When considering immortals or long lived beings, it shows that sometimes they carry with them other unnatural powers that together with their longevity, give an existence which forms the basis for their own mythology. To say it another way, the immortal may become the fabric for the tales and myths of the future because of the powers and influence they have used in past. Yet, the immortal lives on among those myths and tales. They have a unique perspective on the truth of those myths and they continue to influence the events of the world around them.
Sometimes the influence of their power leaves an impression where the individual is revered as a godly figure.
Hohenheim from Fullmetal Alchemist is an example of this phenomena.
From the context of the story, the nation Xerxes, where Hohenheim becomes ‘immortal,’ resembles the Western civilization of Rome. It seems to be powerful, influential, and advanced beyond the other civilizations of the time. The fact that later alchemists and alkahests attribute Xerxes as the root of their development gives further credit to this idea.
After Hohenheim becomes the last survivor of his nation, he travels the land and lays the foundations for both alchemy and alkahestry. Since Xerxes was the fount of knowledge at the time, Hohenheim is likely the last person who knows how to use alchemy and because of this the teachings he spreads are influential in the development of the Eastern and Western civilizations.
Edward: “Xerxes, huh… I remember reading about it in the tale about the Sage of the East.
Fu: “Sage of the East?”
Edward: “Yeah, a fairy tale about the alchemist who introduced alchemy to our country. It’s a legend aobut the sole survivor of the Xerxes Kingdom, which was destroyed in one night, and how he arrived in Amestris, just recently founded at that time, and spread alchemy throughout the country.”
Fu: “In our country, there’s a legend stating he arrived from the west. Alkahestry as we know it today is a combination of the skills he brought us and Xing’s technology. […] We refer to him with respect, as the “Sage of the West.”
Spice and Wolf
Another character in anime, Holo, while not holding influence over the technological advancement of her world, did develop an influence common for her era, the harvest goddess.
Although she is not necessarily immortal, Holo does have a much longer lifespan than the humans around her. Originally Holo comes from somewhere in the north called Yoitsu, and winds up in the village of Pasloe, where she acts as the Harvest goddess, ensuring the livelihood of the people with her powers over the crops. Eventually she becomes nothing more than part of a legend, myth, and ritual that continues on despite losing its full meaning. With the rise of technological advancement in farming, Holo is no longer relied on as she once was and she decides to leave Pasloe in search of her long ago home.
As it might happen, immortal beings may also simply feed into their own mythology and history by their actions. The unearthly power of the vampire known as Kiss shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade, or better known as Shinobu Oshino from the Monogatari series, at one time had people worshipping her as a goddess.
Living a solitary existence in Antarctica after nearly escaping from a strange entity, Shinobu makes an incredible leap off the continent and lands in a lake in Japan. The water from the lake becomes a rain that saves the surrounding area from a drought and the people who live there think that Shinobu is a goddess of the lake.
Although the longevity of these characters was not the factor which made them seen as gods or goddesses, it is the perspective that remains with them which is important to note. They have become a part of a fabled history of forgotten times. Their powers and influence were of such unbelievable make, that they live on as legends only and not as truths. It would definitely be weird to know as immortal that those ‘legendary’ events were real and that you were a part of them, yet have those same events glazed over as nothing but fable.
This manner of immortal life works fine if they were born into a time where informational technologies are far less prevalent than today, but for those of the modern era it would be more difficult to remain unknown. Modern born immortals could still become a part of urban mythology, but challenges to avoid surveillance and witnesses to the truth would be considerable.
It is interesting to think about how an immortal perceives their own history and how that effects them in the present.