Marsilio Ficino

Marsilio Ficino (Italian: [marˈsiːljo fiˈtʃiːno]; Latin name: Marsilius Ficinus; 19 October 1433 – 1 October 1499) was an Italian scholar and Catholic priest who was one of the most influential humanist philosophers of the early Italian Renaissance. He was an astrologer, a reviver of Neoplatonism in touch with the major academics of his day and the first translator of Plato's complete extant works into Latin.[1] His Florentine Academy, an attempt to revive Plato's Academy, influenced the direction and tenor of the Italian Renaissance and the development of European philosophy.

Marsilio Ficino
Marsilio Ficino from a fresco painted by Domenico Ghirlandaio in the Tornabuoni Chapel, Santa Maria Novella, Florence
Marsilio Ficino from a fresco painted by Domenico Ghirlandaio in the Tornabuoni Chapel, Santa Maria Novella, Florence
Born19 October 1433
Figline Valdarno, Republic of Florence
Died1 October 1499 (aged 65)
Careggi, Republic of Florence
PeriodItalian Renaissance
Notable works
Diotifeci d'Agnolo
Alessandra di Nanoccio (parents)
Portrait of Marsilio Ficino at the Duomo Firence
Bust of Ficino by Andrea Ferrucci
in Florence Cathedral.


Ficino was born at Figline Valdarno. His father Diotifeci d'Agnolo was a physician under the patronage of Cosimo de' Medici, who took the young man into his household and became the lifelong patron of Marsilio, who was made tutor to his grandson, Lorenzo de' Medici. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, the Italian humanist philosopher and scholar was another of his students.

During the sessions at Florence of the Council of Ferrara-Florence in 1438–1445, during the failed attempts to heal the schism of the Orthodox and Catholic churches, Cosimo de' Medici and his intellectual circle had made acquaintance with the Neoplatonic philosopher George Gemistos Plethon, whose discourses upon Plato and the Alexandrian mystics so fascinated the learned society of Florence that they named him the second Plato.[2] In 1459 John Argyropoulos was lecturing on Greek language and literature at Florence, and Ficino became his pupil.[2]

When Cosimo decided to refound Plato's Academy at Florence he chose Ficino as its head. In 1462, Cosimo supplied Ficino with Greek manuscripts of Plato's work, whereupon Ficino started translating the entire corpus to Latin[3] (draft translation of the dialogues finished 1468–9;[4] published 1484). Ficino also produced a translation of a collection of Hellenistic Greek documents found by Leonardo da Pistoia later called Hermetica,[5] and the writings of many of the Neoplatonists, including Porphyry, Iamblichus and Plotinus.

Among his many students was Francesco Cattani da Diacceto, who was considered by Ficino to be his successor as the head of the Florentine Platonic Academy.[6] Diacceto's student, Giovanni di Bardo Corsi, produced a short biography of Ficino in 1506.[7]

A physician and a vegetarian, Ficino became a priest in 1473.[8][9][10]


Angel Appearing to Zacharias (detail) - 1486-90
Zachariah in the Temple (detail), a fresco by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1486–1490) in the Tornabuoni Chapel, Florence, showing (L-R): Marsilio Ficino, Cristoforo Landino, Angelo Poliziano and Gentile de' Becchi or Demetrios Chalkondyles
Corpus Hermeticum
Corpus Hermeticum: first Latin edition, by Marsilio Ficino, 1471, at the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, Amsterdam.

In 1474 Ficino completed his treatise on the immortality of the soul, Theologia Platonica de immortalitate animae[2] (Platonic Theology).[11] In the rush of enthusiasm for every rediscovery from Antiquity, he exhibited a great interest in the arts of astrology, which landed him in trouble with the Roman Catholic Church. In 1489 he was accused of magic before Pope Innocent VIII[2] and needed strong defense to preserve him from the condemnation of heresy.

Writing in 1492 Ficino proclaimed: "This century, like a golden age, has restored to light the liberal arts, which were almost extinct: grammar, poetry, rhetoric, painting, sculpture, architecture, music ... this century appears to have perfected astrology."

Ficino's letters, extending over the years 1474–1494, survive and have been published. He wrote De amore (1484). De vita libri tres (Three books on life), or De triplici vita,[12] published in 1489, provides a great deal of medical and astrological advice for maintaining health and vigor, as well as espousing the Neoplatonist view of the world's ensoulment and its integration with the human soul:

There will be some men or other, superstitious and blind, who see life plain in even the lowest animals and the meanest plants, but do not see life in the heavens or the world ... Now if those little men grant life to the smallest particles of the world, what folly! what envy! neither to know that the Whole, in which 'we live and move and have our being,' is itself alive, nor to wish this to be so.[13]

One metaphor for this integrated "aliveness" is Ficino's astrology. In the Book of Life, he details the interlinks between behavior and consequence. It talks about a list of things that hold sway over a man's destiny.

