Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (Italian: [dʒoˈvanni ˈpiːko della miˈrandola]; 24 February 1463 – 17 November 1494) was an Italian Renaissance nobleman and philosopher.[1] He is famed for the events of 1486, when, at the age of 23, he proposed to defend 900 theses on religion, philosophy, natural philosophy, and magic against all comers, for which he wrote the Oration on the Dignity of Man, which has been called the "Manifesto of the Renaissance",[2] and a key text of Renaissance humanism and of what has been called the "Hermetic Reformation".[3] He was the founder of the tradition of Christian Kabbalah, a key tenet of early modern Western esotericism. The 900 Theses was the first printed book to be universally banned by the Church.[4]

Pico della Mirandola
Portrait from the Uffizi Gallery, in Florence
Born24 February 1463
Died17 November 1494 (aged 31)
EraRenaissance philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolRenaissance philosophy
Main interests
Politics, history, religion, magic



Paolo Monti - Servizio fotografico (Mirandola, 1976) - BEIC 6329210
Castle of Mirandola in 1976

Giovanni was born at Mirandola, near Modena, the youngest son of Gianfrancesco I Pico, Lord of Mirandola and Count of Concordia, by his wife Giulia, daughter of Feltrino Boiardo, Count of Scandiano.[5] The family had long dwelt in the Castle of Mirandola (Duchy of Modena), which had become independent in the fourteenth century and had received in 1414 from the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund the fief of Concordia. Mirandola was a small autonomous county (later, a duchy) in Emilia, near Ferrara. The Pico della Mirandola were closely related to the Sforza, Gonzaga and Este dynasties, and Giovanni's siblings wed the descendants of the hereditary rulers of Corsica, Ferrara, Bologna, and Forlì.[5]

Born twenty-three years into his parents' marriage, Giovanni had two much older brothers, both of whom outlived him: Count Galeotto I continued the dynasty, while Antonio became a general in the Imperial army.[5] The Pico family would reign as dukes until Mirandola, an ally of Louis XIV of France, was conquered by his rival, Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1708 and annexed to Modena by Duke Rinaldo d'Este, the exiled male line becoming extinct in 1747.[6]

Giovanni's maternal family was singularly distinguished in the arts and scholarship of the Italian Renaissance. His cousin and contemporary was the poet Matteo Maria Boiardo, who grew up under the influence of his own uncle, the Florentine patron of the arts and scholar-poet Tito Vespasiano Strozzi.[7]

Giovanni had a paradoxical relationship with his nephew Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola, who was a great admirer of his uncle, yet published Examen vanitatis doctrinae gentium (1520) in opposition to the "ancient wisdom narrative" espoused by Giovanni, described by historian Charles B. Schmitt as an attempt "to destroy what his uncle had built."[8]


L'enfance de Pic de la Mirandole
The Childhood of Pico della Mirandola by Hippolyte Delaroche, 1842, Musée d'Arts de Nantes

A precocious child with an exceptional memory, Giovanni was schooled in Latin and possibly Greek at a very early age. Intended for the Church by his mother, he was named a papal protonotary (probably honorary) at the age of ten and in 1477 he went to Bologna to study canon law.[9]

At the sudden death of his mother three years later, Pico renounced canon law and began to study philosophy at the University of Ferrara.[9] During a brief trip to Florence, he met Angelo Poliziano, the courtly poet Girolamo Benivieni, and probably the young Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola. For the rest of his life he remained very close friends with all three, including the ascetic and anti-humanist Savonarola.[10] He may also have been a lover of Poliziano.[11] From 1480 to 1482, he continued his studies at the University of Padua, a major center of Aristotelianism in Italy.[9] Already proficient in Latin and Greek, he studied Hebrew and Arabic in Padua with Elia del Medigo, a Jewish Averroist, and read Aramaic manuscripts with him as well. Del Medigo also translated Judaic manuscripts from Hebrew into Latin for Pico, as he would continue to do for a number of years. Pico also wrote sonnets in Latin and Italian which, because of the influence of Savonarola, he destroyed at the end of his life.

He spent the next four years either at home, or visiting humanist centres elsewhere in Italy. In 1485, he travelled to the University of Paris, the most important centre in Europe for scholastic philosophy and theology, and a hotbed of secular Averroism. It was probably in Paris that Giovanni began his 900 Theses and conceived the idea of defending them in public debate.

900 Theses

THE CONCLUSIONS will not be disputed until after the Epiphany. In the meantime they will be published in all Italian universities. And if any philosopher or theologian, even from the ends of Italy, wishes to come to Rome for the sake of debating, his lord the disputer promises to pay the travel expenses from his own funds.

— Announcement at the end of the 900 Theses[12]

During this time two life-changing events occurred. The first was when he returned to settle for a time in Florence in November 1484 and met Lorenzo de' Medici and Marsilio Ficino. It was an astrologically auspicious day that Ficino had chosen to publish his translations of the works of Plato from Greek into Latin, under Lorenzo's enthusiastic patronage. Pico appears to have charmed both men, and despite Ficino's philosophical differences, he was convinced of their Saturnine affinity and the divine providence of his arrival. Lorenzo would support and protect Pico until his death in 1492. Without Lorenzo's support, it is doubtful that Pico would have survived the Inquisition coming after him.

