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The Neoplatonic Academy of Lorenzo The Magnificent

 

The Platonic Academy in Florence was a driving force of Neoplatonism during the Renaissance period.

The Platonic Academy was founded in Florence, Villa Medici at Careggi, in 1462 by Marsilio Ficino, following the orders of Cosimo de Medici.  A group of philosophers, writers, and artists worked together to reopen the ancient Athenian Academy of Plato.  Among the leading proponents of the Neoplatonic academy in addition to Ficino, were Pico della Mirandola, Poliziano, Nicholas Cusano, Leon Battista Alberti, Cristoforo Landino, and the most important members of the Medici family, Giuliano de Medici and Lorenzo the Magnificent.

 

After the capture of Costantinopoli in 1453, Byzantine intellectuals were enrolled as teachers at this academy. Their presence allowed the direct use of the texts of Plato, which had been translated into Latin and were almost completely unknown during the middle ages.

The renewed interest in the classics, and Plato in particular, characterized the school Neoplatonic and steered the interest to pedagogy which aimed to educate young people in the harmonious development of all human qualities, both physical and spiritual, making each individual as unique as a piece of artwork.

 

Love, freedom, and the search for the infinite were defined as values.  Love was understood primarily as a platonic way to rise to perfection and contemplation of God. 

As for religiosity, according to Cusano, the human individual being a small part of the world is a totality in which the entire Universe is reflected.  Man is in fact the image of God, and as numerical units potentially define all numbers, man expresses himself in the UNIVERSE.  

 

Love is the work of God in the World, according to Ficino, which in a circular process and part of Renaissance astrology, which suggests a correspondence between the structures of the mind and the real structures of the universe.  This was also the prerequisite to the harmony of the universe which Copernico, Keplero and Galileo spoke about, stating that the universe was governed by a harmonic order concentrically structured; a dynamic equilibrium symbolized by the circle and the sphere, believed to be the most perfect figures.

 

God's place the geometric order of the Cosmos, led to Galileo's famous statement: "the book of Nature

 

was written in mathematical language."  One of the many ancient works rediscovered during the Renaissance was the "Corpus Hermeticum" of Hermes Trismegistus, which Cosimo de Medici had translated by Marsilio Ficino around 1460.  The book was the basis for alchemy, which sought to intervene in natural forces through the study of and scientific experiments on elementary substances. The main purpose of the alchemists, who were a great impet