‘Having translated the works of Plato and the major Neo-Platonists from Greek into Latin, Ficino was in a unique position to provide commentaries on Plato’s dialogues, explaining the substance of the dialogue in the context of the whole corpus of Platonic thought and Renaissance Florence.
To Ficino, however, philosophy was much more than an intellectual exercise. As a canon of Florence Cathedral, he recognised the spiritual significance of Plato’s dialogues, of which Parmenides is perhaps the most profound, dealing as it does with the ultimate reality and how the individual soul may ascend to the presence of the eternal One.’
This is the second volume in the Commentaries by Ficino on Plato’s Writings series. The other volumes are Gardens of Philosophy, When Philosophers Rule (comprising Republic and The Laws), and All Things Natural, which contains the Timaeus.
As Carol Kaske of Cornell University wrote when reviewing Gardens of Philosophy in Renaissance Quarterly, these translations fill ‘a need. Even those Anglophone scholars who know Latin still need a translation in order to read quickly through a large body of material’
The central message of Parmenides, that everything depends on the One, resonates with the growing awareness around the world of the inter-relatedness of all things, be it in the biosphere, the intellectual or spiritual realms. Philosophers in ancient Greece appreciated this unity and employed reason and dialectic to draw the mind away from its preoccupation with the material world and attract it towards contemplation of the soul, and ultimately of that Oneness which embraces, but is distinct from, the multifarious forms of creation.
Thus Parmenides carefully instructed the young Socrates, and Plato recorded their dialogue in this work which he named after the elderly philosopher. Nearly 2000 years later, Marsilio Ficino made Parmenides available to the West by translating it into Latin, the language of scholars in his time. Ficino added a lengthy commentary to this translation, a commentary which Evermore Shall Be So puts into English for the first time, more than 500 years after its original composition.
Ficino’s crucial influence upon the unfolding of the Renaissance and his presentation of Plato’s understanding of the One and the so-called Platonic Ideas or Forms make Evermore Shall Be So an important work in the history of thought. Though it will be an essential buy for Renaissance scholars and historians, its freshness of thought and wisdom are as relevant today as they ever were to inspire a new generation seeking spiritual and philosophical direction in their lives.
Arthur Farndell is one of the world’s leading translators of Renaissance philosophy, having worked for many years on the translations of The Letters of Marsilio Ficino, eleven volumes of which have been published by Shepheard-Walwyn to date.
Read more about Arthur on his author page.
‘This is philosophy with a mystical dimension, one that is crucial to the original Socratic and Platonic teaching… It is a very clear and readable translation, particularly in view of some of the ambiguities of the Latin.’
Tony Cross in Faith and Freedom