europe, in America, and in Polynesia, an epitome of which might serve to introduce the new Sanskrit text. But all the accounts accessible to me turned out to be incomplete, while most of them had confused this myth with other distinct legends of analogous yet not identical character. I found it necessary therefore to do my own work, so to speak,1 and have written an introduction which, I regret to say, though longer than at first intended, is yet still too short to be definitive. On the other hand, I have hopes that the historical problem here for once definitely stated may be solved by those to whose province of knowledge this Areth'usa has' fled, those, namely, who are familiar with cisindic literature shortly before and shortly after the Christian era. 1 But not without help, here g r a t e f u l l y acknowledged, from several colleagues, w h o have assisted me to find authorities and texts in a field remote from m y usual business. I gladly take this opportunity to thank Professors Torrey, Bourne, F. Wells Williams, and A . H. Palmer for such aid. A l s o Professor Kittredge and Professor Lanman were so kind as to furnish me w i t h certain material which I should otherwise h a v e lacked. To the useful communications from Professors Jastrow, Morris, and Porter I have referred in the notes. My greatest indebtedness is to Professor H. R. Lang, to w h o m I owe the references to early F r e n c h and Spanish literature.

a

E. W.

Hopkins,

[1905.

As to the text, in 1882 I transcribed for Professor Whitney some of the third book of the Jaiminiya Brahmana from Judge Burnell's unique South Indian (Grantham) manuscript. In the part transcribed was contained the legend of the Fountain of Youth, which was subsequently translated by Professor Whitney, the translation being published in the Proceedings of the American Oriental Society, May, 1883. The text itself has never been edited, nor was the Brahmana continuation of the story, which bears a close resemblance to the later epic version, included in the translation. The text of both of these parts of Brahmana is somewhat corrupt; but it seems better to bring them out now than to wait longer for other manuscripts, which may never be found. As explained in the notes appended to the text, revision of the original has led to some slight changes in the translation. Found in many parts of the world, myths of rejuvenation are of varied sorts. Some of these appear to be unique in kind, such as that of the curse of recurrent youth involved in the fate of Cartaphilus, or the Icelandic Saga of the man who shed his skin every few centuries and always came out thirty years old. 1 Many of the myths are at least so dissimilar that there is no danger of confusing them, or of fancying that they were originally identical and subsequently differentiated. For example, rejuvenation by means of a fairy's ring will not be regarded as a special development of the myth of the water of life. But in other cases, a lack of discrimination has led to this kind of error, and as a result Medea's kettle is identified with Ponce de Leon's spring, etc^ The simplest and perhaps commonest means of securing rejuvenation is to ask for and get it. Either a real deity or a good-natured mortal is the deus ex machina. Quasi parallels are found in the stories of magical cures, restoration to sight, and even to life, at the hands of Hindu Yogins and Muhammadan Faqirs in modern India. 2 In ancient India, the god Indra gives Bharadvaja a life-renewing science or formula. 3 " N e v e r 1 Baring-Gould, however, appears to connect these two tales. Curious Myths of the Middle Ages, i, App. A. It is perhaps too much to say that 2 any form is unique. See the Legends of the Panjab, pp., 81, 213, 232. 3 TBr. iii. 10. 11. 3 ff. The same god restores the life of the dead. R(B). vi. 120. 13.