Soon after this stay in Florence, Pico was travelling on his way to Rome where he intended to publish his 900 Theses and prepare for a "congress" of scholars from all over Europe to debate them. Stopping in Arezzo he became embroiled in a love affair with the wife of one of Lorenzo de' Medici's cousins. It almost cost him his life. Giovanni attempted to run off with the woman, but he was caught, wounded and thrown into prison by her husband. He was released only upon the intervention of Lorenzo himself. The incident is representative of Pico's often audacious temperament and of the loyalty and affection he nevertheless could inspire.

Pico spent several months in Perugia and nearby Fratta, recovering from his injuries. It was there, as he wrote to Ficino, that "divine Providence ... caused certain books to fall into my hands. They are Chaldean books ... of Esdras, of Zoroaster and of Melchior, oracles of the magi, which contain a brief and dry interpretation of Chaldean philosophy, but full of mystery."[13] It was also in Perugia that Pico was introduced to the mystical Hebrew Kabbalah, which fascinated him, as did the late classical Hermetic writers, such as Hermes Trismegistus. The Kabbalah and Hermetica were thought in Pico's time to be as ancient as the Old Testament. The most original of his 900 theses concerned the Kaballah. As a result, he became the founder of the tradition known as Christian Kabbalah, which went on to be a central part of early modern Western esotericism.[4] Pico's approach to different philosophies was one of extreme syncretism, placing them in parallel, it has been claimed, rather than attempting to describe a developmental history.[14]

Pico based his ideas chiefly on Plato, as did his teacher, Marsilio Ficino, but retained a deep respect for Aristotle. Although he was a product of the studia humanitatis, Pico was constitutionally an eclectic, and in some respects he represented a reaction against the exaggerations of pure humanism, defending what he believed to be the best of the medieval and Islamic commentators, such as Averroes and Avicenna, on Aristotle in a famous long letter to Ermolao Barbaro in 1485. It was always Pico's aim to reconcile the schools of Plato and Aristotle since he believed they used different words to express the same concepts. It was perhaps, for this reason, his friends called him "Princeps Concordiae", or "Prince of Harmony" (a pun on Prince of Concordia, one of his family's holdings).[15] Similarly, Pico believed that an educated person should also study the Hebrew and Talmudic sources, and the Hermetics, because he thought they represented the same concept of God that is seen in the Old Testament, but in different words.

He finished his "Oration on the Dignity of Man" to accompany his 900 Theses and traveled to Rome to continue his plan to defend them. He had them published together in December 1486 as "Conclusiones philosophicae, cabalasticae et theologicae", and offered to pay the expenses of any scholars who came to Rome to debate them publicly. He wanted the debate to begin on 6 January, which was, as historian Steven Farmer has observed, the feast of Epiphany and "symbolic date of the submission of the pagan gentes to Christ in the persons of the Magi". After emerging victorious at the culmination of the debate, Pico planned not only on the symbolic acquiescence of the pagan sages, but also the conversion of Jews as they realised that Jesus was the true secret of their traditions. According to Farmer, Pico may have been expecting quite literally that "his Vatican debate would end with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse crashing through the Roman skies".[16]

Innocent VIII 1492
Innocent VIII, 15th century

In February 1487, Pope Innocent VIII halted the proposed debate, and established a commission to review the orthodoxy of the 900 Theses. Although Pico answered the charges against them, thirteen of them were condemned. Pico agreed in writing to retract them, but he did not change his mind about their validity. Eventually all 900 theses were condemned. He proceeded to write an apologia defending them, Apologia J. Pici Mirandolani, Concordiae comitis, published in 1489, which he dedicated to his patron, Lorenzo. When the pope was apprised of the circulation of this manuscript, he set up an inquisitorial tribunal, forcing Pico to renounce the Apologia, in addition to his condemned theses, which he agreed to do. The pope condemned 900 Theses as:

In part heretical, in part the flower of heresy; several are scandalous and offensive to pious ears; most do nothing but reproduce the errors of pagan philosophers... others are capable of inflaming the impertinence of the Jews; a number of them, finally, under the pretext of 'natural philosophy', favour arts [i.e., magic[4]] that are enemies to the Catholic faith and to the human race.[17]

This was the first time that a printed book had been banned by the Church, and nearly all copies were burned.[4] Pico fled to France in 1488, where he was arrested by Philip II, Duke of Savoy, at the demand of the papal nuncios, and imprisoned at Vincennes. Through the intercession of several Italian princes – all instigated by Lorenzo de' Medici – King Charles VIII had him released, and the pope was persuaded to allow Pico to move to Florence and to live under Lorenzo's protection. But he was not cleared of the papal censures and restrictions until 1493, after the accession of Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) to the papacy.

The experience deeply shook Pico. He reconciled with Savonarola, who remained a very close friend. It was at Pico's persuasion that Lorenzo invited Savonarola to Florence. But Pico never renounced his syncretist convictions. He settled in a villa near Fiesole prepared for him by Lorenzo, where he wrote and published the Heptaplus id est de Dei creatoris opere (1489) and De Ente et Uno (Of Being and Unity, 1491). It was here that he also wrote his other most celebrated work, the Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinicatrium (Treatise Against Predictive Astrology), which was not published until after his death. In it, Pico acidly condemned the deterministic practices of the astrologers of his day.

