Image Source: TVアニメ『魔法使いの嫁』 on Twitter

While you may not have known it, The Ancient Magus’ Bride’s Cartaphilus come straight from a legend 2000 years old.

In the latest episode of The Ancient Magus’ Bride, inhuman mage Elias and his apprentice Chise finally come face to face with the puppet master who has been plaguing their more recent adventures. Yet, while he may look like nothing more than a young boy, Cartaphilus is actually an immortal man from the biblical legend known as “The Wandering Jew.”

Image Source: The Wandering Jew by Gustave Doré

The basic legend is that right before his crucifixion, Jesus was forced to drag his cross through the city to the hill where he would be killed. His path was beset by numerous spectators and hecklers. As he stopped to catch his breath, a Jewish man hit Jesus and berated him for resting. Jesus responded to this by cursing the man: While Jesus would soon die and have his eternal rest, the heckler would receive no such rest until the day Jesus returned for armageddon. Thus the man would roam the land undying for millennia.

While not in the Bible directly, the tale of “The Wandering Jew” likely has its origins in John 18:20-22—in which a guard hits Jesus during his arraignment—and in Matthew 16:28—where Jesus remarks to the disciples that some of those he’s about to meet “shall not taste death.”

Image Source: TVアニメ『魔法使いの嫁』 on Twitter

By the Middle Ages, the legend was widespread and largely believed. Flores Historiarum by Roger of Wendover recounts the tale of an Armenian Bishop who had met the Wandering Jew—a shoemaker by the name of Cartaphilus. In his more than millennia of life, the Wandering Jew had converted to Christianity and spent much of his time bringing converts to the religion.

In the centuries since, the legend has been retold countless times and expanded upon in everything from novels and poetry to plays and film.

Image Source: TVアニメ『魔法使いの嫁』 on Twitter

Of course, The Ancient Magus’ Bride version of the character is no mere shoemaker—nor is he a penitent man. Rather, Cartaphilus has been driven insane by the curse. Like in the Greek myth of Tithonus, while he has immortality, he doesn’t have eternal youth. Thus he has to constantly replace his body parts. This leads to a twisted version of the Ship of Theseus paradox where it makes sense to wonder if he really is still himself after replacing literally every body part several times.

Though his memories often seem confused as a result, his major goal appears to be building himself an immortal body, free from the constant pain of his eternal rot. Moreover, he has long since left behind anything resembling morality and easily grows bored—even of his own schemes. In the end, he is a tragic character, but a no less evil one for all that.

The Ancient Magus’ Bride can be viewed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll and dubbed in English on FUNimation.

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