George Gemistus Plethon , Plethon also spelled Pletho , born c. Plethon studied in Constantinople and at the Ottoman Muslim court in nearby Adrianople. He founded a school of esoteric religious philosophy at Mistra, an important citadel in the Peloponnesus, where he spent much of the rest of his life. Most importantly, Plethon served as lay theologian with the Byzantine delegation to the —45 general Council of Ferrara—Florence , which had been convened to reunite the Latin and Greek churches confronted by the rapid encroachment of the Ottoman Turks upon Constantinople. He thus greatly affected the Renaissance conception of the configuration of the Earth and so played an important, if indirect, role in the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus , who cited Strabo among his principal authorities. Plethon also composed orations and essays on Zoroaster , astronomy, music , history, rhetoric , and various theological subjects.
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Gennadios II Scholarios c. Bessarion — Byzantine Neoplatonic philosopher. The first 50 years of his long life are not well documented.
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Gemistus - Encyclopedia
Giorgius Gemistus Pletho, the leading Byzantine scholar and philosopher of the fifteenth century, was born in Constantinople, the son of a cleric. Pletho is noted primarily for advocating a restoration of ancient Greek polytheism and, above all, for inspiring the interest of the Italian humanists of the quattrocento in the study of Plato. His studies followed the usual pattern of Byzantine education, emphasizing the classical Greek heritage. Influenced by certain of his teachers, Pletho became interested primarily in the philosophy of Plato, whose writings had again been brought into vogue in Byzantium during the eleventh-century renaissance under the influence of the Neoplatonic philosopher-statesman Michael Psellus. In , Pletho went to the Turkish court at Brusa, or Adrianople, where he is reputed to have studied under the Jewish scholar Elisaeus.
Pletho, Giorgius Gemistus (c. 1355–1452)
Please help support the mission of New Advent and get the full contents of this website as an instant download. Born in Constantinople about , died in the Peloponnesus, Out of veneration for Plato he changed his name from Gemistos to Plethon. Although he wrote commentaries on Aristotle's logical treatises and on Porphyry's "Isagoge", he was a professed Platonist in philosophy. Owing, most probably, to the influence of Mohammedan teachers, he combined with Platonism , or rather with Neo-Platonism , the most extraordinary kind of Oriental mysticism and magic which he designated as Zoroastrianism. It was due, no doubt, to these tendencies of thought that he openly abandoned Christianity and sought to substitute paganism for it as a standard of life.
George Gemistus Plethon
He changed his name from Gemistus to the equivalent Pletho "the full" , perhaps owing to the similarity of sound between that name and that of his master Plato. He invented a religious system founded on the speculative mysticism of the Neoplatonists, and founded a sect, the members of which believed that the new creed would supersede all existing forms of belief. But he is chiefly memorable for having introduced Plato to the Western world. This took place upon his visit to Florence in , as one of the deputies from Constantinople on occasion of the general council. Cardinal Bessarion became his disciple; he produced a great impression upon Cosimo de' Medici; and though not himself making any very important contribution to the study of Plato, he effectually shook the exclusive domination which Aristotle had exercised overEuropean thought for eight centuries. He promoted the union of the Greek and Latin Churches as far as possible, but his efforts in this direction bore no permanent fruit.
He re-introduced Plato 's ideas to Western Europe during the — Council of Florence , a failed attempt to reconcile the East—West schism. Here, it was believed until recently,  Plethon met and influenced Cosimo de' Medici to found a new Platonic Academy , which, under Marsilio Ficino , would proceed to translate into Latin all of Plato's works, the Enneads of Plotinus , and various other Neoplatonist works. In Constantinople, he had been a senator, and he continued to fulfil various public functions, such as being a judge, and was regularly consulted by rulers of Morea. Despite suspicions of heresy from the Church, he was held in high Imperial favour. In Mistra he taught and wrote philosophy, astronomy, history and geography, and compiled digests of many classical writers. He was made chief magistrate by Theodore II. In Pletho was consulted by Emperor John VIII on the issue of unifying the Greek and Latin churches, and advised that both delegations should have equal voting power.