For faster navigation, this Iframe is preloading the Wikiwand page for Atalanta Fugiens.

Atalanta Fugiens

Atalanta Fugiens
Title page.
AuthorMichael Maier
Original titleAtalanta Fugiens, hoc est, Emblemata Nova de Secretis Naturae Chymica, Accommodata partim oculis et intellectui, figuris cupro incisis, adjectisquesententiis, Epigrammatis et notis, partim auribus & recreationi animi plus minus 50 Fugis Musicalibus trium Vocum, quarum duae ad unam simplicem melodiam distichis canendis peraptam, correspondeant, non absq; singulari jucunditate videnda, legenda, meditanda, intelligenda, dijudicanda, canenda et audienda.
IllustratorMatthias Merian
PublisherJohann Theodor de Bry, printed by Hieronymus Galler
Publication date

Atalanta Fugiens or Atalanta Fleeing is an emblem book with an alchemical theme by Michael Maier (1568–1622), published by Johann Theodor de Bry in Oppenheim in 1617 (2nd edition 1618). It consists of 50 discourses with illustrations by Matthias Merian, each of which is accompanied by an epigrammatic verse, prose and a musical fugue. It may therefore be considered an early example of multimedia.

The fugues were arranged in three voices symbolizing the philosopher's stone, the pursuing adept, and obstacles in his way.[1] As Florin G. Calian writes,

It is the first alchemical Gesamtkunstwerk that comprises music, images, poetry, and prose together in one piece. As is stressed on the frontispiece of the book, all the senses are involved in contact with this treatise: partim oculis et inteflectui... partim auribus et recreationi... videnda, legenda, meditanda, intelligenda, dijudicanda, canenda et audienda. In this respect, Atalanta is a book that requires a rather contemplative exercise.[2]

Title page

The title page depicts various scenes from Greek mythology related to golden apples:

  • Top: Garden of the Hesperides.
  • Left: Hercules stretching out his arm to seize one of the golden apples.
  • Right: Aphrodite handing the golden apples to Hippomenes.
  • Bottom: Race between Atalanta and Hippomenes, with Atalanta picking up an apple. Behind them is a temple with lovers embracing each other, while in the background they appear as a lion and lioness.


Maier's reinterpretation of the Riddle of the Sphinx as pictured in Emblem 39[3]

The preface contains a dissertation upon ancient music and narrates the Greek myth of Atalanta and Hippomenes.


Each of the 50 discourses contains:

  • A detailed copper-plated engraving by Matthias Merian.
  • An epigram in verse set to music in the form of a fugue for three voices - Atalanta, or the vox fugiens; Hippomenes, or the vox sequens, and Pomum objectum (Apple) or vox morans. "Atalanta fugiens" is a play on the word "fugue"[4] Forty of the fifty fugues are based on compositions by John Farmer[5]
  • An epigram in German.
  • A Latin verse with an accompanying discourse.[6]


  1. ^ Read, John (1995-01-01). From Alchemy to Chemistry. Courier Corporation. pp. 72–73. ISBN 978-0-486-28690-7.
  2. ^ "Alkimia operativa and alkimia speculativa. Some Modern Controversies on the Historiography of Alchemy". Retrieved 2022-09-05.
  3. ^ Peter Forshaw/Ritman Library - Ritman Library Webinar on 'Atalanta Fugiens., at 48:45
  4. ^ Peter Forshaw/Ritman Library, at 18:15.
  5. ^ Ludwig, Loren. “John Farmer’s Sundry Waies: The English Origin of Michael Maier’s ‘Alchemical Fugues.’” Furnace and Fugue: A Digital Edition of Michael Maier’s “Atalanta fugiens” (1618) with Scholarly Commentary. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2020. doi:10.26300/bdp.ff.ludwig
  6. ^ Count Michael Maier: Life and writings J.B.Craven pub. 1914 reprinted 2003 Ibis Press

Further reading

{{bottomLinkPreText}} {{bottomLinkText}}
Atalanta Fugiens
Listen to this article

This browser is not supported by Wikiwand :(
Wikiwand requires a browser with modern capabilities in order to provide you with the best reading experience.
Please download and use one of the following browsers:

This article was just edited, click to reload
This article has been deleted on Wikipedia (Why?)

Back to homepage

Please click Add in the dialog above
Please click Allow in the top-left corner,
then click Install Now in the dialog
Please click Open in the download dialog,
then click Install
Please click the "Downloads" icon in the Safari toolbar, open the first download in the list,
then click Install

Install Wikiwand

Install on Chrome Install on Firefox
Don't forget to rate us

Tell your friends about Wikiwand!

Gmail Facebook Twitter Link

Enjoying Wikiwand?

Tell your friends and spread the love:
Share on Gmail Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Buffer

Our magic isn't perfect

You can help our automatic cover photo selection by reporting an unsuitable photo.

This photo is visually disturbing This photo is not a good choice

Thank you for helping!

Your input will affect cover photo selection, along with input from other users.


Get ready for Wikiwand 2.0 🎉! the new version arrives on September 1st! Don't want to wait?