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George Gemistos Plethon and His Hymns to the Gods

By Elani Temprance

George Gemistos Plethon (1355–1452/1454 A.D.) was a Greek scholar of Neoplatonic philosophy. He re-introduced Plato’s thoughts to Western Europe during the 1438 – 1439 Council of Florence, and was one of the chief pioneers of the revival of Greek learning in Western Europe. He was a follower of the Hellenic Gods and fought to have Them be worshipped again, like They had been in the past. He was a Humanist, and refused to absorb Plato’s dogmas into a Christian context, making him one of the first ‘Pagan’ Neo-Platonists.

Plethon–as he came to be known–had some strong ideas about how to re-establish this worship. Believing that the Peloponnesians, his people, were direct descendants of the ancient Hellenes, Plethon looked to re-create the Hellenistic civilization to far larger extends than just religiously. In his 1415 and 1418 pamphlets to this effect, he suggested ruler Manuel II and his son Theodore:

– turn the peninsula into a cultural island with a new constitution of strongly centralised monarchy advised by a small body of middle-class educated men

– the army must be composed only of professional native Greek soldiers, who would be supported by the taxpayers

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