Marsilio Ficino-Good Fortune Is In Fate; True Happiness In Virtue
Palazzo Venturi Ginori, medallion with a Marsilio Ficino bust.
Today’s sharing from the Blue House of HYGEIA is a letter from Marsilio Ficino to Lorenzo de Medici-the Younger-‘Prospera in fato fortuna. Vera in virtute felicitas‘, in a translation by members of the language department of the School of Economic Science, featured in professor Angela Voss’ ‘Western Esoteric Masters Series’ opus dedicated to Ficino, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, 2006.
‘Marsilio Ficino of Florence to Lorenzo de Medici-the Younger: Greetings!
My great love towards you, excellent Lorenzo, has long bidden me give you great gifts. Among all the things which he sees with the eyes, the observer of the heavens considers nothing to be great except the heavens. Therefore, if I were to give you the heavens themselves today, Lorenzo, what would be their price? But let me not bring price to mind just now, for love born of the Graces gives or receives all things freely, nor can anything under heaven itself be weighted in balance with the heavens.
Astrologers say that he is born most fortunate of all men, for whom fate has no apportioned the signs from the heavens that the Moon firstly has no unfavorable aspects with Mars or Saturn, and secondly has favorable aspects with the Sun and Jupiter, Mercury and Venus. Just as astrologers account him to be fortunate for whom fate has favorably disposed things celestial, so equally theologians count him to be blessed who has similarly disposed the same things for himself. But, you will say, surely this is far too much! Much certainly; nonetheless, approach the task with good hope, free-born Lorenzo; far greater than the heavens is He who made you; and you yourself will be greater than the heavens as soon as you resolve upon the task. For these celestial bodies are not to be sought by us outside in some other place; for the heavens in their entirety are within us, in whom the light of life and the origin of heaven dwell.
First, what else does the Moon in us signify other than that continuous movement of our mind and body? Next Mars signify swiftness, and Saturn tardiness; the Sun signify God; Jupiter, law, Mercury, reason; Venus, human nature. Come! Gird yourself now, noble youth, and together with me apportion the heavens for yourself in this way: Let your Moon, that is, the continuous movement of mind and body, avoid the excessive speed of Mars and the tardiness of Saturn; that is, let it deal with every single thing that arises and as it requires, neither hastening more quickly than is meet nor postponing it till later. Furthermore, let this Moon within you continually turn towards the Sun, that is God Himself, from whom it always receives life-giving rays, so that in all places you may worship Him before all others; him, from whom you have that Self by which you too are worthy of worship.
Also let your Moon observe Jupiter, that is, laws divine and human, which it should never transgress, since to depart from the laws on which all things are established is surely to perish. Again, let this Moon be directed to Mercury, that is, to counsel and reason, knowledge and discernment. And let it not attempt anything without the counsel of the wise, nor do or say anything for which it could not render good reasons. Again, let it consider a man without knowledge and education as, in a way, blind and dumb.
Lastly, let this Moon fix its gaze on Venus herself, which is human nature, by whom it is, of course, warned to remember that nothing great can be possessed by us on earth, unless we men, for whose benefit all earthly things were created, possess ourselves; and to remember than men can be taken by no other bait whatsoever than their own nature. Beware that you never despise it, perhaps thinking that human nature is born of earth, for human nature herself is a nymph with body surpassing. She was born of a heavenly origin and was beloved above others by an ethereal god. For indeed, her soul and spirit are love and kinship; her eyes are majesty and magnanimity; her hands are liberality and greatness in action; her feet, gentleness and restraint. Finally, her whole is harmony and integrity, honor and radiance.
O excellent form, O beautiful sight! My Lorenzo, a nymph so noble has been placed wholly in your power. If yourself unite with this nymph in marriage and call her your own, she will bring sweetness to all your years and make you progenitor of beautiful offspring.
Finally, to sum up: if by this reasoning you prudently temper within yourself the heavenly signs and the heavenly gifts, you will flee far from all the menaces of the fates and without doubt will live a blessed life under divine auspices.’
fol. 110b and 111a