198 The Self-Defeating Fantasy We see both in this founding tragedy, for nature in the form of the snake returns to the pool, able to escape its corporeality and renew it, while humanity in the form of Gilgamesh can only return to the dusty city of Uruk, well built it is true, but ultimately a feeble defense against death. Nonetheless, many still hope for immortality, feeling, like Dostoevsky, that if you were to destroy in mankind the belief in immortal- ity, not only love but every living force maintaining the life of the world would at once be dried up (581:19). [3] Yet our fictions often tell us that immortality is best only as a hope and never as an actuality, for, despite its venerable, obvi- ous, and intimate appeal, the fantasy of immortality masks a terrible reality. The  clearest  warnings  against  immortality,  some  might suggest, are really warnings against hubris, foolishness, and disobedience.  The  Cumaean  Sybil,  adored  by  Apollo,  is granted a thousand years of life, but because she spurns the love of the god, he withholds eternal youth and she suffers on and on. Tithonus, beloved of Eos, the Goddess of Dawn, is granted immortality but forgets to ask for eternal youth, so he ages forever in what Tennyson has him call “cruel immor- tality”. Prometheus is by nature an immortal, but for having stolen fire for humanity, his immortality becomes an eternity of suffering. One could say that immortality in these cases is no worse in itself than gold is in the story of Midas: a fine thing in its proper place, but ironic, indeed tragic, when cor- rupted. The apotheoses of Greek heroes and Hebrew prophets would seem to corroborate this positive view of immortality, as would the irony of so fine a state leading not to happiness but to horror. However, can we find an immortality that does not suffer such fatal defects? It is often said that the central promise of Christianity is immortality:  “I  am  the  resurrection,  and  the  life:  he  that