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George Gemistos Plethon: The Last of the Hellenes (Oxford University Press academic monograph reprints) Hardcover – June 26, 1986

ISBN-13: 978-0198247678 ISBN-10: 0198247672 Edition: y First printing

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford University Press academic monograph reprints
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; y First printing edition (June 26, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198247672
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198247678
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,683,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ashtar Command on September 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Gemistos Plethon was a 15th century philosopher in the Platonic tradition. He lived in the Byzantine-controlled town of Mistra in southern Greece, but his most important activities took place in Italy, where he inspired the budding Renaissance humanists to study Plato rather than Aristotle. Both Cosimo de Medici and (indirectly) Marsilio Ficino felt indebted to Plethon. Yet, this éminence grise of the Renaissance is surprisingly unknown. I presume C.H. Woodhouse wanted to fill the gap with his monograph "Gemistos Plethon: The Last of the Hellenes".

I'm not sure if he succeeds. Woodhouse does provide the reader with a full-length translation of "De Diferentiis", the most important of Plethon's works, and summarizes his other philosophical works. However, he says next to nothing about the social and intellectual background. I understand that this wasn't the author's intention, but it does make the book a hard read for the uninitiated. Page up and page down, Woodhouse discusses which obscure Italian scribe met Plethon in what God-forsaken Italian town, and when. His sources are impeccable manuscript collections from the 15th century. I was especially impressed by Woodhouse's references to "Laonici Chalcocandylae Historiarum Demonstrationes", published in two volumes in Budapest 1922-27.


OK, seriously. "Gemistos Plethon: The Last of the Hellenes" is a super-scholarly work, and much as I admire the author's learning (I really do!), it did get tedious to read after a while.

But yes, Gemistos Plethon must have been a fascinating (and bizarre) character. He was around 80 years old when visiting Italy in conjunction with the church council at Ferrara-Florence, and yet it was this visit which became the turning point in his life.
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