Probably due to early influences from his father Diotifeci, who was a doctor to Cosimo de' Medici, Ficino published Latin and Italian treatises on medical subjects such as Consiglio contro la pestilenza (Recommendations for the treatment of the plague) and De vita libri tres (Three books on life). His medical works exerted considerable influence on Renaissance physicians such as Paracelsus, with whom he shared the perception on the unity of the micro- and macrocosmos, and their interactions, through somatic and psychological manifestations, with the aim to investigate their signatures to cure diseases. Those works, which were very popular at the time, dealt with astrological and alchemical concepts. Thus Ficino came under the suspicion of heresy; especially after the publication of the third book in 1489, which contained specific instructions on healthful living.[14]

Ficino introduced the term and concept of "platonic love" in the West. It first appeared in a letter to Alamanno Donati in 1476, but was later fully developed all along his work, mainly his famous De amore. He also practiced this love metaphysic with Giovanni Cavalcanti, whom he made the principal character in his commentary on the Convivio, and to whom he wrote ardent love letters in Latin that were published in his Epistulae in 1492; there are also numerous other indications to suggest that Ficino's erotic impulses were directed exclusively towards men. After his death his biographers had a difficult task trying to refute those who spoke of his homosexual tendencies. But his sincere and deep faith, and membership of the clergy, put him beyond the reach of gossip, and while praising love for the same sex, he also condemned sodomy in the Convivium.[15][16] His Latin translations of Plato's texts put into practice the theories of anti-homosexuality in his Convivium.[17]

Marsilio Ficino was ever able to place women on an equal level with men in the cosmological hierarchy[18].


Ficino died on 1 October 1499 at Careggi. In 1521 his memory was honored with a bust sculpted by Andrea Ferrucci, which is located in the south side of the nave in the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.


Ficino - De triplici vita, 1560 - 3042759 V00227 00000002
De triplici vita, 1560
  • Theologia Platonica de immortalitate animae (Platonic Theology). Harvard University Press, Latin with English translation.
    • vol. I, 2001. ISBN 0-674-00345-4
    • vol. II, 2002. ISBN 0-674-00764-6
    • vol. III, 2003. ISBN 0-674-01065-5
    • vol. IV, 2004. ISBN 0-674-01482-0
    • vol. V, 2005. ISBN 0-674-01719-6
    • vol. VI with index, 2006. ISBN 0-674-01986-5
  • The Letters of Marsilio Ficino. Shepheard-Walwyn Publishers. English translation with extensive notes; the Language Department of the School of Economic Science.
Delle divine lettere del gran Marsilio Ficino
Delle divine lettere del gran Marsilio Ficino (1563)
    • vol. I, 1975. ISBN 978-0-85683-010-5
    • vol. II, 1978. ISBN 978-0-85683-036-5
    • vol. III, 1981. ISBN 978-0-85683-045-7
    • vol. IV, 1988. ISBN 978-0-85683-070-9
    • vol. V, 1994. ISBN 978-0-85683-129-4
    • vol. VI, 1999. ISBN 978-0-85683-167-6
    • vol. VII, 2003 ISBN 978-0-85683-192-8
    • vol. VIII, 2010 ISBN 978-0-85683-242-0
    • vol. IX, 2013 ISBN 978-0-85683-289-5
  • Commentaries on Plato. I Tatti Renaissance Library. Bilingual, annotated English/Latin editions of Ficino's commentaries on the works of Plato.
    • vol. I, 2008, Phaedrus, and Ion, tr. by Michael J. B. Allen, ISBN 0-674-03119-9
    • vol. II, 2012, Parmenides, part I, tr. by Maude Vanhaelen, ISBN 0-674-06471-2
    • vol. III, 2012, Parmenides, part II, tr. by Maude Vanhaelen, ISBN 0-674-06472-0
  • Icastes. Marsilio Ficino's Interpretation of Plato's Sophist, edited and translated by Michael J. B. Allen, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.
  • De vita libri tres (Three Books on Life, 1489) translated by Carol V. Kaske and John R. Clarke, Tempe, Arizona: The Renaissance Society of America, 2002. With notes, commentaries and Latin text on facing pages. ISBN 0-86698-041-5
    • "De triplici vita". World Digital Library (in Latin). 16 September 1489. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  • De religione Christiana et fidei pietate (1475–6), dedicated to Lorenzo de' Medici.
  • In Epistolas Pauli commentaria, Marsilii Ficini Epistolae (Venice, 1491; Florence, 1497).
  • Meditations on the Soul: Selected letters of Marsilio Ficino, tr. by the Language Department of the School of Economic Science, London. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, 1996. ISBN 0-89281-658-9. Note for instance, letter 31: A man is not rightly formed who does not delight in harmony, pp. 5–60; letter 9: One can have patience without religion, pp. 16–18; Medicine heals the body, music the spirit, theology the soul, pp. 63–64; letter 77: The good will rule over the stars, p. 166.
  • Commentary on Plato's Symposium on Love, tr. by Sears Jayne. Spring Publications, 2nd edition, 2000. ISBN 0-88214-601-7
  • Collected works: Opera (Florence,1491, Venice, 1516, Basel, 1561).

