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Gracious Laughter: Marsilio Ficino's Anthropology.

A significant alteration in the canon of beauty distinguished the thought of Marsilio Ficino. Not only did it contradict Platonist philosophy but also it confronted Christian custom. That detail was gracious laughter. In a letter circa 1480 "to my friends" Ficino inserted into the rhetorical topic of personal description an anthropological mutation. "Picture a man endowed with the most vigorous and acute faculties, a strong body, good health, a handsome form, well-proportioned limbs and a noble stature. Picture this man moving with alacrity and skill, speaking elegantly, singing sweetly, laughing graciously (gratiose ridentem): you will love no one anywhere, you will admire no one, if you do not love and admire such a man as soon as you see him." That anomaly was a detail he emphasized by reserving its meaning for the climax of his explication of beautiful bodily parts as indicators of beautiful mental aspects. "Finally," he revealed, "gracious laughter (risus ille gratissimus) represents serene happiness in life and perfect joy, which Virtue herself showers upon us."(1)

Ficino's epistolary friends were Lorenzo de' Medici and Bernardo Bembo, so that the address in its political and social compass had definite import. It purposed a traditional exhortation to virtue by the skill of vivid description, a classical ideal (enargeia) in Renaissance revival.(2) Yet Ficino's portrait of the beautiful male dispensing gracious laughter seems freshly significant, since literary description standardized the fine masculine mouth as merely small. Although classical rhetoricians had prescribed the corporeal description of persons, the actual example of its progression to moral character occurred later, in Maximian's elegy. It praised a woman's "fiery red and slightly swelling lips, / which to my pleasure gave full kisses." The earliest formal example in prose appeared only in the fifth century A.D., in Sidonius's epistle on the Gothic king Theodorus. "His lips are delicately moulded and are not enlarged by any extension of the corners of the mouth."(3) The handsome man in medieval romance had a small mouth with moderately full red lips and small white teeth closely set. A large mouth with thick lips was detractable, especially if hairy. Ideally a woman's mouth was also small, with lips that were moderately full, soft, and a pleasant shade of red - clear, rosy, or ruby. It was the source of kisses and of laughs.(4) A model was the description of Helen's beauty in Matthew of Vendome's Ars versificatoria: "The glory of that countenance is her rosy lips / Sighing for a lover's kiss, delicate lips / That break into laughter as delicate as they. / Lest ever they protrude in an unpleasant manner, / Those honied lips redden in laughter most delicate."(5) Since the beautiful lady was thus permitted to laugh, Ficino's variant transferred to males a female quality of literary invention.

Exemplary good women had indeed laughed, ever since Penelope in her confident foreknowlege of fooling her suitors.(6) Her laughter conformed to its usual expression of social superiority, of haughty ridicule, which Plato had banished from his republic. Laughter on the lips of a woman was virtually always damning of character. In the medieval chansons de geste, however, there emerged a sonorous, intense laughter. Although laughter was still most frequent as the superior and proud gesture of a warrior, it newly developed in love scenes as a woman's reaction to a kiss.(7) Or it developed in anticipation of a kiss, as in the laughing bourdez of the deceitful, seductive chatelaine of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, whose mirthful society erupted in peals of laughter from the derisory to the benedictory.(8) In the apparently initial example in Spanish literature of scripted, audible laughter - "!Ha, ha, ha!" and "!Hy, hy, hy!" in Fernando de Rojas's La Celestina - the snickers and giggles of a mother and a bawd even conspired toward a daughter's seduction.(9) The sexual innuendo of female laughter resonated with Ovid's Ars amatoria, which professed the poet's astonishment that "women even learn how to laugh."(10)

Female laughter as amatory could be elevated, however, from the erotic to the amicable and the charitable. A revered benedictory laugher was Dante's Beatrice. Contrary to the modern formula of Beatrice's smile, literally she laughed. Dante in his Vita nuova, Convivio, and letter to Can Grande della Scala had acknowledged the truth of natural philosophy: if human, then risible. Although laughter was forbidden in the Inferno, it triumphed in the Paradiso, so that Beatrice laughed in consonance with her name as beatitude. Although Dante advised a moderate laughter,(11) laughter became good, even blessed.

The woman who set the style for beauty in Renaissance poetry, Petrarch's beloved Laura, also laughed. Yet her laughs have been muffled to smiles in modern learned translations of his Canzoniere.(12) Petrarch imagined her laughing, however, as is evident from his frequent antithesis of laughing and weeping. The ancient convention, both classical and biblical, had surfaced in the emotions of the medieval poet of Alain de Lille's De planctu naturae, who suffered "from laughter to tears, from joy to grief, from merriment to lament, from jests to wailing."(13) Laura's "sweet clement laughter" is introduced in deliberate contrast to the bitter tears streaming down the poet's face.(14) Beyond tears, Laura's sweet laughter could emit deadly darts and one could die laughing.(15) Cruelly the woman laughs at his weeping.(16) She is a woman of alternating moods, "pensiveness and silence, laughter and gaiety."(17)

Laura's laughter is very "sweet."(18) In "Chiare fresche et dolci acque" sweetness is paralleled among her beauties with "her divine bearing," which so burden the poet with forgetfulness that he imagines himself in heaven.(19) Once, her laughter flashes like lightning, like an angel.(20) Her divine bearing that enraptures him to heaven parallels her sweet laughter and sweet speech, a unique event provoking wonder.(21) Laughter while speaking was the initial and immediate example in Italian short stories of literary laughter: the formula "he said while laughing" or "he began to laugh."(22) Laughter in Petrarch's poetry complements speech and song as ornaments, as in Ficino's amiable letter that serialized laughing with speaking and singing.(23) These ornaments of Laura's are human qualities: to laugh, to sing, to speak. There was laughter not only on her lips but also in her eyes. Petrarch praised them for "the tranquil, undisturbed peace, like that eternal in heaven, that emanates from their endearing laughter."(24) The rarity, even novelty, of a woman's beauty was poetic stock. So Petrarch praised the "sweet laughter, humble and plain" that "no longer hides its new beauties."(25) And what did it reveal as new beauties but Laura's teeth?

The medieval iconography of laughter had been frankly ugly. Since the universal manifestation of human dignity was calm or serenity, laughter was an incompatible disturbance of the order and harmony of its visage. Medieval depictions lacked any expression of pleasure that was legitimate, much less good. Pleasure was confined in painting and sculpture to evil persons, especially devils. The showing of teeth and tongue, especially a protruding tongue, boded iii and almost always connoted diabolical behavior. On the tympanum of the celebrated porche at Conques a gaping devil bares his teeth in contrast to the placid countenances of the blessed.(26)

Since classical literature, even in Ovid's Ars amatoria, the showing of teeth was tightly controlled. As that poet warned women, "If you have a tooth that is black or too large or growing out of place, laughing will cost you dear." He prescribed the decorum of ladylike laughter. "Let the mouth be but moderately opened, let the dimples on either side be small, and let the bottom of the lip cover the top of the teeth."(27) In the medieval canon yellowed or pointy teeth were ugly.(28) Jean de Meun's Roman de la rose taught that laughter should be so discreet as to reveal only pretty dimples. "Her lips should be kept closed and her teeth covered; a woman should always laugh with her mouth closed, for the sight of a mouth stretched open like a gash across the face is not a pretty one. If her teeth are not even, but ugly and quite crooked, she will be thought little of if she shows them when she laughs."(29) Beneath her sealed lips lurked teeth, and their mordant reality seems to have provoked in moralists an unvoiced fear of predation. If you flashed your teeth at your neighbor in laugher, in derision, did that not threaten to bite, to devour him? Teeth were ugly not only as discolored but also as long and pointy - dangerously animalistic.(30) Then there was the problem of laughter exposing few teeth: an omen of a short life.(31)

