Marsilio Ficino

Posted on November 6, 2010

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A philosopher and scholar, Marsilio Ficino was hugely influential in the development of philosophy in the early Renaissance. Cosimo De’Medici was patron to Ficino’s father, a physician, and then to Ficino himself, who became tutor to Lorenzo De’Medici, grandson of Cosimo.

Ficino was the first to translate all of Plato from Greek into Latin; he translated a number of works by neo-Platonists into Latin as well. When Cosimo De’Medici decided to reopen Plato’s Academy in Florence, he chose Ficino to head it, with his knowledge and interest in Plato and reconciling Christianity to Platonic ideals, giving him a villa at Careggi to house the academy.

Sometimes Ficino’s wide-ranging interests landed him in trouble – he was accused of magic in front of Pope Innocent VIII, due to his fascination with astrology – but his powerful allies prevailed in getting the charges dropped.

Ficino was also responsible for re-introducing the concept of “Platonic love” to modern thinking, and he seems to have been exclusively interested in men. He wrote passionate love letters in Latin to Giovanni Cavalcanti, which together with other letters were actually published before his death, and Cavalcanti lived with him for many years. He died in 1499, age 65.

Marsilio Ficino has a page on Wikipedia, here. He also has an author page at Amazon, here.

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