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