Another peril of laughter was that its respiration propelled air more so than ordinary speech - and that air could be foul: bad breath. Again Ovid warned, "She whose breath is tainted should never speak before eating, and she should always stand at a distance from her lover's face."(32) Jean de Meun confirmed the advice to avoid an empty stomach and advised a lady "to keep her mouth away from other people's noses."(33) (Mouths emiting foam, fire, or smoke were downright dangerous.(34))

Laughter not only bared the teeth but also distorted the face. As Ovid complained, "One woman will distort her face with a hideous guffaw, another, you would think, she was weeping, while she is laughing happily. That one's laugh has a strident and unlovely harshness, as when a mean she-ass brays by the rough millstone." A graver peril of immoderate laughter was that it could shake the whole body out of control. Ovid prescribed for ladies: "Nor should they strain their sides with continuous laughter, but laugh with a feminine trill."(35) Erasmus would censure immoderate laughter in his comment on the adage risus syncreusus or "shaking with laughter" as "highly unsuitable for a man of character because it is clearly the expression of a mind which has lost control."(36) Control of bodily instability was a Renaissance rule of manners, reflecting ancient equations of shaking with insanity or evil, reverting to spasms as the mark of Cain.(37)

Ficino was influenced by the novel inclusion of laughter in the medieval canon of beauty but he elevated its ornament to philosophy. The connective was the broad Renaissance belief, from rhetoric to physiognomy, that bodily appearance indicated moral character.(38) Ficino could well have agreed with the advice of cheerfulness dispensed by the God of Love in Roman de la rose: "Seek out joy and delight. Love cares nothing for a gloomy man. It's a courtly disease through which one laughs, plays, and has a good time."(39) The genre of ars amatoria as a source for philosophy is not odd. Ovid's very term derived from the erotike techne of Plato's Phaedrus, which Platonist commentators systematized on the paradigm of First Alcibiades.(40) Yet Ficino's source was not the moralism of behavioral science but poetics and poetry, which afforded an aesthetics useful for arguing from human beauty to divine Beauty. His commendation of gracious laughter imitated no flirtatious, or "courtly," love between humans. It created an analogy with divine pleasure. This innovation surpassed the anecdotal Plato who never laughed.(41) And it surpassed his philosophy, whose dialogues had expressed laughter from the malicious to the good-natured(42) but not from the gracious to the divine.

Laughter had been very rare in, even absent from, serious medieval genres. It was omitted from a certain sense of the sacred and by an ideology of sanctity that was more privatory than pleasurable.(43) Popular devotion was to the sufferings of Christ's passion, rehearsed in gruesome detail,(44) rather than to the joys of his resurrection and the delights of the blessed. Ficino ventured intellectually and spiritually to counter those cultures, both classical and Christian, whose authority on laughter wavered from severe exclusion to benign toleration - if moderated.(45) Plato's biographer affirmed that in his modesty he never laughed excessively, while Christian theologians debated whether Jesus ever laughed. A Christian Platonist, Clement of Alexandria, banished imitators of laughable or ridiculous behavior, since foolish language betrayed a foolish temperament and character. "As for laughter itself," he decided, "it, too, should be kept under restraint." Proper laughter proved discipline, uncontrolled laughter, its lack. Although it was unnecessary to deny people anything natural, it was necessary to establish limits and proportions. "It is true that man is an animal who can laugh, but it is not true that he therefore should laugh at everything." Indeed, "the proper way" of relaxation was not a laugh but a smile: "that is the way joy is reflected on the face."(46) A more suggestive Christian laughter before Ficino's philosophy was hinted at in Bernard of Clairvaux's sermon on the perfected soul at the threshold of its marriage to the Word. There the beauty and clarity in the depths of the betrothed's heart became outwardly visible. "It shines out, and by the brightness of its rays it makes the body a mirror of the mind, spreading through the limbs and senses so that every action, every word, look, movement and even laugh (if there should be laughter) radiates gravity and honor."(47) Yet laughter was accidental, not integral, to this consummation. Its inclusion was tentative; it was grave and honorable, rather than joyous, laughter.

Lady Philosophy in Matthew of Vendome's exemplary Ars versificatoria had been no laugher. "Her modest lips dwell closely together and are not frequently parted for idle words." Nor did the virtuous Marcia even smile for Venus.(48) Yet its poetics, in the delicate example of beauteous Helen, and the poetry of Dante and Petrarch afforded beautiful women both gravity and laughter. Ficino incorporated that beauty to the philosopher in his letter to his friends by borrowing the strains of laughter as permissible and positive from the descriptions of beautiful women on whose lips it had been "sweet." His new modifier - gracious - was bold, however. A Ciceronian favorite, gratiosus meant "full of favor."(49) The junction of laughter and grace, unthinkable in the anthropology that had associated laughter with disfavor, has thus been misassigned to Baldassare Castiglione. Il libro del cortegiano, an exemplary mirror of beauty, supposedly made "an important addition to the lexicon of laughter: grazia." This key word Castiglione inserted into the Ciceronian context of his discussion of courtly laughter, "thus differentiating himself from his model." He advised the orator to procure the favor of the audience not only by force of argumentation and facility at evoking emotions but also by his personal presence as dignified and attractive. This was a "grace" not only as approval in the eyes of his peers but also "an intrinsic quality conferred on him by nature," implicit in the translation of charis as gratia, synonymous with venustas, or beauty of form. In laughter grazia expressed what was embedded in the Ciceronian ideal of the humorous man as elegant and urbane, gifted with a quick witticism that had a grace of elocution and decorum.(50) Yet Ficino's description, directed to a prince and a noble in a courtly context, anticipated gracious laughter by almost half a century. Castiglione's portrayal may thus have been more descriptive than prescriptive of behavior at court.

Ficino was optimistic, witty, playful in philosophy,(51) with a comical disposition exhibited in his correspondence with his friends.(52) But Ficino's genius was not a liberality with laughter: he belonged to the moderates, who accepted laughter as a natural act but tempered its usage by propriety. De vita, dedicated to Lorenzo de' Medici, advised, "And so at every age it is especially conducive to life to retain something of your childhood and always to strive for a variety of pleasures - but not a long, immoderate laughter, for it extends the spirit too much to the extremities."(53) This dilation of the spirit in excessive laughter Ficino diagnosed as due to a surplus of blood, as evidenced by a reddened complexion and swollen veins. It was a situation in which learned persons should be bled, he thought, although only the stronger patients. He prescribed that the blood of those excessive laughters should be taken from the spleen-vein of the left arm with a wide incision - four ounces, morning and evening. A week or two later the welts should be rubbed roughly, and leeches applied to allow three or four more ounces to drip out.(54) Nor did Ficino reject the traditional use of laughter to criticize bad behavior. Inquiring of a poet and bishop whether he ever laughed "at the arrogance of mortals," Ficino confessed: "I often do. I ridicule it in the hope that I may avoid it."(55) Once, at a gathering of friends he spoke on morals by deliberately entertaining a coexistence of opposites. "For I saw some of those listening laugh outwardly at my absurdities all the time I was speaking, but at the same time they were bewailing their inner misery upon which my words turned." Ficino did not apologize for the appearance of absurdities, for playing the (wise) fool, because "by joining opposites I have brought about miracles which nature herself does not perform." The serious, religious person was free from the moralizing laughter that ridiculed others for correction.(56)

