Opheus redivivus: The Musical Magic of Marsilio Ficino – Angela Voss

In a letter to Paul of Middelburg, written when he was nearly sixty, Ficino looks back over the great achievements of the Florentine Renaissance: “This age, like a golden age, has brought back to light those liberal disciplines that were practically extinguished: grammar, poetry, oratory, painting, sculpture, architecture, music and the ancient singing of songs to the Orphic Lyre”. He is of course referring to both his own and his friends’ well-attested skill at improvising or composing musical settings for the Hymns of Orpheus, which he himself had translated from the Greek, and whose ritual use in the practice of natural magic lay at the very heart of Ficino’s work with the Platonic Academy. Nothing, says Pico della Mirandola, is more effective in natural magic than the Hymns of Orpheus, if the kind of music – and other circumstances – are applied which are only known to the wise.

Read “Orpheus redivivus: The Musical Magic of Marsilio Ficino


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