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Marsilio Ficino

Marsilio Ficino Essays

A while ago I ran into this book in an antiquarian bookshop on one of the Dutch islands. It costed only 4 euros. I knew about this publication, the local library has/had two of these, one with translated letters, one with essays. The special thing about these translations is that they are hand written. I have not been able to find out in what year these books were published, but many years later, the Rosicrucian society Lectorium Rosicricianum published a little book also hand written by ‘members of the school of philosophy of Amsterdam’. The book contains Ficino’s five keys to Platonic wisdom and the ‘introduction to the Platonic theology’, quite like the 2005 Dutch translation published by the same publisher as the little commemoration book, but the translations differ obviously. The handwriting is done by different people. This is not visible in the written characters, but it is in line-endings. One writer managed to create filled-out lines, while another writer’s right side of the text is more wobbly. The publication is beautiful and the translations inspiring. When you can read Dutch and wanted to read something of Ficino anyway, I suggest you try to find one of these beautiful books. They are not too hard to find nowadays it seems. Somehow it is often listed as “uit het brievenboek van Marsilio Ficino” (“from the letterbook of Marsilio Ficino”). I do not know where that title comes from, but perhaps it has something to do with the other book with letters. Strangely enough it seems that there are no English translation of Ficino’s five keys and introduction, while there are complete translations of Ficino’s Platonic works and several other publications.
Uitgeverij de Driehoek, isbn 9060302907

Marsilio Ficino * Angela Voss (2006)

It has been quite a while since I studied Renaissance esotericism. A while ago I reread a book of Yates and decided to see what is available nowadays. I noticed this “Western esoteric masters” series of North Atlantic Books and ordered four of them. I plan to read them chronologically (by birthdate), so I started with Ficino (1433-1499). I have read some things about and of Ficino already, but the series offer anthologies of different authors. Of Ficino Angela Voss presents parts of his letters and parts of books such as On Obtaining Life From The Heavens, Three Books On Life and The Book Of The Sun. The lenghty and interesting introduction of Voss suggests more esoteric content than I read in the texts myself. Ficino seems to be mostly a philosopher (neoplatonic) with indeed some esoteric edges, but overall too philosophical to me. A lot of stress is laid on Ficino’s ambigious nature on astrology. He both seems to put a lot of faith in it, but otherwise says he does not because he might fall victim to the witchhunt. Ficino also proposes some kind of ‘natural magic’ with which with certain requirements the force of heavenly bodies can be used by man. Ficino brings this under the guide of medicine though. Astrology remains a Leitmotiv in the texts that were chosen. This 250 page book (not all in the series have that length) was a nice read, but I think I hoped for something more interesting.
2006 North Atlantic Books, isbn 9781556435607

De Brieven Van Marsilio Ficino – deel 1 + Geef Vrijelijk Wat Vrijelijk Ontvangen Is – brieven deel 2

Letters of Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) have been available ever since he died. Ficino wrote with a lot of people all across the world and held copies of every single letter he wrote. A few years before he died he even wrote an introduction to his combined letters himself! Soon after his death the first publishing of his letters was a fact. Being such a high amount, the letters were made available in 12 parts!

Also in English many letters of Ficino are available and I discovered translations in Dutch which are actually handwritten and published by a group of philosophers from Amsterdam. This book is no longer available it seems. Anyway, the Dutch Rosicrucian society Lectorium Rosicrucianum has two books with letters of Ficino and a nice introduction, which are the two titles here.

Besides letters Ficino wrote essays and a massive amount of books. Some are available in other languages than latin, others are yet unpublished in any way. A nice thing about the letters is that they are arranged by subject so you can read Ficino’s short explanation on a wide variety of subjects, going from everyday life to highly spiritual subjects.

For some reason these little books are not available from regular booksellers, while other books by “Rozekruis Pers” are, so you will have to contact them. I don’t know other available translations in Dutch, and for English ones you can of course check Amazon.

