Three Books on Life (Medieval and Renaissance Texts and by Marsilio Ficino

By Marsilio Ficino

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So much for magic in Ficino's writings. 13 At the same time, a word for which one looks in vain in De vita is "alchemy," even though it existed in medieval Latin as well as the vernaculars. 20-23, p. 535, a passage influenced by the unmentionable Picatrix. That De vita was associated in the minds of later readers with alchemy is indicated by several bibliographical facts. One German translator substituted an overtly alchemical treatise for Book 3 (see Clark's "Editorial Introduction" on translations).

Although part of the second installment, it was never criticized any more than was Book 1 with which it was to be conspicuously reprinted. The indication is that Ficino wrote Book 2 and tucked it away in the middle, although it was written last, in a somewhat perfunctory attempt to please his audience. Its composition was late, hasty, and derivative, both from Book 1 and from sources such as the unacknowledged Roger Bacon, and it is full of rhetorical padding. Ficino prudently judged that at least one detachable half of the work should be filled up with more of the sort of thing which had so pleased the audience of De uita sana; but he placed De vita coelitus comparanda at the climax, though it was not written last, because it was the most congenial to him and the most fundamental.

The indices reveal that in the veritably or ostensibly derivative works, the word demonldaemon is employed frequently and in the distinctively Neoplatonic neutral sense; whereas in the original works, it is employed but rarely, and then mostly in an unfavorable sense. , Rebercussions 65 p. 418). Somewhat more boldly, in the Letter to Braccio Martelli cited above, he makes clear that he and his friends believe in the Neoplatonic ones; before laying down doctrines about them, he lists authorities-Plotinus (probably meaning Enn.

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