Seine Jugend verbrachte er wohl vorwiegend in Konstantinopel. Zeitweilig hat er sich im osmanischen Reich aufgehalten. Die in Mistra regierenden Despoten Theodor I. Gemistos war Ratgeber nicht nur der Despoten, sondern auch der letzten byzantinischen Kaiser, die ihn reich beschenkten. Gemistos nahm gegen das Projekt Stellung. Hinsichtlich der Seele vertrat er die platonische Seelenwanderungslehre.
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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. He was made chief magistrate by Theodore II. Western Europe had some access to ancient Greek philosophy through the Catholic Church and the Muslims , but the Byzantines had many documents and interpretations that the Westerners had never seen before. Despite not beign a theologian, Pletho was chosen to accompany John VIII on the basis of his renowned wisdom and morality.
He claimed he had written it "without serious intent" while incapacitated through illness, "to comfort myself and to please those who are dedicated to Plato".
Expatriate Byzantine scholars and later Italian humanists continued the argument. Monfasani the difference between the two dates being significant as to whether or not Plethon still lived to know of the Fall of Constantinople in In , some of his Italian disciples, headed by Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta , stole his remains from Mistra and interred them in the Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini , "so that the great Teacher may be among free men".
The army must be composed only of professional native Greek soldiers, who would be supported by the taxpayers, or " Helots " who would be exempt from military service. Land was to be publicly owned, and a third of all produce given to the state fund; incentives would be given for cultivating virgin land.
Trade would be regulated and the use of coinage limited, barter instead being encouraged; locally available products would be supported over imports.
Mutilation as a punishment would be abolished, and chain gangs introduced. Homosexuals and sexual deviants would be burnt at the stake. Plethon touched little on religion, although he expressed disdain for monks, who "render no service to the common good". He vaguely prescribed three religious principles: belief in a supreme being; that this being has concern for mankind; and that it is uninfluenced by gifts or flattery.
Manuel and Theodore did not act on any of these reforms. I heard, too, from a number of Greeks who escaped here from the Peloponnese that he openly said before he died It came into the possession of Princess Theodora, wife of Demetrios , despot of Morea. Theodora sent the manuscript to Scholarius, now Gennadius II, Patriarch of Constantinople, asking for his advice on what to do with it; he returned it, advising her to destroy it.
Gennadius burnt it in ; however, in a letter to the Exarch Joseph which still survives he details the book, providing chapter headings and brief summaries of the contents. He recommended religious rites and hymns to petition the classical gods, such as Zeus , whom he saw as universal principles and planetary powers. Man, as relative of the gods, should strive towards good.
Plethon believed the universe has no beginning or end in time, and being created perfect, nothing may be added to it. He rejected the concept of a brief reign of evil followed by perpetual happiness, and held that the human soul is reincarnated, directed by the gods into successive bodies to fulfill divine order. This same divine order, he believed, governed the organisation of bees, the foresight of ants and the dexterity of spiders, as well as the growth of plants, magnetic attraction, and the amalgamation of mercury and gold.
The new state religion was to be founded on a hierarchical pantheon of pagan gods, based largely upon the ideas of humanism prevalent at the time, incorporating themes such as rationalism and logic. The political and social elements of his theories covered the creation of communities, government he promoted benevolent monarchy as the most stable form , land ownership land should be shared, rather than individually owned , social organisation, families, and divisions of sex and class.
He believed that labourers should keep a third of their produce, and that soldiers should be professional. He held that love should be private not because it is shameful, but because it is sacred.
This summary, titled Summary of the Doctrines of Zoroaster and Plato, affirms the existence of a pantheon of gods, with Zeus as supreme sovereign, containing within himself all being in an undivided state; his eldest child, motherless, is Poseidon , who created the heavens and rules all below, ordaining order in the universe. Of these Hera is third in command after Poseidon, creatress and ruler of indestructible matter, and the mother by Zeus of the heavenly gods, demi-gods and spirits.
The Olympians rule immortal life in the heavens, the Tartareans mortal life below, their leader Kronos ruling over mortality altogether.
The eldest of the heavenly gods is Helios, master of the heavens here and source of all mortal life on earth. The gods are responsible for much good and no evil, and guide all life towards divine order.
Plethon describes the creation of the universe as being perfect and outside of time, so that the universe remains eternal, without beginning or end. The soul of man, like the gods is immortal and essentially good, and is reincarnated in successive mortal bodies for eternity at the direction of the gods. Harles , xii. In modern literature[ edit ] Early in his writing career, E. Forster attempted a historical novel about Plethon and Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta , but was not satisfied with the result and never published it — though he kept the manuscript and later showed it to Naomi Mitchison.
References to Plethon and Sigismondo Malatesta can be found in canto 8. Plethon is also mentioned in canto 23 and By having manuscripts brought from Greece and becoming the patron of "the young boy, Ficino," Cosimo facilitated the preservation and transmission of Greek cultural patrimony into the modern world after the fall of Constantinople in Plethon thus played a key but hidden role in the Italian Renaissance.
Pletho is a major character in the historical novel Porphyry and Ash set in the final year of the Byzantine Empire.
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. Nearly all of his writing is marked by passionate devotion to Greece and a desire to restore its ancient glory. Get exclusive access to content from our First Edition with your subscription.
Mathematics Genealogy Project
Georgios Gemistos Pléthón