Ficino’s Theory of Love in The Pheonix & the Turtle

In the ninth verse of The Pheonix and the Turtle, Shakespeare wrote:

So betweene them Love did shine,
That the Turtle saw his right,
Flaming in the Pheonix sight;
Either was the other’s mine

In his Commentary on Plato’s Symposium, Ficino had written on the effect of love, about a century before Shakespeare:

When you love me, you contemplate me, and as I love you, I find myself in your contemplation of me; I recover myself, lost in the first place by [my] own neglect of myself, in you, who preserve me. You do exactly the same in me. And then this, too, is remarkable: that after I have lost myself, if I recover myself through you, I have myself through you, and if I have myself through you, I have you sooner and to a greater degree than I have myself. – translated by S. R. Jayne, 1944.

Pico Della Mirandola wrote in A Platonick Discourse Upon Love:

“Thus the Heart dyes in the flames of Intellectual Love, yet consumes not, but by death “grows greater”, receives a new and more sublime life. – translated by E. G. Gardner, 1914.

Source: John Arthos, Shakespeare’s Use of Dream and Vision, London, 1977.

David Hurley