Approaching the Divine: Ficino's Commentary on St PaulValery Rees
Aquinas room rm.3.17
278 Victoria Pde, East Melbourne
Marsilio Ficino of Florence (1433-1499) is best known as a Platonic philosopher. But in 1497 he embarked on a work that appears at first sight to be of a different nature. He began a detailed commentary on the writings of St Paul, in a form that is clearly intended for use in an ecclesiastical context, and he delivered this commentary in the form of lectures in the cathedral. From the outset it is clear that he is approaching the text afresh, and really wants to engage his listeners with it. It has practical relevance for them.
He starts by recalling St Paul’s rapture into heaven and suggests that the Apostle’s example can be followed by anyone who is willing to practise contemplation of an appropriate kind and to make use of the Pauline ‘gifts’ of faith, hope and love. He then gives a brief account of St Paul’s earthly life before embarking on a detailed exposition of the text.
This talk will examine some of the issues he explores. It will set the work in the context of its times but will also draw attention to some of its timeless qualities. For all the challenges it holds for a translator, I have come to regard the St Paul Commentary as a compelling statement of Ficino’s philosophical aspirations, and of his strong sense of responsibility for the welfare, even the salvation, of all.
About Valery Rees
Valery Rees is one of the original translators and editors of the 11 volumes of the Letters of Marsilio Ficino, Florentine Renaissance priest and philosopher. Her individual translations have included Ficino's commentaries on St Paul's epistles. Furthermore, she and Michael J.B. Allen are the joint editors of the Brill book, the collected papers presented at the 500th anniversary of Ficino's death, entitled: Marsilio Ficino: His Theology, His Philosophy, His Legacy.
She has been a Visiting Professorship at the Central European University’s Summer School (2008). She has also taught on Renaissance courses at Warwick University (2012) and the University of Cambridge (2013), as well as lecturing on Latin and renaissance philosophy across a long career in the UK.
Transport and event details
Public Transport: Trams: 109 (to Box Hill), 12 (to Victoria Gardens): Tram, stop 13 (Landsdowne St. ACU).
Buses: From City: 302, 303, 304, 305, 309, 318, 350, 905, 906, 907, 908. Stop: ACU.
Nearest Train Station: Parliament Station. Exit Macarthur St, go north until Victoria Parade, Turn right, 400 metres (CTC building corner of Victoria Parade and Eades St, - the Southern Side of Vic Parade, located across from what was until very recently - the Dallas Brooks Hall).
Parking along Vic Parade and at the ACU (on Young St).
Wheelchair accessible - all on ground/street level, with a disabled/wheelchairable toilet not far from the seminar room.
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