See also


  1. ^ Marsilio Ficino. Voss, Angela. Berkeley, Calif.: North Atlantic Books. 2006. pp. ix–x. ISBN 1556435606. OCLC 65407018.CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ a b c d Wikisource Symonds, John Addington (1911). "Ficino, Marsilio" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 317–319.
  3. ^ Bartlett, K. R., ed. (2011). The Civilization of the Italian Renaissance: A Sourcebook. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 1442604859.
  4. ^ Hankins, J. (1990). Plato in the Italian Renaissance. p. 300.
  5. ^ Yates, Frances A. (1964) Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. University of Chicago Press 1991 edition: ISBN 0-226-95007-7
  6. ^ Marsilio Ficino, entry by Christopher Celenza in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  7. ^ Annotated English translation of Corsi's biography of Ficino Archived 15 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Christiane L. Joost-Gaugier, Pythagoras and Renaissance Europe: Finding Heaven, Cambridge University Press, 2009.
  9. ^ Oskar, Kristeller Paul. Studies in Renaissance thought and letters. IV. Roma: Edizioni di Storia e letteratura, 1996: 565.
  10. ^ "Three Books on Life". World Digital Library. 26 February 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  11. ^ Deitz, Luc; Kraye, Jill (1997). "Marsilio Ficino": 147–155. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511803048.014.
  12. ^ Daniel Pickering Walker (January 2000). Spiritual and Demonic Magic: From Ficino to Campanella. Penn State Press. p. 3. ISBN 0-271-02045-8.
  13. ^ Marsilio Ficino, Three Books on Life, translated by Carol V. Kaske and John R. Clark, Tempe AZ: The Renaissance Society of America, 2002. From the Apologia, p. 399. (The internal quote is from Acts 17:28.)
  14. ^ Marsilio Ficino. Biography and introduction to The Letters of Marsilio Ficino, Volume 1 Archived 22 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine 1975 Fellowship of the School of Economic Science, London. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  15. ^ Giovanni Dall'Orto, Socratic love as a disguise for same sex love in the Italian Renaissance, Journal of Homosexuality, 16
  16. ^ G. Hekma (ed), The pursuit of sodomy: male homosexuality in the renaissance and enlightenment, Haworth Press, 1989
  17. ^ Chapters 3 and 4 in Todd W. Reeser, Setting Plato Straight: Translating Ancient Sexuality in the Renaissance. Chicago: UChicagoP, 2016.
  18. ^ 1433-1499., Ficino, Marsilio, (1975-<2018>). The letters of Marsilio Ficino. London: Shepheard-Walwyn. ISBN 9780856830105. OCLC 1899379. Check date values in: |date= (help)

