This is the first volume in the Commentaries by Ficino on Plato’s Writings series.

What made the Renaissance tick? Why had it such a force that its thinking spread from a small group of scholars in Florence, working in their own brilliant ways but coming together in a small villa on the Florentine hillside where Marsilio Ficino (1433-99) lived, to affect the thinking of the whole of Europe, and eventually of America, for five hundred years and is continuing to do so?

Cosimo de’Medici, the virtual ruler of Florence, had been attracted to the philosophy of Plato by Gemistos Plethon during the Council Florence in 1439 and had instructed his agents to gather together Plato’s works before Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453. In 1462 he commissioned Marsilio Ficino to translate them from Greek into Latin for the benefit of the Latin-speaking world, a task he completed in under five years according to his biographer Giovanni Corsi.

This, the first volume in a four-volume series, provides the first English translation of the 25 short commentaries on the dialogues and the 12 letters traditionally ascribed to Plato. Later volumes provide translations of his longer commentaries on the Parmenides (2008), the Republic and Laws (2009) and Timaeus (2010).

Though this book 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.


Author Details
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, ten volumes of which have been published by Shepheard-Walwyn to date.

You can read more about Arthur Farndell on his author page.


“The distilled conciseness of these writings gives us, more vividly perhaps than any other source, a sense of what Plato’s wisdom meant to [Ficino] who became his apostle to the Renaissance.”
Temenos Academy Review

“This work is a translation of Ficino’s shorter commentaries or summaries that he prefixed to his translations of Plato’s dialogues and the twelve letters attributed to Plato. It fills a need, since these Ficinian works have never been translated into English before. Even those Anglophone scholars who know Latin still need a translation in order to read quickly through a large body of material.”
Carol V. Kaske, Cornell University in Renaissance Quarterly

“This is philosophy with a mystical dimension – one that is crucial to the original Socratic and Platonic teaching.”
Tony Cross in Faith and Freedom