Research Seminar Series: Plethon, the Renaissance and Byzantium

Online via Zoom

The School of Arts and Sciences is organizing a research seminar titled Plethon, the Renaissance and Byzantium: An Analysis of the Multi-Lateral Nature of Relationships of Byzantine Thought and Scholarship up to the 15th Century. The seminar will be presented by LAU Senior Instructor of English and Cultural Studies Brian-Prescott-Decie.
Click here to attend the lecture. 
Students of Byzantium have long had to fight against the Gibbonian concept of “Decline and Fall”, and more recently the arguments generated by Edward Said’s much more reasonable correction of the balance of eastern and western viewpoints have also tended to sideline Byzantine thought and scholarship. Modern scholars of Byzantine and Renaissance thought repeatedly point out that Plethon and his pupils provided an extraordinary impetus for the development of Platonic and Humanistic studies in the West after the fall of Constantinople, but Plethon is too often seen out of context. The story of Byzantine culture and scholarship from the time of Eustathius of Thessaloniki and even before that to the fall of New Rome is one of cooperation; a multi-lateral process in which scholars from all around the Mediterranean, Jews, Syrians, Arabs, Normans, Calabrians, Neapolitans, Northern Italians and more, effectively cooperated to capitalize on the work of the ancients and move it forward. Byzantine diplomacy ensured scholarly contacts as well as book gifts, and the crusading movement ensured a huge westward movement of manuscripts, but ultimately it was a small group of scholars who considered themselves Hellenes (i.e. of Greece, not of New Rome) and centered around Plethon, who made sure that despite religious objections, the world at large would have access not only to Aristotelian but also to Socratic and Platonic thought.