The Reception and Transmission of Ideas about Astronomy and Cosmic Harmony of Two Islamic Scholars in Marsilio Ficino’s Compendium in Timaeum

Prins, Jacomien
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The Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (SASMARS)
The late fifteenth century was second only to the twelfth century as far as the revival of studies of Plato’s Timaeus and Calcidius’ Commentary on the dialogue is concerned (Godwin 3–6, 60–63). This renewed interest in the medieval tradition of Timaean study in early Renaissance Italy has to a large extent gone unnoticed by historians of philosophy and musicology (Hankins 77). The aim of the present study is to explore the nature and extent of this revival, and to offer some reflections on its impact on developments within the Timaean concept of cosmic harmony. As an example of these changes, I intend to explain how Marsilio Ficino (1433–1499) contributed to developments that changed the medieval representation of cosmic harmony radically. In the first half of this study the reception and transmission of the conception of angels as transmitters of cosmic harmony in Ficino’s Compendium in Timaeum, which he probably borrowed from the Islamic philosopher Al-Ghazali (1058–1111), will be investigated. In the second half, I will focus on the way in which Ficino used the criticism of Ptolemy’s Almagest by the Islamic scholar Jabir ibn Aflah (± 1100–1160) for his transformation of the tradition of the harmony of the spheres.
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