Chapter

“The Shadows and Their Beloved Bodies”: Medicine, Philosophy of Love, and Demonology in Pompeo della Barba's <i>Interpretation of a Platonic Sonnet</i>

in In the Company of Demons

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2006 | ISBN: 9780226501307
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226501291 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226501291.003.0004
“The Shadows and Their Beloved Bodies”: Medicine, Philosophy of Love, and Demonology in Pompeo della Barba's Interpretation of a Platonic Sonnet

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This chapter examines the Renaissance Neoplatonic concept of love by focusing on Interpretation of a Platonic Sonnet (Spositione d'un sonetto platonico) by the physician and philosopher Pompeo della Barba. According to Della Barba, love occurs when the image of the beautiful passes through the lover's eyes and reaches his soul. Borrowing from Apuleius's On the God of Socrates, della Barba in Spositione defines several different kinds of spiritual beings. The genius (also called manes) is, for della Barba, Socrates' protecting demon whose diabolical nature has been unmasked by the Christian theology. Lemures are the souls that have discarded their bodies, and larvae are the souls that visit the households with malignant intentions. Larvae, della Barba concludes, are called lares when they have a positive, supportive nature. In the lares/larvae della Barba identifies the spirit of a dead lover who can take up a temporary body, and have sexual intercourse with his beloved.

Keywords: Pompeo della Barba; Socrates; Christian theology; love; Lemures

Chapter.  15162 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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