Yet Ficino invented another laughter, a laughter expressing the expansion of spirit, in distinction to the laughter resulting from the dilation of blood that was so worrisome for the health of intellectuals. Ficino's description of beautiful men laughing, resounding with a profound and perfect joy, hitched poetics to the Phaedran chariot and drove it to the stars. This new soulful laughter harmonized with and witnessed to a numinous laughter reflected in the radiant movement of the heavens. The conceit of nature laughing had originated with Homer's Iliad, where the earth laughed beneath the gleaming weapons with which Achilles, fortified with divine nectar and ambrosia, was about to arm. In the Apolline poem of the Homeric Hymns Leto felt the pangs of birth, "so she cast her arms about a palm tree and kneeled on the soft meadow while the earth laughed for joy beneath. Then the child leaped forth to the light, and all the goddesses raised a cry." Leto did not nurse her child, for Themis poured "nectar and ambrosia with her divine hands."(57) Laughter was especially associated with the myth and cult of Demeter for fertility in nature and for the creation of the iambe and the lyre.(58) With similar anthropomorphism Petrarch imagined the meadows laughing.(59)

Ficino projected this poetic conceit from earth to heaven in Quid sit lumen. Composed in 1476,(60) it thus was a context or influence for his letter of circa 1480 commending gracious laughter. In an account of his theological opuscula he described the work as "Concerning Light, which in the divine powers is a rejoicing clarity and a clear joy, but in the fabric of the world is a kind of heavenly mirth arising from the delight of the gods."(61) Light had been an important Neoplatonist metaphor; Ficino elevated it to an imitation of God.(62) A chapter heading announced: "To the joy of the gods their heavenly eyes laugh and with a splendid motion they exult." Ficino traced the source of human sight to the supercelestial spirits, whose perfection of form, fecundity of life, perception of sense, certainty of intelligence, and "fullness of joy" was light. Their light beamed, as if through windows, to their image in the celestial bodies, whose rays then descended to humans. "To the marvelous joy of the celestial spirits the sky is as if their body, yes indeed, as if their eyes." Ficino appealed to the authority of Orpheus, who called the sun an eye, which "laughs and exults with a splendid movement." He also cited Pythagorean belief in the harmony of the spheres as the song of the gods rejoicing. "To the laughter of the stars, which is especially indicated by their rays, they laugh at everything under the heavens upon the earth." Ficino evidenced the human custom of congratulation: to wish joy by laughter.(63)

The next chapter heading stated: "The laughter of the sky proceeding from the joy of the gods is light; it fosters and delights in everything." Ficino immediately joined human laughter to this divine laughter; extraordinarily, he made human laughter the analogy of divine laughter. "The fact that light is the laughter of the sky, proceeding from the joy of the celestial gods, humans reveal, who, as often as they rejoice in spirit and laugh in countenance, really shine within and are dilated in spirit and are also seen to shine in countenance, especially in the eyes, which are the most celestial feature, and who by laughter, a likeness of heaven, effect a circular movement." Truly, he affirmed, the stellar rays laugh, just as if the eyes of the divine minds. Most benignly and most joyfully they beam into the seeds of nature to nurture and to generate everything, like the gaze of a sparrow on its eggs. By this power they insert the natural heat by which life is born, nourished, and grows. Ficino argued this activity as the reason why "everything desires pleasure, because not only by earthly pleasure but even by celestial joy they are born." Who would deny "that the gods by a certain joyful emotion move and beget all

things?" Nature and art proved that everything was procreated and accomplished by pleasure.(64)

It was this principle of pleasure that rooted Ficino's sense in his amicable letter commending laughter as gracious. Although his pleasure broadly shared in the Renaissance revival of Epicureanism, it departed uniquely by associating pleasure with laughter. The Epicurean orator of Lorenzo Valla's De voluptate specifically rejected laughter as praiseworthy, because it so much paralleled tears; instead, he selected wine and language as the uniquely human gifts for thanksgiving.(65) Erasmus colloquially identified Christians as Epicureans but he advised the Christian matron to laugh, in medieval modesty, only with her mouth shut.(66) The concept of grace (charis), which had governed ancient life, was literally rooted in the Indo-European *gher, or "pleasure." It specified the power that afforded enjoyment and it was social in nature.(67) Ficino identified laughter as pleasure;(68) pleasure was grace; therefore, laughter could be grace. He further developed this coherent complex of ideas by identifying the Graces, or "pleasures," as bestowing their gifts through their rays.(69) The association of laughter with light - light in motion, from a twinkle to a ray - was also philological: galao "to laugh," and glene "the pupil of the eye," share a classical root. Laughter seems to have originated among the Greek poets in the perception of a luminous flash.(70) The imitative laughter in the eyes of beauties like Laura was thus radically more than a metaphor. Petrarch poetized that it flashed like lightning.(71) Its inspiration was reminiscent of the cherubim, a meteorological storm envisioned by Ezekiel, the prophet whose vocation the poet imitated.(72) In Guillaume de Lorris's Roman de la rose the eyes and the lips even competed for priority in laughter.(73) Ficino expressed a preference for the ocular manifestation of laughter,(74) describing the eyes as the "most celestial" feature of the face. Yet he also wrote of laughter on the "countenance" (vuhu), which implied in the mouth, with lips spread to the cheeks. Laughter was the external sign of an internal joy, emanating from an expansion of spirit. It participated in a wondrous cosmic cycle that originated with the "fullness of joy" in the supercelestial gods, radiated to the celestial bodies, beamed to the human eyes, then returned from ocular to stellar orb, to the supercelestial spirits. Human laughter thus exemplified his comment on Plato's Symposium about "that glow of divinity, shining in beautiful bodies, like an image of God."(75)

Ficino's cultural innovation appropriated laughter as gracious. As he explained in his letter, it meant "serene happiness in life and perfect joy, which Virtue herself showers upon us." Joy had its secular expressions, such as Ficino's rejoicing at the prosperity of his friend Bembo, charitably as if it were his own, and wishing him happiness. Yet Ficino's joy had an inherent religious tendency. He wrote Pope Sixtus recalling "the immensity of joy with which I was filled long ago when God Himself appointed you as my shepherd." He also recalled the pope to his duty, promising that by composing peace he would someday run to meet Christ in joy and to hear the invitation "Enter into the joy of your master" (Matt. 25:21, 23). In another letter he paralleled "true salvation" and "joy without limit."(76)

Ficino did articulate the negative commonplaces about the body as a "prison"(77) or a "slave" for the soul.(78) The body was bestial, "a wild, cruel and dangerous animal," in its violence, "hardly different from beasts."(79) Or it was a "dark cloud" wreathing the mind.(80) Yet he thought that "the cloud of the body" might still be praised. "You should indeed praise the body in the soul, but honour the soul in the body; again that you should cherish and nurture the soul in God." Ficino affirmed the psychosomatic correspondence that established his amicable letter. "There is almost the same relationship between the beauty of the soul and the beauty of the body."(81) Although bodily infirmity unto death was the beginning of his Theologia platonica,(82) the body was, nevertheless, a premise from which a philosopher could ascend to the soul and to God. Considering in his commentary on Plato's Philebus the ultimate end of all actions, he discussed how actions followed serially the things that constituted human objects. The philosopher thus could "look at the body in order to contemplate the soul itself, but at the soul in order the contemplate the celestial beings, but at these in order to contemplate God Himself."(83)

