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Look Inside Radical Platonism in Byzantium

Radical Platonism in Byzantium
Illumination and Utopia in Gemistos Plethon


Part of Cambridge Classical Studies

  • Date Published: September 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316629598

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About the Authors
  • Byzantium has recently attracted much attention, principally among cultural, social and economic historians. This book shifts the focus to philosophy and intellectual history, exploring the thought-world of visionary reformer Gemistos Plethon (c.1355–1452). It argues that Plethon brought to their fulfilment latent tendencies among Byzantine humanists towards a distinctive anti-Christian and pagan outlook. His magnum opus, the pagan Nomoi, was meant to provide an alternative to, and escape-route from, the disputes over the Orthodoxy of Gregory Palamas and Thomism. It was also a groundbreaking reaction to the bankruptcy of a pre-existing humanist agenda and to aborted attempts at the secularisation of the State, whose cause Plethon had himself championed in his two utopian Memoranda. Inspired by Plato, Plethon's secular utopianism and paganism emerge as the two sides of a single coin. On another level, the book challenges anti-essentialist scholarship that views paganism and Christianity as social and cultural constructions.

    • Advances a revisionist approach to Byzantine intellectual history
    • Provides a novel conceptual definition of paganism as philosophical Hellenism
    • Demonstrates the political and religious significance attributed to Plato and Aristotle in Byzantium
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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316629598
    • length: 472 pages
    • dimensions: 216 x 140 x 26 mm
    • weight: 0.57kg
    • contains: 1 table
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: Plethon and the notion of Paganism
    Part I. Lost Rings of the Platonist Golden Chain:
    1. Underground Platonism in Byzantium
    2. The rise of the Byzantine Illuminati
    3. The Plethon affair
    Part II. The Elements of Pagan Platonism:
    4. Epistemic optimism
    5. Pagan ontology
    6. Symbolic theology: the mythologising of Platonic ontology
    Part III. Mistra versus Athos:
    7. Intellectual and spiritual utopias
    Part IV. The Path of Ulysses and the Path of Abraham:
    8. Conclusion
    Epilogue: 'Spinozism before Spinoza', or the pagan roots of modernity.

  • Author

    Niketas Siniossoglou, University of Cambridge
    Niketas Siniossoglou is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow and Junior Research Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge. He is the author of Plato and Theodoret: The Christian Appropriation of Platonic Philosophy and the Hellenic Intellectual Resistance (Cambridge, 2008).

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