The Symbolical Career of Georgios Gemistos Plethon

The Symbolical Career of Georgios Gemistos Plethon

Sherrard, Philip

Studies in Comparative Religion, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Spring 1974)    


In the middle of the 14th century Georgios Gemistos Plethon was born in Constantinople. Little is known of the career of this man, and of this little nothing is very remarkable. It appears that he lived for many years at Mistra in the Peloponnese, where he settled when he was quite young and where he became a judge. He was a representative of the Orthodox Church at the Council held at Florence in 1439 on the question of the unity of the Eastern and Western Churches (it was then that he added ‘Plethon’ to his name); and it was at Florence also that he gained the admiration of Cosimo de’ Medici. He died in 1450; and fifteen years after his death a Venetian general, Sigismonda Pandolfo Malatesta, transferred his remains from Mistra to the Church of St. Francesco at Rimini and enclosed them in a marble tomb on which, in Latin, a suitable inscription was written. Yet it has been said with reference to Gemistos that ‘the Renaissance can point to many a career which is greater, but none which is so strangely symbolical.


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