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Ficino's Lecture on the Good

  • Michael J. B. Allen (a1)
Extract

Diogenes Laertius has Plato reading the Phaedo and Lysis aloud to his students, but the only true lecture or series of lectures attributed to him by ancient sources was entitled On the Good, Aristotle's disciple the musical theorist Aristoxenus records that Aristotle attended the Lecture or Lectures (I shall henceforth refer to it in the singular); and Simplicius, writing in the sixth century A.D., notes first that the Lecture was also attended by Speusippus, Xenocrates, and others and later that Hestiaios and Heraclides Ponticus were there too. According to both Aristoxenus and Simplicius, Aristotle maintained the Lecture was delivered relatively late in Plato's career.

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1 Lives of the Philosophers III, 35 and 37.

2 See Pauly-Wissowa, Real Encyklopädie, Vol. 20.2, col. 2356; and Guthrie, W. K. C., A History of Creek Philosophy, IV (Cambridge, 1975), 2122 .

3 Aristoxenus, Harmonica elementa II, 30-31 (ed. Meibomius). For the text and a commentary see Gaiser, Konrad, Platons Ungeschriebene Lehre (Stuttgart, 1963), pp. 452453 . For another commentary see Düring, Ingemar, Aristotle in the Ancient Biographical Tradition (Göteborg, 1957), pp. 357361 .

4 Simplicius, In Arist. Phys. I, 4, 187a; III, 4, 202b. For the text and a commentary see Gaiser, pp. 453-454 and 481-484.

5 Ryle, Gilbert, Plato's Progress (Cambridge, 1966), pp. 251256 , dates it around 363-362 B.C.

6 Gaiser, p. 452:

7 Guthrie, p. 21.

8 See Gaiser, pp. 478-480; p. 527 (Alexander of Aphrodisias); pp. 453-454 and 481-484 (Simplicius).

9 Proclus, In Platonis Parmenidem, p. 688 (ed. Cousin); Themistius, Orationes XXI, 245cff. See Gaiser, pp. 452-453n.

10 Aristoxenus, Harm. elem. II, 30; Simplicius, In Arist. Phys. I, 4, 187a; III, 4, 202b. See Gaiser, pp. 452-453, 483.

11 Chaignet, A. Ed., La Vie et les Écrits de Platon (Paris, 1871), p. 80 .

12 For example, Protagoras 328E, 334c; Gorgias 449B; Hippias Major 373A.

13 In Arist. Phys. III, 4, 202b (ed. Gaiser, pp. 482, 483): (483).

14 Republic VI, 505-509; VII, 517, 534, 540; Phaedo 75-78; Parmenides 133-134; Philebus 67.

15 Plotinus, Enneads VI, ix.

16 The Lecture's number ontology would also have led to comparisons with the Timaeus, the only other dialogue where numbers are of central concern.

17 Marcel, Raymond, ed. and trans., Marsile Ficin: Comtnentaire sur le banquet de Platon (Paris, 1956), p. 136 .

18 Chastel, André, Marsile Ficin et l'art (Geneva and Lille, 1954), PP. 912 .

19 Allen, Michael J. B., ed. and trans., Marsilio Ficino: The Philebus Commentary (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1975), p. 177 . Cf. Ficino, , Opera Omnia (Basle, 1576), pp. 661.1, 2.

20 Opera Omnia, p. 608.2 (Cosimo); p. 890 (Pico); p. 639.4 (Politian).

21 Wind, Edgar, Pagan Mysteries of the Renaissance (rev. ed., New York, 1968), pp. 236237 .

22 Opera Omnia, p. 1137, ‘Pythagorae, Socratisque et Platonis mos erat, ubique divina mysteria figuris involucrisque obtegere, sapientiam suam contra Sophistarum iactantiam modeste dissimulare, iocare serio et studiosissime ludere.'

23 Wind, p. 190.

24 The religious orientation of the Florentine Academy has been emphasized by Kristeller, Paul Oskar, ‘Lay Religious Traditions and Florentine Platonism,’ Studies in Renaissance Thought and Letters (Rome, 1956), pp. 99122 .

25 Vita Marsilii Ficini VII, ‘Publice itaque eo tempore Marsilius magna auditorum frequentia Platonis Philebum interpretatus est in quern adhuc etiam illius temporis nonnulla eius exstant collectanea.’ For a convenient text see Marcel, Raymond, Marsile Ficin (Paris, 1958), appendix I, p. 683 .

26 Allen, pp. 8-10, 522, n. 31.

27 Allen, pp. 15-22.

28 Diogenes Laertius III, 58.

29 Allen, pp. 4-6; Westerink, L. G., Damascius: Lectures on the Philebus (Amsterdam, 1959), P. 2 .

30 Republic VI, 505A-509B; Philebus 66A-67A.

31 Allen, pp. 5-7, 16-18.

32 Opera Omnia: pp. 153, 156, 179, 267, 651, 1409 (Aristoxenus); pp. 327, 330, 343, 356, 367, 714, 896, 1224, 1537, 1551, 1569, 1759, 1801 (Themistius); pp. 1224, 1537, 1569 (Simplicius). See also Kristeller, Paul Oskar, Supplementum Ficinianum (Florence, 1937). II, 132 and 143.

33 Opera Omnia, p. 267, ‘Plato in septimo libro de Republica, cum Deum bonitatem ipsam appellavisset, adiunxit vix quidem earn percipi posse, sed hac ignorata nihil aut vere cognosci aut recte agi vel publice vel privatim. Quod quidem ab Indis philosophis Socratem et Platonem didicisse Aristoxenus amrmat.’ The reference is to the Republic VII, 517BC.

34 Marcel, Raymond, ed. and trans., Marsile Ficin: Théologie Platonicienne de l'immortalité des âmes, 3 vols. (Paris, 1964 and 1970), II, 155n.

35 Bolgar, R. R., The Classical Heritage (New York, 1964), pp. 488, 490-491.

36 Bolgar does not deal with Aristoxenus, unfortunately.

37 Kristeller, Studies, p. 116. For Ficino's sermons see Opera Omnia, pp. 473-493.

38 Marcel, Marsile Ficin, p. 310; Allen, p. 9.

39 See chapters I-VI (ed. Allen, pp. 73-115, especially pp. 81-83 and 87-89).

40 Chapters XXIII and XXV (ed. Allen, pp. 215-225 and 231-237).

41 Chapter XXIX (ed. Allen, pp. 271-273).

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Renaissance Quarterly
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  • EISSN: 1935-0236
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