After the death of Lorenzo de' Medici, in 1492, Pico moved to Ferrara, although he continued to visit Florence. In Florence, political instability gave rise to the increasing influence of Savonarola, whose reactionary opposition to Renaissance expansion and style had already brought about conflict with the Medici family (they eventually were expelled from Florence) and would lead to the wholesale destruction of books and paintings. Nevertheless, Pico became a follower of Savonarola. Determined to become a monk, he dismissed his former interest in Egyptian and Chaldean texts, destroyed his own poetry and gave away his fortune.[18]


Angel Appearing to Zacharias (detail) - 1486-90
Angel Appearing to Zacharias (detail), by Domenico Ghirlandaio, c. 1486-90 - showing (l-r) Marsilio Ficino, Cristoforo Landino, Angelo Poliziano and Demetrios Chalkondyles

In 1494, at the age of 31, Pico was poisoned under mysterious circumstances along with his friend Angelo Poliziano.[19] It was rumoured that his own secretary had poisoned him because Pico had become too close to Savonarola.[17] He was interred together with Girolamo Benivieni at San Marco, and Savonarola delivered the funeral oration. Ficino wrote:

Our dear Pico left us on the same day that Charles VIII was entering Florence, and the tears of men of letters compensated for the joy of the people. Without the light brought by the king of France, Florence might perhaps have never seen a more somber day than that which extinguished Mirandola's light.[17]

In 2007, the bodies of Poliziano and Pico della Mirandola were exhumed from the Church of San Marco in Florence. Scientists under the supervision of Giorgio Gruppioni, a professor of anthropology from Bologna, attempted to determine the cause of the two men's death using modern forensic technology.[10] In February 2008 they announced their results, which showed that both Poliziano and Pico had died of arsenic poisoning, probably at the order of Lorenzo's successor, Piero de' Medici.[20]


Ioannis Francisci Pici principis
Opera quae exstant omnia (1601)

In the Oratio de hominis dignitate (Oration on the Dignity of Man, 1486), Pico justified the importance of the human quest for knowledge within a Neoplatonic framework.

The Oration also served as an introduction to Pico's 900 theses, which he believed to provide a complete and sufficient basis for the discovery of all knowledge, and hence a model for mankind's ascent of the chain of being. The 900 Theses are a good example of humanist syncretism, because Pico combined Platonism, Neoplatonism, Aristotelianism, Hermeticism and Kabbalah. They also included 72 theses describing what Pico believed to be a complete system of physics.

Pico's De animae immortalitate (Paris, 1541), and other works, developed the doctrine that man's possession of an immortal soul freed him from the hierarchical stasis. Pico believed in universal reconciliation, as one of his 900 theses was "A mortal sin of finite duration is not deserving of eternal but only of temporal punishment;" it was among the theses pronounced heretical by Pope Innocent VIII in his bull of 4 August 1487.[21] In the Oration he writes that "human vocation is a mystical vocation that has to be realized following a three stage way, which comprehends necessarily moral transformation, intellectual research and final perfection in the identity with the absolute reality. This paradigm is universal, because it can be retraced in every tradition."[22]

A portion of his Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinatricem was published in Bologna after his death. In this book Pico presents arguments against the practice of astrology that have had enormous resonance for centuries, up to our own time. Disputationes is influenced by the arguments against astrology espoused by one of his intellectual heroes, Augustine of Hippo, and also by the medieval philosophical tale Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān by ibn Tufail, which promoted autodidacticism as a philosophical program.[23]

Pico's antagonism to astrology seems to derive mainly from the conflict of astrology with Christian notions of free will. But Pico's arguments moved beyond the objections of Ficino, who was himself an astrologer. The manuscript was edited for publication after Pico's death by his nephew Giovanni Francesco Pico della Mirandola, an ardent follower of Savonarola, and may possibly have been amended to be more forcefully critical. This might possibly explain the fact that Ficino championed the manuscript and enthusiastically endorsed it before its publication.

Early in his career, Pico wrote a Commento sopra una canzone d'amore di Girolamo Benivieni, in which he revealed his plan to write a book entitled Poetica Theologia:[24]

It was the opinion of the ancient theologians that divine subjects and the secret Mysteries must not be rashly divulged... the Egyptians had sculpted sphinxes in all their temples, for no other reason than to indicate that divine things, even when they are committed to writing, must be covered with enigmatic veils and poetic dissimulation... How that was done... by Latin and Greek poets we shall explain in the book of our Poetic Theology.

— Commento, Libro Terzo, Cap. xi, Stanza Nona[25]

Pico's Heptaplus, a mystico-allegorical exposition of the creation according to the seven Biblical senses, elaborates on his idea that different religions and traditions describe the same God. The book is written in his characteristic apologetic and polemic style:

If they agree with us anywhere, we shall order the Hebrews to stand by the ancient traditions of their fathers; if anywhere they disagree, then drawn up in Catholic legions we shall make an attack upon them. In short, whatever we detect foreign to the truth of the Gospels we shall refute to the extent of our power, while whatever we find holy and true we shall bear off from the synagogue, as from a wrongful possessor, to ourselves, the legitimate Israelites.

— Heptaplus, Proem to 3rd exposition[26]

On Being and the One (Latin: De ente et uno), has explanations of several passages in Moses, Plato and Aristotle. It is an attempted reconciliation between Platonic and Aristotelian writings on the relative places of being and "the one" and a refutation of opposing arguments.

