This volume brings together correspondence from the last decade of Marsilio Ficino’s life, spanning the period late 1489 to spring 1491. Written during the preparation of his translation and commentaries on the Enneads of Plotinus, Ficino’s philosophical letters to his friends and fellow Florentines in this volume provide an insight into what was uppermost in his mind at the time.
This volume introduces us to an intriguing group of people (Ficino was clearly a member) who met informally under the name of ‘Mammola‘. It appears to have been a company of like-minded citizens seeking to deepen their understanding of the great philosophical works Ficino was translating and exploring how to make practical the idea of philosophy as a way of life rather than just an intellectual pursuit.
The letters also give us an insight into the political context in which he was working. The Church had sought to prosecute him for magic, predictive astrology and spirit-worship following the publication of his controversial Three Books on Life in 1489. To protect himself, Ficino made strenuous efforts to gain and maintain the patronage of Lorenzo de’ Medici and other powerful figures in law, medicine and the clergy, revealing his often precarious social position during this period.
Above all else, this collection of letters traces the final development of Ficino’s interest in the relationship between God, the Soul and the eternal truths that he believed were to be found in Plato. His ideas on religion and immortality articulated in these letters transcend his historical moment and have as much to teach us today as when they were written. Not long after his death, the Church accepted the immortality of the soul as dogma.
“All religion is natural to man and is the surest foundation for immortality” (Letter 10)