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15 Gay Romances of the Renaissance Era

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2. Marsilio Ficino and Giovanni Cavalcanti

Marsillio Ficino, a chief intellectual leader of the Italian Renaissance and the man who first penned the words “platonic love,” also clearly had more than platonic feelings toward the handsome Giovannie Cavalcanti. The affection was demonstrated in numerous love letters, according to historian Rictor Norton. A scholar who translated many of the words of the ancient Greeks — an accepting group when it came to gay love — Ficino professed a connection to the Greek thinkers in part because he shared such a desire. “Although I am not confident that I can follow in the footsteps of such men in their heavenly journey, there is nevertheless one thing I have acquired in full measure from the study of sacred philosophy, virtue, and truth: the joyful company of the man most dear to me,” he wrote to Cavalcanti. The men lived together many years in a villa at Careggio. Norton suggests the entire concept of a love letter may have been an invention of Ficino.

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