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Studied As An Oration: Readers Of Pico’s Letters, Ancient And Modern

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Chapter Summary

First printed in 1495, a year before Giovanni Pico's epistolary, Marsilio Ficino's correspondence includes hundreds of items covering more than two decades of his life, presented in chronological order and arranged in twelve books or constellations of letters. Some are really essays or short treatises, mainly on moral philosophy or theology. This collection, collected by Ficino , is a literary artifice, meant not just to preserve messages between him and his correspondents but also to give the world a version of his character and theirs. Stephen Greenblatt has connected Saint Thomas More's interest in Pico's letters and Gianfrancesco's Life with the saint's anxiety about pleasure and his 'powerful sense of guilt'. More followed Pico's rules with twelve very brief 'wepenis of spiritual bataile'. At the beginning and end of Pico's correspondence, the two longest letters to his nephew displayed like bookends of remorse and placed there without regard to chronology.

Keywords: Gianfrancesco; Giovanni Pico's letters; Marsilio Ficino; philosophy; Saint Thomas More; theology



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