Johannes Nicolaus Furichius

Johannes Nicolaus Furichius (1602–1633) was a Franco-German neo-Latin Imperial poet laureate, pharmacist, doctor of medicine and alchemist from Strasbourg.

Johannes Nicolaus Furichius
Born1602 (1602)
Strasbourg, Alsace
Died (aged 31)
Strasbourg, Alsace
Occupationneo-latin poet, doctor of medicine, pharmacist, alchemist
Alma materUniversity of Padua, University of Strasbourg
Notable worksChryseidos Libri IIII (1631)

Life and WorksEdit

Born 1602 to French Huguenot parents in Strasbourg Furichius only learned German while already attending the Protestant gymnasium at which he was a school-mate of Johann Michael Moscherosch (1601–1669). Both poets would henceforth cultivate an exchange of dedicatory and occasional epigrams.[1] 1622 Furichius obtained the degree of magister artium together with that of an Imperial poeta laureatus and commenced studying medicine. In the same year he published his first anthology Libelli Carminum Tres which was ensued by the Poemata Miscellanea. Lyrica, Epigrammata, Satyrae, Eclogae, Alia in 1624, both books did not yet contain alchemical poetry but - like Moscherosch's early works - display both the city's intellectual life and the gymnasium's and the early University of Strasbourg's curricula: from portrays of professors and fellow students, valedictions and congratulations over mere formal jesting, satires and confessional polemics to historical and philosophical miniatures and theological exhortations.[2]

Sojourning in Switzerland and Brixen between 1624 and 1626 Furichius travelled to the Venetian Republic where he inscribed at the medical faculty of the Padovan Universitas Artistarum and the corporation of the transalpine students, the German Natio Artistarum.[3] Furichius' increasing interest in alchemical speculations and natural philosophy resulted in his first alchemical poem Golden Chain or Poetical Hermes of the Philosophers' StoneAurea Catena siue Hermes poeticus de Lapide Philosophorum (printed in 1627); an aemulatio of Giovanni Aurelio Augurelli's Chrysopoeia (Venice 1515).[4] 1628 he returned to Strasbourg. Having defended his doctoral thesis in medicine and started to practice he married the daughter of the established goldsmith Josias Barbette (master craftsman in 1605),[5] with whom he had five children, three of them died until 1633. In those years Furichius experimented with pharmaceutic alchemy and - although frowned upon by the local Protestant orthodoxy - established bonds to the Rosicrucian movement, namely to the Hamburgian Rosicrucian, obsessed bibliophile and keen traveller Joachim Morsius (1593–1643). Throughout their correspondence and when they met in Strasbourg during the winter of 1631/32 Morsius insisted on Furichius expanding the Aurea Catena to a great alchemical scientific poem which was published in 1631 as the Four Books of ChryseisChryseidos Libri IIII.[6] At the age of 31 Furichius fell victim to the plague, which took a particularly grim toll from the Strasbourgian doctors, on 14 October 1633.[7]

The «Chryseidos Libri IIII» of 1631Edit

The Chryseidos Libri IIII[8] consists of approximately 1.600 hexametric verses, divided into four books, to which Furichius added his own glosses and wrote a versatile author's commentary, i. e. appendixed Scholia - which were all printed within the 1631-edition. As Augurelli did one hundred years earlier Furichius depicts the alchemical work in sequences of mythological allegories: the Gods acting as metals, the Greek and Roman myths being euhemeristically interpreted as hidden alchemical instructions and vestiges of antediluvial lore.[9] Yet while Augurelli's work is structurally clinging to Virgil's five books of the Georgics and is kept in an instructive style, Furichius opts for the form of a fantagasmorical travelogue in verse which he seeks to interlink with most scientific and literary discourses of his time.[10]