A telling example of this transcendental method was Ficino's meditation on teeth - teeth, which had so troubled moralists as to forbid or regulate their exposure in laughter. Yet, while moralists disdained teeth, poets enrolled them in the canon of beauty as white and even,(84) through the topic of personal description that Ficino would employ in his amicable letter. Geoffrey of Vinsaufin Poetria nova amplified a woman's beauty with the example: "Let order join together the snow-white, even teeth."(85) This best known medieval manual on poetic composition reflected the style of Sidonius,(86) yet it deviated from that primary prose model by opening the mouth to reveal teeth. Matthew of Vendome exemplified Helen's beauty: "Her teeth are straight and even, and their whiteness / like ivory."(87) Alain de Lille praised Nature herself: "Her teeth by a certain uniformity in colour resembled a configuration in ivory."(88) Beautiful breath also became included in the medieval canon as sweet: fragrant, perfumed, flowery. In a simile important for hearing the profundity of Ficino's laughter: "Her lips tasted of honey and exhaled the perfume of nectar."(89)

Ficino was not intimidated by teeth, which he considered a simile for the rocks or metals of the natural earth.(90) And, if nature could show its teeth as beautiful (if only in poetic imagination), then they could conduce to the knowledge of God as Beauty. Convinced that everything material was first conceived in the divine intelligence, Ficino explained that "the special powers and forms of things are not only in an imaginary way in our intelligence, but also in a natural [i.e. real] way in God, in the angels, in the celestial souls and our souls, and in the heavens and the vegetable nature and in prime matter." Although humans might be ignorant of their presence, "in all these the universal powers exist." Such powers existed in the very creativeness of the divine essence but "also in the vegetable nature, although it does not need to understand." Ficino posed, "Who is going to deny that there are powers in the vegetable nature which produce teeth and hair; or, if there are, that they are not different or that one teeth-producing or one hair-producing power is not enough to produce all the teeth and hairs?"(91)

God is beauty itself, he declared, and through him exists every beautiful thing.(92) Humans experienced sensible beauty by gazing on it, toward knowledge of the divine beauty, toward love of God as the beautiful.(93) Ficino's aesthetics was not confined formally to tract and commentary. In his familiar epistles he also taught effectively. As he wrote, the exemplars of all forms were in the divine mind and appeared to mortals as shadows. The beauty of the Creator manifested itself nowhere more expressly than in created beauty: divine beauty could be discovered through human beauty. That was the very intent of his letter to Lorenzo de' Medici and Bernardo Bembo. It employed the topic of description to compose a spectacle of Virtue that would entice the mind through the body. As he explained in another letter to Bembo, "Nothing encourages us more strongly towards love of virtue than the sight of virtue itself." Ficino expressly identified his letter to Lorenzo de' Medici and Bembo as an exemplar of this classical enargeia, the vivid portrayal. "Some while ago, when I was looking for a few words to inspire my friends, as best I could, to an intense love of virtue, I tried to paint an image of a beautiful mind through its correspondence to a finely formed body, using Platonic colours, as I often do." Ficino then apologized for his inability to express mind through body. "But while I was trying to express the image of a beautiful mind and body at the same time, in the very act of painting, because of my inexperience and lack of artistic skill, the image which I desired was not expressed, but back came only its shadow."(94)

Such a descriptive shadow was gracious laughter. On earth it only adumbrated the joy of the blessed, by which the spiritual mouth opened to drink the divine nectar. The laughing ladies of poetic description had honied lips, moist with that prime ingredient of nectar and exuding its scent. Nectar was ever the honied potion of the gods. Since the Homeric writings, its inducement to laughter was renowned in rite and revelry. In Renaissance art Piero de Cosimo's painting of The Discovery of Honey depicts the satyr Silenus broadly laughing, baring his upper teeth.(95) So will the qualities of honey not be misplaced in Ficino's Theologia platonica.(96) Ficino associated nectar traditionally with Bacchus but he symbolized it philosophically as the love of truth. Obedient to Plato's teaching to balance soul and body by augmenting their lives with their own proper nourishments, Ficino even prescribed for intellectuals, especially those who suffered from the cold, a recipe for bodily nectar: twice a week "two ounces of sweet wine (vernage or malmsey), with one ounce of bread, three hours before a meal"; and once a week "one dram of potable spirits with a half-ounce of rose julep." He instructed his patients also to smear the liquid on their skin and sniff it. Again, he recommended "wine and the odor of wine to renew the spirit." Just as Apollo represented light, ambrosia, and the intuition of truth, so Bacchus did heat, nectar, and the love of truth. They were "brothers and inseparable companions" to the health of intellectuals. Therefore, wrote Ficino, "Take wine in the same proportion as light - abundantly, so long as neither sweat nor dehydration, as I said, [ie from sunlight and firelight] nor drunkenness occurs. But besides the substance of wine taken twice daily, absorb more frequently the odor, partly indeed by rinsing your mouth with wine, whenever you need to recreate your spirit, partly by washing your hands in it, partly by applying it to your nostrils and temples."(97) These medicinal practices paralleled his philosophical belief that even the separated mind could smell the odor of life, although only the mind deeply' separated would enjoy it.(98)

In his Theologia platonica Ficino asserted drinking as a natural action and he argued from it to the universality of religion. Just as drink attained its end of refreshing human moisture, so religion for all peoples in all ages adored God as "a natural act." With an insight that surpassed the end of contemplation, Ficino reasoned from the sensory taste of a contiguous object like wine to the spiritual penetration of and by the immense good of God and its goodness. This was a tasting superior to the intellect, he explained, a substantive union that intimately savored the divine sweetness.(99) Ficino cited Bacchus as poetic "joy"(100) but he philosophized about that personfication. "No temporal good or collection of them can quaff the thirst of the mind, for it seeks not a temporal but an eternal liquor."(101) Lest anyone lack the analogue, Ficino supplied remedies for those intellectuals who had lost their sense of taste through excessive phlegm or bile.(102)

In the medieval and Renaissance fashion for crowning philosophers and theologians with epithets, Ficino would have been honored by the title doctor platonicus. Yet he can in modern retrospect justly be judged also "the joyful philosopher." In his philosophy joy was the ultimate human passion, the consummation of the ascent from the body to God in the overflow of the contemplation of the true, the beautiful, and the good. Joy differed between the sensual pleasure of the body and the gaiety of the soul in knowledge.(103) Ficino considered the impressions of a violent joy on the body as resulting in sudden death. From those examples he argued that "the nature of the body is, then, entirely subjected to the emotions of the soul." Thus, "The human visage presents not only evident signs of the inclinations of its soul but also very sure indicators of each one of its affections." Although only the physiognomists knew how to interpret the indicators, even ordinary people comprehended them. The desires, fears, wrath, joy, and sadness of the soul were easily recognized. "From that it follows that only a human laughs and only a human weeps, from the operation of the soul dominating the body. The absolute submisiveness of the body to the emotions of the rational soul had two consequences: "the soul has a most excellent form and is self-subsistent, because that form is not dominated by the body that exists through the body" and "the human body yields very readily to the soul."(104) Ficino thus urged a soulful aspiration to the supreme pleasure. That was God's life, which was the fount of all goods. Prudent men understood that "the wealth and joy of God consists really in the treasures of intelligence and virtue." Imprudent persons opined that the divine majesty arose from corporeal goods. Ficino decried "bodily pleasures which are false pleasures not only because they are of very short duration and full of solicitude but also because they are mixed with pain.... It is, then, normal that earthly pleasures do not satisfy the soul but charm and entertain it because it aspires to true realities and true joys."(105) In an Argumentum in platonicam theologiam, again dedicated to Lorenzo de' Medici, he stated that there were many reasons why the joy of contemplation surpassed the pleasures of the senses. As he reiterated, sensory pleasure was impure and brief, a false delight of the body mingled with pain, while mental pleasure was true, pure, and stable. "Joy, I say, from the truest goodness and the best truth is the best and truest."(106)

