“On October 4, 1921, the Patna, which was taking me to Bombay, ran aground in a harbour on the Eritrean coast. I disembarked; there came to my mind other mornings, long in the past, when I had also looked out over the Red Sea—when I was a Roman tribune, and fever and magic and inactivity consumed the soldiers. Outside the city I saw a spring; impelled by habit, I tasted it clear water. As I scaled the steep bank beside it, a thorny tree scratched the back of my hand.

 

The unaccustomed pain seemed exceedingly sharp. Incredulous, speechless, and in joy, I contemplated the precious formation of a slow drop of blood. I am once more mortal, I told myself over and over, again I am like all other men. That night, I slept until daybreak.”

 

(The Immortal, one of the fables included in Borges’ collection, The Aleph, recounts how the book dealer ‘Joseph Cartaphilus’ forgets (?) an unsigned manuscript inside a rare copy of Pope’s Illiad gifted to the Princess de Lusinge. The fable claims to be the work of an immortal, (perhaps Homer himself), who drinks from the fountain of eternal youth—only to regret it, for all eternity.

 

The passage above tells of the immortal’s rediscovery of this fountain, somewhere inland from the Eritrean coast, after many millennia.)