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Marsilio Ficino (Caveggi, Florence, 1443-1499) studied Medicine at the University of Pisa-Florence, since his father wanted him to have the same profession. However, although he published some medical works (such as De triplice vita libri tres and Epidemiarum antidotus), he did not pursue that career. He studied Humanities, Philosophy and Theology. He was ordained a priest.

He is considered the most important Florentine philosopher and promoter of humanist studies and disseminator of Plato’s thought.

He was influenced by Jorge Gemisto Pletón, promoter of Greek and Neoplatonism in the Latin world, and Basilio Besarion, educated in Constantinople, who was a defender of Plato without disqualifying Aristotle.

Ficino cultivated literary genres such as the treatise, the dialogue, the speech and the letter. He translated from Greek into Latin the dialogues of Plato, Plotinus and the Corpus Hermeticum and some treatises and letters written by an unknown 5th century monk, Pseudo Dionysius Aeropagita.

He wrote – apart from an enormous epistolary – a famous commentary on Plato’s Symposium and Platonic theology. He aspired to a fusion of Platonism and Hermeticism with Christianity and in De Vita he came to have problems with the Inquisition. His influences reach Descartes, Erasmus, Spinoza, Leibniz and Kant.

His philosophy contributed to the emergence of artistic creations such as Botticelli’s Spring and The Birth of Venus and its influence spread throughout the Renaissance, affecting personalities as diverse as Dürer, Agrippa von Nettesheim, Paracelsus, Milton and Pico della Mirandolla.

Marsilio Ficino was the creator of the Academy of Florence in 1462. Cosimo de’ Medici was the patron who gave him a house in Caveggi near Florence and put numerous Greek manuscripts at his disposal. He is considered the creator of Neoplatonism.

In 1473 he was ordained a priest. He then receives two communities as prebends from Lorenzo de’ Medici and is then named canon of the cathedral of Florence.

The name Academy was used as Spiritual Community. They celebrated Plato’s birth with a banquet in which each participant gave a philosophical speech.

The Academy held recitals, declamations, private readings of Plato, and public lectures on Plato and the Neoplatonist Plotinus, delivered in a nearby church or adjacent auditorium. They received visitors and maintained contacts with foreign members.

Other relevant people in the history of the Academy were: Pleton and Cardinal Besarion, Cristóforo Landino, León Battista Alberti, Benedetto Varchi and Angelo Poliziano.

Features of the Florentine Academy:

It is demonstrated with Ficino that Platonism has not finished its course. Platonism is a constant adaptation and amalgamation. It is a “philosophy perennis.”