He wrote in Italian an imitation of Plato's Symposium. His letters (Aureae ad familiares epistolae, Paris, 1499) are important for the history of contemporary thought. The many editions of his entire works in the sixteenth century sufficiently prove his influence.

Another notorious text by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola is De omnibus rebus et de quibusdam aliis, "Of all things that exist and a little more" which is mentioned in some entries on Thomas More's Utopia and makes fun of the title of Lucretius' De rerum natura.

Cultural references

  • In James Joyce's Ulysses, the precocious Stephen Dedalus recalls with disdain his boyhood ambitions, and apparently associates them with the career of Mirandola: "Remember your epiphanies written on green oval leaves, deeply deep...copies to be sent if you died to all the great libraries of the world...Pico della Mirandola like."[27]
  • Of minor interest is a passing reference to Mirandola by H. P. Lovecraft, in the story The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (1927). Mirandola is given as the source of the fearsome incantation used by unknown evil entities as some sort of evocation. However, this "spell" was first depicted (as the key to a rather simple form of divination, not a great and terrible summoning) by, and in all likelihood created by, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy. This was written several decades after Mirandola's death and was the first written example of that "spell", so it is almost impossible for Mirandola to have been the source of those "magic words".
  • Psychoanalyst Otto Rank, a rebellious disciple of Sigmund Freud, chose a substantial excerpt from Mirandola's Oration on the Dignity of Man as the motto for his book Art and Artist: Creative Urge and Personality Development, including: "...I created thee as a being neither celestial nor earthly... so that thou shouldst be thy own free moulder and overcomer...".[28]
  • In Umberto Eco's novel Foucault's Pendulum the protagonist Casaubon claims that the idea that the Jews were privy to the enigma of the Templars was "a mistake of Pico Della Mirandola" caused by a spelling mistake he made between "Israelites" and "Ismaelites."
  • In Irving Stone's novel about Michelangelo, The Agony and the Ecstasy, book 3, part 3 contains a paragraph's description of Mirandola as part of the scholarly circle that surrounded Lorenzo di Medici in Florence. Mirandola was described as a man who spoke 22 languages, was deeply read in philosophy, and someone who made no enemies.
  • Philosopher of social science René Girard mentions Mirandola passingly in his book Des choses cachées depuis la fondation du monde (Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World), Girard writes in a disparaging tone, "People will accuse us of playing at being Pico della Mirandola—the renaissance man—certainly a temptation to be resisted today, if we wish to be seen in a favourable light." (p. 141, 1987)
  • In Roberto Bolaño's novel 2666, the philosophy professor Oscar Amalfitano begins his three-columned list of philosophers with Pico della Mirandola. Adjacent to Mirandola, Amalfitano writes Hobbes, while beneath him he writes Husserl (p. 207, 2008).
  • In Frédéric Lenoir's novel L'Oracle della Luna (2006) the philosophy of Pico della Mirandola forms one of the major teachings acquired by the protagonist, Giovanni, from his main spiritual Master. The year is 1530. The major mentions are:
    • at the end of Chapter 21 the sage – a fictitious character – says he has personally met Pico della Mirandola and discusses Mirandola's disagreement with the pope about the 900 Theses (with Lenoir stating that only 7 of them had not been accepted) and the philosopher's later fate. In the words of the sage, the main goal of Ficino and Pico della Mirandola was to acquire universal knowledge, free from prejudice and from linguistic and religious barriers;
    • at the end of Chapter 24, having discussed Luther's concept of free will, the sage wants the acquaint Giovanni with Mirandola's ideas on this issue and lets him read "De hominis dignitate"; Giovanni peruses the book with great interest in Chapter 25;
    • at the beginning of Chapter 26, with Giovanni having now read the Oration on the Dignity of Man, the sage discusses two issues from the book with him. One is Pico della Mirandola's attempt to form one unified and universal philosophy and the difficulties thereof. The other one is Mirandola's concept of free will. Giovanni has learnt one passage from the book by heart, about God addressing man and telling him, that He has made him neither a heavenly nor an earthly creature and that man is the forger of his own fate. This passage is quoted in the novel.
  • English composer Gavin Bryars makes use of the texts of Pico della Mirandola in his musical production; most notably in pieces like "Glorious Hill", for vocal quartet/mixed choir, and "Incipit Vita Nova", for alto and string trio.
  • Pico della Mirandola appears as the character Ikaros in Jo Walton's novels The Just City and The Philosopher Kings.
  • In the book Dying for Ideas; The Dangerous Lives of the Philosophers (2015) by Romanian philosopher Costica Bradatan, Mirandola's life and work is taken as an early or even first example of taking human life as a project of 'self-fashioning', relating this to Mirandola's heretic idea of man being part of creation with 'an indefinite nature'.

