From what I understand of European alchemists, they were equally advertised as working towards the transmutation of base metals into noble metals and an Elixir of Life.

What confuses me in why they would target these two goals specifically, when they don't seem to have that much in common. I assume there was some kind of assumption made at the time that these goals were related in some way, but I'm having difficulty finding that information.

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    I think Ben Jonson hit the nail on the head in The Alchemists: by transmuting base metal into noble metals, one can become rich. – kimchi lover Sep 23 '17 at 1:15
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    You might want to read Jung. Or Wikipedia. The common thread is the power to transform, to have power. – MCW Sep 23 '17 at 1:28
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    I think the only relation you're going to find is that both wealth and avoiding death are things that a lot of people desire. – jamesqf Sep 23 '17 at 4:26

The two goals are actually related, in the sense that alchemists expected to achieve them by discovering and using the legendary philosopher's stone. It had a laundry list of properties:

The most commonly mentioned properties are the ability to transmute base metals into gold or silver, and the ability to heal all forms of illness and prolong the life of any person who consumes a small part of the philosopher's stone. Other mentioned properties include: creation of perpetually burning lamps, transmutation of common crystals into precious stones and diamonds, reviving of dead plants, creation of flexible or malleable glass, or the creation of a clone or homunculus.


This is because gold doesn't rust, or tarnish, or corrode. It is, in fact, incorruptible.

A substance that made things immortal would turn metal into gold and men into incorruptible men.

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