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Reading: Marsilio Ficino, Francesco Cavalli en muziek als remedie voor liefdesverdriet


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Marsilio Ficino, Francesco Cavalli en muziek als remedie voor liefdesverdriet


Jacomien Prins

The Institute of Advanced Study Millburn House Millburn Hill Road Coventry CV4 7HS (United Kingdom)
About Jacomien
Jacomien Prins is a Global Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study (IAS) and the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance (CSR), Warwick University. She has worked extensively on the interaction between music theory and philosophy in the Renaissance. Her work includes Harmonisch labyrint (Hilversum: Verloren, 2007), Echoes of an Invisible World: Marsilio Ficino and Francesco Patrizi on Cosmic Order and Music Theory (Leiden: Brill, 2014), and an edition and translation of Marsilio Ficino’s commentary on Plato’s Timaeus (Harvard University Press, the I Tatti Renaissance Library series (ITRL), forthcoming). She is currently working on a project titled ‘A Well-tempered Life’: Music, Health and Happiness in Renaissance Learning’.

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Marsilio Ficino, Francesco Cavalli and Music as Remedy for Lovesickness

In this article, the philosopher Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) and the composer Francesco Cavalli (1602-1676) are presented as belonging to one and the same universe of discourse, in which music, love, and the imagination play a fundamental role. Ficino’s Neoplatonic theory of love plays a central role in his philosophy. He defines love as the desire for beauty. Beautiful things such as harmonious music inspire the soul with love. When music is loved properly, the lover distances himself from the sensible world, focuses his attention on his soul, and thus ultimately finds his end in God. However, if the soul loves improperly and becomes fixated on the sensual beauty of music, this results in lovesickness. Thus, for Ficino, the proper application of love and music lie at the heart of human happiness. A secularized echo of this theory can be heard in the Cavalli’s opera Artemisia.

How to Cite: Prins, J., 2016. Marsilio Ficino, Francesco Cavalli en muziek als remedie voor liefdesverdriet. Incontri. Rivista europea di studi italiani, 31(1), pp.18–34. DOI:
Published on 10 Sep 2016.
Peer Reviewed


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