On man and beast

10 03 2010

Let me now bring this letter to an end, but may I first remind you of this one thing, which clearly we should bear in mind: if the wild beasts within us are many, it is not surprising that according to Plato souls are transmigrating from men to beasts. Certainly, we have within us, from the beginning, fuel for desire and something of an animal nature. When we have heedlessly nourished these for a long time, reason is either in some way lulled to sleep, or else it is awake under the cloak of passion and desire. Wherefore, under the human skin, the man himself seems to have been transformed into beasts. Hence Socrates says in Phaedrus, “Indeed I examine myself, Phaedrus. Am I a monster with more heads than Typhon, more full of fire and fury? Or am I a simpler and calmer being, sharing in some divine and favorable destiny, partaking in a quiet understanding?”

-Marsilio Ficino, found in Meditations on the Soul