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Not sure if this is from the 1001 Nights, but it has that flavor. A holy man comes to visit a king. He claims to be immortal. To prove it, he cuts off his hand, and then sticks it back on.

His story is that someone came to a king with a plant that, eaten, grants immortality. The king gave it to his wife. She gave it to her lover. Her lover gave it to a prostitute. She, in turn, sold it to the king. The king had the wife and love executed, and abandoned his throne to wander, immortal, as a holy man.

I'd love to know where this is from and what the details were! Thank you.

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  • Forget about the magical plant that grants immortality, the most fantastical element of the story is that four people in a row gave the plant to someone else instead of using it themselves, including one person who gave it to someone they probably didn't even know and another person who sold it for mere money!
    – Adamant
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 19:37

1 Answer 1

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This story forms part of The Sandman comic by Neil Gaiman.

The collection World's End consists of several travelers meeting in an inn and telling stories. One of the stories centres on a girl who poses as a boy to work on a ship. It contains a tale-within-a-tale which is as you describe.

I don't know if it was Gaiman's original invention, or if he was retelling a traditional story.

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  • I did the research on another computer, so it's not in front of me right now, but yes, he did take that from a set of traditional tales. There's something involving a serpent queen, and in magical herb that conveys some sort of immortality. It didn't match enough for me to think that it was the same thing, but seeing you mention the framing mechanism, and glancing at the panels, I think that's where he got it.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 10:32
  • oocities.org/tidbits4you/Bulukiya.html is one mention.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 10:36
  • Ah, and just following up, Bulukiya is the subject of the Four Hundred and Eighty-sixth Night or so, although the story is a bit different, with the magical herb granting one the power to walk across water, so it's a more tangential match. Honestly, I think there's more just the general influence of how the 1001 Nights tales often move from one to other by one of the characters saying, "Ah, but I know a story," and launching into that.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 12:49

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