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t o c o m e t o old a g e " is also t h e r e w a r d of l i v i n g in a p l a c e e s p e c i a l l y h o l y , a n d r e j u v e n a t i o n is p r o m i s e d in t h e p h i l o s o p h ical w r i t i n g s t o s u c h as e v e n h e a r t h e w o r d s of w i s d o m . 1 But y o u t h m a y also b e g a i n e d , w i t h a s a i n t ' s a i d , b y a b a r g a i n w i t h a f e l l o w - m o r t a l . T h u s in t h e H i n d u epic, Y a y ä t i , a n a g e d k i n g , p e r s u a d e s a son t o e x c h a n g e r o y a l t y f o r y o u t h . T h e k i n g is, i n d e e d , i n f o r m e d t h a t m e d i t a t i o n on t h e s a i n t l y b e n e f a c t o r is a n e c e s s a r y p r e l u d e . 2 Y e t in p o i n t of f a c t h e b e g s each son in t u r n t o s t r i k e t h e b a r g a i n , till o n e c o n s e n t s a n d t a k e s his f a t h e r ' s d e c r e p i t u d e in e x c h a n g e f o r t h e t h r o n e ; b u t o n l y f o r a t h o u s a n d years. T h e n Y a y ä t i r e s u m e s h i s a g e a n d lives as a senile a s c e t i c f o r a t h o u s a n d y e a r s m o r e . E v e n d e a t h itself m a y b e p u t a s i d e t h r o u g h e x c h a n g e of l i f e w i t h a n o t h e r , 3 or b y m e a n s of c h a r m s ; 4 so w h y s h o u l d n o t t h i s b e t r u e of d e c r e p i t u d e as w e l l ? 1

In the formula, na y ä t y eva jarärii narah, R(B). iii. 76. 27, cf. AV. x. 8. 32, na m a m ä r a na jiryate, the literal meaning, " h e comes not to old age," excludes (by virtue of its stereotyped character) the interpretation that he (who lives in the hermitage) escapes old age by death. W i t h the statement of the Upanishads, that to hear such and such a t r u t h would ' rejuvenate the old and m a k e a dry branch bud again m a y be compared the Zoroastrian promise. Yasna, xix. 10, t h a t the word of t r u t h , if learned and held fast, would m a k e the hearer immortal. Compare also the arbre sec (of m a n y Oriental writers), which will bloom w h e n Mass is said under it. 2 Mbh. i. 83. 41 : samkrämayisyasi j a r ä m yathestam m ä m anudhyäya, " b y meditating on me you will confer your old age on whomever you will." This point is ignored in the short account of Y a y ä t i at K. vii. 59. 3 This is the story of Kuru, Mbh. i. 8, found also in the Kathäsaritsägara, 14 ; cf. P a n c a t a n t r a , iv. 5 ; Benfey, i. 436. ¡Ruru gives half his life to get back the life of his sweetheart. 4 The m r t a s a m j i v a n i (or -ini) plant is an herb that revives the dead, in distinction f r o m the " g r e a t herb," samdhäni, which unites several parts of a dead body, the visalyä, which simply curtes wounds, and the suvarnakarani, which " g i v e s a golden (ruddy) color," Räm. vi. 74. 33. In the Mahäbhärata, on the other hand, the samjivini science is a formula, the repetition of which raises the dead, Mbh. i. 76. 38 (in connection with the Yayäti tale, above ; according to Ludwig, who interprets Yayäti allegorically as the year, the revivifying power of water or its renewal, Sitz. Böhm. Ges. Wis.?., 1898, Class. Phil.); or it is a jewel having this effect, ib. xiv. 80. 42. Both epics know; the ' wound-curer.' Somadeva also tells of an herb which raises the dead, m r t a s a m j l v a n a , as well as of sorcerers who have this power, e. g., [Kathäs. 69 and 81. Compare for this and other means of revivification the 76th taranga, with Tawney's notes at i. 499 and ii. 248. I n the seventh Vetäla story is mentioned the rarer herb which " r e m o v e s old age and death," given by a supernatural person, bhakgyaphalam j a r ä m r t y u h a r a m dadäu, 81.