The first book provides an introductory alchemical cosmology and narrates how the metals grow inside the earth and strife for perfection. Book two then introduces the first-person narrator Chrysanthus who recounts his adventures in a fantastical Libyan desert where he encounters a speaking raven, a dreadful dragon, is infested with divine visions and finally meets Hermes Trismegistos, who serves as hermit high priest of an alchemitised Proserpina (figuring as the eponymous Chryseis). The sage who is living on a mountain summit by the goddess' temple is in books three and four expounding that all the mysteries represented the alchemical work. Thus further myths are told until finally Chrysanthus is prepared to enter himself the sanctum of Chryseis.[11]

Influences and interrelationsEdit

Albeit depending on Augurelli, Lucretius' De rerum natura and - as Furichius points out - on Manilius' Astronomica and Claudian's De raptu Proserpinae some passages are Latin adaptions of Pierre de Ronsard's (1524–1585) Hymne de l'Or[12] while central alchemical parts of the Chryseis are versifications of the Tractatus aureus de lapidis physici secreto (an at first 1610 published commentary on supposed sayings of Hermes Trismegistos) which also served as one main source of Michael Maier's (1568/69-1622) emblem book Atalanta Fugiens.[13] In his additions Furichius furthermore stresses his inspiration by Ludovico Ariosto's (1474–1533) Orlando Furioso and - apart from many genuinely alchemical references, even to Byzantine sources,[14] and hommages to George Ripley (ca. 1450–1490) and Michael Sendivogius' (1566–1636) satires - indulges in the contemporary controversies of natural philosophy.[15] Such he not only relates to, among scores of other authorities, the toxicology of the Padovan physician and botanist Prospero Alpini (1553–1616), and polymathic writings of the humanists (father) Julius Caesar Scaliger (1484–1558) and (son) Joseph Justus Scaliger (1540–1609) but also discusses Paracelsism and its antagonists.[16]

Works by FurichiusEdit

  • Libelli Carminum Tres. Quarum Primum Epigrammata; Altera Anagrammata; Tertius Carmina ad Vitam Pertinentia continet. Strasbourg 1622.
  • Poemata Miscellanea. Lyrica, Epigrammata, Satyrae, Eclogae, Alia. Strasbourg 1624.
  • Aurea Catena siue Hermes poeticus de Lapide Philosophorum. Padua 1627.
  • Disceptatio de Phrenetide. Strasbourg 1628 (doctoral thesis).
  • Chryseidos Libri IIII. Sive poëma de Lapide Philosophorum. Adjunctis poematibus nonnullis aliis. Strasbourg 1631 — modern edition Tübingen 2011.[17]


  1. ^ Correspondence analysed and partially edited in Kühlmann 1984, pp. 112–117.
  2. ^ On Furichius' early years cfr. Reiser 2011, pp. 27–34; annotated extracts from both anthologies ibid., pp. 30–32, 348–352.
  3. ^ Within their matricula Furichius lists as No 1738 cfr. Reiser 2011, pp. 34–35; Rosetti 1986, p. 213.
  4. ^ On the interdependence cfr. Kahn 2010, p. 272; Reiser 2011, pp. 51–56.
  5. ^ Cfr. Egg 1966; Reiser 2011, pp. 36–37.
  6. ^ Extensive biography of Morsius cfr. Schneider 1929; in brief cfr. Reiser 2011, pp. 37–42; the work's dedicatory preface which is addressed to him ibid. pp. 66–70, 195–205.
  7. ^ For the years to his death, with edition and translation of the funeral sermon cfr. Reiser 2011, pp. 29–46, 356–358; a concise biographical article Reiser 2009.
  8. ^ Modern edition with German translation and commentary in Reiser 2011, pp. 63–347.
  9. ^ On the phenomenon of mytho-alchemy cfr. Matton 1991; Reiser 2001, pp. 21–24; Secret 1981.
  10. ^ For a structural analysis of the Chrysopeia cfr. Haskell 1997, pp. 584–588; Martels 1994, pp. 985–987; Martels 2000, pp. 179–181; Pavanello 1905, pp. 65–77; for a juxtaposition with the Chryseis cfr. Reiser 2011, pp. 51–55.
  11. ^ Structural analysis and summary in Reiser 2011, pp. 46–51.
  12. ^ On such intertextual relations cfr. Reiser 2011, pp. 58–62, 199–200, 219–220, et passim.
  13. ^ On this very Tractatus aureus and its Nachleben cfr. Reiser 2011, pp. 27–29. It was reprinted in volume IV of the Theatrum Chemicum; cfr. Theatrum Chemicum electronicum.
  14. ^ Cfr. Reiser 2011, pp. 266–267.
  15. ^ Cfr. Reiser 2011, pp. 243, 330–331, et passim.
  16. ^ Cfr. Reiser 2011, pp. 15–18, 197–199, 215, 283–284, et passim.
  17. ^ Works by Furichius in WorldCat.


