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Ficino, Marsilio - Commentary on Plato’s Timaeus - On the good health and poor health of the body and the soul



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Ficino, Marsilio - Commentary on Plato’s Timaeus

On the good health and poor health of the body and the soul

Now Plato next defines perfect human health as the mutual harmony of body and soul, which he believes is eventually attained when both body and soul are well disposed within themselves and simultaneously enjoy excellent constitution. When I say 'excellent', I mean 'in equal measure', so that the strength of the soul does not outstrip the measure of the body, and the strength of the body does not overwhelm the capacity of the soul…………..

He next teaches the care of both body and soul through the regular movement of exercise: I mean measured exercise and appropriate movement, properly directed to a particular benefit, so that both body and soul, being exercised and nourished, may attain such strength that neither succumbs to the other. Of course, Plato wishes the body to yield to the soul, but not to succumb to it in such a way that it is unable to endure the movements of the soul. He wishes the body to be strong and robust, yet under the control of a soul that is far stronger still.

Next note how much praise he lavishes on exercises, and how much scorn he pours upon the wrong use of drugs. Accordingly, just as he prescribed the exercising and strengthening of both body and soul through appropriate movements, …. He says that we should frequently nurture the rational power with sustenance, to prevent it from succumbing to the other powers [emotions], and that the intellect has been given to man as an inner daemon, for man already has an external daemon.

Again, the upright posture of the body is like a tribute to the heavenly posture. He also says that the man who gives excessive nourishment to the irrational powers becomes mortal, as if he is explaining how his words should be understood when he says that man becomes a brute.

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Ficino, Marsilio

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Observation contributed by: John Bryant