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Ficino, Archimedes and the Celestial Arts

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Chapter Summary

Archimedes's vacatio coincides perfectly with Archimedes's inventio. In della Volpaia's clock as well, contemplation and motion come to a point of union. In other words Ficino absorbed the two traditions of portraying Archimedes represented by Plutarch's Vita Marcelli (14-15) and by Vitruvius's De architectura (1.1). Secondly, moving from the Archimedean myth to its philosophical influence on Marsilio Ficino's thought in the period 1474-92, there is no evidence that Marsilio Ficino the Platonist was aloof, haughtily contemplative, far from the artists and from their technical achievements. Certainly, the author's concern with the clock marks an important addition to Marsilio's mental tools. Inverting the usual proportion he had observed earlier in his Theologia Platonica between microcosm and macrocosm, Ficino offered the reader of De vita the man-made power of embracing the celestial spheres in his own mind and of re-awakening the divine forces of the anima mundi.

Keywords: Archimedes; celestial arts; Marsilio Ficino; Theologia Platonica; Vitruvius's De architectura



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