Marsilio Ficino; 500 jaar later (isbn 9067322318)

The local library has only two books by/from Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499). One contains translations (Dutch) of a few letters of Ficino, the other translated essays. The books are handwritten by ‘a group of philosophy students from Amsterdam” and released a few decades ago and no longer available. More letters have been rereleased in two books by the Lectorium Rosicrucianum.
This little book with a strange format was released by the same Lectorium to celebrate Ficino’s 500th year of death. It contains one letter and two essays, also handwritten by “members of the Academy Marsilio Ficino Amsterdam”. I didn’t know this little book until I saw it on a “symposion” of the Lectorium a few weeks ago. Nice, because the older handwritten prints are not available for the common man.

Friend To Mankind: Marsilio Ficino * Michael Shepherd (editor) (isbn 0856831840)

Marsilio Ficino – Een Universeel Mens * Michael Shepherd (editor) (isbn 9020285610)

The Dutch version of this book was released only a few months ago, but the original edition is already a “special order” at Amazon. A wonderfull book with articles about the philosopher who was one of the major originators of the Renaissance. Ficino was the son of the doctor of Cosimo dei Medici and after showing interest in philosophy he became Dei Medici’s friend. Translating works of Plato, Plotinus and Hermes Trismegistos besides writing tons of material of his own, Ficino was a rapidly rising star in the intellectual circles of Florence in Italy. He became leader of Dei Medici’s “Platonic Academy” also after Dei Medici’s death. Ficino was also good friends with the follow-up mainman of the Dei Medici bank Lorenzo who supported the academy.

Anyway, articles by renowned writers giving a very good and allright insight in the person Marsilio Ficino, his influences and influece in his time and after and also an idea of the man’s writings. Mostly used are his letters which were published in 12 books, introduced by himself. Many letters are available in different languages, most are not. Ficino wrote a lot of material for which goes the same. His mostly republished translation is that of the Corpus Hermeticum (or Pimander as he called it himself) of which he made the first translation.

A great book if you want to learn about the very interesting period of the early Italian Renaissance and of course the person Marsilio Ficino.

symposionreeks Ficino: brug naar de hermetische gnosis (isbn 9067322504)

This little booklet is from the ‘symposion-series’ of the Lectorium Rosicrucianum. This is a very gnostic Rosicrucian movement that was founded in the Netherlands in the previous century, but has grown very international over the years. Very often there are symposia for members and since a short time, also for non-members. Every now and then there is a big symposion. The texts of the readers on the big symposia are always released in very nice-looking small booklets. Before this one came Spinoza and after Ficino it was time for Jacob Boehme, Paracelcus, Terug Naar De Bron (Back To The Source) and this Bruno (see elsewhere).

There three somewhat longer articles in this 56 page booklet. Not as fitting for ‘novices’ as the Bruno booklet. You are expected to have some background on the Renaissance and the person Ficino and especially the second article uses Ficino as a very thin basis to write about the Hermetic tradition. Maybe not something for people who want to have something in their personal library, but for those more familiar with Ficino, a nice expansion. Please notice another book on Ficino called “Friend To Mankind” and also a review of two books with letters of the man in Dutch “Brieven van Marsilio Ficino” and “Geef vrijelijk wat vrijelijk ontvangen is”.
Get in touch with the Lectorium to get it, for E 11,- and p+p it is yours.

De wereld Als Kunstwerk * Marsilio Ficino (isbn: 9025954987 * 2005)

It has been a while since I studied Ficino. This was part of my series of articles about the Renaissance. At the time I mostly focussed on the esoteric side of the man. Later I reviewed Dutch translations of letters of Ficino and now just released is a Dutch translation of Ficino’s introduction to the Platonic theology. Ficino was writing a massive text of several books about the Platonic theology and he was so smart to make a short text for less specialised readers. This little book is introduced and translated by Rijk Schipper and comes in a very nice booklet. Schipper gives a nice introduction to Renaissance humanism, tells a bit about the life and thought of Ficino and then gives the contence of this book in a few alineas. After this the translation follows. The text is well readable, but not always fully clear to me. Since they are explanations of Plato in a (neo-)Platonic way, the book is very philosophical. Interesting, but not always my kind of literature. The introduction is very helpfull for sure. Ficino speaks about the soul, God, etc. and proves himself a child of him time. Yet, we owe it to Ficino (and almost to Ficino alone) that Plato came back in to the attention of man. More information about the man in my articles.