1433 - 1499

"Books that distribute things... with as daring a freedom as we use in dreams, put us on our feet again."

- Father Marsilio Ficino

Marsilio Ficino probably never left the territory of Florence, yet he still managed to bring vital change to European society. A true Renaissance man, he was a scholar, doctor, musician, astrologer, linguist, priest, and one of the most influential philosophers of the early Renaissance. Founder and head of the Plato Academy of Florence, his translations and commentaries on the writings of Plato and other Classic Greek authors marked the beginning of the Florentine Platonist Renaissance. His complete translation of Plato’s dialogues, published in 1484, was the earliest complete translation of Plato into a western tongue, and was used for centuries. His commentary of Plato’s Symposium (“De amore’) is said to be the source of the term ‘Platonic love;’ indeed Ficino wrote of his platonic love for his “unique friend” Giovanni Cavalcanti in a series of ardent love letters. Though he led a life of chastity since becoming a priest in 1473, his letters indicate his erotic impulses were directed exclusively towards men. His main original work, Theologia Platonica de immortalitate animae (The Platonic Theology or The Immortality of Souls), stressed the compatibility of philosophy and religion by proving the immortality of the soul. Truly ahead of his time, it was not until 1513 that the Roman Catholic Church itself declared the natural immortality of the soul as dogma - 14 years after Ficino‘s death. Desiring a union of philosophy and religion, Ficino explained that ancient philosophy was all part of the process of divine revelation, the revealing of God through man. His influence cannot be overestimated - by disassociating antiquity from paganism he aligned Christianity with an appreciation of classic culture, paving the way for the flowering of the Renaissance. He died in 1499 at the age of 65


Gender Male

Sexual Orientation Gay

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Faith Construct Catholic

Nations Affiliated Italy

Era/Epoch Renaissance/Reformation (1300-1700)

Field(s) of Contribution








Commemorations & Honors

Piazza Marsilio Ficino in Figline Valdarno Tuscany Named After Him



Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Victor Salvo
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell