Mythology serves to catalog
the dangers involved in a "fruitless" quest for immortality.
Mythology tells us the quest for longevity is as ancient as man
These Long Ago mythologies include:
- The antediluvian myths, derived largely
from the Bible, such as a heavily-armed archangel appointed
by God to guard the path to the "second" tree in the
Garden of Eden (The Tree of Life). Curiously, the direct descendants
of Adam and Eve allegedly all lived to be over 900 years; the
eldest of the patriarchs was Methuselah who was supposed to
have lived for 969 years.
- The Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh (650 B.C.),
one of the earliest myths to explore the theme of the quest-for-immortality.
- The myths of the Egyptian high priests who
apparently knew a thing or two about herbs. According to a Hollywood
interpretation of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, tree tanna
leaves are needed periodically to keep a mummy in hibernation,
while nine leaves are needed to awaken him.
- Ahasuerus (Xerxes), the Wandering Jew, who
was sentenced to walk the Earth until the Day of Judgement or
the Second Coming.
- The Medieval Alchemists (such as Paracelsus,
a German-Swiss Physician) who had more to their agenda than
just seeking ways to transform base metals into gold.
- Juan Ponce de Leon who sought for the Fountain
of Youth in Florida (1513).
- Dracula, of course, who was a well-known
successful practitioner of experimental gerontology; (vampires
normally subspecialize in hematology!)
- Frankenstein, who, thanks to the wonders
of electricity and the skills of the good doctor, overcame the
ravages of the grave.
- The Golem (Jewish folklore) in which a rabbi
fashions a clay statue and then endows it with life by supernatural
- Metropolis in which Maria is transformed
by a "mad scientist" into an immortal robot.
Then there are the Hyperborean myths.
- Shangri-La is the tale of an intriguing
- Greek legend held that those who lived there
for thousands of years--free from all natural ills--in a land
of perpetual sunshine beyond the North Wind.
We should also include real places in which
excess numbers of centenarians per capita are supposed to be
(1) the isolated village of Vilcabamba, Peru
high in the Andes mountains;
(2) Azerbaidzhan high in the Caucasus Mountains
of Russia; and
(3) the Hunza people high in the Karakoram
(Himalayan) Mountains of Pakistan.