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Marsilio Ficino And The Chemical Art

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Chapter Summary

To a Ficino scholar, the inclusion of his name must doubtless come as something of a surprise, because 'our Marsilio' has no modern reputation as an alchemist. This chapter adds a little more fuel, as it were, to Matton's fire, suggesting potential alchemical ingredients in Ficino's authentic works and themes that might have encouraged later writers to include him among the corpus of alchemical authorities. Ficino provides a slightly atypical list of correspondences, almost identical to those of Olympiodorus: the Sun with gold, the Moon with silver, Saturn with lead, Jupiter with electrum, Mars with iron and copper, Venus with orichalc, and Mercury with tin. The few lines Ficino wrote there on potable gold, and his identification of the spiritus mundi with the quintessence exerted a profound influence on late Renaissance and early modern alchemy, acting like the Philosophers' Stone, with very little substance needed to perform a great transformation.

Keywords: alchemical authority; Marsilio Ficino; modern alchemy; Olympiodorus; Renaissance



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