Further reading

  • Allen, Michael J.B.; Rees, V.; Davies, Martin (2002). Marsilio Ficino: his theology, his philosophy, his legacy. BRILL. ISBN 9789004118553. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  • Allen, Michael J. B., Nuptial Arithmetic: Marsilio Ficino's Commentary on the Fatal Number in Book VIII of Plato's Republic. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994. ISBN 0-520-08143-9
  • Ernst Cassirer, Paul Oskar Kristeller, John Herman Randall, Jr., The Renaissance Philosophy of Man. The University of Chicago Press (Chicago, 1948.) Marsilio Ficino, Five Questions Concerning the Mind, pp. 193–214.
  • Clucas, Stephen; Forshaw, Peter J.; Rees, Valery (2011). Laus Platonici Philosophi: Marsilio Ficino and his Influence. BRILL. ISBN 9789004188976.
  • Anthony Gottlieb, The Dream of Reason: A History of Western Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance (Penguin, London, 2001) ISBN 0-14-025274-6
  • James Heiser, Prisci Theologi and the Hermetic Reformation in the Fifteenth Century (Repristination Press, Malone, Texas, 2011) ISBN 978-1-4610-9382-4
  • Paul Oskar Kristeller, Eight Philosophers of the Italian Renaissance. Stanford University Press (Stanford California, 1964) Chapter 3, "Ficino," pp. 37–53.
  • Raffini, Christine, "Marsilio Ficino, Pietro Bembo, Baldassare Castiglione: Philosophical, Aesthetic, and Political Approaches in Renaissance Platonism", Renaissance and Baroque Studies and Texts, v.21, Peter Lang Publishing, 1998. ISBN 0-8204-3023-4
  • Robb, Nesca A., Neoplatonism of the Italian Renaissance, New York: Octagon Books, Inc., 1968.
  • Reeser, Todd W. Setting Plato Straight: Translating Ancient Sexuality in the Renaissance. Chicago: UChicagoP, 2016.
  • Field, Arthur, The Origins of the Platonic Academy of Florence, New Jersey: Princeton, 1988.
  • Allen, Michael J.B., and Valery Rees, with Martin Davies, eds. Marsilio Ficino : His Theology, His Philosophy, His Legacy.Leiden : E.J.Brill, 2002. A wide range of new essays.ISBN 9004118551
  • Voss, Angela, Marsilio Ficino, Western Esoteric Masters series. North Atlantic Books, 2006. ISBN 978-1-5564-35607

External links

15th century in philosophy

This is a list of philosophy-related events in the 15th century.

Accademia Fiorentina (disambiguation)

Accademia Fiorentina or Florentine Academy may refer to:

The Platonic Academy (Florence), founded in 1460 by Marsilio Ficino

The Accademia Fiorentina, founded in Florence in 1540

The Accademia Fiorentina founded in Rome in 1673 by Grand Duke Cosimo III de' Medici of Florence

The Accademia Fiorentina Seconda formed in 1783 by Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo, who merged the Accademia Fiorentina, the Accademia degli Apatisti and the Accademia della Crusca

The Accademia Fiorentina delle Arti del Disegno, separated from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze by Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo in 1784

The Accademia Fiorentina Terza, founded by Napoleon in 1808, active until 1811

The Accademia Fiorentina di Papirologia e di Studi sul Mondo Antico

Andrea Ferrucci

Andrea Ferrucci (1465 — 1526), also known as Andrea di Piero Ferruzzi and as Andrea da Fiesole, was an Italian sculptor who was born in Fiesole, Tuscany, in 1465. He was a first cousin once removed of the artist Francesco di Simone Ferrucci (1437–1493), under whom he studied.According to Vasari's Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, Andrea Ferrucci was also a student of Michele Maini, also from Fiesole. He was working for King Ferdinand I of Naples in 1487 and married the daughter of Antonio di Giorgio Marchesi (1451–1522) the King’s architect and military engineer. From 1512 to 1518, he superintended the work on the Duomo of Florence, for which he himself executed a statue of Saint Andrew. In 1519, for Archbishop Tamás Bakócz (†l521) he provided the design for the marble altar for the Bakócz chapel at Esztergom, which is the earliest and most significant surviving Renaissance building in Hungary. His half-length bust of Marsilio Ficino (illustration) adorns Santa Maria del Fiore, the Duomo of Florence.

Among his masterworks is the bas-reliefs surrounding the baptismal font at the Duomo of Pistoia. The marble reliefs depict scenes from the life of St John the Baptist and are contained in panels inside a temple front-like niche.

Fiesole cathedral possesses a marble reredos from his hand, and the Bargello, Florence, has a Holy Family. Other works of Ferrucci are the tombs of the two Saliceti in San Martino Maggiore (1403) and San Domenico (1412), Bologna, decorations in San Martino, Naples, and the Strozzi tomb in Santa Maria Novella, Florence, begun by him and finished by Casini and Boscoli.Andrea Ferrucci was the teacher of Silvio Cosini and Giovanni Mangone. He died in Florence in 1526.