  • Erich Egg, Der Straßburger Goldschmied Josias Barbette, in: Waffen- und Kostümkunde 2 (1966), pp. 126–130. ISSN 0042-9945
  • Yasmin Haskell: Round and Round we go: The Alchemical Opus circulatorium of Giovanni Aurelio Augurelli, in: Bibliothèque d'Humanisme et Renaissance 59 (1997), pp. 585–606. ISSN 0006-1999
  • Didier Kahn, Alchemical Poetry in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: A Preliminary Survey and Synthesis, Part I in: Ambix 57/3 (2010), pp. 249–274; Part II in: Ambix 58/1 (2011), pp. 62–77. ISSN 0002-6980
  • Wilhelm Kühlmann, Alchemie und späthumanistische Formkultur, Der Straßburger Dichter Johann Nicolaus Furichius (1602–1633), ein Freund Moscheroschs, in: Daphnis 13 (1984), pp. 101–135. ISSN 0300-693X
  • Zweder von Martels, The Allegorical Meaning of the Chrysopoeia by Ioannes Aurelius Augurellus, in: Acta Conventus Neo-Latini Hafniensis, Proceedings of the Eight International Congress of Neo-Latin Studies, Copenhagen 12 August to 17 August 1991, Rhoda Schnur et al. (edd.), Birmingham-New York 1994, pp. 979–988. ISBN 0-86698-173-X
  • Zweder von Martels, Augurello's Chrysopoeia (1515): a turning point in the literary tradition of alchemical texts, in: Early Science and Medicine 5/2 (2000), pp. 178–195. ISSN 1383-7427
  • Sylvain Matton, L'hérmeneutique alchimique da la fable antique, in: Antoine-Joseph Pernety, Les fables égyptiennes et grecques, 2 vols, Paris 1786 (reprint ibid. 1991), vol. 1, pp. 1–24. ISBN 2-903965-19-6
  • Giuseppe Pavanello, Un maestro del quattrocento, Giovanni Aurelio Augurello, Venice 1905.
  • Thomas Reiser, Furichius, Johannes Nicolaus, in Killy Literaturlexikon, 2nd revised edition, Wilhelm Kühlmann et al. (edd.), 13 vols, Berlin 2008sqq., vol. 4 (2009), wpp. 87–88. ISBN 978-3-11-021389-8
  • Thomas Reiser, Mythologie und Alchemie in der Lehrepik des frühen 17. Jahrhunderts, Die Chryseidos libri IIII des Straßburger Dichterarztes Johannes Nicolaus Furichius (1602–1633), Tübingen: De Gruyter 2011. ISBN 978-3-11-023316-2review by Fredericka A. Schmadel in: Journal of Folklore Research (online).
  • Lucia Rosetti (ed.), Matricula Nationis Germanicae Artistarum Gymnasio Patavino (1553–1721), Padua 1986. ISBN 978-88-8455-326-3
  • Heinrich Schneider, Joachim Morsius und sein Kreis, Zur Geschichte des 17. Jahrhunderts, Lübeck 1929.
  • François Secret, Alchimie et Mythologie, in: Dictionnaire des mythologies et réligions des sociétés traditionelles et du monde antique, Yves Bonnefoi (ed.), 2 vols, Paris 1981, vol. 1, pp. 7–9. ISBN 2-08-010945-6