Italian philosopher, theologian, and cabalist; born Feb. 24, 1463, at Mirandola; died at Florence Nov. 17, 1494. Gifted with high intellectual powers, he commenced the study of theology at an early age, graduated from the University of Bologna, and at the age of twenty-three published 900 theses against the views of the philosophers and theologians of his time ("Conclusiones Philosophicæ Cabalisticæ et Theologicæ," Rome, 1486). These theses included one which postulated that the Cabala best proves the divinity of Jesus. Pico received his cabalistic training from Johanan Aleman, from whom he also obtained three cabalistic works which he translated into Latin: the commentary of Menahem Recanati on the Pentateuch, the "Hoḳmat ha-Nefesh" (= "Scientia Animḳ") of Eleazar of Worms (printed at Lemberg. 1875), and the "Sefer ha-Ma'alot" of Shem-Ṭob Falaquera. He tried to harmonize the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle with the Cabala and Neo-Platonism, but his excessive devotion to the Cabala resulted in an ascetic and mystical tendency, which brought him into conflict with the Church. He was accused of heresy, but was acquitted, and retired to Florence, where he spent the rest of his life with a friend.

Pico was one of the first to collect Hebrew manuscripts. Of his books, which were widely read, two may here be mentioned: (1) "Cabalistarum Selectiones," Venice, 1569; (2) "Opera," Bologna, 1496; Venice, 1498; Basel, 1557.

  • Dreydorff, Das System des J. Pico, Marburg, 1858;
  • Di Giovanni, Pico della Mirandola, Filosofo Platonico, Florence, 1882;
  • idem, Pico Nella Storia del Rinascimento, etc., Palermo, 1894;
  • Grätz, Gesch. viii. 245-247;
  • Gedaliah ibn Yaḥya, Shalshelet ha-Ḳabbalah, p. 50a, Amsterdam, 1697;
  • Zunz, Z. G. pp. 8, 522.
D. S. O.
Images of pages