The Fountain of Youth

It has always been said that it’s a shame we are not born with the knowledge of an old person and gradually get younger. We try to keep young looking by purchasing the latest creams or Ralph Lauren menswear by retailers like EJ Menswear to look down with the kids.  Ever since the dawn of time, humans have never been impressed with the downsides of aging. The knowledge and experience are wonderful and yet the aching bones and wrinkles are not. Shakespeare said of old age that it is a ‘hideous winter’ and the Greek poet Homer called it ‘loathsome’.

However you feel about the process of growing old, it’s easy to see why humans have always been obsessed with the idea of a Fountain of Youth. A magic watery haven that can supply youthful looks, a healthy physique, and the promise of immortality. The future of the Fountain of Youth myth could come in the form of stem cell research. Who knows? Here are some examples of our obsession with finding this fantasy fountain:

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Before his death in 323 BC, Alexander the Great had explored and conquered most of the world and it is said he was on an endless quest to find a river that purportedly cured the conditions of aging. Another myth during the Middle Ages told of a king named Prester John who allegedly ruled a kingdom where a gold river and fountain of youth could be found.

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The most infamous hunter of such a fountain was the 16th century Spaniard Juan Ponce de Leon. He believed he would discover it in what is now modern-day Florida. The oldest city in the United States is St. Augustine in Florida, where today you will find a visitor attraction that claims to be the fountain of youth that Ponce de Leon discovered when he arrived in the area in 1513. It is highly unlikely to be true. Nobody who has partaken of the spring’s rather smelly water has suddenly gotten younger. Historians also don’t think Ponce de Leon was ever looking for such an item and probably landed 140 miles away.

As with many great myths and legends, the thrill is in the chase and not so much the thought of finding an actual fountain with youthful properties. The idea of magical waters is so appealing that the hunt continues, and the fountain remains an intriguing mystery.

There are no remaining documents from the Spaniard’s Florida expedition, but it is thought that the rumours of him searching for a fountain of youth could have been started to make fun of him after he’d died in 1521. However, there are a few tantalising clues which keep people interested in the story. Ruins of a cemetery and Spanish mission dating back to 1565 have been uncovered in St. Augustine near the current location of the tourist attraction. The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park has been attracting visitors from as early as 1860.


Author: Kei Taylor

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