(1) Of Greek tradition. Aristeas, a poet who continued to appear and disappear alternately for above 400 years, and who visited all the mythical nations of the earth.
(2) Of Jewish story. Tradition says that Kartaphilos, the door-keeper of the Judgment Hall, in the service of Pontius Pilate, struck our Lord as he led Him forth, saying, “Go on faster, Jesus”; whereupon the Man of Sorrows replied, “I am going, but thou shalt tarry till I come again.” (Chronicle of St. Alban's Abbey; 1228.)
The same Chronicle, continued by Matthew Paris, tells us that Kartaphilos was baptized by Ananias, and received the name of Joseph. At the end of every hundred years he falls into a trance, and wakes up a young man about thirty.
Another legend is that Jesus, pressed down with the weight of His cross, stopped to rest at the door of one Ahasuerus, a cobbler. The craftsman pushed him away, saying, “Get off! Away with you, away!” Our Lord replied, “Truly I go away, and that quickly, but tarry thou till I come.” Schubert has a poem entitled Ahasuer (the Wandering Jew). (Paul von Eitzen; 1547.)
A third legend says that it was Ananias, the cobbler, who haled Jesus before the judgment seat of Pilate, saying to Him, “Faster, Jesus, faster!”
(3) In Germany the Wandering Jew is associated with John Buttadaeus, seen at Antwerp in the thirteenth century, again in the fifteenth, and a third time in the sixteenth. His last appearance was in 1774 at Brussels. Signor Gualdi about the same time made his appearance at Venice, and had a portrait of himself by Titian, who had been dead at the time 130 years. One day he disappeared as mysteriously as he had come. (Turkish Spy, vol. ii.)
(4) The French call the Wandering Jew Isaac Laquedem, a corruption of Lakedion. (Mitternacht Diss. in Jno. xxi. 19; 1640.)
Ed. Grenier has a poem on the subject, La Mort du Juif Errant, in five cantos. Halevy has an opera on the same subject, words by Scribe.
Doré has illustrated the legend.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894