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Setting Plato StraightTranslating Ancient Sexuality in the Renaissance$
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Todd W. Reeser

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226307008

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226307145.001.0001

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Ficino and the Theory of Purging Same-Sex Sexuality

Ficino and the Theory of Purging Same-Sex Sexuality

Chapter:
(p.87) Chapter Three Ficino and the Theory of Purging Same-Sex Sexuality
Source:
Setting Plato Straight
Author(s):

Todd W. Reeser

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226307145.003.0003

Although Ficino becomes the most important reader of Plato in early modern Europe, he never provides any kind of explicit reading strategy or methodology to follow for dealing with sexuality. But at the same time, Ficino does not entirely ignore the question of hermeneutics either. Rather, he employs his own Neoplatonic philosophical apparatus as a kind of hermeneutic model, and the process of the ascent of the soul provides an interpretive framework for rereading Platonic sexuality. Simply put, Ficino’s approach to the content of Plato’s thought also serves as his approach to reading sexuality. The overlap between hermeneutical and philosophical questions in Ficino’s Platonic Theology and in his Commentary on Plato’s Symposium on Love suggests that the ascent of the soul also implies an ascent of the text cleansed of impurities such as same-sex sexuality. Ficino’s medical works reveal how medical principles such as bleeding and purging are closely related to textuality. If Ficino considers Platonic sodomy a “contagion,” it is in part so that he can cure it in his rendition of the philosopher’s corpus. The role of the female body in this process of ascent is also treated.

Keywords:   Marsilio Ficino, Platonic Theology, commentary on Plato’s symposium on love, Neoplatonism, purification, medicine, bleeding, women, ascent, forms

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