The Immortal Fountain: The Fountain of Youth in Florida’s History, Mythology and Art

Presented By Mallory O’Connor

The story of the Fountain of Youth has proved to be amazingly long-lived and multi-cultural, beginning with the accounts of Herodotus who described a fountain located in Ethiopia that was reputed to give exceptional longevity to those who bathed in its waters. Myths of a magical fountain also appear in the Alexander Romances and in popular culture throughout Asia. A similar story of a legendary fountain was circulated among the indigenous people of the Caribbean and recounted in Antonio de Herrera’s chronicle of the voyage of Ponce de León published in the early 1600s. Among the many storied locations of the Fountain, Florida is definitely high on the list of possibilities.

O’Connor explores the connection between the fabled Fountain of Youth and the development of Florida as a land where dreams come true and people can reinvent themselves. Works of art—both traditional and popular—provide the framework for an intriguing look into the heart of Florida’s self-image.

Mallory O’Connor is a Professor Emerita of Art History at Santa Fe College. She has been involved in numerous exhibits on Florida, including: Florida Before Columbus, Opening the Door to a New World: Mark Catesby in La Florida, and The Great Alachua Savanna: A Visual History of Paynes Prairie. Currently, she is working on a book and an art exhibition focusing on the Fountain of Youth in Florida history, mythology and art.

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Mallory O’Connor