Volume 9 in the Shepheard-Walwyn edition corresponds with Book X of the original Latin edition.
Volumes 1-10 are available here as a complete set at a reduced price.
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”
Translated from the Latin by members of the Language Department of the School of Economic Science, London.
You can read more about Arthur Farndell, who collaborated as a translator on this project, on his author page.
“There is no doubt that without Ficino, the Western World would not have the ready access to priceless, long abandoned works of Greek Philosophers. This is a fascinating book for historians and is an object lesson on how to live in the world and yet not be attached to it. There is a rather beautiful facsimile copy of the original text in Latin included”.
The Study Society
… these letters indicate that even an intellectual giant such as Marsilio Ficino had to be careful to secure his position in order to gain the freedom to finish his seminal translations of the Greek philosophers … it is a fascinating book for historians.”
“These wonderful volumes of letters are translated from the Latin by members of the School of Economic Science and comprise not only the letters themselves but explanatory notes, appendices and interesting biographical notes … The School are to be congratulated on venturing upon such a mammoth project requiring not only great sensitivity of understanding of Ficino’s ideas, but translation skills to match. The result is breathtaking.”
Elizabeth Medler, Editor of New Vision
From reviews of previous volumes
“From every point of view it is a pleasure to read this perfect introduction to one of the most attractive and influential figures of the Italian Renaissance.”
C.V. Wedgwood in The Daily Telegraph
“Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) was at the very fountainhead of some of the most characteristic and influential aspects of the Italian Renaissance.”
C B Schmitt, The Times Literary Supplement
“All that we regard as the norm of Western European art – Botticelli’s paintings, Monteverdi’s music, Shakespeare’s philosophical lovers, Berowne and Lorenzo, Jacques and Portia – has flowered from Ficino’s Florence.”
Kathleen Raine, The Times
“Undoubtedly these letters comprise one of the ‘spiritual classics’ of the past thousand years.”
Christopher Booker, The Spectator
“…so well translated, so well annotated and so beautifully produced that it is a pleasure to read and possess.”
A. Hamilton in The Heythrop Journal