This volume of Letters is set against the backdrop of war between the Italian states in the period 1481-84. The disruption and suffering caused by these wars is reflected in some of the letters, as Girolamo Riario led the Pope's forces into Forli in 1481 in an effort to extend Papal power. Faenza was the next focus of attack, and this was a city of some importance to Florence, as a link to the Adriatic coast. Consequently, preoccupations with the war took up much of the attention of all those in the ruling circles in Florence.
Nonetheless this volume contains some of Ficino's finest writings, and it is thus a particularly fitting volume to have been brought out on the quincentenary of his death. It includes a series of imaginative allegorical fables, which have been illustrated specially for this volume. There are also short pithy letters and longer, closely argued ones. The tone varies from polished courtly offerings to the Duke of Urbino to informal banter with his close friends, but even the banter in Ficino is based on sound understanding of the nature of friendship and there are many layers of meaning in his words. The book contains letters vital to the debate on Renaissance astrology, letters on the graces, on daimons, on medicine and a letter which explains clearly Ficino's central task of showing the essential unity of religion and philosophy. He ends the volume with the supreme mystery of the transformation of man into God.