In De voluptate he expounded Plato's distinction between sensual pleasure and intellectual gladness and joy. These intellectual goods were distinguishable, since gladness was elation that could be temperate or excessive, thus subject to praise or blame, while joy was always praiseworthy. "Joy," Ficino there defined, "is that jocundity that one derives from contemplation or from some other use of the virtues." He also discoursed on joy emphatically in his influential commentaries on Plato's myth of the charioteer. In this example joy was "the intelligence's nourishment." Although Ficino elaborated on the myth,(107) joy remained "a perfect, absolute joy that the soul enjoys fully in the very knowledge of God." While the contemplation of God was "ambrosia," the joy was "nectar." In Plato's myth the charioteer (reason) stayed his horses (the remainder of the soul) at the stable and offered them this food and drink.(108) Ficino's commentary on Philebus referred "ambrosia to the intellect, that is, sight, and nectar to the will, that is, joy."(109)

Ficino's epistolary expansion on joy sometimes conformed to its intellectualist interpretation, as in his commentary on Philebus, where it was "the joy of the intelligence in the contemplation of the truth."(110) So he counselled a friend, "Be happy. But to be happy, be full of true joy. To be full of true joy, rejoice in truth alone." This intellectualism owed to the influence of Augustine, as is evident from Ficino's interpretation of the definition of happiness in the Confessions. "To live happily is simply to rejoice in the truth; the very joy in the truth is happiness itself." Ficino thus encouraged Cavalcanti, "Be happy, my good Giovanni; but to be happy, rejoice truly; and that you may rejoice truly, rejoice in the truth." Because absolute truth was divine light, while derived truth merely reflected that splendor, rejoicing in the truth required the love of God for his own sake and everything else for the sake of God.(111) This traditional version of Christian joy, inspired by Neoplatonism, was not expressed in laughter, however. When the exemplar, Augustine, contemplated eternal beauty, he hushed the mind to silence so that the heart might cry out the more eloquently. Filled with joy and exultation, its rapturous cry was not laughter but "alleluia." This eternal song without lyrics had its temporal analogy, again, not in laughter but in the "free melody of pure jubilation" of the pickers at the North African harvest.(112) Although Ficino was indebted to Neoplatonist ecstasy,(113) in a departure from it his contemplation of eternal beauty promoted human laughter.

In other writings Ficino expressed the unity of the contemplation of the truth and the enjoyment of the good. This unification derived ultimately from God, in whom attributes were inseparable. As Ficino presented a key to Platonist wisdom, "When we say that God is clarity or joy, we do not posit clarity in the intellect or joy in the will but in itself." The attributes were inseparable: clarity rejoicing and joy clarifying. Again, he affirmed God in himself as joyful clarity and clearest joy.(114)

More characteristic than these intellectualist or unified versions was his voluntarist belief. His commentary on Philebus had associated joy with the will.(115) In De raptu Pauli ad tertium caelum et de animi immortalitate Ficino related joy to the good as experienced in the will.(116) How it was distinguished from truth in the intellect he explained in De vita. "As soon as the mind is purged of all fleshly perturbations through moral discipline and is directed towards divine truth (i.e., God himself) through a religious and burning love, suddenly (as the divine Plato says) truth from the divine mind flows in and productively unfolds the true reasons of things - reasons which are contained in it and by which all things remain in existence. And the more it surrounds the mind with light, the more it also blessedly fills the will with joy."(117) So in a letter he urged friends, "Let us delight in God if we can, and we can if we will, for through the will is the delight and the delight is in the will." This delight "alone fills the infinite; thus alone shall we be completely filled, thus alone shall we rejoice fully and truly. For where the good abounds without defect, there delight is experienced without pain, and everywhere joy to the full."(118)

In a letter on the good he related it "first and foremost to that true joy which is experienced in the very action of the good." Although the good and its joy might be temporal, when the good was not pursued or the joy enduring, "yet they lie deep within ourselves and in our will." Even temporal good satisfied, even in the present, although indirectly, because "this good accords with the form of the good, that is with the eternal knowledge and art of almighty God. Therefore, just as I have related the good back to inner joy, so I relate joy back to the form of the good; so that clearly by this reasoning the good may please me, and thence I myself may best please God, the good of all good, without whom nothing can please me."(119) Considering God as the supreme charity to which all nature is created by divine will, Ficino thought that "charity differs not at all from joy." So, "Who abides in charity abides in God and remains ever in joy."(120) The association of joy and charity was repeated from his comment on Plato's Symposium that purified souls, who have supremely loved the divine beauty, would become immersed in its open sea, not only to drink its liquors but also to pour them out to others."(121) It also appeared in his final commentary on the Phaedran charioteer, where the nectar was allegorized as "strengthening and inciting these powers to provide for inferiors," and in his own Theologia platonica, where the joyful soul extended to inferiors this nectar as "the excellent and benevolent providence."(122) In his epistolary dialogue with God the soul declared that if the Father's grace should enter her, "I should go mad with joy." Ejaculating "O joy beyond understanding!" it invited a universal exultation.(123)

Ficino declared in Theologia platonica, dedicated to Lorenzo de' Medici, that the end of the soul was "to enjoy God, its longing, to enjoy perpetually." While the two most excellent human acts were mental - the knowledge and love of God - love in its alacrity was greater than plodding knowledge. "Love more nearly and firmly unites the mind with the divine than does thought, because the power of cognition consists more in discretion but of love more in union." God would rather be loved than discerned. "In admiring we grant nothing to God, in loving truly we grant both what we are and possess." In return God gave more to the lovers than to the scrutinizers. "In knowing God we contract the amplitude of God to the concept of our mind, truly, in loving we amplify our mind to the immense latitude of the divine goodness. In knowledge we abase God in us, in love we elevate ourselves in God." Knowledge was limited to mental capacity, while love encompassed that vision and also intuited the divine goodness that surpasses knowledge. Since religion consisted in that love, the most divine possession of humans was religion.(124) The reason why the will enjoyed God more than the intellect did was that God was joy itself. Ficino affirmed that in his meditation on Paul's rapture to the third heaven. It was through God that humans rejoiced and in him alone that they rejoiced happily. "Joy is the end of everything. It is therefore also the principle by which all things together move, in which all things together are moved and are made. What, therefore, is joy other than God himself? The good of goods and joy of joys."(125)

