Emblem XVII: A Latin Case Study

<p><strong>Fugue/Emblem XVII</strong></p><br />
<pre>Maier, <em>Atalanta fugiens</em> (1618)<br />CHF, Roy G. Neville Collection</pre>

Special thanks to Anthony Parenti, Latinist (Classics Major, Temple University) for the translation and grammatical analysis of Maier's epigrams.


Understanding Maier's Latin

define epigram
define elegy/elegiac poetry (re: discuss mechanics of Maier's epigram)

re: the art of translation!
explain how the Latin sentence works
- also discuss challenges, re: English translation, why it's hard to translate, re: line breaks (because of Latin being unconstrained by word order, whereas English is), and ambiguity of meaning of certain words (give examples).

about Elegy!
we are dealing with elegiac poetry, identifyable by its elegiac couplet. Now, the Big Question is, why Maier chose to write epigrams as opposed to other poetic forms (i.e., it's not lyric/not about love; it's not epic/not heroic or mythogical). We identify this poetic genre through its form (which is elegy) but in terms of themtic content, it's not patently obvious (re: the tragic "love" story related by Venus in Ovid is not overtly expressed in the epigrams, which allegorize alchemical processes through a classical lens). Significantly, Maier's choice to use epigrams has to do with the poetic meter and its relationship to the musical meter and rhythm.

what is particularly interesting in the mottos and epigrams are the various different ways that Maier tells/commands the reader how to do things through his particular use of such grammatical devices as passive periphrastic, jussive and imperative. Such usage of commands underscores the pedagogical element of Maier's alchemical instruction in the Atalanta.

with Emblem XVII, it is particularly interesting that Maier mimics the concept of "links" (which he refers to as catena, or chain, in the concluding line of the epigram) textually, visually, and in meaning.

[caveat! Work In Progress!!]

Emblem XVII

     Orbita quadruplex hoc regit ignis opus

motto translation:                
The fourfold wheel of fire reigns over this work

     Naturae qui imitaris opus tibi quattuor orbes
       Quarendi, interius quos levis ignis agat.
     Imus Vulcanum referat, bene monstret at alter
       Mercurium, Lunam tertius orbis habet:
     Quartus, Apollo, tuus, naturae auditur & ignis,
       Ducat in arte manus illa catena tuas.

epigram translation:               
You who imitate the work of nature, you must seek the four globes               
which the gentle fire stirs inside.              
Let the lowermost orb recall Vulcan, and let the next orb show               

Mercury well, the third orb holds the Moon:              
Your fourth orb, Apollo, is also called the fire of nature,              

let that chain lead your hands in skill.              


The Allegorical Laboratory
Emblem XVII: A Latin Case Study