Astral spirit

An astral spirit is a term used in spiritualism and holism. Depending on the time period and culture, the term can have several meanings. During the Renaissance time period it was used in a Platonic format to designate the "aetheric vehicle or starlike garment surrounding the soul which descended from heaven and entered the individual body". It was thought to be one of the three parts of the human soul that contained the "thoughts, cogitations, desires, imaginations that were impressed upon the mind at the time of death" as well as lust and anger. The philosopher Marsilio Ficino considered it to be a link between the physical body and the incorporeal soul while others such as Jean Fernel associated it more with animal spirits. Philosopher Henry More introduced the term into the medical setting and considered the astral spirit to be a part of the body that was separate from the "rational soul". More's viewpoint was criticized as "[reducing] spiritual phenomena ... to pseudo-physical explanations".Astral spirits have also been associated with the familiar spirit and witchcraft, specifically black magic, and was considered at one point to be demonic in origin. This definition of astral spirits considered the entities to be completely separate from the concept of the astral spirit as something that was considered to be part of or attached to the human body or soul. The term was also used in relation to the concept of ghosts and vampirism, as spiritualists in the nineteenth century believed that the astral spirit would rise from the grave of the deceased in order to steal the blood and vitality of the living while the physical body would remain in the grave. This form of the astral spirit, while sometimes considered to be harmful, fell into the Platonic definition as it was considered to be a remnant of the deceased in some form. Astral spirits were also considered to be potentially capable of fathering a child, as there were some tales of astral spirits reportedly impregnating the wife of a deceased hajduk.

De amore

De amore (Latin "On Love") may refer to:

De amore (Andreas Capellanus) (1186–1190)

De amore by Marsilio Ficino (1484)

De vita libri tres

The De vita libri tres (Three Books on Life) or De triplici vita, was written in the years 1480–1489 by Italian Platonist Marsilio Ficino. It was first circulated in manuscript form and then published on December 3, 1489. It was constantly in print through the middle of the seventeenth century.

The first book is about physical health, the second is about prolonging life, and the third (De vita coelitùs comparanda) is about astral influences. The work focuses not on the soul or body, but on the spiritus, which is described early on:only the priests of the Muses, only the hunters after the supreme good and truth are so negligent (alas) and so unfortunate that they seem utterly to neglect that instrument by which they can, in a way, measure and grasp the whole world. An instrument of this sort is the spirit, which by the physicians is defined as a certain vapour of the blood, pure, subtle, hot and lucid. And, formed from the subtler blood by the heat of the heart, it flies to the brain, and there the soul assiduously employs it for the exercise of both the interior and exterior senses. Thus the blood serves the spirit, the spirit the senses, and finally the senses reason.

The work focuses on the health and well-being of the scholar. Scholars are described as being naturally prone to extremes of melancholy and thus the ambivalent influence of Saturn, which can be remediated by the influence of the benign planets (the Sun, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury). Ficino considers three types of things beneficial to the spirit: wines and aromatic substances, odours and clean air, and music. Music is described as probably the most important:if the vapours exhaled by merely vegetable life are greatly beneficial to your life, how beneficial do you think will be aerial songs to the spirit which is indeed entirely aerial, harmonic songs to the harmonic spirit, warm and thus living to the living, endowed with sense to the sensitive, conceived by reason to the rational?

De vita is an amalgam of philosophy, medicine, magic and astrology. Alongside passages explaining the immortality and divine source and nature of the soul, there are astrological charts and remedies, speeches from various Greek gods arguing with one another, philosophical digressions, medieval prescriptions for various ills, attempts at reconciling the Neoplatonism of Plotinus with Christian scripture, and magical remedies and talismans.

Ficino was one of the major philosophical voices of the Italian Renaissance, but he was also a physician, and the son of a physician. De vita is an example of the medical thinking of the early Renaissance, steeped in Galen and Hippocrates and the theory of the four humors and their attendant Aristotelian qualities (e.g., hot, cold, moist,dry), but also beginning to align this viewpoint with the awakening sense of the archetypal significance of the pagan gods, derived from the first exposure in the West for many centuries to the dialogues of Plato and to the Hermetica. (Ficino was the first translator of Plato into Latin.)

The result—particularly in the third book—is a work which takes the pagan Classical god-archetypes quite literally, and personifies them with the planets which are named for them. For Ficino, the planets affect the tenor and vigor of the intellectual's mind and the health of his body. But the main thrust of de Vita is the notion that there are remedies and balances that can be undertaken to mitigate their effect—in fact, to change the temper, even the fate, of a human being. In this regard, Ficino shows his deeply humanist point of view, which sets him apart from earlier writers.