How Ficino's epistolary commendation of the gracious laughter of beautiful males as a sign of such joy was taken by its recipient Bernardo Bembo is unknown. It was at least directed appropriately to Lorenzo de' Medici, who declared "an appetite for beauty" to be "the true definition of love." Expounding a sonnet of his, he considered, "The beauty of the body and its grace seem to proceed from being well proportioned, [from being] of graceful aspect, and in effect from a certain loveliness and winsomeness, which sometimes pleases not as much by the perfection and good proportion of the body as by a certain conformity that it has with the eye that it pleases, [a conformity] that proceeds from heaven or from nature."(126) Lorenzo understood joy well through the mediation of Ficino's philosophy, as expressed in his poem De summo bono, which versified Ficino's letters "Quid est foelicitas" and "Oratio ad Deum theologicam." Lorenzo invented a cheerful Marsilio speaking of the method "to know Him through / desire and delight, and so achieve a joyous consummation of our longing." Plato had named the joy of this vision "nectar," as "the soul's / delight, when it is sundered from the world, / and pleasure satisfies it more than sight." In allegiance to Ficino's inversion of love above knowledge, the poet typed this nectar "the fruit of love," the eternal merit of loving, more than knowing, God. "One can't give other grounds for joy than joy / for its own sake, which never dies. Nor can the mind come into any greater good." Joy was "the final good," for "the heart desires joy itself / and all that's pleasurable, and runs to it / as love will hasten to the sovereign good." This was the nectar flavored with every good, "the fount of every joy, of perfect bliss!" In the poem Marsilio repeated, "Only the fount that drips the sacred liquor / allays and slakes our thirst." So he prayed, "oh sacred liquor, / allay this thirst that weighs upon me so," for he sought such celestial and eternal joy.(127)

Lorenzo de' Medici thus understood the philosophical ascent from the beautiful body to the radiant and joyful soul. Whether his praise of the "gracious aspect" of the beautiful body implied Ficino's laughter is questionable. Lorenzo's poetic laughter was conventional. In his Canti carnascialeschi Silenus laughs; in "I Beoni" the poet himself laughs at the vulgar Florentines.(128) At the end of a life that professed Ficino's joyful philosophy Lorenzo's state was uncertain. The lips that might have parted laughingly to anticipate the divine nectar received the eucharistic viaticum while weeping.(129) Yet he had acknowledged, misremembering Aristotle, that there were two kinds of tears, hot and sorrowful or cold and joyful, because different passions had different effects. Lorenzo explained tears of joy "because joy dilates the vital spirits and makes them more rarified;" they arose "from the passion of the heart."(130) Perhaps, he died in tears of joy.

His humor had been displayed not only in his poetry but also in tales about him collected in Poggio Bracciolini's Facetiae.(131) Yet portraiture of Lorenzo de' Mecici in all artistic media is consistently serious, with the lips either straight or downturned. And his mouth is wide,(132) in deviation from the aesthetic norm of smallness. The cameo of Ficino himself in the manuscript Laur. Plut. 82-15 depicts him with a decidedly downturned mouth, an impression exaggerated by the wider spread of the upper lip. His lips are compressed; no laughter escapes. His furrowed brow, in imitation of portraits since antiquity of Socrates, indicates that he is pondering philosophically.

The gracious laughter of Ficino's sage, echoing the laughter of the gods in anticipation of a joyous reunion, vaporized and vanished. Like art, Renaissance comedy plodded on in the ancient theory of laughter as ridiculous, literally ridiculous for the correction of the venial or the ugly.(133) The principal manual on female beauty, Agnolo Firenzuola's Delle belleze delle donne did commend laughter but strangely so by the invocation of Plato. "It is appropriate for noble and gentle ladies, as an indication of their happiness, to laugh with modesty, with restraint, with honesty, with little bodily movement, and a low tone, and rarely rather than frequently." Such modesty and propriety in its use "turns the mouth into Paradise. Moreover, it is a most sweet messenger of the peace and tranquillity of the heart, for wise men claim laughter is nothing more than radiance from the serenity of the soul." He cited as his authority Plato's Republic, a misassignment, for it had only condemned malevolent laughter. It was Ficino, rather, who had allied laughter with radiance and who in his amicable letter had interpreted it as the bodily manifestation of felicitous serenity. Firenzuola then lapsed moralistically into counting exactly how many teeth a lady might show and still be beautiful: not more than five or six, he decided. Moreover, "If the teeth are not beautiful, laughter cannot be beautiful"; and beautiful teeth were a rare charm. "Therefore laughter should be rare, especially since excessive laughter is a sign of too much happiness, and too much happiness is not appropriate to a rational person."(134) Ficino had placed no such limitation on mental happiness, urging "joy to the full."(135)

And, when the royal physician Laurent Joubert composed in the sixteenth century the first formal treatise on laughter, Ficino was honored not for his philosophy but for his medicine. The doctor pronounced laughter a symptom of good disposition and pure blood, thus therapeutic for body and mind. "This is why those are the most wise and take best care of their health who live joyously, laugh often, and do not burden themselves with a load of thoughts and affairs, killing themselves for the goods of this world, as is commonly said. They prudently follow the most sound advice of Marsilio Ficino when he exhorts his friends thus: 'Live joyously,' he says, 'the heavens created you out of joy, which they have made clear to be their way of laughing (that is, their dilations, movement, and splendor), as if they were at play.'"(136) And, although Joubert's medicine was full of "joy," he quoted Ficino's De vita against excessive laughter,(137) in traditional moderation.

The modern monograph on Ficino and art allows his epistolary description of the beautiful man to teach that the emotions of the soul are most transparent in the eyes and on the lips. Yet it mutes gracious laughter to "the evocation of the smile."(138) The major volume on laughter in the Renaissance asserts that its theory maintained the ideal of moderation, preferring to laughter the smile. Aesthetically the smile was considered much more beautiful because it respected the composure of the face and preserved the calm of the interior life. The survey evidences Ficino's very letter to Lorenzo de' Medici and Bernardo Bembo portraying "gracious laughter" - but here revised to "gracious smile." Rare were those Renaissance thinkers who could dare with Dante to imagine the blessed in heaven laughing,(139) it declares. Such silencings of the very word "laughter" typify the devaluation of Renaissance philosophy by cultural and historiographic reverence of classical or medieval thought as norms, by whose integrity or sanctity it is judged derivative or decadent.

An authority has rightly indicated that "one of Ficino's most obvious departures from Plato is his considerably greater emphasis on both the emotional and the volitional sides of man."(140) Gracious laughter is an egregious example. Laughter in Western civilization had resounded morality. Its eruption, however lovely, on the lips of ladies in "courtly" poetry may still have resonated with its ancient sense of superiority, since the amor de lohn of the troubadours aspired to the service of a woman who was beautiful and virtuous but inaccessible. The amatory discontent essential to the "courtly" genre emerged in a period of demographic imbalance in the ratio of genders, causing for the upper classes a shortage of marriageable women, thus male anxiety about marrying upward.(141) The context of laughter was social: there were no private jokes, not even among the ironists, who required their initiates.(142) The treatment of laughter as a natural act was slight: a ticklish question. (In a contemporary Florentine manual of pediatrics midwives were to tickle newborn babies on the soles of their feet.)(143) Although Aristotle had judged laughter naturally human, it only paralleled the vocalizations of other animals, such as the horse that neighed. Scholastic philosophers noted his observation but confined laughter to the category of property, by which reduction of status it belonged to human nature accidentally but did not define it essentially.(144) Ficino's philosophy of laughter advanced beyond the natural and the moral to the spiritual. It was theoretical, sublimely so, in bold speculation beyond gravity to joy. Although Ficino's laughter retained the tradition of a superior attitude, its superiority was neither derisory nor exclusive. His laughter was benedictory and inclusive, an expression of the joy in the cosmic circuit to which all humans might aspire as their amatory end: even unto God.


1 Ficino, 1962, 1:807; trans. London School, 1975-, 4:66, 67. Although this letter is undated, Epistolae 6.41, pp. 626-28, which refers to it as already composed, is dated 1480.

