Marsilio Ficino (also known by his Latin name, Marsilius Ficinus (1433 – 1499) was one of the most influential humanist philosophers of the early Italian Renaissance, astrologer, and a reviver of Neoplatonism who was in touch with every major academic thinker and writer of his day.
During the sessions at Florence of the Council of Siena in 1439, during the failed attempts to heal the schism of the Latin and Greek churches, Cosimo 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. In 1459 John Argyropoulos was lecturing on Greek language and literature at Florence, and Marsilio became his pupil. When Cosimo decided to refound Plato's Academy at Florence, his choice to head it was Marsilio, who made the classic translation of Plato from Greek to Latin (published in 1482), as well as of the Hermetic Corpus, and the writings of many of the Neoplatonists, for example Porphyry, Iamblichus, Plotinus, et al. Following suggestions laid out by Gemistos Plethon, Ficino tried to synthesize Christianity and Platonism.
Marsilio Ficino's main work was his treatise on the immortality of the soul (Theologia Platonica de immortalitate animae). In the rush of enthusiasm for every rediscovery from Antiquity, Marsilio exhibited a great interest in the arts of astrology, which landed him in trouble with the Roman Church. In 1489 he was accused of magic before Pope Innocent VIII and needed strong defense to preserve him from the rigors of heresy.
His father was a physician connected to patron was 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.
Marsilio Ficino, writing in 1492, proclaimed, "This century, like a golden age, has restored to light the liberal arts, which were almost extinct: grammar, poetry, rhetoric, painting, sculpture, architecture, music...this century appears to have perfected astrology."
His letters, extending over the years 1474 – 1494, survive and have been published. He also authored a book titled De amore.
- http://www.renaissanceastrology.com/ficino.html Short Biography of Ficino
- Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911: Ficino
- ISBN 0-674-00345-4 Platonic Theology, vol I, Latin with English translation, 2001.
- ISBN 0-674-00764-6 Platonic Theology, vol II, Latin with English translation, 2002.
- ISBN 0-674-01065-5 Platonic Theology, vol III, Latin with English translation, 2003.