The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Painting as Talisman


On the far right side of the painting the wind of spring, Zephyr, blows and pursues the earth-nymph Chloris. Frances Yates quite properly sees this wind as Ficino's own spiritus mundi, the spirit we have been trying to explicate all along. From the breath of Chloris come forth flowers, as she is transformed into Flora, in a kind of photographic stop-action in oil. Flora is the herald of spring, the season of Venus. On the other side of the canvas the three Graces do their round dance - Chastity in the middle with her hair close-bound and a wistful look on her face; Pleasure, to the left, has snakelike hair and loose garments; and close to Venus is Beauty, moderately dressed. The three deities are; first Venus herself, pictured with heavy breasts and swelling belly. Rather maternal in appearance, she seems to be giving her approval for what is taking place around her. Blinded Cupid is above her, taking aim with his burning arrow. And Mercury stands at the far left, pointing to the clouds.

Concerning love and the process of life Ficino had written: "There is one continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last in God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle." The painting shows this three-part circle, one of the circuits of the soul: the spring wind blows in the beauty of the earth as it brings forth its vegetation; the Graces dance in enjoyment of the world, blessed by the fond gaze of a motherly Venus; and Cupid aims his arrow at Chastity, who is already attracted by Mercury. There is a strong feeling of movement from right to left. One can imagine that music is an element in the Graces' dances and in the movement across the canvas.


-from The Planets Within: Marsilio Ficino's Astrological Psychology by Thomas Moore, explaining the philosophical significance of Botticelli's painting, Primavera

12 Comments:

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Don't you think that some of your Ficino postings have occultic tendencies?
You seem to have a fascination with the so called Mystery Religions and Greek culture and equate them with Chrisitianity (notwithstanding legitimate influences)

 
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