Marsilio Ficino

Marsilio Ficino
Marsilio Ficino from a fresco painted by Domenico Ghirlandaio in the Tornabuoni Chapel, Santa Maria Novella, Florence
Marsilio Ficino from a fresco painted by Domenico Ghirlandaio in the Tornabuoni Chapel, Santa Maria Novella, Florence
Born19 October 1433
Figline Valdarno, Republic of Florence
Died1 October 1499(1499-10-01) (aged 65)
Careggi, Republic of Florence
CitizenshipFlorentine
PeriodItalian Renaissance
GenreNeoplatonism
Notable works
Relatives
Diotifeci d'Agnolo
Alessandra di Nanoccio (parents)
Bust of Ficino by Andrea Ferrucci
in Florence Cathedral.

Marsilio Ficino (Italian: [marˈsiːljo fiˈtʃiːno]; Latin name: Marsilius Ficinus; 19 October 1433 – 1 October 1499) was an Italian scholar and Catholic priest who was one of the most influential humanist philosophers of the early Italian Renaissance. He was an astrologer, a reviver of Neoplatonism in touch with the major academics of his day and the first translator of Plato's complete extant works into Latin.[1] His Florentine Academy, an attempt to revive Plato's Academy, influenced the direction and tenor of the Italian Renaissance and the development of European philosophy.

Biography

Ficino was born at Figline Valdarno. His father Diotifeci d'Agnolo was a physician under the patronage of Cosimo de' Medici, who took the young man into his household and became the lifelong patron of Marsilio, who was made tutor to his grandson, Lorenzo de' Medici. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, the Italian humanist philosopher and scholar was another of his students.

During the sessions at Florence of the Council of Ferrara-Florence in 1438–1445, during the failed attempts to heal the schism of the Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Catholic) churches, Cosimo de' Medici and his intellectual circle had made acquaintance with the Neoplatonic philosopher George Gemistos Plethon, whose discourses upon Plato and the Alexandrian mystics so fascinated the learned society of Florence that they named him the second Plato.[2] In 1459 John Argyropoulos was lecturing on Greek language and literature at Florence, and Ficino became his pupil.[2]

When Cosimo decided to refound Plato's Academy at Florence he chose Ficino as its head. In 1462, Cosimo supplied Ficino with Greek manuscripts of Plato's work, whereupon Ficino started translating the entire corpus to Latin[3] (draft translation of the dialogues finished 1468–9;[4] published 1484). Ficino also produced a translation of a collection of Hellenistic Greek documents found by Leonardo da Pistoia later called Hermetica,[5] and the writings of many of the Neoplatonists, including Porphyry, Iamblichus and Plotinus.

Among his many students was Francesco Cattani da Diacceto, who was considered by Ficino to be his successor as the head of the Florentine Platonic Academy.[6] Diacceto's student, Giovanni di Bardo Corsi, produced a short biography of Ficino in 1506.[7]

A physician and a vegetarian, Ficino became a priest in 1473.[8][9][10]