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I n G r e c i a n m y t h , r e j u v e n a t i o n a t t h e will of a d e i t y is i m p l i e d in t h e t a l e of T i t h o n o s a n d t h e ay-qpacria w h i c h t h e w r e t c h m i g h t h a v e h a d , if E o s ' w i t h a d b e e n e q u a l t o h e r b e a u t y . A t a later d a t e , as r e l a t e d b y P a l a e p h a t o s , A p h r o d i t e c h a n g e d a n old m a n , who had served her, into the beautiful youth beloved by S a p p h o . 1 F u r t h e r , A e l i a n in his Varia Historia, iii. 18, m e n t i o n s a d e a d l y r e j u v e n a t i n g t r e e f o u n d in t h e l a n d of f a b l e . B u t even t h e ' w a t e r of l i f e ' adavaro vtpo, f o r e a r t h l y use, is a modern import into Hellenic thought.2 108. A pearl " r e m o v e s poisons, devils, old age, and sickness," vi§araksojarärogaharam (cödäratnam), Kathäs. 119. 27. A " h e a v e n l y f r u i t " destroys " a g e and sickness" also in 123. 65 (divyam adät phalam ; a grateful monkey is the donor). Illustrations of revivifying gems f r o m the Syrische Märchen and other sources, which I pass over, are given by Ralston, Russian Folk-Tales, p. 231 if., and by Clauston, in his notes on the Pardoner's Tale, Popular Tales and Fictions, ii. pp. 407, 497. A good example of the Lebensbaum is given by the wood of the t r u e cross, which revivified a dead m a n when tested by Constantine's mother, Helena, who was thus able to distinguish it f r o m the thieves' crosses, Albirüni, Chronology, p. 292 (Sachau). Modern India abounds in tales of revivification by means of balms and charms. In Old Deccan Days, p. 139, for example, the juice of a tree revivifies, as a flower does in Europe. There is in Indian charms the same distinction between remaking a body and revitalizing it when made (out of a bone or ashes), which is found in the Russian ' waters of death and life.' This appears in the R ä m ä y a n a (above); in the story in Kathäs. 96 ; and in the difference between the Tamil samjivi and sisupäbam, as explained below. For an interesting example of the supernatural holiness gradually attaching to a common article, compare the development of the Sangreal, f r o m gral, ' coral,' the \i06SevSpov, half stone, half ' herba ' (as John of Hese calls it outright), which cures wounds and " illius est, u t ait Zoroaster, mira potestas " (Oppert, Ueber die Ursprünge der Parzival- und Oralsage, p. 20fj). Compare the Sk. vidruma, " a queer t r e e " (coral) and Pliny's statement, N. H. xxxii. 2. 11 : (In India) "soothsayers a n d prophets regard coral as the most sacred of amulets . . They enjoy it both as an ornament and as an object of devotion " (et decore et religione gaudent). For the attainment of " long life," various amulets, such as a girdle, AV. vi. 133, or the grace of healing waters, are in common demand f r o m the earliest times in India. ' 1 This legend and those of Olger and the bridle are given by Bunlop in his History of Fiction. ä

For Aelian, see the note below, p. 43. The " immortal spring," TRTRRH, or spring of immortal life, of Greek folk-belief is not a spring wherewith to secure immortality or rejuvenation in life, but it pertains to the realms of death and the blessed shades, where one m a y drink of the water of forgetfulness or of the cool fountain of Mnemo¿.86.VO.TOS

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In Northern legend, Olger the Dane is changed from one hundred to thirty years of age by virtue of a ring bestowed by the fairy Morgana, and in the tale of La Mule sans Frein, the bridle of said mule bestows eternal youth upon its fortunate possessor. The gods themselves renew their youth by drinking ambrosia or by eating apples; but these have as little to do with a tangible Fountain of Youth as has the heavenly " Fount of Honey-dew," of which the Yedic gods are invoked to let the worshipper partake. In post-classical Hindu fable, ambrosia (amrta) is applied by the gods to the ashes and bones of the dead, to revivify them, as in the Kathäsaritsägara, 72 ; but never to rejuvenate the living. But there is still another way of restoring youth. "When Vergil, the magician, renewed his youth in the mediaeval tale recounted by Dunlop, he employed the means natural to so distinguished a dealer in Black Art and had himself thoroughly chopped up. In this condition he was to remain for nine days, at the end of which he should have come out in a fresh edition. Unfortunately the magic rite was rudely interrupted and the new Vergil never got beyond the state of boyhood, though he had safely passed the period of infancy, for before he finally expired he was able to utter a curse on those who had disturbed the ceremony. Some remains of an ancient fire-cult may be inferred from the fact that the arrangements included ' ' a fair lamp at all seasons burning " beneath the barrel in which the aged poet was pickled. This method of rejuvenation implies a well-known principle of magic, in accordance with which the old life must be sacrificed that the new life may emerge. In various forms this principle is widely recognized, and a close parallel to the attempted rejuvenation of Vergil is offered by the effectual rebirth of syne. Compare Rohde, Psyche, ii. p. 390, note : " D i e eigentliche Stelle dieses Lebenswassers ist wohl immer die Unterwelt." Rohde cites, for such water, benedictions in Greek epitaphs, and Schol. Plato, Rep. x. 611c. The formula in Egypt (May Osiris give thee the cold water of everlasting life) '"scheint auf original ägyptischen Monumenten nicht vorzukommen," ib. 391, note. For modern Grecian •' water of immortality," and parallels, cf. Hahn ap. Ralston, Russian Folk-Tales, p. 236. It is by no means improbable that the whole conception of the ie&varos nrr/i, occurring as it does at a relatively late (Orphic) period in Grecian belief, may be due to Semitic influence.