See also



  1. ^ "Pico della Mirandola, Giovanni, Conte" in Grolier Encyclopedia of Knowledge, volume 15, copyright 1991. Grolier Inc., ISBN 0-7172-5300-7
  2. ^ Oration on the Dignity of Man (1486) Archived 4 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Heiser, James D., Prisci Theologi and the Hermetic Reformation in the Fifteenth Century, Malone, TX: Repristination Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1-4610-9382-4
  4. ^ a b c d Hanegraaff p.54
  5. ^ a b c Marek, Miroslav (16 September 2002). "". Pico family. Retrieved 9 March 2008.
  6. ^ Schoell, M. (1837). "VIII". History of the Revolutions in Europe. Charleston: S. Babcock & Co. pp. 23–24. ISBN 0-665-91061-4. Retrieved 9 March 2008.
  7. ^ "". Boiardo's Life: Time Table. Archived from the original on 6 August 2009. Retrieved 9 March 2008.
  8. ^ Hanegraff p.80
  9. ^ a b c Baird, Forrest (2000). "Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463–1494)". Philosophic Classics. Prentice Hall. Archived from the original on 2 December 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2009.
  10. ^ a b "Medici writers exhumed in Italy". BBC News. 28 July 2007. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  11. ^ Strathern, Paul (2011). Death in Florence. London: Jonathan Cape. p. 84. ISBN 978-0224089784.
  12. ^ Farmer p.ix
  13. ^ "Bibliographie Giovanni Pico della Mirandola". Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  14. ^ Hanegraaff p.59
  15. ^ Paul Oskar Kristeller, Eight Philosophers of the Italian Renaissance. Stanford University Press (Stanford, California, 1964.) P. 62.
  16. ^ Hanegraaff p.57
  17. ^ a b c op.cit.
  18. ^ Borchardt, Frank L. (1 January 1990). "The Magus as Renaissance Man". The Sixteenth Century Journal. 21 (1): 70. doi:10.2307/2541132. JSTOR 2541132.
  19. ^ Ben-Zaken, Avner, "Defying Authority, Rejecting Predestination and Conquering Nature", in Reading Hayy Ibn-Yaqzan: A Cross-Cultural History of Autodidacticism (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), 65–101.
  20. ^ Moore, Malcolm (7 February 2008). "Medici philosopher's mysterious death is solved". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 7 February 2008.
  21. ^ "Apocatastasis". New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. I.
  22. ^ Prof. Pier Cesare Bori. "The Italian Renaissance: An Unfinished Dawn?: Pico della Mirandola Archived 29 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine". Accessed 2007-12-05.
  23. ^ see Ben-Zaken, Avner, "Defying Authority, Rejecting Predestination and Conquering Nature", in Reading Hayy Ibn-Yaqzan: A Cross-Cultural History of Autodidacticism (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), pp. 65–100.
  24. ^ Butorac p.357
  25. ^ Hanegraaff p.64
  26. ^ Hanegraaff p.58
  27. ^ Source: Archived 9 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine (accessed: 15 September 2010)
  28. ^ Rank, Otto, Art and Artist: Creative Urge and Personality Development, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1932.

Sources and further reading

  • Ben-Zaken, Avner, "Defying Authority, Rejecting Predestination and Conquering Nature", in Reading Hayy Ibn-Yaqzan: A Cross-Cultural History of Autodidacticism (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), pp. 65–100. ISBN 978-0801897399.
  • Borchardt, Frank L. "The Magus as Renaissance Man." Sixteenth Century Journal (1990): 57–76. doi:10.2307/2541132.
  • Busi, G., "'Who does not wonder at this Chameleon?' The Kabbalistic Library of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola", in "Hebrew to Latin, Latin to Hebrew. The Mirroring of Two Cultures in the Age of Humanism. Colloquium held at the Warburg Institute. London, October 18–19, 2004", Edited by G. Busi, Berlin-Torino: Nino Aragno Editore, 2006: 167–196.
  • Busi, G. with S. M. Bondoni and S. Campanini (eds.), The Great Parchment: Flavius Mithridates' Latin Translation, the Hebrew Text, and an English Version, The Kabbalistic Library of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola – 1. Torino: Nino Aragno Editore, 2004.
  • Danielle Layne; David D. Butorac (6 February 2017). Proclus and his Legacy. De Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-047162-5.
  • Campanini, S. The Book of Bahir. Flavius Mithridates' Latin Translation, the Hebrew Text, and an English Version, with a Foreword by G. Busi, The Kabbalistic Library of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola – 2. Torino: Nino Aragno Editore, 2005.
  • Campanini, Saverio. "Talmud, Philosophy, Kabbalah: A Passage from Pico della Mirandola's Apologia and its Source." In The Words of a Wise Man's Mouth are Gracious. Festschrift for Günter Stemberger on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday, edited by M. Perani, 429–447. Berlin & New York: W. De Gruyter Verlag, 2005.
  • Cassirer, Ernst, Paul Oskar Kristeller, and John Herman Randall, Jr. The Renaissance Philosophy of Man. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1948.
  • Corazzol, Giacomo (ed.), Menahem Recanati, Commentary on the Daily Prayers. The Kabbalistic Library of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola – 3. 2 volumes. Torino: Nino Aragno Editore, 2008.
  • Dougherty, M. V., ed. Pico della Mirandola. New Essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
  • Dulles, Avery, Princeps Concordiae: Pico della Mirandola and the Scholastic Tradition—The Harvard Phi Beta Kappa Prize Essay for 1940, Cambridge, MA, 1941.
  • Farmer, S. A. Syncretism in the West: Pico's 900 Theses (1486): The Evolution of Traditional Religious and Philosophical Systems. Temple, AZ: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1998. (Contains the Latin text of the 900 theses, an English translation, and detailed commentary.)
  • Gilbhard, Thomas. "Paralipomena pichiana: a propos einer Pico–Bibliographie". In Accademia. Revue de la Société Marsile Ficin VII (2005): 81–94.
  • Hanegraaff, Wouter (2012). Esotericism and the Academy: Rejected Knowledge in Western Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521196215.
  • Heiser, James D., Prisci Theologi and the Hermetic Reformation in the Fifteenth Century, Malone, TX: Repristination Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1-4610-9382-4.
  • Kristeller, Paul Oskar. Eight Philosophers of the Italian Renaissance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1964.
  • Jurgan, Susanne, Campanini, Saverio, The Gate of Heaven. Flavius Mithridates' Latin Translation, the Hebrew Text, and an English Version. Edited with Introduction and Notes by S. Jurgan and S. Campanini with a Text on Pico by Giulio Busi, in The Kabbalistic Library of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola 5, Nino Aragno Editore, Torino 2012. ISBN 978-8884195449
  • Pater, Walter. "Pico Della Mirandola." In The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry, 24–40. New York: The Modern Library, 1871.
  • Quaquarelli, Leonardo, and Zita Zanardi. Pichiana. Bibliografia delle edizioni e degli studi. Firenze: Olschki, 2005 (Studi pichiani 10).
  • Robb, Nesca A., Neoplatonism of the Italian Renaissance, New York: Octagon Books, Inc., 1968.
  • Martigli, Carlo A., "999 L'Ultimo Custode", Italia: Castelvecchi, 2009.
  • Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, "Apologia. L'autodifesa di Pico di fronte al Tribunale dell'Inquisizione", a cura di Paolo Edoardo Fornaciari, Firenze, Sismel – Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2010 (it:Società internazionale per lo studio del Medioevo latino)

