Atalanta fugiens emblems 36 - 40

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Emblem XXXVI.


Epigram 36:

The Stone that is Mercury, is cast upon the
Earth, exalted on Mountains, resides in the
Air, and is nourished in the Waters.

Discourse 36:

All persons that have once heard of the name or power of the Stone, unless they are altogether incredulous, ask presently where it may be found, that so they may run directly to it. The Philosphers answer is twofold: First Adam brought it with him out of Paradise, that is, in you and in me, and in every man that, birds flying, bring it with them out of far countries. Secondly, it may be found in the Earth, Mountain, Air and Rivers. Which path therefore must be taken? I say, both, but in a different respect, although the last pleases us best, and seems most safe.

It is said to be thrown upon the Earth, because the Element of Earth does first appear in an obscure and black body. Then, because it is vile and of small price, is trod upon in the path of the Traveller, and in the very dung itself. Hence Rosarius says, " Although I should name it by its Name, the fools would not believe it to be the Thing. " And Morienus, in his answer to Calis,

" Whither is much of it to be found? " " If this: It is not there unless, as the wise man says, it be both to the Poor and Rich, to the Liberal and the Covetous, to him that goeth as well as sitteth. For this is thrown in the way and is trampled on in it's dunghills, that they might extract it to themselves, but they have been deceived. "

Mundus likewise in the Turba says, " If they who sell it but did know it, they would not sell it so cheaply. " And Arnoldus affirms that the Stone may be had gratis, in as great plenty as any man can desire, neither will he be forced to ask for it. All which things are true; for who but a Churl will deny Earth and Water to him that asks for it? The ancient Cimbri, as history tells us, when they were denied the benefit of these two things by the Romans, entered Italy with large Armies, and slew several thousands of the Romans, together with the Consuls. For the Earth as the Mother of all things, is most precious as it is. The last Matter of things putrefied, is most vile; for nothing can be viler than mud or dirt, which yet is nothing else but Earth mixed with Water. What is more common than a Clod of Earth?

But Euripylus, the son of Neptune, offered it to the Argonautical Heroes as a Present, and they not refusing it, but accepting it gratefully, and Medea having dissolved it in water, divined many good things by it; for it is necessary that Earth be dissolved in water, otherwise neither one nor the other will be of any value.

After this manner, the Stone is said to be cast upon the Earth, in which notwithstanding, it does not remain as a thing abject, but is exalted into the Mountains, such as Athos, Vesuvius, Aetna and others, that send forth Flames, many whereof are to be seen in diverse parts of the World; for in these burns a perpetual Fire, which sublimes the Stone and exalts it to the highest dignity. As it grows in mountains in a rude form, from Sulphur and Argent Vive, so it is perfected and brought to maturity upon the tops of mountains, where also grows that Herb without which the Fire cannot be tempered, because this, being cold and moist, and so thrown into the Fire, repels the vehemence of it by its contrary nature. From the mountains it passes into the Air, where it finds a habitation. For the Air is its house that encloses it, which is nothing else then that it is carried in the belly of the wind, and is born in the Air, which ways of speaking we have explained before.

At last he is fed in Rivers, that is: Mercury is fed in waters; and then, as the Athenians celebrated certain Feasts in his honour, which they called Hydrophoria. For the matter of the Philosophical Stone is water, as the Rosary saith, and is understood by the waters of those three; for which reason Mercury is said to have three heads, as being Marine, Celestial, and Terrestrial , because he is present in the Water, Earth and Air.

He is said to be educated by Vulcan, and given to thievery because Mercury is taught to be accustomed to Fire, which is volatile and carry away whatever is mixed with it. He gave Laws and Discipline to the Egyptians, and anciently instituted the religion of the Theban priests, and the great part of the world besides. For the Egyptians had this policy and sacred rites from Chemical Institutions, from them the Grecians received them, and lastly the Romans, as we have in other places abundantly demonstrated.

He slew Argus with a piece of a rock or Stone, and turned Battus into a Touchstone . What need of many words? All the volumes of the Chemists are nothing else but repetitions concerning Mercury, and they sufficiently confirm his power by this one verse: IN MERCURIO EST QUICQUID QUAERUNT SAPIENTES: What wisemen seek in Mercury is found.