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Hopkins,

[1905.

Jantu in another tale of the Hindu epic. According to this story, 1 a certain king Somaka, who had but one son, feeling insecure in his hopes of posterity and desirous of offering further hostages to fortune, insisted that his priests at any cost should provide him with more children. Loath at first to adopt evil magic, they finally admitted that there was a means known to them. After further persuasion on the part of the king, they revealed the plan, which was carried out as follows. Jantu, the only son of Somaka, was seized and sacrificed, being cut into pieces and cast into the fire. Then the various queens of the king were forced to inhale the steam and smoke and in due time they became pregnant and each bore a son, Jantu himself being reborn of his own (former) mother. This trick secured for the king the sons he desired, though the sinfulness of the act is admitted by the poet, who adds that Somaka was eventually sent to hell to expiate the crime. 2 I have adduced these cases of clearly magical functions before discussing that of Medea, in order that, with these parallels in mind, the ancient mistake of interpreting Medea's cauldron as a Fountain of Youth may be avoided. This error goes back at least as far as the time of Peter Martyr and centuries later it was countenanced and made classic by the famous book of Kuhn, Die Herabkunft des Feuers und des Göttertranks, in which (p. 12) the author identifies Medea's cauldron with the Jungbrunnen, the latter with the Hindu pool of rejuvenation, and finally interprets all three as developments of the same " c l o u d - w a t e r " imagined to be ambrosia. It is true that the honey-dew sent to earth by the Asvins, the physician gods of India, is regarded as their "medicine," and that dew even now is considered a "sovereign preventative against diseases of the skin," as is illustrated by those Spanish peasants who " r o l l 1

Mahabharata, iii. 127-128. A similar tale is told in the Kathasaritsagara, 61, where a woman is advised by an ascetic (" of heretical sect") to kill her own son (for the god), to get more. In India sacred wells are reputed to cure barrenness, and even to revitalize the dead. But modern Hindu life offers a good parallel to the epic tale also. The case is officially reported (1870) of a woman who murdered and drank the blood of a child to secure offspring. Compare Crooke, Folklore of Northern India, i. p. 50 ; ii. p. 172 (with further examples). In the Kathasaritsagara, 78 (fourth Vetala), a king's life is saved and prolonged by the sacrifice of a boy. 2

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n a k e d in t h e dew of a m e a d o w " to w a r d off such diseases. 1 B u t dew is a long distance f r o m Medea's k e t t l e , which contains various d r u g s a n d magical substances, t o g e t h e r w i t h t h e debris of h e r victim, a n d all this in a k e t t l e over a fire ! Medea is, in t r u t h , only a practicer of black magic. She r e j u v e n a t e s not b y h a v i n g recourse to a sacred spring b u t b y means of h e r wit, d r u g s , a n d incantations (o rovs Noorous Troir/rraq ^rjcrtv O U T I U S ) : avTLKa yfjpas

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