Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

That Which Is Not Yet Known: An Analysis of Michael Maier’s Alchemical Work Through Arcana Arcanissima
by Happel, Olivia Jean, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2019, 319; 27542876
Abstract (Summary)

In 1614, Count Palatine Michael Maier published Arcana Arcanissima, the Most Secret Mysteries in which he analyzes mythological stories through an alchemical lens to discover the Christian truths which they hold. This text is referenced throughout scholarship on Maier, but no one has translated it into English. Maier is famous for works such as the Atalanta Fugiens, and his depth and breadth of mythological and alchemical scholarship is profound. This study focuses on one chapter from Arcana Arcanissima on the Trojan War to discover Maier’s analyses of myth, alchemy, and religion.

As such, this theoretical dissertation begins by examining Maier’s biographical details and the impact which his life had upon his work. It then explores the scholarship which influenced him along with three words which guide his work: vulgus (the public), verum (truth), and dubium (doubt). These concepts present three pillars from which Maier writes. Next, it looks at three of Maier’s other works that have the most bearing upon Arcana Arcanissima. The second half of this study analyzes Maier’s work based on themes of mythology, alchemy, and religion. In addition to direct analysis of Maier’s text, each chapter provides historical context on the subject at hand.

Maier’s work presents an integrated approach to these subjects, and it reflects the issues of the early seventeenth century in central Europe. Written a few years before the Thirty Years War and in the context of the Post-Reformation period, this text presents one man’s perspective on these stories and their value for the world. By analyzing and understanding his perspective, a framework of how to approach these integrated issues emerges. Through Maier’s work, a modern audience can better understand mythology, alchemy, and religion and how they function together in analyzing the myths surrounding the Trojan War.

Keywords: alchemy, Michael Maier, Troy, mythology, Christianity, Arcana Arcanissima

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Smith, Evans L
Commitee: Smith, Evans L, Paidhrin, Susan, Godwin, Joscelyn
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Mythological Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 81/4(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Classical studies, European history, Religious history
Keywords: Alchemy, Arcana Arcanissima, Christianity, Michael Maier, Mythology, Troy
Publication Number: 27542876
ISBN: 9781392894613
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