Here therefore he must be sought, for ill he may be found, whether he remain in the Air, the Fire, the Water, or the Earth. For he is wandering, now running hither, now thither, to perform the Services of the Chemick Gods:

He is their Footman, which is declared to be his proper Office, hence some men ascribe to him a Daughter called Anglia.

Emblem XXXVII.


Epigram 37:

Three things are sufficient for the Magistery: The White Fume that is Water;
The Green Lion that is the Brass of Hermes; and Aqua Faetida.

Discourse 37:

As there are three things essentially necessary to the building of a Fabric, so that either of them be absent, there can be no perfection in it, and these are the Foundation, the Walls, and the Roof, so the same number is requisite for the compounding of the Philosophic compound, which are here named by their proper names. The author of Aurora, speaking of the separation of the Elements in his 20th Chapter says, " The Earth is left there that the other three Elements may be rooted in it. For if that were not there, they would have no foundation whereupon they might build a new repository for their Treasures."

This Foundation is here called Aqua Faetida, which is the mother of all Elements, as Rosarius declares, from which, by which, and with which the Philosophers prepare It, that is their Elixir, both in the beginning and in the End.

Their water is called Faetida, because it sends forth a Sulphurous Stink, like that of Sepulchres. This is the water which Pegasus struck out of Parnassus with his hoof ( which Nonacris, a mountain of Arcadia, produces gushing out of a Rock at the Top of it ) and can be perceived as nothing but by the hoof of a Horse, by reason of its most excessive Strength.

This is the water of the Dragon ( as Rosarius calls it ) which ought to be made by an Alembic, without adding any other thing, in the making wherof there is an extraordinary stink. Some persons, misunderstanding these words, have betook themselves to the distillation of the Dung of Man, or other animals, in which operation they perceived a very vehement Stink, but found nothing else but dung in their dung.

But do not suppose the Philosophers to be Beetles that work in Dunghills, for you must know that the stink, if it be any, is presently changed into a great Fragrancy, as Lully asserts of his Quintessence, to which, if it be rightly made, he ascribes so sweet a savour that, being placed on the top of a house, it allures to it Birds that are upon the wing, and causes them to stay there.

But he places his Quintessence in Dung, by whose temperate Heat the Fragrancy follows. Some men have tried this with wine, but in Vain, and therefore have accused Lully of vanity, whereas they were rather to be reproved for their Folly, that never talked of this wine of Lully. But the Aureus Poeta understood Lully much better when, in the eleventh book of his Chrysopae, he sings thus, " Give after the Aqua Faetida comes, the Green Lion. " Concerning which, Rosarius says, " You have sought after Greenness supposing that Brass was a Leprous body, because of that greenness which it hath, and therefore I declare to you, that whatsoever is perfect in Brass, is that greenness alone which is in it, because that Greenness is, by our Magistery, suddenly turned into our most true Gold, and this we have experienced. "

But you can no way prepare the Stone without Duenech, green and liquid, which is seen to spring in our mines. O Blessed Green that dost generate all Things! For as you know that no Vegetable or Fruit appears in its Bud without a green Colour, so in like manner the generation of this thing is Green, wherefore the Philosophers call it the Bud, and so far Rosarius, " This the Philosopher's Gold and Brass and Stone. " noted in Chapters, " A Fume Vapour and Water "; the Spittle of Luna, which, joined to the Light of Sol, this Green Lion fights with the Dragon, but is overcome, and in process of time devoured by him; and the Lion being putrefied, Sweetness is expected to proceed out of his mouth ( as if had been slain by Samson ), the Dragon getting the upper hand, to fill himself with the Lion's flesh, and a while afterwards to burst of himself and Die. From which, seeing the Lion's Fat can daily, by itself, cure Fevers, and make Grace and Favour mutually spring up between King and People that are anointed therewith, there may be made of it a most excellent Medicine, which will be most healing in many Maladies.

In the third place follows the White Fume, which if it be coagulated, becomes Water, and performs the Office of Water, in washing, dissolving, and taking away spots, like Soap. This, the Fire Against Nature, which take care that you find out, is so called because it is contrary to Nature, undoing and destroying that which She, with her diligent Care, hath compounded.

This is a Fire not kindled from a spirit of wine, or oil, but from an incombustible matter of Equal duration and Heat, and is a Fire without Light and combustion, of great Virtue and Efficacy, which seeing it does not shine, cannot without difficulty be found in the Dark, but it is still more hard to apply it rightly to the work, whose circumstances and properties we have sufficiently described in divers places.

