One of the great mysteries in my research is the Medici family. Some have claimed that they were crypto-Jews, but they enacted anti-Jewish legislation. They also seemed to be simultaneously devout Catholics as well as Neo-Pagans. Cosimo the Elder, for example, seemed to be both an Epicurean skeptic as well as a genuinely pious Catholic.
One of the biggest questions I have had is in regard to their role in translating Greek magic texts into Latin and distributing them in the West. We know that Cosimo the Elder forced Marsilio Ficino to stop his translations of Plato’s works and turn to translating the Corpus Hermeticum. Why? What did Cosimo think he would find in the text? A key to immortality?
Another possibility in regard to the Medici that I have recently considered is that they were goaded on by individuals outside the family to turn to magic, and, in fact, the Medici were more calculating businessmen than intellectuals.
One piece of evidence that suggests that the Medici were coaxed into financing magical research is the fact that Lorenzo the Magnificent was educated by Marsilio Ficino and John Argyropoulos, who claimed to have a hidden or secret Platonic teaching.
Is it possible that like Sandro Botticelli, the painter whose works are full of esoteric elements that he himself did not quite comprehend, Lorenzo and the rest of the Medici were goaded into financing the transference of magical texts in the West?
Or were the Medici themselves clever enough to play dumb?