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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume III. Renascence and Reformation.

XI. The Poetry of Spenser

§ 3. Platonism in Spenser’s love poems

But, however staunchly he held to the principles of the reformed faith, his protestantism was modified and softened by another powerful movement of the time, namely, the study of Platonic philosophy. The revival of Platonism which began with the renascence was, of course, the natural antithesis to the system of Aristotelian logic, as caricatured by the late schoolmen; but it was also distinct from the Christianised Neo-Platonism which culminated in the ninth century, when Joannes Scotus (Erigena) popularised the doctrines of the so-called Dionysius the Areopagite, embodied in his book The Celestial Hierarchy. Modern Platonism implied an interpretation of the Scriptures in the light of Plato’s philosophy studied, generally, at the fountain head, and particularly in the dialogues of The Republic, Timaeus and the Symposium. Originated in the Platonic academy at Florence by Ficino and Pico della Mirandola, it was taken up by the reforming party throughout Europe, and was especially favoured in the universities of Paris and Cambridge. To the imagination of Spenser, it proved exceedingly congenial, and confirmed him in that allegorical habit of conception and expression which characterises alike his love poems, his pastoral poems and his romance.