Emblem XXXVIII.


Epigram 38:

Rebis is a Hermaphrodite produced from the two mountains of Mercury and Venus.

Discourse 38:

Socrates being asked what Countryman he was, answered that he was Cosmopolite, or a Citizen of the World, by which his intention was to signify that, though he was born at Athens as to person, yet in his mind he could freely run through the whole world, all things contained in it, and look upon that as his Country. For the wise man that lives well is at home everywhere.

So if any man ask the Philosophers what Countryman their Hermaphrodite is, they answer that he belongs to the World, or is in all the Corners of the World where the Elements can be found as being the Sons of the Wise, and consequently has a Country common with them.

But in as one man is not born twice or oftener, nor enters into this light in diverse places, but in one only, as Socrates the Athenian is acknowledged to have done, so Rebis is thought to be the Inhabitant of Two mountains, to wit, of Mercury and Venus, from whence the Name of Hermaphrodite is derived to him, from both his Parents.

His house is Mountainous, and his Country is high, and therefore he exists by things got in a High place. A Noble and large Country are no small helps towards the performance of great Actions, for these men are promoted to public offices and need not lie in obscurity, as it happens to Persons born in mean places, where it is difficult by their proper merit and Virtue, to arise from a small fortune to be a glory to their Country.

In this manner these mountains, unknown to many men, acquire fame from the Hermaphrodite, by reason of his Illustrious actions and Name, famous throughout all the world. For who, though never so little versed in the Books of the Philosophers, hath not heard of the name of Rebis? Who hath not seen and considered Angrogynus with two heads? His fame has been known even amongst the Indians, and is dispersed farther than that of Alexander. Many go from far Countries to see and discourse with a learned man, or one particularly famous for War, or any other Art or Science. But many more would travel to the Mountains of Rebis if they could know where they may be found.

Morienus testifies in his book, with what Care and Study he departed from Rome, to make diligent search after Adfesus Alexandrinus, and at last found him, and is therefore to be accounted more happy and acceptable to God, in that he had a Living Teacher, and not Dumb Masters, whereby he might learn and behold this thing which is the Native place of Rebis.

Nor must they use less diligence and assiduity who by themselves, through Reason, and out of books, would seek for this Country. For though there seem to be some clearness in them sometimes, yet are they so Veiled and clouded with intricacy and Obscurity, that it is very difficult to distinguish one thing from another. Wherefore we must cautiously proceed with them, lest they which are prepared for remedies, may be used for poisons.

They are an immense Ocean, in which expert mariners, sailing by Astronomical Instruments, may know the Latitude or the Elevation of the Equator above the Horizon, the Magnet showing the North Pole. But as for the Longitude, or how many degrees they are distant from the first meridian which is next to the Fortunate Islands, they cannot discover. From whence they are uncertain in what place they are between East and West. What is therefore to be done?

That which the same Mariners used to do: consult Experience with Reason, and thereby learn how to determine a long Voyage by particular Signs, Promontorious Islands, and other things that they may not, for want of consideration, fall upon Sands and Rocks.

But here is less danger if the thing do not prosper, but if it does, these are hopes of greater gain, than those whose goods and life are all lost in an hour.

Now this mountain of the Philosophical Mercury is not Nonacris, nor Atlas, where sometimes it is reported to be brought forth, but Parnassus with two Tops, in one of which Hermes, and in the other Venus. Here also is Apollo and the Muses, and Hippocrene the Fountain of Pegasus, and Laurels that are always green. It is one mountain in Name, but in reality it is two, as Hermaphroditus is beheld with two heads and two members in one Body. But what Man of a Thousand persists in the ascending to the Top of this Mountain? Who does not stop at the bottom being hindered by variety of Obstacles? Who is there almost that attains to the Middle of it?

Wherefore it is no strange thing if one in Ten thousand undertake these Herculean Labours, so as to set their Foot on the Top of the Mountain, and enjoy the immortal reward of a Laurel garland.

Which all those that are upright, ducible, and addicted to Learning and Virtue, may receive with Joy; but that those that are [not] may be deprived thereof, is also much to be hoped for and desired.

Emblem XXXIX.


Epigram 39:

Oedipus having overcome Sphinx and killed his father Laius, marriedhis mother.

