Review by Angela Voss: On the Nature of Love: Ficino on Plato’s Symposium, trans. Arthur Farndell.
London: Shepheard-Walwyn 2016. 200pp. £19.99
The theme of love was central to the Renaissance revival of Platonism led by Marsilio Ficino of Florence (1433–99). Ficino translated and commented on the entire Platonic corpus, as well as translating the Corpus Hermeticum, translating and commenting on Plotinus’ Enneads and writings by other Neoplatonists (e.g. Synesius, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Proclus), and completing his own original works (most notably, the Platonic Theology). Love is the central topic of two Platonic dialogues, the Phaedrus and the Symposium, and Ficino’s Commentary on the Symposium was the only one of his Commentaries which he himself translated into his native Tuscan. Ficino was working on his translations of Plato in the 1460s, and immediately after the completion of the Symposium (1469) he wrote his Commentary, which he entitled De amore. Five years later, at the request of Lorenzo de’ Medici, Ficino made the Tuscan translation, which included a significant amount of new material added to the Latin text. Sears Jayne has informed us that this included headings for the seven speeches and chapter titles, but also some completely new passages.1 De amore was not published until 1484, and the Tuscan Sopra lo Amore not until 1544.