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Shakespeare and the Ideal of Love

Shakespeare and the Ideal of Love

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.
Choose a format:
  • Inner Traditions | 
  • 192 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781594771453 | 
  • August 2006
List Price $16.95
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Read an Excerpt

from Chapter 2

Cupid’s Dart

Once born into the physical world, human beings quickly forget the unity from which they have sprung and see only multiplicity. But as there is an outward movement of creation that stems from the One, so there is a return, for, if man so desires, he may be drawn back to his source through the power of love.

This is achieved by following a clearly defined route. In Ficino’s words, it is a path that “by restoring us, formerly divided, to a whole, leads us back to heaven.”

Love is awoken by beauty. The beauty of every world is a reflection of the beauty of God... see more

About the Author

Jill Line

Jill Line earned a master’s degree from the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, and taught in the drama department of the University of Surrey, Roehampton. She lectures on Shakespeare for many organizations, including the Prince of Wales’ Summer School for Teachers, part of the Royal Shakespeare Company. She lives in England.

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