Legends are a popular folklore form. These stories are both historical (they occurred in the past) and they are also unauthenticated. They also revolved an extremely famous or notorious person. For example, the legends of Paul Bunyan - a mountain man and logger – who is credited with being able to pull a steam train to safety through a treacherous mountain path. Although we doubt that really happened, we all agree that it's human possibly, under the right circumstances, to do so.
But what about places and things? Like the Fountain of Youth legends that have sprung up all over the world. Such a place would reverse the body’s natural process of growing old and then dying, right?
Age Not ReveredIn today’s society where age is generally not revered, it still remains a sensitive subject. As American author Mark Twain noted, "life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of 80 and gradually approach 18." Twain's quip was only one of many complaints about aging that have been recorded for as long as humans have dreaded the downside of a long life. The ancient Greek poet Homer called old age "loathsome," and William Shakespeare termed it "hideous winter."
The Fountain of Youth is a legendary spring that restores youth to anyone who drinks from its waters. The spring has come up in many tales across the world for thousands of years, appearing in writings by Herodotus, the Alexander romanc, and the stories of Prestor John. Legends and tales of similar waters were also prominent among the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean during the 14th century Age of Discovery, who spoke of the restorative powers of the water in the mythical land of Bimmi, we know today as the westernmost area of the Bahamas.
Spanish explorer, Juan Ponce de Leon is the name of a man most people associate with the fountain of youth. On the search for the legendary place in the 16th century, he traveled to what is now Florida. It was in St. Augustine, the oldest city in the U.S. that it was believed Ponce de Leon discovered the Fountain of Youth. Since then, the fountain has been associated to Florida.
Around the world many wish the Fountain of Youth was more than a legend. One such example is Hollywood’s most recent Snow White movie, starring Charlize Theron and Kristen Bell. This fairytale based story, set in a magical place somewhere out of time, tells of an evil witch on the hunt for Snow White because she is the most beautiful woman of them all. Her search includes efforts to find the Fountain of Youth that will allow her to remain young and beautiful because that is what she will need to survive.
The Fountain of Youth is a legend that gives people hope; hope that they can change the course of their physical world and somehow find a way to turn back the hands of time.
Related InformationAbout Folklore
Age of Exploration