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Marsilio Ficino: From The ‘Three books on Life’ – On Avoiding Those Dangers Which Are Imminent In Any Septenary of Life.

From ‘L’Origine de tous les Cultes’, by Charles-Francois Dupuis. Paris, 1794.


Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, is an excerpt from Marsilio Ficino’s ‘Three books on Life’. Book 2_Chapter XX. The Renaissance Society of America, Arizona State University- 1998. Pages 389 and 391. English translation from the original Latin by Carol V. Kaske and John C. Clark.


‘Since astronomers have distributed the respective hours of the day in succession to the respective planets in order; and in similar order the seven days of the week; and have in the very unborn babe (foetus) organized by months the function of the planets, why should we not arrange the same functions by years? Just as Saturn rules the babe hidden in the womb for the first month and the moon for the last, so, as soon as he is born, now in reverse order the moon should rule his first year; in his second, if you will Mercury; in the third, Venus; in the fourth, the Sun; in the fifth, Mars; in the sixth, Jupiter; and in the seventh, Saturn; and afterwards the order should be repeated throughout life. And so in any seventh year of life there occurs a very great and therefore very dangerous change in the body, both because Saturn is alien to man in general and because then the governance returns abruptly from him, the highest of the planets, to the Moon, the lowest of the planets. These years the Greek astronomers call climacterics; we call them scalary or gradary years or decretorial years. Indeed, in diseases the planets largely rule the very motion of the moisture or of nature day by day in the same order, which is why on the same principle any seventh day, too, is called critical – the fourth also, since it occupies the middle in the septenary. Therefore, if you want to prolong your life unbroken by any of these steps into old age, as often as you attain to any seventh year, earnestly consult an astrologer. Learn from what direction the crisis threatens you, and then either go to a physician or summon prudence and temperance. For even Ptolemy confesses that by these remedies one can ward off the threats of the stars. Moreover, he adds that the promises of the stars are able to be increased by this mean, as the cultivator of a field increases the fertility of the soil.’

‘Pietro d’Abano proves by many arguments and by the testimony of Aristotle, Galen, and of Haly Abenrudian (Ali Ibn Ridwan), that the end of one’s natural life-span is not predetermined from the beginning in every detail, but is able to be moved farther or nearer (he asserts) both by the stars and by material things. He concludes from these authors and arguments that even natural (not to mention violent) death can be postponed not only by the schemes of astrologers but by the protection of doctors. Hence we have not labored inconsiderably in these precepts. Do not consider it too much trouble to inquire from doctors what diet is natural to you and to learn from astrologers what star favors your life. And when that star is well situated, and the Moon in relation to it, compound those things which you have learned are good. Do not be ashamed to listen often to those who seem to have arrived to a prosperous old age not so much by fortune as by vigor. Besides all this, Ptolemy and the other professors of astronomy promise a life prosperous and long from certain images contrived from specific stones and metals under specific stars.’



A little addition from Antoine Court de Gebelin’s ‘Monde Primitif’ concerning the same subject: From Vol_1, ‘Allegories Orientales’, page 89:

‘…/… Beryte (Birut, Beroe, original name of the actual Beirut in Lebanon), the goddess of Harmony has in its possession seven tablets on which were engraved the destinies of the Universe: Each bares the name of a Planet. The first one of the Moon; the second is of Mercury; The third of Venus; The fourth of the Sun; The three others of Mars, Jupiter and finally Saturn.’

‘…/…We see here the ideas of the philosophical ideas of the Egyptians, the Pythagoreans and the Platonists about the Harmony of the Universe, based on the seven planets and their mutual relationships, and in general base on the number Seven. Nonnus gives here the same musical arrangement that of the Egyptians, where the Sun is in fourth position, in the middle of the progression where the two quarts that form this system finish and start. It is the same system that of the Magi, placed by the Chaldeans between them and the Egyptians.’

From ‘Syntagmatis Arcanorum Chymicorum’, by Libavius_1613.


About Ficino’s ‘Three Books of Life’:
Marsilio Ficino: From The ‘Three books on Life’ – On Avoiding Those Dangers Which Are Imminent In Any Septenary of Life.

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