Skip to main content

Full text of "The Fountain of Youth. Second Paper"

See other formats


STOP 



Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 
purposes. 

Read more about Early Journal Content at http://about.jstor.org/participate-jstor/individuals/early- 
journal-content . 



JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 
contact support@jstor.org. 



The Fountain of Youth. Second Paper. — By E. Wash- 
burn Hopkins, Professor in Yale University, New Haven, 
Conn. 

The interest shown by several correspondents in the legend of 
the Fountain (discussed in the first half of this volume) has 
taken the form of communications which add in some measure 
to the material already collected. For my own part, I have 
only one further legend to record. I found it in Felicien Chal- 
laye's Au Japon et en extrSme- Orient, a book published this 
year and received after the printing of my former paper. In 
this work M. Challaye gives as a conte japonais a tale which, if 
genuine, will modify the note above, p. 28, at least to the 
extent of accepting a Japanese Fountain of Youth as a tale of 
fairy-land, the rejuvenated pair being inhabitants of the sacred 
island, Miya Jima. It is not at all certain, however, that the 
tale is indigenous. In this version, La Fontaine de Jbuvence 
first rejuvenates an old man, who on drinking of the spring 
becomes, as it were, twenty years of age. The next morning 
his aged wife hastens to the same marvelous fountain; but, 
insatiate, she drinks too much and becomes an infant, trop 
rajeunie! The symbolism is apparent — to him who understands 
it. Various explanations are given, the last being, "Que ce 
conte est beau ! et qu'il s'applique bien a l'amour ! " I have no 
means of discovering whether the tale was invented by the 
author or actually heard in Japan, or whether, if heard, the 
version was a Japanese perversion of a borrowed theme. It 
may owe its peculiar flavor to a reminiscence of Aelian. 

Professor Albert S. Cook has kindly drawn my attention to 
Lactantius (fourth century), who in his Carmen de phcenice 
describes the rejuvenation of the phoenix (verses 37-38): 

ter quater ilia pias immergit corpus in undas, 
ter quater e vivo gurgite libat aquam. 

The triple plunge of the eagle is more stereotyped than the 
ter quater of the phcenix as here represented would indicate. 



412 E. W. Hopkins, [1905. 

One of the most curious additions to the legendary eagle has 
been furnished me by my brother, Professor Arthur J. Hopkins 
of Amherst College. It is contained in Berthelot's Collection 
des anciens alchimistes grecs, vol. ii, p. 120 of the Greek text of 
Zosimos. Here it appears that the eagle is a brass eagle, sym- 
bolic of the copper-gold process of the alchemists. This brass 
eagle is alluded to elsewhere in the same work, so that the idea 
does not seem to be due to a later gloss. Zosimos refers to 
" the most ancient Ostanes," and the latter author in turn cites 
the Persian sage Sophar. Thus if Zosimos reverts to the fourth 
century the rejuvenation of the eagle must have been known in 
the East at a considerably earlier period. The text of Zosimos 
is as follows : iviKtv Ikwiov o apyaioraTos Ootowjs <us iv tow eavTov 
KaTairapaSeiy/uKTiv • "Erepos irtpi twos %u><f>ap , Kara tyjv Ilepcrtoa wpo- 
ava<f>avivTos loropei • Acyei ovtos 6 deios 2<u<£ap • "Eoti p-iv ovv iv kIovi 
deros ^aA/coSs , Kartpxp'/xevos Iv irr/yrj KaOapa Kat Xovop.evo'S ko.6' r/fiipav , 
ivrevOev avaveoi5p.evo« , €7rci7rcp <f>r)<riv • 6 deros erwp.oXoyovp.evos ko.6' r/p-(- 
pav \ovecr6cu ^eX«, k. t. a. " In regard to this matter the most 
ancient Ostanes (observes) in his demonstrations that some one 
tells as follows about a certain Sophar who formerly lived in 
Persia. This holy Sophar says : ' ' There is upon a pillar a brass 
eagle; it descends to a pure fountain and bathes daily and is 
thus rejuvenated. Then he says : The eagle [thus] interpreted 
will be bathed daily," etc. 

