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Marsilio Ficino (Latin name: Marsilius Ficinus; October 19, 1433 - October 1, 1499) was one of the most influential humanist philosophers of the early Italian Renaissance, an astrologer, a reviver of Neoplatonism who was in touch with every major academic thinker and writer of his day, and the first translator of Plato's complete extant works into Latin. His Florentine Academy, an attempt to revive Plato's school, had enormous influence on the direction and tenor of the Italian Renaissance and the development of European philosophy.
Ficino was born at Figline Valdarno. His father was a physician under the patronage of Cosimo de' Medici, who took the young man into his household and became the lifelong patron of Marsilio, who was made tutor to his grandson, Lorenzo de' Medici. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, the Italian humanist philosopher and scholar was another of his students.
During the sessions at Florence of the Council of Ferrara-Florence in 1438-1445, during the failed attempts to heal the schism of the Orthodox and Catholic churches, Cosimo de' Medici and his intellectual circle had made acquaintance with the Neoplatonic philosopher George Gemistos Plethon, whose discourses upon Plato and the Alexandrian mystics so fascinated the learned society of Florence that they named him the second Plato. In 1459 John Argyropoulos was lecturing on Greek language and literature at Florence, and Marsilio became his pupil.
When Cosimo decided to refound Plato's Academy at Florence, his choice to head it was Marsilio, who made the classic translation of Plato from Greek to Latin (published in 1484), as well as a translation of a collection of Hellenistic Greek documents of the Hermetic Corpus - particularly the "Corpus Hermeticum" of Hermes Trismegistos, and the writings of many of the Neoplatonists, for example Porphyry, Iamblichus, Plotinus, ''et al.'' Following suggestions laid out by Gemistos Plethon, Ficino tried to synthesize Christianity and Platonism.
Marsilio Ficino's main original work was his treatise on the immortality of the soul (''Theologia Platonica de immortalitate animae''). In the rush of enthusiasm for every rediscovery from Antiquity, Marsilio exhibited a great interest in the arts of astrology, which landed him in trouble with the Roman Catholic Church. In 1489 he was accused of magic before Pope Innocent VIII and needed strong defense to preserve him from the condemnation of heresy.
However, in 1513, fourteen years after Ficino's death, the Roman Catholic Church declared the natural immortality of the soul as dogma; a doctrine accepted later by many Protestant thinkers.