The story-line of this new book is very simple. November 7 was presumed to be Plato’s birthday, and on that evening in 1468 nine men met at Careggi outside Florence in his honour. After supper the Symposium was read aloud, and each of the guests then spoke on the nature of love. Marsilio Ficino, who was also present, recorded what was said, although he himself did not speak, and his report constitutes the text of his commentary to Plato’s dialogue.
The topics covered are wide-ranging and include the darker and earthly aspects of love such as: The birth of Love and hatred; Common love is the evil eye; Common love is a disturbance in the blood; Bestial love: a kind of madness. Ficino also takes us through to the pure and divine: Love is the master of all the arts; Love is the master and preserver of all; How the beauty of God gives birth to love; How the soul rises from the beauty of Body to the beauty of God.
Given the universal appeal of its subject matter, Ficino’s commentary was eagerly taken up in court circles throughout Europe and became an essential part of their standard fare for the next two centuries. Writers and artists were inspired by it. The topic of idealised love, so evident in Shakespeare’s plays, immediately resonated with the makers and shakers of many countries, particularly Italy, France, Spain, and England.
On the Nature of Love is the first English translation of the Tuscan version of Ficino’s work. The Latin version was translated many years ago and is now difficult to obtain. The book is now available to order and may be a suitable gift for a loved one this Valentine’s Day. Find out more about it on our website.
Read about the translator, Arthur Farndell here.
You might also be interested in the following books which touch on the subject of the Christian-Platonic philosophy of love.