Marsilio Ficino (1433-99) was a philosopher, scholar, priest, physician, writer, and musician. Under the patronage of the Medici family he became the leader of the Florentine Academy and made available to the Western world the Corpus Hermeticum, all the extant works of Plato, and many writings of the later Platonists. With few exceptions his translations into Latin had not been previously attempted and in many cases these translations were the standard ones for at least 200 years.
His major original work, the Platonic Theology, sought to demonstrate the essential unity of the teaching of Christ and the philosophy of Plato, while his numerous letters influenced rulers, leading churchmen, and scholars throughout Europe.
Ficino’s philosophy found its way into European literature, and especially English literature – Shakespeare, Spenser and Sir Philip Sidney in particular. Principal ideas also found their way into English philosophy: for example, the whole concept of Platonic love and the pre-existence of the soul are important parts of Ficino’s abundant legacy.
He was a man of gentleness and love, sometimes fittingly described as ‘Friend to Mankind’.
Clement Salaman and Arthur Farndell
Language Department, School of Economic Science
Serenity to the Soul | Letter to Lorenzo Lippi
Contributed by Jane Mason
Human Nature | Inspiration for Botticelli’s Venus?
Contributed by Laura Hyde
Philosophy and Philosophers | Commentary on Plato’s Republic; Introduction to Book VII
Contributed by Arthur Farndell