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The Fifty Fugues of Atalanta Fugiens (72 minute CD) (New)
by Maier, Michael
Book ID: 5016198546829, 5016198546829
Atalanta Fugiens - Michael Maier. Rachel Platt, Emily Van Evera, sopranos; Rufus Müller, tenor; Richard Wistreich, bass & director.
Michael Maier's emblem book Atalanta Fugiens (The Fugitive Atalanta) is best known for its engravings, reproduced time and again to delight amateurs of alchemy and the occult arts, and connoisseurs of proto-surrealism. Less well known are the fifty fugues that accompany the emblems, their cryptic titles and Latin poems, and the fifty essays or 'discourses' on alchemical themes. This multi-media work appeared in 1617 from the Oppenheim publisher, Johann Theodor de Bry, with the fifty emblems, title-page, and portrait of Maier engraved by de Bry's son-in-law Matthaeus Merian (1593-1650). Maier himself had recently returned from a five-year sojourn in England, and it was perhaps there that he had prepared this and the nine other books published in 1616-1618.
Atalanta Fugiens exudes the air of its time: the alchemist's laboratory, the echoes of Renaissance choirs, the attention of the engraver to his copper plate. It is beautiful and strange, and it must be full of meaning, but what is that meaning? The question was a teasing one even to Maier's contemporaries, and four hundred years of 'progress' have not brought us any closer to answering it. Yet one can enjoy and love this work without being able to understand it. Art, and that includes Maier's chosen art of alchemy, does not have to be rational in order to give satisfaction. It is sufficient for it to arouse the sense of wonder, the sense of something coming from another level of existence or another order of being. That, after all, is what music regularly does.
Titles of the Fugues:
- The wind has carried it in his belly
- Its nurse is the earth
- Go to the woman washing sheets, and do thou likewise
- Join brother to sister and hand them the cup of love
- Put a toad to the breasts of a woman, and nurse it; the woman may die, but the toad grows big from the milk
- Sow your gold in the white foliated earth
- There is a chick, flying up from its nest, that falls back into the nest again
- Take the egg and pierce it with a fiery sword
- Lock the tree with the old man in a bedewed house, and by eating of its fruit he will become young
- Give fire to fire, Mercury to Mercury, and it is enough for you
- Make Latona white and tear up the books
- The stone that Saturn vomited up, after having devoured it in place of his son, Jupiter, has been placed on Helicon as a monument for mortals
- The Ore of the Philosophers is dropsical, and needs to be washed seven times in the river, just as the leper Naaman in the Jordan
- This is the dragon devouring its own tail
- Let the work of the potter, consisting of the dry and the wet, teach you
- A fourfold wheel rules this fiery work
- If you kill one of the four, all will be dead immediately
- Nature teaches nature to overcome the fire
- Make a circle around man and woman, then a square, now a triangle; make a circle, and you will have the Philosophers' Stone
- When you have the white lead, do the women's work, that is, cook
- The dragon will not die, unless it be killed by its brother and sister, who are Sol and Luna
- The fruit of human wisdom is the Tree of Life
- He who tries to enter the Philosophic Rose-garden without a key is like a man wanting to walk without feet
- The king is bathed, sitting in a steam-bath, and is freed from black bile by Pharut
- Like the salamander, the stone lives in the fire
- The Sun needs the Moon, as the cock needs the hen
- The king swims in the sea, crying with a loud voice: 'He who rescues me shall have a mighty reward!'
- As coral grows under water and hardens in the air, so does the stone
- The hermaphrodite, like a corpse, lying in the dark, needs fire
- He is conceived in the bath and born in the air, but when he is made red he steps over the waters
- As Ceres accustomed Triptolemus to stay in the fire, and Thetis Achilles, so the master does to the stone
- The stone is projected onto the land, and exalted in the moutains, and lives in the air, and feeds in the river, that is, Mercury
- Three things suffice for the mastery: white smoke, that is, water; the green lion, that is the Ore of Hermes; and foetid water
- The Rebis, like the hermaphrodite, is born from two mountains, those of Mercury and Venus
- Oedipus, having overcome the Sphinx and murdered Laius his father, takes his mother to wife.
- From two waters make one, and it will be the water of holiness
- Adonis is slain by a boar, and as Venus runs up, she tinctures the roses with her blood
- For him versed in chemistry, let Nature, Reason, Experience and Reading be his guide, staff, spectacles and lamp
- Hear the garrulous vulture, who in no wise deceives you
- Typhon kills Osiris by trickery, and scatters his members far and wide, but the renowned Isis collects them
- The Sun and its shadow complete the work
- Two eagles meet, one from the East, the other from the West
- The wolf coming from the East and the dog coming from the West have bitten each other
- The king, sick from drinking the waters, is cured by the physicians and regains his health
- The Philosophic Child acknowledges three fathers, like Orion
- The dragon kills the woman, and she him, and together they are soaked in blood
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Contents -- Spring 1991