2 For the ideal, see Zanker; Lausberg, 1: paragraphs 810-19; Hazard.

3 For a survey, see Faral, 1924, 75-81. The texts are: Maximianus, Elegiae 1.97-98; Sidonius, Epistolae 1.2; trans. Anderson, 1:337. For the philology, see Spaltenstein, 115; for Sidonius's reference to Ps.-Aristotle, Physiognomia 60, see Kohler, ed., 120, 133; and for its general description, Gualandri, 67-74. See also Evans.

4 Colby, 68-69, 78-79, 50-54; Curry, 66; Brewer, 258-60. Since Colby's basic monograph, see Ramey, 378, 381; Zak, 11-12, 26-34; Sullivan, 78-79.

5 Matthew of Vendome, Ars versificatoria 1.56.23-27; trans. Golyon, 43.

6 Levine; Clay.

7 Menard, 1969, 31-38.

8 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight line 1212. See also Longsworth, 142-43.

9 Gerli. For the ancient topic of seductive laughter, see Arnould, 90-92.

10 Ovid, Ars amatoria 3.281; trans. Mozley, 139.

11 Dauphine, citing Dante, Convivio 3.8; Vita nuova 25.2; Epistola a Can Grande della Scala 13.74.

12 Trans. Musa; Cook; Durling; all passim, with exceptions.

13 Alain de Lille, Deplanctu naturae 1.1-2 (meter); trans. Sheridan, 67.

14 Petrarch, Canzoniere 17.5, cf. 1. Translations mine, based on Durling's with changes. For the antithesis, see also 32.11; 152.3; 71.88; 134.12; 28.114; 129.8; 226.5-6; 105.76.

15 Ibid., 267.5; 135.79, 81.

16 Ibid., 172.9-10; 270.80. For the hyperbole for a great laugh, dating to the Odyssey, see Arnould, 222.

17 Ibid., 270.80; trans. Durling, 448.

18 Ibid., 17.5; 42.1; 123.1; 126.57-58; 149.2; 159.14; 249.11; 267.5; 348.4.

19 Ibid., 126.57-62; trans. Durling, 246.

20 Ibid., 292.6; cf. 149.2.

21 Ibid., 126.57-62; 160.1-4; for laughter, speech, and sighs, 159.13-14.

22 Lacroix, 203. For an example in Petrarch's poetry, see Canzoniere 245.5-6.

23 Petrarch, Canzoniere 249.11; see also about Hannibal, 102.7-8.

24 Ibid., 73.67-69; trans, mine.

25 Ibid., 42.1-2; trans, mine.

26 Garnier, 1990, 194, 198; Barasch For grinning lips as diabolical, see also Curry, 68-69.

27 Ovid, Ars amatoria 3.279-80, 282-84; trans. Mozley, 137, 139. For decorum in love, see Meyerowitz, 129-49.

28 Curry, 70-77; Colby, 79-80.

29 Jean de Meun, Roman de la rose lines 13351-66; trans. Dahlberg, 230-31. See also the toiletry of well-scrubbed teeth, line 2154. Even a female author concurred in the prescription of temperate and appropriate laughter for women. Christine de Pisan, Le livre de trois vertus 1.11, 18, 27; 2.27; 3.2, 6.

30 Curry, 70-1; Colby, 79-80.

31 Pliny, Historia naturalis 11.274.

32 Ovid, Ars amatoria 3.277-78; trans. Mozley, 137.

33 Jean de Meun, Roman de la rose lines 13345-50, trans. Dahlberg, 230.

34 Colby, 80.

35 Ovid, Ars amatoria 3.287-90, 285-86; trans. Mozley, 139.

36 Erasmus, 1969-, 2-4:50-51; trans. Mynors, 33:312. Synkruousios, "to clash together," refers, rather, to mirth with clapping hands and stomping feet, 33:444 n. 39.

37 Boyle, 1998; for the example, see Melinkoff, 40-57.

38 See Boyle, 1998.

39 Guillaume de Lorris, Roman de la rose lines 2165-68; trans. Dahlberg, 61. See also Bouche.

40 Dillon, citing Plato, Phaedrus 257e.

41 Diogenes Laertius, Vitae philosophorum 3.26. See Riginos, 151-52.

42 See De Vries.

43 See Menard, 1990, 8.

44 Kiekhefer, 89-121; Marrow.

45 For an introduction, see Curtius, 417-35.

46 Clement of Alexandria, Paedagogus 2.5.45-46; trans. Wood, 134, 135.

47 Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermones super "Cantica canticorum "85.11; trans. Edmonds, 207.

48 Matthew of Vendome, Ars versificatoria 2.5; 55.21; trans. Golyon, 64.

49 The adjective will explode with controversy when Erasmus appropriates it to correct the Vulgate mistranslation of Luke 1:28 as "Ave Maria, gratia plena" to "gratiosa" Erasmus, 1703-06, 6:275. See Boyle, 1997, 195-97. The calendar year in the republic of Florence under the Medicis commenced with the feast of the annunciation (24 March). A popular presentation was Belcari's Rappresentazione della Annunziazione, which used the Vulgate version, 1:179.

50 Morreale de Castro, 65, citing Ovid, Metamorphoses 7.44 for "gratia formae."

51 Allen, 1994, 83-84.

52 Kristeller, 281-82.

53 Ficino, 1987, 188; trans. Kaske and Clarke, 189.

54 Ibid., 152. This excerpt is from book 1, on the health of intellectuals, which dates to 1480 and was circulated in manuscript; books 2 and 3 were written in 1489, the date of the editio princeps. Ed. Kaske, 6-7.

55 Ficino, 1990, 125; trans. London School, 1:114.

56 Ficino, 1937-45, 1:48; trans. London School, 4:69.

57 Homer, Iliad 19.359; "Hymnus homericus ad Apollinem" lines 116-19, 124, and for smiling nature, see The Homeric Hymns, 219-20 n. 118; trans. Evelyn-White, 333. Cited by Arnould, 138-39. The editio princeps was 1488, by Demetrius Chalcondyles, public teacher of Greek in Florence, and was dedicated to Piero de' Medici, son of Lorenzo.

58 Arnould, 215-18.

59 Petrarch, Canzoniere 239.31; 310. 5.

60 Ed Marcel, Ficino, 1962, 3:31.

61 Ficino, 1962, 1:735; trans. London School, 2:35.

62 Kristeller, 1943, 94-95.

63 Ficino, 1964-70, 3:374.

64 Ibid., 375. For the classical laughter of the gods, see recently Halliwell, 282.

65 Valla, 1:917. His unspoken context is the philosophical discussion of Aristotle, De partibus animalium 673a, in which horses neigh but humans laugh, for which see below n. 144. For another interpretation, see Lorch, 89-92.

66 Erasmus, 1969, 1:917; 1703-06, 6:660.

67 For the philology, see MacLachlin, 4-5. Note that to experience grace was also to encounter beauty, 5. For Ficino on the Graces, see Allen, 1984, 28 and n. 63; Wind, 31, 39-48, 71-73.

68 Ficino, 1964-70, 2:200.

69 Ficino, 1987, 296.

70 For the philology, see Arnould, 138-39.

71 Petrarch, Canzoniere 292.6.

72 For Ezekiel as a paradigm of Judeo-Christian visionary experience, see Scholem; Neuss; and for Petrarch's usage, Boyle, 1991, 92-112. See also Albright.

