There are few characters in the Star Trek franchise as intriguing as Flint the Immortal. First seen in The Original Series episode “Requiem for Methuselah,” Flint is revealed to be over six thousand years old, having lived as several notable figures in human history including Alexander the Great, Leonardo da Vinci, Johannes Brahms, and others.
During his time on Earth, Flint made some of the greatest contributions to human civilization and knew people who made similar contributions; he witnessed the birth and death of multiple empires and fell in love hundreds of times. Above all else, he experienced the gamut of the human condition, witnessing things in many lifetimes most people shouldn’t have to see in one.
But as fascinating as Flint’s journey is, it nonetheless brings up fundamental questions that challenge the narrative presented in “Requiem for Methuselah;” namely, with many of Flint’s aliases having rather well-documented childhoods, how could Flint have lived the lives of so many men, especially famous ones in Earth’s history? That is one of the questions I’m going to try to answer today.
The Life And Times Of Flint
Flint was born as Akharin in Mesopotamia in 3834 B.C. Flint describes his early years in Mesopotamia as that of a “fool” and a “bully.” Akharin was a soldier who was part of a Sumerian military force; sometime before 3800 B.C., likely around the age of thirty, Akharin was felled in battle but discovered that he was impervious to injury and could not die. Armed with this knowledge, Akharin began to assume multiple identities, living in the region of Sumer as a warrior-king with aspirations of power and conquest.
The source of Flint’s immortality is unknown, but based on the nature of Flint’s claims to existence on Earth and Dr. McCoy’s medical assessment, his regenerative abilities result from a balance of mutation and Earth’s delicate magnetic fields. This is the primary reason that Flint is seen to have aged around thirty years by the time of the episode but likely retained an early-thirties complexion during the prime of most of his life.
Following the initial period of Flint’s existence, he assumes one of the first of his identities that we recognize as a famous ruler from Earth’s history. This is none other than Methuselah, the Biblical character who is said to have lived 969 years. Just as with the other lifespans listed in the Old Testament, this seems rather excessive even for Flint, who realistically would have raised suspicions with such a lengthy amount of time.
It’s likely that he lived as Methuselah between 80 and 100 years, assuming Biblical years are roughly equivalent to lunar cycles or some other evenly divisible metric of time. Flint’s rein as Methuselah would have also inspired the Sumerian king Ubara-tutu, son of the Sumerian equivalent of Enoch and king of Sumer during the late 4th or early 3rd millennium B.C. Both kings’ reigns end with the onslaught of a flood, such as the one in the Black Sea region believed to have inspired the story of Noah.
Flint may have had a son as Methuselah who inspired the character Lamech, though it is difficult to conclude whether this is true due to the haziness of the dates involved. This does, however, open the door to the possibility that Flint’s descendants might have contributed to the genealogical line of Jesus, even if this Jesus is simply the historical one and not the divine Jesus described in the Gospels.
Of course, this still does not answer the question as to how Flint could have been Alexander or da Vinci or Brahms, or anyone else for that matter. To resolve this, we should simply turn to Flint himself, who described how he would live “a portion of a life” and pretend to age. We can speculate that Flint might have assumed the identities of already-living persons who died or disappeared at some point in their lives.
It’s possible Flint might have also lived as the Greek warrior Achilles from The Iliad. Achilles’ invulnerability, while not present in the writings of Homer, would have inspired Homer to describe Achilles as the son of an immortal nymph. Fighting in the Trojan War, the story of Achilles would survive into Greek mythology alongside the exploits of the Greek gods as hinted in another episode of The Original Series, “Who Mourns for Adonais?” These events likely occurred around 2700 B.C., as Apollo says it’s been five thousand years since members of his race visited Earth.
Eventually, Flint would go on to assume the identity of King Solomon as described in “Requiem for Methuselah.” He then returns to the Greek region and comes to know Socrates before setting his sights on the family of Macedonian king Philip II. This is where the hypothesis presented earlier must be applied: it is possible that Flint kills Alexander the Great after Philip’s death in 336 B.C. and goes on to forge Alexander’s empire in his place, assuming the throne of the fallen king.
When Alexander is killed in 323 B.C. via poisoning, this is where Flint would make his escape. Weeping that he has no more lands to conquer, Flint adopts one identity after another before returning to Israel, where he inspires the Biblical character of Lazarus after he is reanimated. In the years leading up to his residence in Constantinople, Flint seems to lie low, although he would later exaggerate some of the identities he assumed, such as the wizard Merlin—a fictitious individual based on an amalgamation of people who lived during the 5th and 6th centuries A.D.
After witnessing the Black Death, it is possible that Flint assumes the identity of Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press, which could explain how he obtains an original copy of the Gutenberg Bible. As a matter of fact, historical records conflict on Gutenberg’s whereabouts for the fifteen years following the death of his father; just as with many of Flint’s other identities, it is possible Gutenberg disappears and Flint takes his place.
Flint pretends to die as Gutenberg and is buried near the Franciscan church at Mainz in Germany; his grave is later lost when the church and cemetery are destroyed, erasing any evidence of Flint’s escape. By 1476, a young Leonardo da Vinci is charged with sodomy, and although acquitted, he goes missing for nearly two years—during which time Flint could have met with him and assumed his identity before returning to Florence.
Flint fakes the death of his alias Leonardo and is buried in France; he reanimates himself and flees the area, leaving behind the skeleton of another man that is later discovered by excavators, placing doubt among the general population as to Leonardo’s remains. Over the next couple of centuries, Flint comes to know the scientist Galileo and acquires a first folio of the works of William Shakespeare—although it is unknown if he has any contact with the Klingons during this time.
As for Brahms, it is a little more difficult to pin down exactly when he would assume Brahms’ identity since nearly every year of Brahms’ life is well documented. Nevertheless, Flint also lives as the scientist Abramson in the 22nd century, whose name is remembered by members of Starfleet over a hundred years later. Finally, under the alias Brack, Flint purchases the planet Holberg 917G in the Omega system and lives with a series of female android partners before encountering the Enterprise.
As explained in the episode, Flint’s absence from the delicate balance of Earth’s fields has caused him to age considerably. His absence from Earth for so long has also left him bitter towards humanity, having witnessed throughout history the cyclical nature of human behaviour. He verbally spars with Kirk during a game of billiards over just how far humans have come. Some of the same themes can be found in Star Trek Beyond and other later installments—the idea that the Federation’s benevolence and peacekeeping efforts can be juxtaposed with its militarism and expansionist nature.
Flint’s legendary exploits often leave a lot of details to the imagination, especially regarding mythological figures and even people with well documented early lives. What “Requiem for Methuselah” does offer, however, is a level of intrigue that would certainly make for an interesting spinoff series. And it’s a perfect showcase of how bold The Original Series could get with some of its wacky sci-fi concepts—sharing a lot of similarities with The Twilight Zone. Indeed, it’ll be interesting to see how Strange New Worlds approaches this dynamic—since the Enterprise seems to have a knack for encountering lots of truly weird phenomena.
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