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Marsilio Ficino - De Triplici Vita Aurea Volumina Tria [also De Magis and other works] - 1518

This is the 1518 VENICE EDITION OF FICINO’S ‘TRIPLICI VITA’ – HIS MOST POPULAR WORK. Printed at Venice in octavo by Cesare Arrivabene and complete in all respects. Text in Latin. Edited by Luca Panetti, with his dedicatory epistle to Patriarch of Venice, Antonio Contarini. Numerous decorative and historiated woodcut initials of various sizes. 8vo.


The full title reads as follows:

“Marsilii ficini floren/tini doctoris in omni disciplinaru[m] genere profundissimi de triplici vita aurea volumina tria. Videlicet. / Primus de vita sana: seu de cura valitudinis corum: qui litterarum studio incumbunt. / Secundus de vita longa. / Tertius de vita celitus comparanda. / Item apologia quedam: in qua de medicina: astrologia: vita mundi: subtiliter tractatur. / Item de magis: qui christum stati natu[m] adoraveru[n]t. / Item quae ad vita[m] securitas & ai tra[n]quilitas necessaria sit. / Item p[rae]clariss … totius opis brevis an[n]otatio. / Novissime post omnes impression[n]es ubique terraru[m] excussas a viro bene doctor affatim recognita: … medis & erroribus quae dilige[n]tissime expurgata.”

The colophon reads as follows:

“Finit aureum opusculu[m] domini Marsilii ficini florentinni doctoris & grece & latine doctissimi de triplici vita: novissime post omnes impressions diligenter recognitum: cunctisque mendis expurgatum Impressum autem Venetiis summa diligentia per Caesarem arrivabenum venetum Anno ab incarnatione domini milesimo quingentesimo decimo octavo die vero ultimo aprilis.”

THE VOLUME IS FINELY BOUND IN EARLY 16TH CENTURY ITALIAN BLINDSTAMPED BROWN MOROCCO. Both boards show a centerpiece stamp of the Christ Child in Glory, holding a long cross with a banner, with floriated stamps and ornamental border of winding vines. The spine is ornately blind-tooled. IT IS COMPLETE IN ALL RESPECTS and is foliated, as called for, 111, [1] ff.

First published in 1489, ‘De triplici vita’ is, arguably, the most popular of Ficino’s original works. It is a key work in the history of Renaissance astrological magic and the hermetic and neoplatonic revival in 15th century Florence. The book is a curious amalgam of philosophy, medicine, natural magic and astrology, and is possibly the first book ever written focusing primarily on the health of an intellectual and its peculiar concerns.

This edition also includes the Apologia. From Ficino’s correspondence in 1490, we know Pope Innocent VIII found inklings of heresy in the work (particularly its more esoteric Book III), causing Ficino to petition his friends in Rome for help in restoring his name to favor. The Apologia, emphasizes his vocation as a priest and physician interested in physical healing for the sake of spiritual healing, and states emphatically that he does not approve of “profane magic,” but only “natural magic,” such as that practiced by the Magi who first adored Christ at his birth.

MARSILIO FICINO 19 October 1433 – 1 October 1499) was one of the most influential humanist philosophers of the early Italian Renaissance. He was an astrologer, a reviver of Neoplatonism in touch with the major academics of his day and the first translator of Plato's complete extant works into Latin. His Florentine Academy, an attempt to revive Plato's Academy, influenced the direction and tenor of the Italian Renaissance and the development of European philosophy. He also gave the world the term ‘Platonic love.’

THE VOLUME IS IN ABOUT VERY GOOD CONDITION EXTERNALLY AND VERY GOOD TO EXCELLENT CONDITION INTERNALLY. The print is clear and crisp throughout, and the leaves are generally clean and bright with ample margins. The binding is slightly rubbed with some wear to the corners, and minor repairs to the top and bottom of the spine. There is a faded ownership stamp at the bottom margin of the title-page and a minor ink mark to the blank bottom margin of A2r. A few pages show unobtrusive early underlining, with occasional light toning. There is a small marginal hole at the top outer corner of the final leaf, not affecting the text. In all, a clean, solid, well-margined example in a very appealing Italian Renaissance binding.

Object Book
Number of Books 1
Subject Esotericism, Incunabula & early printing, Philosophy
Author/ Illustrator Marsilio Ficino
Book Title De Triplici Vita Aurea Volumina Tria [also De Magis and other works]
Condition Good
Publication year oldest item 1518
Language Latin
Original language Yes
Publisher Venice: Cesare Arrivabene
Binding/ Material Leather
Number of pages 111
Dimensions 153×104 mm
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