73 Guillaume de Lorris, Roman de la rose line 849.

74 See also Ficino, 1962, 1:721.

75 Ficino, 1955, 152. See also 186-88, 200-1.

76 Ficino, 1962, 1:842. See also full joy in Cavalcanti's friendship, 714. Ibid., 808, 815, 816; trans. London School, 5:3, 20, 24.

77 Ficino, 1964-70, 1:38; Ficino, 1961, 1:613,837, 839; trans. London School, 1:45; 5:73, 76.

78 Ficino, 1987, 160; trans. Kaske and Clark, 161.

79 Ficino, 1962, 1:110,814; trans. London School, 1:103; 5:17.

80 Ibid., 817; trans. London School, 5:25.

81 Ibid., 747; trans. London School, 2:74.

82 Ficino, 1964-70, 1:38-39.

83 Ficino, 1975, 79-80.

84 See Curry, 70-77; Colby, 53-54.

85 Geoffrey of Vinsauf, Poetria nova lines 576-77; trans. Gallo, 45.

86 Faral, ed., 75-81; Gallo, trans., 177-87, who suggests also the Song of Songs, 183. For teeth, see Song 4:2.

87 Matthew of Vendome, Ars versificatoria 156.28-29; trans. Gallo, 43. For Helen's fortune as a norm of beauty in Renaissance literature influenced by Platonism, see Dusinberre. Cf. the description of Beroe: "Her drooping / lips grow pale as her Stygian saliva manures her mouth's / Curving lines. A film covers her teeth, which are / Doubly destroyed by her stinking breath and by worms." Matthew of Vendome, Ars versificatoria 1.58.27-30; trans. Gallo, 44.

88 Alain de Lille, Deplanctu naturae 121-22 (prose); trans. Sheridan, 75. See also Peter of Blois, Libellus de arte dictandi rhetorice line 1083.

89 Colby, 53; Curry, 67, citing Gerald of Wales, "Descriptio cujusdam puellae" line 20. For a Latin example of a mouth fragrant with nard, see Alain de Lille, Deplanctu naturae 1.20 (prose); fragrant with incense, Geoffrey of Vinsauf, Poetria nova lines 577-78. See also the exhalation of sweet perfume in Guillaume de Lorris, Roman de la rose lines 2643-44.

90 Ficino, 1964-70, 1:144; Ficino, 1987, 288.

91 Ficino, 1975, 209, 199, trans. Allen, 198. For the forms of all things in God, see also 1964-70, 2:108, 110-25.

92 Ficino, 1964-70, 1:113. For his aesthetics in general, see Beierwaltes, 185-203.

93 Ficino, 1981, 85.

94 Ficino, 1962, 1:862, 802, 803; trans. London School, 5:63.

95 Piero di Cosimo, Discovery of Honey, Worcester [MA] Art Museum, reproduced in detail in Barolsky, 47, fig. 2-15, and see 46-49.

96 Ficino, 1964-70, 1:42. See also Ficino, 1987, 200.

97 Ficino, 1987, 212, 378; trans. Kaske and Clark, 213, 379.

98 Ficino, 1964-70, 3:205.

99 Ibid., 2:290; 3:205; 2:165.

100 Ficino, 1962, 1:828; trans. London School, 5:53.

101 Ficino, 1964-70, 2:272.

102 Ficino, 1987, 144. Again, from book 1, 1480.

103 Ficino, 1975, 113; cited also by Allen, 1984, 206, who also mentions Epistolae 1.39, 1962, 1:833.

104 Ficino, 1964-70, 2:197-98.

105 Ibid., 2:269, 271-72. See also 1962, 1:786-87.

106 Ficino, 1964-70, 3:279.

107 Allen, 1984, 206-07, 224-25.

108 Ficino, excerpta 1, in Allen, 1984, 221, trans. 220. See also Ficino's glosses on Phaedrus 247c, ibid., 159, 162-63.

109 Ficino, 1975, 353, trans. Allen, 352.

110 Ibid., 117, 353; trans., Allen, 116, 352.

111 Ficino, 1962, 1:827, 731, with reference to Augustine, Confessiones 10:23; trans. London School, 5:49; 2:28.

112 Boyle, 1990, 137-38, citing especially Augustine, Enarrationes in psalmos 32 (2/2).8.

113 Allen, 1989, 141, 153, and for the general influence of Plotinus, 2, 49-82.

114 Ficino, 1964-70, 3:317 See also 318, 319, 322. See also light as "rejoicing clarity and clear joy," 1962, 1:735; trans. London School, 2:35.

115 See above n. 109.

116 Ficino, 1964-70, 3:362.

117 Ficino, 1987, 162; trans. Kaske and Clark, 163.

118 Ficino, 1962, 1:785; trans. London School, 4:9. This text is associated with the ancient ethical doctrine of happiness and the highest good, which consists in the soul's ascent to the knowledge of God by Kristeller, 290-91.

119 Ibid., 1:757; trans. London School, 3:17.

120 Ibid., 881; trans, mine.

121 Ficino, 1964-70, 3:205, with reference to Symposium 210d.

122 Allen, 225. Consider also the ritual expression of joy in the Hebrew Scriptures as consumption of the sacrificial food and wine. Anderson, 19-26, 107-09, 115-18.

123 Ficino, 1962, 1:16; trans. London School, 1:35.

124 Ficino, 1964-70, 2:290, 292. The work was in progress from about 1458 to 1474 and published in 1482. Ed. Marcel, 1:17.

125 Ibid., 3:362, 367.

126 Lorenzo de' Medici, 1991a, 137, 190; trans. Cook, 35, 97.

127 Lorenzo de' Medici, 1992, 953, 955, 956, 956-67, 961, 964, 970, 970-71, 972; trans. Thiem, in 1991b, 79-83, 88-89.

128 See Barolsky, 19.

129 For an epistolary description of his death, see Angelo Poliziano, 1971, 1:46-51.

130 Lorenzo de' Medici, 1991 a, 195; trans. Cook, 103. Editors have remarked his misuse of Aristotle, Problemata 31, which ascribes cold tears to illness, hot tears to sorrow. For Ficino on Aristotle's Problemata, see 1987, 116, 122.

131 Barolsky, 18.

132 Langedijk, 2:1138-84.

133 See Spingarn, 63-65.

134 Firenzuola, 748; trans. Eisenbichler and Murray, 29. For the number of teeth, see 777.

135 Ficino, 1962, 1:785; trans. London School, 4:9.

136 Joubert, 330-31; trans. De Rocher, 126. Although I have been unable to locate it as a direct quotation from Ficino's works, it conflates Epistolae 6.13, 1962, 1:820 for "live joyously"; and Quid sit lumen 6-7, 2:374-75, with the alteration of creation by "joy" for "pleasure."

137 Joubert, passim, 342.

138 Chastel, 94.

139 See Menager, especially 187-223, with Ficino at 193 and Dante at 225. Note also that Menager approves of the translation of Laura's laughs to smiles, while he allows Beatrice to laugh, 188, 191-93, 198-200. He also muffles Firenzuola's discussion of laughter to smiling, 194.

140 Allen, 1984, 90 For the value of historical research on affectivity, see Febvre.

141 See Moller.

142 For the historical sense, see Knox; and for its difference from the modern sense, Gaunt, 5-38.

143 Savonarola, 140, 157. For the ticklish question, see also Aristotle, De partibus animalium 673a; Problemata 964a, 965a.

144 Adolf, with reference to Aristotle, De partibus animalium 673a.


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