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The Platonic Frenzies In Marsilio Ficino

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the Plato's concept of mania, and the way it was interpreted by the great Florentine Neoplatonist Marsilio Ficino as a means of ecstatic access to superior knowledge. It is well known that in Plato's Phaedrus, not only the famous 'mythical hymn' of the Charioteer can be found, but also a brief and tantalizing description of four 'frenzies', 'furies', or 'madnesses'. The considerable problems of interpretation which these passages pose for the modern reader begin with the very term: mania in Greek, later translated as furor in Latin. Plato himself begins by explaining to Phaedrus that the concept of 'madness' could easily be misunderstood, pointing out that what he has in mind is not the madness of insanity, but on the contrary, a 'heaven-sent' state that is in fact superior to normal sanity.

Keywords: Florentine Neoplatonist Marsilio Ficino; mania; Phaedrus; Platonic Frenzies



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