Discourse 39:

Bacasser the Philosopher in the Turba, " That which you seek for, " says he, " is of no small value, for you seek the greatest Treasure and most excellent gift of God. And learn ye, Students, that which the Philosophers have longtimes intimated, saying that Truth is not discerned but by Error, and that nothing begets more grief to the Heart than Error in this work, for when a man thinks he has done and hath the World, he shall find nothing in his hands. "

The Ancient Philosophers would intimate the same things, under the Emblem of Sphinx, and her propositions whereby the might set forth the Obscurity amd intricacy of this Art. Hence the Egyptians, in their Sacra Isiaca, which were celebrated in Honour of Osiris, by mitred Priests with their heads and all parts of their body shaved, and clothes with a white and linen garment down to their heels, that these solemnities night not be known or discovered to the common people, they erected a Statue of Silence, which was called Sigalion, in the front of the Altar, the assistants being enjoined to keep silence and turn their eyes to that Image. And for the same reason they added the Effigies of Sphinx at the Corner, which did represent the physical knowledge of sacred things, as Boissardus does from Ancient writers demonstrate.

For Sphinx is a kind of monster, proposing the most obscure Riddles to the Thebans, and not only to them, but as she had done before to the Egyptians.

So afterwards to others that aspire to Art, she lies watching in the Philosophical books, as she did before the gates of Thebes: If anyone pass by the monster, he suffers no harm by it, but if through the presumption of his Wit and Courage he endeavour to resolve its riddles, and cannot perform it, he acquires his own destruction which is grief to his heart, and damage to his affairs by his error in this work.

He that refers the Allegories to true History is utterly mistaken, for they will seem to be childish and Foolish tales if they be taken literally, but otherwise they are signs and Tokens of profound learning. ( There are said to be in Africa certain wild beasts that have the name of Sphinx, but our discourse is not concerning them, though the enigmatical denomination of this fiction seems to be derived from them. )

The Sphinx of the Philosophers both used and understood human speech, namely the Greek, and otherwise proposed subtle sentences and enigmatical questions, in which appears a singular sharpness of understanding and learning, and such as are uncommon to men, from which consequently, Brutes must be very far distant.

All that are conversant in the assertions of the Philosophers, will easily discover them to be of this nature. For where one thing is spoken and another thing is meant, there Equivocation will beget Error, and this not only familiar to the Philosophers, but likewise the City of Thebes, having been long perplexed with the Riddles of Sphinx, at last one Oedipus appeared, who gave such answers that Sphinx could not restrain from throwing herself down from a Rock.

But who is this Oedipus? The son of the King of Thebes, who was foretold by an Oracle that he should be slain by his son, and therefore when Oedipus was born he commanded him to be killed, who having a Cord run through his feet and hung upon a tree and there left, was freed from thence and educated by a Countryman. He therefore growing to man's estate, had swollen feet, but sufficiently declared the quickness of his wit before other men by resolving this riddle which Sphinx had proposed. Sphinx is indeed reported to have had many Riddles, but this offered to Oedipus was the chief,

"What is that which in the morning goeth upon four feet; upon two feet in the afternoon; and in the Evening upon three? "

What was answered by Oedipus is not known. But they who interpret concerning the Ages of Man are deceived. For a Quadrangle of Four Elements are of all things first to be considered, from thence we come to the Hemisphere having two lines, a Right and a Curve, that is, to the White Luna; from thence to the Triangle which consists of Body, Soul and Spirit, or Sol, Luna and Mercury. Hence Rhasis in his Epistles, " The Stone " says he, " is a Triangle in its essence, a Quadrangle in its quality. " ( And our 21st Emblem and its Exposition relate to the same matter. )

But Oedipus moreover, notorious for Parricide and Incest, which are two of the most detestable Vices that can ever be thought of, nevertheless they promoted him to a Kingdom otherwise due to him, he having unawares killed his Father refusing to give way to him, and married the Queen, the wife of Laius, his own Mother.

But this is not written for History or Example, it being only feigned and Allegorically introduced by the Philosophers, to discover the secrets of their doctrine. For in this work both these things happen: For the first Efficient the Father is killed, and thrown out by his effect that is his son, and afterwards the same Effect couples second Efficient to himself, so long till it becomes one with him. Thus the Son is joined to his Mother by Matrimony, and enjoys his Father's Kingdom, as it were by a Triple Right of Arms, Wedlock and Succession.

He has swollen because he cannot run, and is like a Bear as having the Greatest Secret, or a Toad going with a Slow Pace because it is Fixed, fixing Another, and not flying or dreading the Fire, which though it be a medium of a Mean repute, yet the Philosophers can by no means be without it.

Emblem XL.


Epigram 40:

Out of two Waters make One, and that will be the Water of Sanctity

Discourse 40:

The miracles of water are so great and so many that they can scarce be comprehended in a large volume, concerning which several Authors have treated up and down in their writings. But above all there are Two Philosophical waters, which are celebrated with that name, because they do not only Rival, but also exceed the Virtues and properties of all the rest.

The Rivers Sybaris, Axus of Macedonia, and Melas of Boetia make cattle Black if they drink of them. But the Rivers Crathis Clitumnus of Mevaenia, and Cephissus, make black cattle White. The waters of Sinuessa in Campania take away barrenness from both Sexes. The River Aphrodisius makes women barren. Cabiera, a Fountain of Mesopotamia, hath a Sweet smell. The water of Anyger, in the Peloponnesus, Stinks very much. The Fountain of Jupiter Ammon is cold in the Day time, hot in the Night, in the evening and morning lukewarm by Turns; not to mention many more.

All things although they be contrary one to the other, are performed by the waters of the Philosophers. Lully speaks of them in his book, " De Quinta Essentia distin: 3 de Inarratione . " And so there is, saith he, a double consideration in Art, that is, from one Nature of one metal, to make two contrary liquors in composition: One that has a fixing, congealing and hardening quality, the other that is Volatile, unfixed and soft. But the second liquor is hardened, fixed and congealed by the first. From both which liquors there results one Stone, congealed, fixed and hardened, which hath the Virtue of congealing that which is not congealed, of hardening what is mollified, of mollifying what is hard. From whence it appears what these two waters are, and why they are to be reduced to One water. For the Stone is said to be Water because it is fusible, and on the contrary the water is called a Stone because it is frangible. But these waters are drawn out of different places, sometimes by a long tract, as may be seen in Rome, by the Aqua Virginis, and other Artificial Fountains, and then they are to be mixed by the confluence of their water, that from two may be made one. For if one be of a hot, and the other be of a cold Virtue, when these are mixed together they will acquire mixed Virtues, and will temper themselves after a wonderful manner. From hence will arise the most excellent Baths and medicinal Water, which will dispell all sorts of Maladies and diseases, and restore sound health to mankind.

Nature does indeed by her hidden Artifice of Composition, confound and mingle many waters with the Virtues of diverse minerals in the bowels of the Earth, which are beneficial to many sick and infirm persons. But if Art be added to with due Rules, so that not only the Evacuations of Nature that have been before, but those of Art which are to come before, are totally effected so that those things which should be mixed are mixed among themselves, the composition will become far more efficacious. Which although it may seem Artificial, yet is merely Natural because one simple Homogenous thing is made out of divers, which can never be effected by Art.

Art may cause a mixed use and confusion, but without the help of Nature there can be no true and natural Union, for that is made by Nature only. In Treacle there is an Artificial mixture of Various simples, which is made by contrition and fermentation, but no man will affirm it to be a Natural composition, much less to be an Homogenous Medicine.

As to the Artificial mixture of Substances, it is manifest that the least particles do not enter one into the other, which cannot be divided and separated again by the Industry of any man whatsoever.

But as to the mixture of all Qualities, we must enquire whether the first Treacles of all simples may pass into one Quintessence, or whether they remain still in their first substances or powders, as they did before as Accidents in their Subjects, or Colours upon a wall. And then what must be said of the second, third, and fourth Qualities?

It is probable that all Qualities do still adhere to their proper Subjects, and that they are not compounded among themselves with a true and natural mixture; otherwise if the qualities should leave their bodies, there would be four Quintessences in every Artificial compound, according to the number of the Order of the Qualities first, second and etc., that must be without their bodies, and separable, which thing is not so.

They write of the Coagulation of the Hare's Blood, that in a flux occasioned by thinness of blood it do stop, and as it were, coagulate, but in coagulation and commixtion it cuts and dissolves the same, so there are contrary operations of Vinegar, and Lead, and many other things, according as their Use is diverse, because Nature has mixed them so wonderfully. And thus the Philosophical water has diverse and contrary Virtues, because Nature by the help of Art, has out of contraries mixed it into one indivisible Substance, which is nothing else but a Quintessence, in respect of other things that are to be mingled with it.


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