In Stephen Clucas, Peter J. Forshaw & Valery Rees (eds.), Laus Platonici Philosophi: Marsilio Ficino and His Influence. Brill. pp. 89 (2011)

Paul Richard Blum
Loyola University Maryland
Paul Richard Blum Et nuper Plethon – Ficino's Praise of Georgios Gemistos ABSTRACT Most authors who refer to Marsilio Ficino's famous Prooemium to his translation of Plotinus, addressed to Lorenzo de'Medici, discuss the alleged foundation of the Platonic Academy in Florence, but rarely continue reading down the same page, where – for a second time – Georgios Gemistos Plethon is mentioned. The passage contains more than one surprising claim: 1. Pletho is a reliable interpreter of Aristotle. 2. Pletho and Pico are the most recent Aristotelians, more precisely, they are the latest candle bearers of true Aristotelian tradition. 3. Pletho, alongside with the other authors mentioned, is religiously orthodox. In this paper I show that these statements are contrafactual, and discuss the reasons for Ficino's attempt at making Plethon and Pico his allies. Ficino suggests that Pico and Pletho are representatives of such "philosophic religion" that eventually might convert the Aristotelians to the same piety that unites Pico, Plethon, and the Platonizing interpreters of Aristotle. Pletho's agenda was to restore ancient pagan wisdom in order not to supplant Christianity. Ficino's device to counter corrupt Aristetelianism is to create a counter-tradition, that parallels Platonism, namely the pious reading of Aristotle. He employed the figure of young Pico as having urged him to translate Plotinus. Pico serves as a step stone between the Council of Florence, when in 1439 Cosimo encountered Pletho, and the new translation of Plotinus. The divine inspiration, instilled by Pletho and forwarded from Cosimo via Pico to Ficino christianizes the project, which would sound dubitable, if related only to Pletho. Thus Pico was to help saving Ficino's reputation as a religious philosopher. For this purpose, Ficino had to parallel Pletho with the unsuspected Pico, to the effect that Pletho becomes so to say christened.
Keywords Plethon  Ficino  Renaissance Platonism
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