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Marsilio Ficino: From The ‘Quid Sit Lumen’- About Light’s Joy and Laughter

‘Sieg’, artwork by Joseph Anton Schneiderfranken, a.k.a. Bo Yin Ra


Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, are two excerpts from Marsilio Ficino’s ‘Quid Sit Lumen’, chapter six and seven. English translation by Via-HYGEIA based on Bertrand Shefer’s edition & French translation from Ficino’s original Latin. Editions Allia. 2009.


When the divinities are happy, the celestial bodies, that are like their eyes, laugh, shine and move, overwhelmed by joy

As we see, thanks to the celestial rays from which supra-celestial bodies flow down towards us passing through the celestial bodies like through glass, light gives to all beings its perfection, its sense, its certitude, its grace and its joy, it must be, in the spirits that are above the sky, the perfection of their form, the fecundity of their life, perceptiveness of their senses, the very clear certitude of their true intelligence, the profusion of their grace and the wealth of their joy. The image of all these qualities is the splendor of the sky, or rather a shadow regarding to their brightness, because the body of the sky can less render the brightness of the spirit than the earth the light of the sky. In the admirable joy of the celestial spirits, the sky alike their body, and even to their eye, as Orpheus (Orphei Carmina, VII, 1-2) called the sun ‘eye’, manifest its laughter in its splendor and its exultation in its movement, like the earth, far remote from these very spirits, manifests its cries in its darkness and its languor in its stillness and inaction. But we should not believe that the sky is moved through some kind of forces or by failure, because its movement is naturally perpetual and its doesn’t leave its natural space. Therefore it is the very absolute substance of which nothing is removed, and by a sort of ravishment of joy that moves it, cannot rest. According to the Pythagoreans (see also De Vita, III-21), it is to the sound of the joyful divinities that the spheres lead the astral choruses that produces like this a wonderful harmony in very diverse and orderly movements. In front of the laughter of the stars, mainly manifested by their rays, everything that is under the sky and above the earth smiles; before the darkness, like in front of sadness, everything is afflicted, because we are accustomed to rejoice with those who are laughing and be sad with those who are crying.’


Emanated from the joy of the divinities, the laughter of the sky, that is light, warms and charms all things

‘That light is the laughter of heaven emanating from the joy of celestial spirits, Men show this, who constantly rejoice of the spirit and laugh with their faces, who shine in deed inwardly and open thanks to the spirit, who seem to shine also with their face and even more with their eyes that are essentially celestial, each eye making a circular movement to the likeliness of the sky. But, at the opposite, when they cry everything is overshadowed, dull and immersed into immobility. As for the rays coming from the stars giggling like the eyes of divine intelligences, it is with much joy and generosity that they are carried into the seeds of the beings they incubate and give birth to all like does the glance the ostrich over her egg. In deed, the natural warmth of these rays is an energy that penetrates into everything: it is from this that life originates, from there it rises and develops. This is why all living beings desire pleasure, because they are engendered not only in terrestrial pleasure, but also in celestial joy. Who could deny that the divines powers, by a benevolent disposition, move and engender all things, even though we see, as much by the nature of living beings that by their art, every being procreated and accomplished in pleasure?

‘Danaë’, artwork by Gustav Klimt.



About Marsilio Ficino: 🌿About the French edition of ‘Quid sit Lumen’: 🌿About Bo Yin Ra: 🌿About Gustav Klimt:
Marsilio Ficino: From The ‘Quid Sit Lumen’- About Light’s Joy and Laughter

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