Marsilo Ficino


Portrait of Marsilo Ficino (in Latin) by unknown painter

“”We have an entire sky within us, our fiery strength and heavenly origin: Luna which symbolizes the continuous motion of soul and body, Mars speed and Saturn  slowness, the Sun God, Jupiter law, Mercury reason, and Venus humanity.”  

                                                                                                           – Marsilo Ficino, letter to Lorenzo the Magnificant

Ficino was a major figure in the Italian Renaissance, living during years 1433 and 1499.   He was a man of many talents and interests; a Catholic priest, a philosopher, an astrologer, and translator.  In this last occupation he translated the Corpus Hermeticum from Arabic into Latin.  He was a prolific writer, I particularly enjoyed his  three volume work entitled Libri de Vita Tres – Three Books about Life.    The third volume of the trilogy is especially interesting to astrologers as he writes about natural magic, astrology and musical symbolism.   If you want an easily accessible book on Ficino,  I highly recommend Thomas Moore’s,  The Planets Within, the Astrological Psychology of Marsilio Ficino that was published in 1982.

Marsilio Ficino, was born October 19, 1433, Figline, the  republic of Florence and died October 1, 1499, Careggi, near Florence.   He was an Italian philosopher, theologian, and linguist whose translations and commentaries on the writings of Plato and other classical Greek authors generated the Florentine Platonist Renaissance that influenced European thought for two centuries.

Ficino was the son of a physician who was acquainted with the Florentine ruler and patron of learning Cosimo de’ Medici. After being trained in Latin language and literature, Ficino studied Aristotelian philosophy and medicine, probably at Florence. He was introduced to the Latin versions of the works of Plato and the Neoplatonists by such Western writers as Augustine of Hippo (5th century) and the leading medieval scholastic Saint Thomas Aquinas. He then acquired knowledge of Greek to read classical philosophers in their original texts. Supported by Cosimo de’ Medici and his successors, he devoted the remainder of his life to the translation and interpretation of Plato and the succeeding Neoplatonist school, whose thought he attempted to integrate more closely with Christian theology.

 

“The new inspiration of civilized life ( in Sumer) was based, based first on the discovery, through long and meticulous, carefully checked and rechecked observations, that there were, besides the sun and moon, five other visible or barely visible heavenly spheres ( to wit Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) which moved in established courses, according to established laws …that the laws governing the movements of the seven heavenly spheres should in some mystical way be the same as those governing the life and thought of men on earth.”                                                    the Masks of God, Primitive Mythology, pg.246, Joseph Campbell

                                                                Ficino Astrologically

The chart was originally rectified by Marc Penfield and I am accepting it as his.  Ficino has a preponderance on the west side of the map, excluding the asteroids, showing his tendency to rely on his resources — like the de Medici’s for his life’s work.    The Sun in the ninth house strengthens his desires to create a one world view of both Christianity, by uniting it with pre-Christian writers and post and also then showing how the stars interrelated with that.  Neptune and Jupiter are conjunct in the seventh house of Leo sextile his Sun giving his desires great foresight and aptitude in handling the myriad of issues that this endeavor encouraged.  These two planets are then opposite Saturn right on the Ascendant, that helped with his discipline and sensitivity to the past as a prologue to his visionary future.

Interestingly, Penfield puts Ficino’s Mercury right on the eleventh house cusp.  That is striking as Ficino believed that the Greek god Mercury was the first theologian and here uniting his house of honour with the public, shows that Ficino himself took on that mantle for many in Europe.  One of Ficino’s greatest belief’s was that the “soul” is more than a quality of human character and that an individual encounters things, he imbues them with his soul.  Hence the idea of the “car” as a girlfiend or that it has feelings can be traced back to him as part of the what we as human’s give away with our love and devotion.

The plethora in the tenth house depicts the honour his life’s work brought him, as well at the many demands it required.  The fourth house opposite it, is empty showing that he gave up his personal life, willingly, for his work and with Uranus in Taurus, a unique insight to the mechanics of time and space.

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