The rest of the passage is to show that as this eagle bathed 
daily so at the hands of the alchemist must the "brass eagle" 
of alchemy be washed and rejuvenated every day of the year, 

&l o\<0V TUiV TpiaKOCTllllV l£rjKOVTa. TTCVTt ^p.€pU>V \oV€LV TOV ^aA.KCOI' CtCTOV 

Kal avavtovv ■ M. Berthelot's note on the meaning of eagle at this 
place is as follows: "Le sens du mot aigle dans ce passage est 
obscur. Au moyen age, on traduisait "aigle" par sublimation 
naturelle. Mais ee sens ne parait pas e"tre celui d'Ostanes." But 
in the fragments mystiques of Berthelot's La Chimie an moyen 
Age, ii. 312, there is a passage on this Sophar, which states 
that he, "le mage et le philosophe des Perses, erected an eagle, 
which seized a chicken and ate it; he wrote before its claws, 
which held ...[?]... the chicken : take some water and drench 
the eagle. Eagle signifies year [on the margin, Great mystery']. 
He commanded the Magi of Persia to render divine honours to 
[the eagle placed upon] a column [? doubtful]." Here the 



Vol. xxvi.] The Fountain of Youth. 413 

' eagle ' is a mere symbol, and as the next sentence states that 
there was a Roman cult established by the same Sophar, one is 
almost tempted to believe that the mystic eagle was confused by 
later writers with the Roman symbol of power. 

A query in regard to the source of the manna-story referred 
to on p. 7, note 1, revealed that for Strabo, xv. 7 in that note 
should be read Aelian, xv. 7. Another error, involving an 
emendation of the Sanskrit text on p. 60 [(9) 127], has been 
pointed out by Dr. Caland, who proposes what is undoubtedly the 
better reading, tad indro ' nvabudhyata pra ha ' bhyam avocad 
iti. Dr. Caland suggests that grhnan, with augment omitted, 
is a corruption. I marked grhnan on p. 63, note 1, as "rather 
exceptional," but did not venture to insert the augment when 
lacking in the MS., here and in sampiban (159, p. 64). 

In the text published by me, for (sa yad) eti (4. 121 ad fin., 
p. 59), the MS. has Iti (perhaps iti). Query, can the weak stem 
be used for the strong? In Mbh. xii. 11. 14, atmanam drdhava- 
di 'ti, tatha siddhir ihe'syate, Nilakantha says, drdhavadl 
drdhaniscayah, puman yatha' tmanam iti, eti, guna 'bhava arsah ! 

An omission in the literature cited has been supplied by Dr. 
Willy Foy, who refers to Tylor's Researches into the Early His- 
tory of Mankind, 3d ed., London, 1878, p. 363 f., a passage 
that had escaped my notice. The sunset-explanation of the 
fountain here given by Tylor does not convince me. The 
author in his exposition makes no distinction between the Foun- 
tain of Youth and the Water of Life. As I said in my previous 
paper, these two notions pass into each other, yet the Semitic 
water of life includes only as a side issue the rejuvenation of the 
mortal who essays to be immortal. 

A word more on this point. If any naturalistic interpreta- 
tion be given to this myth, which is involved in the mission of 
Istar and reappears as a loan in Greece, it is not that of a 
decadent sun but of decadent vegetation refreshed by water. 
The interpretation of the Adonis myth given by Charles Vellav, 
Le Gulte et les Fetes (P Adonis- Thammouz dans V Orient 
antique (Musee Guimet, 1904), reverts to the opinion held by 
many ancient writers. On p. 89, for example ("Ze soleil 
renait, comme le phenix. II est ressuscite 1' Adonis aus beautes 
puissantes et f^condes, et il deploie sur le monde le nouvel 6clat 
de sa gloire"), the explanation is one with the view of Macro- 



414 E. W. Hopkins, [1905. 

bius, Saturn., i. 21. As an ultimate explanation this is a retro- 
gression in view of all that has been written in regard to the 
interpretation of the myth in the last decade. What fades and 
is revived by water is not the sun but corn and grass. Through 
the whole Tammuz myth the same idea prevails. Tammuz is 
identified with the lord of Girshu as Shulgur in his capacity as 
' god of corn-heaps ' (Jastrow, Religion of the Babylonians, p. 
58); as such, in the lament of Tammuz, he is called "husband 
of Istar, shepherd, seed corn that drank no water in the garden " 
(Saussaye, i. 191-193); and as such, even to the tenth century, 
Ta-uz is lamented in Syria as corn (Frazer, Golden Bough, ii. 
p. 119: "The women bewail him because his lord slew him so 
cruelly, ground his bones in a mill and then scattered them to 
the wind"). M. Vellay's interpretation is valid only as affect- 
ing the Syrian cult, not the primitive meaning ; but even then it 
implies that the darling of Byblos was a greater god than a 
review of the data would warrant. 

