Incunabula and the Keio University Library Collection


Marcilio Ficino's Latin Translations of Neo-Platonist Works (Venice: Aldus Manutius, Romanus, Sept. 1497)

De mysteriis Aegyptiorum, Chaldaeorum, Assyriorum (Tr: Marsilius Ficinus). Add: Proclus: In Platonicum Alcibiadem; De sacrificio et magia. Porphyrius: De divinis et daemonibus. Synesius: De Somniis. Psellus: De daemonibus. Priscianus et Marsilius Ficinus: In Theophrastum De sensu ... Alcinous: De doctrina Platonis. Speusippus: De Platonis definitionibus. Pythagoras: Aurea verba et symbola. Xenocrates: De morte. Marsilius Ficinus: De Voluptate

IIIF Drag-n-dropIIIF Manifest

This volume is a collection of short works by neo-Platonists, selected and translated, or rather paraphrased, by Marcilio Ficino. The last work in the volume is his own composition. The works included are as follows:
1) 'On the mysteries of the Aegyptians, Chaldeans, and Assyrians' by Iamblichus (250-325 CE) (Iamblichus de mysteriis Aegyptiorum. Chaldærum. Assyriorum);
2) 'Commentary on Plato's Alcibiades – on the soul and daimones' by Proclus (412-84 CE) (Proclus in alcibiadem de anima atque dæmone);
3) 'On sacrifice and magic' by the same author (Proclus de sacrificio et magia);
4) 'On deities and daimons' by Porphyrius (c 234-c. 304 CE) (Porphyrius de diuinis atque dæmonibus);
5) 'On dreams' by Synesius (5th century CE) (Synesius Platonicus de somniis);
6) 'On daimons' by Michael Psellus (1018-78 CE) (Psellus de dæmonibus);
7) 'The commentary on Theophrastos's On the senses' by Priscian (6th century CE) and Marsilius (Expositio Prisciani et Marsilii in Theophrastum de sensu. phantasia et intellectu);
8) 'An introduction to the Philosophy of Plato' by Alcinus (2nd century CE) (Alcinoi philosophi liber de doctoria Platonis);
9) 'On Plato's Definitions' by Speusippos, Plato's disciple, (407 BCE-339 BCE) (Speusippi Platonis discipuli liber de Platonis difinitionibus);
10) 'Maxims' and 'Symbols' by Pythagoras (560 BCE-480 BCE) (Pythagoræ philosophi aurea uerba; Symbola);
11) 'On Death' by Xenocrates (c. 396 BCE-34 BCE) (Xenocratis philosophi platonici liber de morte); and
12) 'On pleasure' by Marcilius Ficino (Marcilius ficini liber de uoluptate).

Ficino found patrons in the Medici family, who supported him financially when he embarked on the translation of Plato into Latin. The Keio copy includes his letters to the Medici: one to Cardinal Giovanni de'Medici (later Pope Leo X) which is placed before Iamblichus, one to his father Lorenzo de'Medici, and one probably to Lorenzo's father Piero de'Medici (the latter two are found on the same page before Synesius).

Aldus Manutius (c. 1452-1515) was one of the major humanist printers of the late 15th and early 16th centuries, along with Johannes Amerbach and others. Having settled in Venice in 1494, he devoted himself to publishing works by classical authors, in particular ancient Greek sources. Over the next twenty years he produced a series of editiones principes for virtually all the classic Greek authors. The Keio copy is certainly part of this project.

There are several marginal notes in a humanistic hand in the Keio copy. One example is found on a2r (see photograph on left). They are slightly truncated at the fore edge, presumably when the copy was rebound in the 18th century.

  Lowry, Martin, The World of Aldus Manutius (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1979)
  The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy, ed. by Charles B. Schmitt, et al. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988)



Place of Publication
Aldus Manutius, Romanus


Date of Publication

18th-century vellum over boards, gilt title, edges tinted in black.

Bibliographical Notes

186 leaves, the last blank; several woodcut illustrations; spaces for initial capitals; some early marginalia notes in a humanistic hand.

Goff J216, HC 9358*, BMC V 557
Acquisition Year