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Ficino’s Hymns And The Renaissance Platonic Academy

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Chapter Summary

Ficino's doctrine of natural sympathy, which, in turn, acts as the basis for his discussion of natural magic and the effectiveness of hymn-singing, is drawn from Proclus's De sacrificio et magia and the Proclan hymns themselves. When accompanying himself on his Orphic lyre, Ficino sang hymns before members of the Florentine Platonic Academy. Ficino adapted and simplified the Proclan and Iamblichan cosmos so that his ontology consisted of a four-tiered system, as described in his Commentary on the Phaedrus. In this work he posits 1) a sensible or corporeal world; 2) an animate world, led by the twelve planetary gods as souls of the twelve spheres; 3) an intellectual or super-celestial world; and 4) an intelligible world. Ficino explains how the hymnist must make his songs correspond to the planetary gods. Symbols are used in theurgic ritual and can comprise anything from plants, rocks and odours, to words or sounds.

Keywords: Ficino; hymns; planetary song; Renaissance Platonic Academy; symbols; theurgic ritual



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