External links

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Giovanni Pico della Mirandola" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.

1510 in poetry

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature (for instance, Irish or France).

Caterina Pico

Caterina Pico (della Mirandola) (1454 - 5 December 1501) was an Italian noblewoman.

Elia del Medigo

Elia del Medigo, also called Elijah Delmedigo or Elias ben Moise del Medigo and sometimes known to his contemporaries as Helias Hebreus Cretensis or in Hebrew Elijah Mi-Qandia (c. 1458 – c. 1493). According to Jacob Joshua Ross, "while the non-Jewish students of Delmedigo may have classified him as an “Averroist”, he clearly saw himself as a follower of Maimonides". But, according to other scholars, Delmedigo was clearly a strong follower of Averroes' doctrines, even the more radical ones: unity of intellect, eternity of the world, autonomy of reason from the boundaries of revealed religion.

Born in Candia, on the island of Crete, (at that time was under the control of the Venetian Republic), whither his family had emigrated from Germany, he spent ten years in Rome and in Padua in northern Italy, returning to Candia at the end of his life.

He is remembered for a number of translations, commentaries on Averroes (Ibn Rushd in Arabic) (notably a commentary on Averroes' Substantia Orbis in 1485), for his influence on many Italian Platonists of the early Renaissance (especially Giovanni Pico della Mirandola), and for his treatise on Jewish philosophy, Sefer Beḥinat ha-Dat (The Examination of Religion), published many years after his death, in 1629.

Flavius Mithridates

Flavius Mithridates was an Italian Jewish humanist scholar, who flourished at Rome in the second half of the 15th century. He is said to be from Sicily, and was a Christian convert, known for preaching impressively if tendentiously. He also had a knowledge of Arabic.About 1486 he lived at Fratta, near Perugia, in the house of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, whom he instructed in Aramaic. He is now best known as the translator for Pico della Mirandola of the Bibliotheca Cabalistica, a large compilation of cabbalistic literature. Modern scholarly reconsideration of this work have found it somewhat erratic and containing interpolations.

He also translated into Latin Maimonides' epistle on resurrection, Levi ben Gershon's commentary on the Song of Solomon, and Judah's "Ma'amar ha-Hawayah ha-Heḳḳeshiyyah," or "Sermo de Generatione Syllogismorum Simplicium et Compositorum in Omni Figura." Flavius was the author of "De Tropis Hebraicis," an original work in Latin on Hebrew accents, which was praised by Sebastian Münster and Imbonatus.

Some scholars have thought, but without sufficient reason, that Flavius is identical with the cabalist Johanan Aleman ben Isaac a contemporary and associate of Pico della Mirandola, who taught him from the late 1480s.

Francesco de Vieri

Francesco de' Vieri, called Verino the second (1524-1591), was an Italian philosopher.

He was the nephew of Francesco de' Vieri called Verino the first. At the Studio di Pisa he was professor of logic and later of philosophy, since 1559 to 1590. He was criticized by colleagues for his yearn of a new platonic academy following Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. His main opponent was Girolamo Borri.

Gianfrancesco I Pico

Gianfrancesco I Pico (1415 – 8 November 1467) was an Italian condottiero and nobleman, the father to philosopher Giovanni Pico della Mirandola.

He was the son of Giovanni I Pico, lord of Mirandola in what is now Emilia Romagna, and Caterina Bevilacqua, a Veronese noblewoman. When his father died in 1450, Gianfrancesco succeeded him in Mirandola and, in the same year, he fought alongside Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, lord of Rimini, who was then under attack of Pope Pius II's troops. In 1462 he was captured by Federico II da Montefeltro, remaining his prisoner until the Venetians paid a ransom the following year.

After his death, in 1467, the members of the Pico family started a feud on the family's land which lasted some one hundred years.

Giovanni Francesco Pico della Mirandola

Giovanni Francesco Pico della Mirandola (1470–1533) was an Italian nobleman and philosopher, the nephew of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. His name is typically truncated as Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola.

Girolamo Benivieni

Girolamo Benivieni (Italian: [dʒiˈrɔːlamo beniˈvjɛni]; 6 February 1453 – August 1542) was a Florentine poet and a musician. His father was a notary in Florence. He suffered from poor health most of his life, which prevented him from taking a more stable job. He was a leading member of the Medicean Academy, a society devoted to literary study. He was a friend of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463–1494), whom he met for the first time in 1479; it was Pico della Mirandola who encouraged him to study Neoplatonism. In the late 1480s, he and Pico della Mirandola became students of Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola (1452–1498). In 1496, he translated the teachings of Savonarola from Italian to Latin. After he began following Savonarola, he rejected his earlier poetry and attempted to write more spiritually. He participated in Savonarola's Bonfire of the Vanities, and documented the destruction of art worth "several thousand ducats".He was supported in his writing by noblewoman Lucrezia de' Medici (1470–1553). They were both interested in the works of poet Dante Alighieri (1265–1321). In 1506, Benivieni published an edition of the Divine Comedy with maps by Antonio Manetti (1423–1497) and commentary by Manetti and Benivieni. In March 1515 Benivieni drafted a letter to be sent from Lucrezia to her brother, Pope Leo X (s. 1513–21), seeking his assistance in bringing the body of Dante back to Florence. On 20 October 1519, Benivieni signed a Medicean Academy petition to Pope Leo, again requesting the return of Dante from Ravenna. Benivieni also used his connection with Lucrezia to advance his ideas on church reform with her brother, and later with her cousin, Pope Clement VII (s. 1523–34). In 1530, he wrote a letter to Pope Clement in defense of Savonarola, seeking to have his reputation restored within the church. He is buried together with Giovanni Pico della Mirandola at San Marco, Florence, Italy.


Hermeticism, also called Hermetism, is a religious, philosophical, and esoteric tradition based primarily upon writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus ("thrice-greatest Hermes"). These writings have greatly influenced the Western esoteric tradition and were considered to be of great importance during both the Renaissance and the Reformation. The tradition traces its origin to a prisca theologia, a doctrine that affirms the existence of a single, true theology that is present in all religions and that was given by God to man in antiquity.Many writers, including Lactantius, Cyprian of Carthage, Augustine of Hippo, Marsilio Ficino, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Giordano Bruno, Tommaso Campanella, Sir Thomas Browne, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, considered Hermes Trismegistus to be a wise pagan prophet who foresaw the coming of Christianity.Much of the importance of Hermeticism arises from its connection with the development of science during the time from 1300 to 1600 AD. The prominence that it gave to the idea of influencing or controlling nature led many scientists to look to magic and its allied arts (e.g., alchemy, astrology) which, it was thought, could put nature to the test by means of experiments. Consequently, it was the practical aspects of Hermetic writings that attracted the attention of scientists. Isaac Newton placed great faith in the concept of an unadulterated, pure, ancient doctrine, which he studied vigorously to aid his understanding of the physical world.

John Philoponus

John Philoponus (; Ἰωάννης ὁ Φιλόπονος; c. 490 – c. 570), also known as John the Grammarian or John of Alexandria, was a Byzantine Alexandrian philologist, Aristotelian commentator and Christian theologian, author of a considerable number of philosophical treatises and theological works. A rigorous, sometimes polemical writer and an original thinker who was controversial in his own time, John Philoponus broke from the Aristotelian–Neoplatonic tradition, questioning methodology and eventually leading to empiricism in the natural sciences. He was one of the first to propose a "theory of impetus" similar to the modern concept of inertia over Aristotelian dynamics.

Later in life Philoponus turned to Christian apologetics, arguing against the eternity of the world, a theory which formed the basis of pagan attacks on the Christian doctrine of Creation. He also wrote on Christology and was posthumously condemned as a heretic by the Imperial Church in 680–81 because of what was perceived as a tritheistic interpretation of the Trinity.

His by-name ὁ Φιλόπονος translates as "lover of toil", i.e. "diligent," referring to a miaphysite confraternity in Alexandria, the philoponoi, who were active in debating pagan (i.e. Neoplatonic) philosophers.

His posthumous condemnation limited the spread of his writing, but copies of his work did circulate in Greek or Latin versions in medieval Europe, influencing Bonaventure and Buridan. His work was also received in Arabic scholarly tradition, where he is known as Yaḥyā al-Naḥwī (i.e. "John the Grammarian"). His critique of Aristotle in the Physics commentary was a major influence on Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and Galileo Galilei, who cited Philoponus substantially in his works.

List of occult writers

This is a list of notable occult writers.

Mario Satz

Mario Satz (full natural name: Mario Norberto Satz Tetelbaum) is a Spanish language poet, novelist, essayist and translator, who became famous in Spanish literary circles as a lecturer and seminar leader.

