Shakespeare and the Ideal of Love

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Inner Traditions / Bear & Co, Aug 28, 2006 - Literary Criticism - 192 pages
Reveals the influence of the Renaissance scholar-priest Marsilio Ficino on Shakespeare and how the Neoplatonic philosophy of love shaped the inner meaning of his work

• Shows how Shakespeare’s works offer a path back to the divine unity of all things

• Explains the role of love in the Christian-Platonic concept of the three worlds

In Love’s Labours Lost, Shakespeare talks of the true Promethean fire that is lit by the doctrine he reads in women’s eyes. What is this doctrine and what is this true Promethean fire to which it gives birth? In Shakespeare and the Ideal of Love, Jill Line shows that Shakespeare shared the perennial philosophy of a long line of teachers, including Hermes Tristmegistus, Pythagoras, Plato, Plotinus, and especially the Florentine scholar and mystic Marsilio Ficino. The answer to these questions, Line claims, lies in Ficino’s Christian-Platonic philosophy of love, from which all Shakespeare’s plays have their genesis.

Love, according to Ficino, is the force that inspired the creation of the worlds of the angelic mind, the soul, and the material, and it is through love that each of these worlds expands into the next. Love is also the vehicle that allows human beings to make the return journey to the source of their being, where they find unity in God. This is the path on which all of Shakespeare’s lovers embark. Jill Line explains how Shakespeare’s plays represent more than poetic literary constructs: They are mirrors of the progress of the soul, in many conditions and situations, as it returns to the divine unity of all things.
 

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Contents

Ficino and the Platonic Worlds
1
Cupids Dart
10
The Goddess of Nature
25
A Woman Movd
41
Drowsy with the Harmony
47
Fancy and Imagination
58
Something of Great Constancy
69
Unshakd of Motion
79
Twin Souls
113
The Dark House
122
Rebirth and Reunion
133
Set Me Free
145
How Like a God
160
Appendix
164
Notes
168
Select Bibliography
173

Venus and Mars
86
A Most Rare Vision
97

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About the author (2006)

This book reveals the influence of the Renaissance scholar-priest Marsilio Ficino on Shakespeare and how the Neoplatonic philosophy of love shaped the inner meaning of his work. Author Jill Line shows how Shakespeare’s plays mirror the progress of the soul, in diverse conditions and situations, as it returns to the divine unity of all things.

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