Plato and Neoplatonism

Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) was Florence's greatest scholar of Greek philosophy, especially Aristotle and Plato.  Ficino set to the task of translating the complete dialogues of Plato with financial assistance from Cosimo de' Medici.  The translation with commentary displayed below was first published in 1484 and was dedicated to Cosimo's grandson, Lorenzo, although the latter did not provide funding for the publication.

Also represented on the present page is Ficino's most important work, Theologia platonica, his treatise reconciling Neoplatonism with Christianity.  Published in 1482, the work combines the philosophies of Saint Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and Plato by way of Plotinus, a third-century philosopher.

Michael Allen gives three reasons to explain why Ficino had such a profound influence on Renaissance thought and scholarship.  Ficino's works were intellectually original, "bordering on unorthodoxy."  As a teacher Ficino had a large following of students and acquaintances who held important positions in church and state affairs.  Not least, Ficino was one of the first scholars to use the printing press to spread his ideas.  For these reasons the works of Marsilio Ficino are important not only to the study of Renaissance philosophy but also to the study of printing and its influence on society.1


Click on images to enlarge.

Plato, Opera, printed by Laurentius Francisci de Alopa, Venetus, 1484 (Phaedrus)
Plato, Opera, printed by Laurentius Francisci de Alopa, Venetus, 1484 (Phaedrus) (UIUC X Q.881 P5.Lf 1484) Marsilio Ficino, Platonica theologia de immoralitate animorum, printed by Antonio Miscomini, 1482 (UIUC X 881 P5ph.Yf 1482)

 


1.  Michael Allen, "Ficino, Marsilio," The Oxford Companion to Italian Literature, ed. Peter Hainsworth and David Robey (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).

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