He was born in the district of Coronel Pringles, in the Province of Buenos Aires in 1944, within a family of Jewish origin. After completing high school in Argentina, made long journeys through South America, USA and Europe. Between 1970 and 1973 lived in Jerusalem, studying the Jewish Kabbalah, the Christian Bible and Anthropology and the History of the Middle East.

In 1977 he gained a scholarship in Florence from the Italian government to investigate Renaissance humanism of the work of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola.

In 1978 while living in Barcelona he obtained Spanish citizenship and graduated in Hispanic Studies. Besides writing a dozen essays, he is the author of several books of poems. He currently lives in Spain.

Nicoletto Vernia

Nicoletto Vernia (c. 1420, in Chieti – October 31, 1499, in Vicenza) was an Italian Averroist philosopher, at the University of Padua.

Perennial philosophy

Perennial philosophy (Latin: philosophia perennis), also referred to as perennialism and perennial wisdom, is a perspective in spirituality that views all of the world's religious traditions as sharing a single, metaphysical truth or origin from which all esoteric and exoteric knowledge and doctrine has grown.

Perennialism has its roots in the Renaissance interest in neo-Platonism and its idea of The One, from which all existence emanates. Marsilio Ficino (1433–1499) sought to integrate Hermeticism with Greek and Jewish-Christian thought, discerning a Prisca theologia which could be found in all ages. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463–94) suggested that truth could be found in many, rather than just two, traditions. He proposed a harmony between the thought of Plato and Aristotle, and saw aspects of the Prisca theologia in Averroes (Ibn Rushd), the Quran, the Kabbalah and other sources. Agostino Steuco (1497–1548) coined the term philosophia perennis.A more popular interpretation argues for universalism, the idea that all religions, underneath seeming differences, point to the same Truth. In the early 19th century the Transcendentalists propagated the idea of a metaphysical Truth and universalism, which inspired the Unitarians, who proselytized among Indian elites. Towards the end of the 19th century, the Theosophical Society further popularized universalism, not only in the western world, but also in western colonies. In the 20th century universalism was further popularized in the English-speaking world through the neo-Vedanta inspired Traditionalist School, which argues for a metaphysical, single origin of the orthodox religions, and by Aldous Huxley and his book The Perennial Philosophy, which was inspired by neo-Vedanta and the Traditionalist School.

Pino III Ordelaffi

Pino III Ordelaffi (March 1436 – October 1480) was an Italian condottiero and lord of Forlì. He was a member of the Ordelaffi family.

The son of Antonio I Ordelaffi, he was the brother of Francesco IV Ordelaffi, lord of Forlì from 1448. In 1462 he married Barbara Manfredi, daughter of Astorre II, lord of Faenza.

In 1463 Pino fell ill: Francesco was suspected of having poisoned him, but he recovered. In 1466, as Francesco lay ill in turn, Pino's seized the city and assumed the lordship of Forlì and Forlimpopoli. Soon after Barbara died, and Astorre Manfredi suspected Pino of poisoning her out of jealousy. Therefore, Pino sought an alliance with Taddeo Manfredi, lord of Imola and rival of Astorre, to counter the latter's attempt to oust him with the help of the Pope. Pino married Taddeo's daughter Zaffira, but in 1473 he also had her poisoned. Pino also had his mother poisoned in 1467. He then married Lucrezia Pico della Mirandola, sister of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, who a contemporary noted was "always very careful with what she ate".Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

In 1467 he also took part in the Battle of Molinella, where he was wounded.

Pino was a patron of the arts, building numerous edifices in Forlì; he also completed the construction of the walls and strengthened the Castle. A monument commissioned by Pino to Francesco di Simone Ferrucci for his wife Barbara's tomb can be seen in the Abbey of San Mercuriale in Forlì.

He died in 1480, being briefly succeeded by his son Sinibaldo before the acquisition of the Forlivese lands by Girolamo Riario.

Praeparatio evangelica

Preparation for the Gospel (Greek: Εὐαγγελικὴ προπαρασκευή, Euangelikē proparaskeuē), commonly known by its Latin title Praeparatio evangelica, was a work of Christian apologetics written by Eusebius in the early part of the fourth century AD. It was begun about the year 313, and attempts to prove the excellence of Christianity over pagan religions and philosophies.

Tommaso de Mezzo

Tommaso de Mezzo (Latin: Thomae Medii) (c.1447 - ?) was a Venetian noble and playwright. He is mostly remembered for his comedy Epirota (the Albanian).

De Mezzo, son of Marino de Tommaso, was born circa 1447 in an influential family, originating in Jesolo and having settled in Venice in 975. Various members of his family had served as ambassadors, generals, and in the Great Council (Gran Consiglio). Tommaso himself is not mentioned in any official document, until 1465. He collected codexes, and was friends with known Venetian and other intellectuals of the humanistic period, including Ermolao Barbaro, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, and Giovan Battista Scita.De Mezzo became known with his comedy Epirota of 1483, dedicated to his friend E.Barbaro. It follows the track of the classic humanistic comedies, itself inspired by Plautus works. He was also the author of at least another comedy, which unfortunately was lost.Epirota is of special importance for the Albanian language, since it contains text in Albanian, one of the earliest in written form that have survived.


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