The book's thrust depends on the tension Ficino tries to resolve intellectually—a tension that is typical of the syncretism of much of the early Renaissance—between Classical philosophy and religion and Christian belief. By filtering both through cosmology of Plato, Ficino attempts to reconcile these world-views.

An English translation by Charles Boer of the De vita was published in 1982.

A critical edition and English translation of the Three Books on Life, with the Latin on one page and the English translation on the facing page, with Introduction and Notes, by Carol V. Kaske and John R. Clark, was re-published in 1998 and again in 2002 by The Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, in conjunction with The Renaissance Society of America.

Figline Valdarno

Figline Valdarno (Italian pronunciation: [fiʎˈʎiːne valˈdarno]) is a frazione in the comune of Figline e Incisa Valdarno in the Metropolitan City of Florence in the Italian region of Tuscany, located about 25 kilometres (16 mi) southeast of Florence. It is the birthplace of Marsilio Ficino.

It was a separate commune until January 1, 2014.

Gemistus Pletho

Georgius Gemistus (Greek: Γεώργιος Γεμιστός; c. 1355/1360 – 1452/1454), later called Plethon ( Πλήθων), was one of the most renowned philosophers of the late Byzantine era. He was a chief pioneer of the revival of Greek scholarship in Western Europe. As revealed in his last literary work, the Nomoi or Book of Laws, which he only circulated among close friends, he rejected Christianity in favour of a return to the worship of the classical Hellenic Gods, mixed with ancient wisdom based on Zoroaster and the Magi.He re-introduced Plato's ideas to Western Europe during the 1438–1439 Council of Florence, a failed attempt to reconcile the East–West schism. Here, it was believed until recently, Plethon met and influenced Cosimo de' Medici to found a new Platonic Academy, which, under Marsilio Ficino, would proceed to translate into Latin all of Plato's works, the Enneads of Plotinus, and various other Neoplatonist works.

Giovanni Cavalcanti (poet)

Giovanni Cavalcanti (1444–1509) was an Italian poet from Florence, a member of the Platonic Academy of Florence that met in the Villa Medici at Careggi under the guidance of Marsilio Ficino. Ficino and Cavalcanti were particular friends: Giovanni Cavalcanti lived for many years with Ficino at his villa, and Marsilio dedicated his essay De amore (1484) to Cavalcanti, who had urged him to compose it. Ficino introduced the concept of "Platonic love" and addressed many letters to his Giovanni amico mio perfettisimo ("Giovanni my most perfect friend").

Giovanni di Bardo Corsi

Giovanni di Bardo Corsi (1472–1547) was a politician and man-of-letters in Florence, Italy during the Italian Renaissance. He was a member of the committee that in 1512 restored the Medici to power in Florence after eighteen years of exile. He served as a diplomat to Charles V of Spain in 1515 and to Pope Paul III. In 1530, Corsi became Florentine gonfaloniere at the behest of Pope Clement VII, the Medici Pope.Giovanni di Bardo Corsi was also a Renaissance humanist who actively participated in the rediscovery of classical language and literatures and the educational programme of the studia humanitatis. He knew both Latin and Greek. In 1506, Corsi produced a biography of the neo-Platonist Marsilio Ficino, which he wrote under the direction of Francesco Cattani da Diacceto, who, in turn, was Ficino's successor as the head of Florentine Platonic Academy. He was a participant in the early phase of the Orti Oricellari discussions and produced a translation of Plutarch's De anima generatione. He furthermore believed to have been an early reader of Guicciardini's monumental Storia d'Italia.

Image magic

Image magic is a tradition of magic in medieval Europe originating from the influx of Arabic texts in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and focused on astrology. It serves as a major precursor to and was reinterpreted by the Hermetic Renaissance magical traditions, particularly the work of Marsilio Ficino.

The term astrological image first appears in the Speculum astronomiae and refers to talismans created under specific astrological signs in order to draw down influence from astral spirits (i.e. the planets and stars embodied as the Aristotelian Intelligences, and later the Neoplatonic planetary demons) for magical operation.

Image magic stands in contrast to medieval ritual magic and theurgy, particularly of the Solomonic tradition descending ultimately from the Testament of Solomon. The two competing traditions remained separate in manuscripts until the early Renaissance at which point they were often combined into single codexes.

As they originated from Arabic sources, image magic was often treated as a natural science manipulating the occult powers of nature rather that the invocation and necromancy associated with Solomonic ritual magic.

