King Solomon's Phaedran Madness: Johanan Alemanno on Platonic Eros in Hebrew Philosophical Sources
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Through an analysis of his commentary to Song of Songs, Johanan Alemanno emerges as a Hebrew representative of Renaissance Florentine neo-Platonism. His Hesheq Shelomo is a Platonic interpretation of Solomon's desire (Hebrew hesheq) that uses Hebrew Aristotelian language to provide an account of human and divine conjunction through desire that is apparently indebted to Florentine Symposium literature. Drawing on the language of Averroes' commentaries on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Metaphysics, Alemanno, in fact, replaces Aristotelian criticism of eros and endorsement of philia between equals with an exaltation of the erotic divine madness often associated with Phaedrus among Florentine neo-Platonists. He sees Solomon as a biblical embodiment of this Phaedran madness, which is even reciprocated by God. Through this account, Alemanno seeks to cultivate an audience of Hebrew thinkers who, like their non-Jewish counterparts, would strive to develop a theology that combines Kabbala, neo-Platonism and standard Aristotelian writings.