On p. 27 of my former paper I have suggested that the Poly- 
nesian wai ora, water of life, is not really comparable with the 
earthly Fountain of Youth, its function being "to remove sick- 
ness and weakness and make immortal in an unearthly paradise." 
That this is the case will become clear if one compares what Dr. 
George Turner in his Samoa, p. 258, says of the vat ola, evi- 
dently identical with wai ora. Dr. Turner is describing the 
Samoan ' ' hollow pit down which the spirits of the dead were 
supposed to descend on the death of the body," and he says: 
' ' Those who have died of various diseases ... all drifted 
along together [on the stream at the bottom of the pit]. They 
were, however, little more than alive, and this semi-conscious 
state continued until they reached the hades of Pulotu, where 
there was a bathing place called Vaiola, or "water of life." 
Whenever they bathed here all became lively and bright and 
vigorous. Infirmity of every kind flew away, and even the aged 
became young again." 

In the Am. Anthropologist, July-Sept. 1905, vol. vii, p. 
572, to which Professor Bourne has called my attention, Mr. W. 
R. Gerard says that, according to Martin's Beitrage zur Ethno- 
graphie Amerikas, ii, p. 319, Bimini is an Arawak compound, 
equivalent to ' life-font '. In the list referred to, Martin gives to 
each of the elements of the word Bimini an independent mean- 



Vol. xxvi.] The Fountain of Youth. 415 

ing, but I think it probable that the meaniilg of the parts is 
here extracted from the hypothetical meaning of the whole. 
Mr. Gerard himself says that to his knowledge there is no pas- 
sage in the Spanish historians which would "give countenance 
to such a supposition," as that bimini was the verbal equivalent 
of 'life-font.' Till shown to be otherwise, I should regard Mar- 
tin's vocabulary as probably based on an analysis of bimini 
itself. It is surely not to be expected that, had the native word 
been an exact equivalent of ' life-font,' the point would have 
been passed over in silence by earlier writers. 

Professor Henry R. Lang, to whom my first paper owed refer- 
ences to early French and Spanish literature, has since favored 
me with several fresh references to sacred fountains mentioned 
by Spanish and Portuguese writers. Thus in the De Correctione 
Rusticorum of Martinus Bracarensis, p. 31, ed. Caspari, "panem 
in fontem mittere," is a popular superstition, perhaps implying 
the hope of rejuvenation as reward of worship. A fountain 
called La fuente de las virtudes is mentioned in Florez, Fspana 
Sagrada, vol. xxi., pp. 264-265; but its virtues are not speci- 
fied. Marsi, Collect. Condi., vol. xi., p. 1037 (A.D. 681), says: 
Sed cultores idolorum, veneratores lapidum, accensores facu- 
larum, et excolentes sacra fontium vel arborum admonemus ut 
agnoscant quod ipsi se spontaneae morti subiiciunt. In Galicia, 
near El Padron (Margadon) there was a magic fountain cele- 
brated .by Ambrosio de Morales ( Coronica general de Fspana, 
vol. ix-x.). See Fita y Guerra, Santiago de Galicia, p. 36 
(Recuardos de un Viaje a Santiago de Galicia, Madrid, 1880). 
Finally may be mentioned the aqua de Ma Martha, Braga, O 
Povo Portuguez, vol. ii., p. 130; the Fonte de leite (to procure 
lactation), p. 237; Rio Sousa, p. 314; d. S. Bartholomeu de 
Cabez (to cure all kinds of ills), p. 316. Compare also ibid., p. 
57, where it is stated that the cult of fountains was prohibited 
by a council held in the year 743; and p. 119, where the cult is 
briefly described. None of these fountains is expressly a Foun- 
tain of Youth, but, as in the case of the milk-fountain, vigor is 
regained, and, as in the Bartholomeu fount, maladies are cured, 
and it is quite possible that some were actually fountains of 
youth. For Hafiz and the minnesingers, who find the Fountain 
in a kiss, it suffices to refer to Nyrop, The Kiss and its History 
(p. 37 of Harvey's translation).