Maurice Scève

Maurice Scève (c. 1501–c. 1564), was a French poet active in Lyon during the Renaissance period. He was the centre of the Lyonnese côterie that elaborated the theory of spiritual love, derived partly from Plato and partly from Petrarch. This spiritual love, which animated Antoine Héroet's Parfaicte Amye (1543) as well, owed much to Marsilio Ficino, the Florentine translator and commentator of Plato's works.

Scève's chief works are Délie, objet de plus haulte vertu (1544); five anatomical blazons; the elegy Arion (1536) and the eclogue La Saulsaye (1547); and Microcosme (1562), an encyclopaedic poem beginning with the fall of man. Scève's epigrams, which have seen renewed critical interest since the late 19th century, were seen as difficult even in Scève's own day, although Scève was praised by Du Bellay, Ronsard, Pontus de Tyard and Des Autels for raising French poetry to new, higher aesthetic standards.Scève died sometime after 1560; the exact date of his death is unknown.

Monsieur D'Olive

Monsier D'Olive is an early Jacobean era stage play, a comedy written by George Chapman.

The play was first published in 1606, in a quarto printed by Thomas Creede for the bookseller William Holmes. This was the drama's sole edition before the 19th century. The title page identifies Chapman as the author, and states that the play was performed by the Queen's Revels Children at the Blackfriars Theatre. The play was almost certainly written and debuted onstage in 1605.Chapman structured his main plot to express his interest in the Neoplatonist philosophy of Marsilio Ficino. Critics have been divided as to the success of Chapman's effort and the value of the resulting play. 19th-century critics often praised Monsieur D'Olive as one of Chapman's best comedies. 20th-century scholars, beginning with T. M. Parrott, have tended to judge the play more harshly. In some modern judgments, "the play is sterile;" its romance collapses "into mechanical intrigue."

Orus Apollo

The Orus Apollo is a manuscript work by Nostradamus written before 1555, and formerly owned by Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV's finance minister. It contains two books of 182 verse epigrams. Its full title is ORUS APOLLO FILS DE OSIRIS ROY DE AEGYPTE NILIACQUE. DES NOTES HIEROGLYPHIQUES.

The work is a purported translation of an ancient Greek work on Egyptian hieroglyphs that had been commented on by Marsilio Ficino, Erasmus and François Rabelais. It was known to the artists Albrecht Dürer, Andrea Mantegna and Raphael. Although its title implies a connection to Egyptian gods, the French work is actually Nostradamus' extremely free translation of Horapollon of Manuthis' Hieroglyphica, based on Jean Mercier's Latin-Greek version of 1551. He also added some ten pieces of his own. The manuscript, apparently in Nostradamus's own hand, still exists in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris, as French manuscript No. 2594. The paper has been analyzed, and found to date from 1535–1539 and to stem from somewhere in the general area of the Comtat Venaissin and Provence.

It was dedicated to Jeanne d'Albret, later (from 1555) Queen of Navarre, and is of particular interest to students of Nostradamus' Propheties for its near-total lack of either accents or punctuation (which suggests that their original manuscripts, too, may have lacked both).

It is now housed in the Lyon municipal library.

Paul Oskar Kristeller

Paul Oskar Kristeller (May 22, 1905 in Berlin – June 7, 1999 in New York, United States) was an important scholar of Renaissance humanism. He was awarded the Haskins Medal in 1992. He was last active as Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Columbia University in New York, where he mentored both Irving Louis Horowitz and A. James Gregor.

During his university years he studied with Werner Jaeger, Heinrich Rickert, Richard Kroner, Karl Hampe, Friedrich Baethgen, Eduard Norden, and Ulrich von Wilamowitz. He also attended lectures by noted philosophers such as Ernst Cassirer, Edmund Husserl, and Karl Jaspers. In 1928, he earned his doctorate from the University of Heidelberg under Ernst Hoffmann with a dissertation on Plotinus. He did postdoctoral work at the universities of Berlin and Freiburg. At Freiburg, Kristeller studied under the philosopher Martin Heidegger from 1931 to 1933. The Nazi victory in 1933 forced Kristeller to move to Italy. At his arrival, Giovanni Gentile secured for him a position as lecturer in German at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa. It was at the Scuola Normale that Kristeller completed his first great works in the Renaissance: the Supplementum Ficinianum (1937) and The Philosophy of Marsilio Ficino (1943). In 1939, he fled Italy, due to the enactment of Mussolini's August 1938 racial laws, to live in the USA. Thanks to the help of Yale University historian Roland Bainton, he sailed from Genoa in February 1939 and by March was teaching a graduate seminar at Yale on Plotinus. However Kristeller taught for only a short time at Yale University until moving to Columbia University, where he taught until his retirement in 1973, as Frederick J. E. Woodbridge Professor of Philosophy. He continued to be an active researcher after he retired. Paul Kristeller received the Serena Medal of the British Academy in 1958, the Premio Internazionale Galileo Galilei in 1968 and the Commendatore nell'Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana in 1971.

