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Humanity's Fascination With Immortality

Humanity's Fascination With Immortality

Humanity has always been fascinated with the allure of immortality and although in the beginning vampires were not a symbol of this, as time passed and society changed so did the ideas and perceptions surrounding them. The most important thing to ask yourself at this point is ‘What is immortality?' Unfortunately this isn't as easily answered as asked. The Merriam Webster Dictionary says immortality is ‘the quality or state of being immortal; esp : unending existence' while The World Book Encyclopedia states it as ‘the continued and eternal life of a human being after the death of the body.' A more humorous definition can be found in The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce:

‘A toy which people cry for,
And on their knees apply for,
Dispute, contend and lie for,
And if allowed
Would be right proud
Eternally to die for.'

While all of these are accurate interpretations to some extent none of them encompass all of what immortality really is. The reason for this is simple; there is no true definition or guideline by which to follow. Immortality means something different to each and every person on this earth. Down through the ages people have been immortalized by deeds, words, songs, poetry, and a number of other endeavors, but some have always sought the elusive Philosopher's Stone; the answer to true immortality

Since the beginning of recorded history, everlasting life has been pursued by old and young, rich and poor. One need only look to the Gilgamesh Epic, the oldest story in the world, to discover where these roots lay. Gilgemesh, the mighty king and warrior, fearing his own demise, seeks out Utnapishtim, a mortal made immortal by the gods, in the hopes that he'll reveal the secret of eternal life. The immortal tells the king of a flower, which when eaten, bestows eternal life. Note that the answer is tangible and real, something that can be seen and held. Not immortality for the soul, but for the body. In the end Gilgamesh fails at his quest, but he is all the wiser for his journeys.

The Greeks, too, sought immortality, but it tended to be of a spiritual nature only, because generally the gods were the only ones considered...

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