Atalanta Fugiens

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Atalanta Fugiens
Michael Maier Atalanta Fugiens.jpeg
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 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.

Title page[edit]

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[1]

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"[2]
  • An epigram in German.
  • A Latin verse with an accompanying discourse.[3]


  1. ^ Peter Forshaw/Ritman Library - Ritman Library Webinar on 'Atalanta Fugiens., at 48:45
  2. ^ Peter Forshaw/Ritman Library, at 18:15.
  3. ^ Count Michael Maier: Life and writings J.B.Craven pub. 1914 reprinted 2003 Ibis Press

External links[edit]