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Emblematic alchemy: Michael Maier's Atalanta fugiens (1617/18)

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Written by the German physician, courtier and alchemist Michael Maier, Atalanta fugiens (1617/18) offers its readers an alchemical interpretation of the Classical myth of Atalanta as a series of fifty emblems, each containing an image, motto and epigram (in German and Latin), an accompanying fugue (or canon) for three voices, and a Latin discourse explicating the emblem’s alchemical meaning. The parts of each emblem and the 214-page quarto book as a whole are meant to work together, with the music, image and text as an interlocking guide to alchemical theory and to the production of the philosophers’ stone. In this talk, I will explore the role of sight and image in Maier’s alchemical epistemology and situate his book in the visual culture of early modern European alchemy.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science series.

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