Small folio [29.5 x 20 cm], (184) ff., without initial blank, 185 pp., without final blank. Corrected variant with the second leaf signed ‘aii’ and the last word on Kiir spelled ‘absente.’ Bound in 18th-century speckled calf, spine in 6 compartments, gilt, with red morocco title label, with patterned paper pastedowns and collector’s stamp “G.” in blue on first page, with contemporary annotations in margins. Minor, faded waterstaining in upper margin and some finger soiling of first few quires, and occasional spotting. Very good overall.
First edition of a collection of Platonic theological texts by the 4th-century BC writer Iamblichus, an instrumental figure in disseminating Neoplatonism. Due to the urging of his patron Cosimo de Medici, whose Florentine circle clamored for Hermetic texts, Marsilio Ficino translated and edited the collection. Aldus’ handsome imprint thus became a vital source for the transmission of Neoplatonism during the Renaissance.
In his translation, Ficino emphasized the Hermetic passages, due to his veneration for the Egyptian Hermes Trismegistus. Iamblichus himself approached these passages carefully, cautioning the reader that many works circulating under Hermes’ name were not written by him. “Throughout De mysteriis Iamblichus stresses the necessity of ritual in religion and the power of contemplation. It is possible for the initiated to ‘go beyond bodies and matter in service of the gods, being made one with the gods by a power which transcends the cosmos’ (5.20-22). This philosophy of transcendence by the spirit was taken over in its entirety by Ficino” (BPH, Christ, 263).
* Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, Christ, Plato, Hermes Trismegistus, 1990; BPH, Ways of Hermes, 2002; HC*9358; BMC V, 557; Goff J-216; IDL 2615.