The emphasis of Kristeller's research was on the philosophy of Renaissance humanism. He is the author of important studies on Marsilio Ficino, Pietro Pomponazzi and Giambattista Vico.

An especially important achievement is his Iter Italicum (the title recalls Iter Alemannicum and other works of Martin Gerbert), a large work describing numerous uncatalogued manuscripts. After decades of neglect, Kristeller's lengthy, erudite essay of the early 1950s, "The Modern System of the Arts", in Journal of the History of Ideas, proved to be an influential, much reprinted classic reading in Philosophy of Art.

Kristeller was the chief inspirer of the Catalogus Translationum et Commentariorum, the ongoing project that aims to chart the fortune of all extant classical works through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, serving as Founder and Editor-in-Chief for the first two volumes and Associate Editor for the next five volumes.

Platonic Theology (Ficino)

The Platonic Theology (Latin: Theologia platonica de immortalitate animorum) is a work consisting of eighteen books by Marsilio Ficino. Ficino wrote it between 1469 and 1474 and it was published in 1482. It has been described as Ficino's philosophical masterpiece.


Angelo Ambrogini (14 July 1454 – 24 September 1494), commonly known by his nickname Poliziano (Italian: [politˈtsjaːno]; anglicized as Politian; Latin: Politianus), was an Italian classical scholar and poet of the Florentine Renaissance. His scholarship was instrumental in the divergence of Renaissance (or Humanist) Latin from medieval norms and for developments in philology. His nickname, Poliziano, by which he is chiefly identified to the present day, was derived from the Latin name of his birthplace, Montepulciano (Mons Politianus).

Poliziano's works include translations of passages from Homer's Iliad, an edition of the poetry of Catullus and commentaries on classical authors and literature. It was his classical scholarship that brought him the attention of the wealthy and powerful Medici family that ruled Florence. He served the Medici as a tutor to their children, and later as a close friend and political confidante. His later poetry, including La Giostra, glorified his patrons.

He used his didactic poem Manto, written in the 1480s, as an introduction to his lectures on Virgil.


Terribilità, the spelling in modern Italian, or terribiltà, as Michelangelo's 16th century contemporaries tended to spell it, is a quality of provoking terror (the literal meaning), awe, or a sense of the sublime, in the viewer, that is ascribed to his art. It is perhaps especially applied to his sculptures, such as his figures of David or in Moses.

Pope Julius II was apparently the first to describe Michelangelo as a uomo terribile ("terror-inducing man"), apparently describing his difficult character as much as his art. This terribilità, also references the neoplatonics of humanists such as Marsilio Ficino, who had known Michelangelo in his youth.Michelangelo's friend and collaborator Sebastiano del Piombo reported in a letter to him of 15 October 1520 on a private audience with Pope Leo X. After praising Michelangelo's work, the pope continued "But he is terribile, as you see; one cannot deal with him". Sebastiano responded "that your terribile character did not harm anyone, and that you appear terribile for love of the great works you carry out."

Three Books of Occult Philosophy

Three Books of Occult Philosophy (De Occulta Philosophia libri III) is Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa's study of occult philosophy, acknowledged as a significant contribution to the Renaissance philosophical discussion concerning the powers of ritual magic, and its relationship with religion. The first book was printed in 1531 in Paris, Cologne, and Antwerp, while the full three volumes first appeared in Cologne in 1533.The three books deal with Elemental, Celestial and Intellectual magic. The books outline the four elements, astrology, kabbalah, numbers, angels, God's names, the virtues and relationships with each other as well as methods of utilizing these relationships and laws in medicine, scrying, alchemy, ceremonies, origins of what are from the Hebrew, Greek and Chaldean context.

These arguments were common amongst other hermetic philosophers at the time and before. In fact, Agrippa's interpretation of magic is similar to the authors Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola and Johann Reuchlin's synthesis of magic and religion, and emphasize an exploration of nature. Unlike many grimoires of the time, these books are more scholarly and intellectual than mysterious and foreboding.

Early Church
Early Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
Mysticism and reforms
19th century
20th century
21st century

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