Plato’s Persona: Marsilo Ficino, Renaissance Humanism, and Platonic Traditions (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018)
In 1484, humanist philosopher and theologian Marsilio Ficino published the first complete Latin translation of Plato’s extant works. Students of Plato now had access to the entire range of the dialogues, which revealed to Renaissance audiences the rich ancient landscape of myths, allegories, philosophical arguments, etymologies, fragments of poetry, other works of philosophy, aspects of ancient pagan religious practices, concepts of mathematics and natural philosophy, and the dialogic nature of the Platonic corpus’s interlocutors. By and large, Renaissance readers in the Latin West encountered Plato’s text through Ficino’s translations and interpretation.
In Plato’s Persona, Denis J.-J. Robichaud provides the first synthetic study of Ficino’s interpretation of the Platonic corpus. Robichaud analyzes Plato’s works in their original Greek and in Ficino’s Latin translations, as well as Ficino’s non-Platonic writings and correspondence, in the process uncovering new aspects of Ficino’s intellectual work habits. In his letters and works, Ficino self-consciously imitated a Platonic style of prose, in effect devising a persona for himself as a Platonic philosopher. Plato’s dialogues are populated with a wealth of literary characters with whom Plato interacts and against whom Plato refines his own philosophies. Reading through Ficino’s translations, Robichaud finds that the Renaissance philosopher seeks an understanding of Plato’s persona(e) among all the dialogues’ interlocutors. In effect, Ficino assumed the role of Plato’s Latin spokesperson in the Renaissance.
Plato’s Persona is grounded in an extensive study of scholarship in Renaissance humanism, classics, philosophy, and intellectual history, and contextualizes Ficino’s intellectual achievements within the contemporary Christian orthodox view of Platonism. Ficino was an influential figure in the early Italian Renaissance: the key intermediary between Greek and Latin, and between manuscript and print, giving voice to Plato and access to the ancient frameworks needed to interpret his dialogues.
Reviews of Plato’s Persona
Marieke van den Doel, “Review Essay: Marsilio Ficino: Humanist, Magus, or Philosopher?,” History of Humanities 6.1 (2021).
Francesco Caruso and Carlo delle Donne, Elenchos 41.1 (2020).
‘Booknotes,’ along with Simon Blackburn’s On Truth (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), Philosophy: The Journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy vol. 94 no. 397 (January, 2019).
Mariapaola Bergomi, “Serioludere – Travestimenti letterari, maschere e platonismo: a margine di una recente pubblicazione su Marsilio Ficino,” Méthexis : International Journal for Ancient Philosophy 31 (2019).
Valery Rees, International Journal of the Platonic Tradition 13 (2019).
Valery Rees, Mediterranea: International Journal on the Transfer of Knowledge 5 (2020).
Matteo Stefani, “Marsilio Ficino Alter Plato. a proposito di un recente volume su Ficino e la tradizione platonica,” Rivista di Filologica e di Istruzione Classica 147.2 (2019).
Sergius Kodera, in Journal of the History of Philosophy 58.3 (2020) Teresa Rodriguez, in Renaissance Quarterly 72.3 (2019).
Matteo Stefani, Medioevo Greco 19 (2019).
Isabella Walser-Bürgler, Medievalia et Humanistica, New Series 45 (2020).
Simon Smets, International Journal of the Classical Tradition (2019).
Susan Byrne, Bulletin of the Comediantes 70.2 (2018).
H. Darrel Rutkin, in Early Science and Medicine 24 (2019): 289-309.
Craig Kallendorf, in Neo-Latin News / Seventeenth-Century News 66.1/2 (2018).
Joseph W. Koterski, S.J., in International Philosophical Quarterly 58.3 Issue 231 (September 2018).