In Search of the Fountain of Youth

Fountain of youth
Maestro della Manta - The Fountain of Youth. Jan Voorhaar/Flickr

The Fountain of Youth is a legendary spring that brings youth and immortality to those who drink from its waters. The myth goes back to at least 5th century BC, when Greek historian, Herodotus wrote of it. Since then, the Fountain of Youth has been the focus of classic and modern literature, as well as modern television and movies.

Mankind has always feared death and old age. Quite often, people lose their vitality, mental capacity and sometimes even their libido as they age. It’s no surprise that people dream about, write about, and even seek ways to reverse the aging process. But is this really possible? Where could the Fountain of Youth be and has anyone ever discovered it?

The Fountain’s location is just as mysterious as the fountain itself. Here are some of the legends that describe its possible location:

The legends of Prester John place the Fountain of Youth somewhere in Asia. The legend says that Prester John ruled a land in the Orient where the Fountain was.

Spanish conquistadors in Cuba heard from the natives that the Fountain of Youth is located in a place called Bimini, on an island in the Gulf of Honduras called Bionca. Bimini may refer to the actual town that the fountain should be located in, though both the island and the town are fictitious.

Tales of Alexander the Great speak of his search for a river that could reverse aging. This is often associated with the Fountain of Youth, despite that in the story, Alexander was searching for a river, not a fountain. History shows that Alexander was very intent on the power, wealth and land that he attained during his life. Was this enough to satiate him or did he seek immortality so he could enjoy his spoils that much longer? Either way, he clearly did not find it. He died in his early thirties.

Artistic interpretation of the fountain of youth by Lucas Cranach. Wikipedia

The most famous, and at the same time controversial, seeker of the Fountain of Youth, is Juan Ponce de Leon. He was an explorer who allegedly looked for the Fountain of Youth in Florida, USA. Some say he even found it. The town of St. Augustine has a tourist trap that is linked to Ponce de Leon and his quest to find the mythical shrine. However, there is no actual evidence that he even visited the St. Augustine area. Furthermore, all accounts of his supposed search for the Fountain of Youth emerge after his death.

All of the information we have on the Fountain of Youth suggests that it is only a legend. Of course, like any legend, there is a possibility that it exists, but in this case, it is highly unlikely. There are no accounts of non-fictional characters actually drinking from the fountain and becoming youthful and immortal. No one has ever mentioned a precise location and, unfortunately, mankind will only have to rely on science and cosmetics to bring us an analogue of the Fountain of Youth.