Note 14

Erasmus (see note 72, p.58) is careful here to use the term furor for the sort of madness described by Plato which is ecstatic in that it takes people out of themselves. In Ficino's largely Plotinian commentary on Plato's Symposium, there is a four-fold divine furor which sets the soul on its quest for progressive reunification as it moves through the four degrees of creation towards the vision of God. The poetic (and musical) furor is the gift of the Muses, the religious furor of Dionysus, the prophetic furor of Apollo and the erotic furor of Venus. This theory, which was well known in the Renaissance, gives Erasmus an impeccable precedent for accepting the morally elevating properties of some sorts of folly, even before he goes on to argue from the authority of St Paul.

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