Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Marsilio Ficino: Platonic Theology, Volume 3 (Books IX-XI)

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Marsilio Ficino: Platonic Theology, Volume 3 (Books IX-XI)

Article excerpt

Marsilio Ficino: Platonic Theology, Volume 3 (Books IX-XI), translated and edited by Michael J. B. Allen, John Warden, James Hankins, and William Bowen. Harvard, June 2003. $29.95

Every serious scholar of Renaissance religion and humanism will benefit not only from this gold-standard Latin text (Hankins and Bowen) and translation (Allen and Warden), but also from the first-class scholarly apparatus, which includes variant translations for difficult passages and sources for quotations and allusions. Ficino, Christian Platonic humanist, was one of the most remarkable and influential Renaissance men. Physician, musician, priest, astrologer (he was an Aquarius), mystic, vegetarian, lover of beauty, Ficino was first and foremost a very great scholar. Cosimo de Medici rejected Ficino's first work on Plato as relying on secondary Latin sources and inspired his young protege; to learn Greek. Ficino's subsequent Latin translations of all of Plato and many other ancient sources first rendered these works legible to others who had little or no Greek-not only in his own time, but for the ensuing four hundred years. Ficino's passionate portrayal of the mystical divinity and immortality of the individual human soul embraced not only Platonic, Jewish, and various varieties of Christian worship, but also Zoroastrian, Orphean, Ancient Egyptian, and perhaps almost all other religions and philosophies, so long as the object is pious worship of an imperfect conception of what is most holy. …

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