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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter February 25, 2008

Pletho's date of death and the burning of his Laws

John Monfasani
From the journal

I Pletho's Date of Death

In 1976 I denied the correctness of the commonly held date of 1452 for Pletho's death. I argued instead for 1454. The difference of two years meant not only that Pletho lived to see the fall of Constantinople in 1453, but also that a whole series of works in the Plato-Aristotle controversy had to be redated. The basis for the 1452 date is a notice found amid other notes by an unknown hand on the last folio of the fifteenth-century manuscript M. 15 in the University Library in Salamanca and in another series of notes in the hand of Pletho's disciple and admirer Demetrius Raoul Kabakes on f. 50v of Gr. 495 of the Bayerisches Staatsbibliothek, Munich. With only trivial variation, both notes state that Master Gemistus died on the first hour of Monday, 26 June in the fifteenth Indiction. Since the only year in this period in which 26 June falls on a Monday in the fifteenth Indiction is 1452, Pletho's date of death seems well established. Though Kabakes was a bizarre character whose trademark was, in Bidez's phrase, an orthographe fantasiste, the fact that he wrote the notice in Munich Gr. 495 might be viewed as strenghtening its credibility. Futhermore, since Dositheus, Metropolitan of Monembasia seems to have died on 1 September 1452 and on blank folios (ff. 7v–8r) in MS Venice, Bibl. Marc., Zan. Gr. 333 (= 644) Bessarion wrote his memorial verses on Pletho and then his memorial verses on Dositheus, one can argue that in the summer of 1452 Bessarion first heard of Pletho's death and then a few months later of Dositheus'. Nonetheless, the death notice is certainly wrong.

Published Online: 2008-02-25
Published in Print: 2006-April-26

© 2006 by K. G. Saur Verlag GmbH, München und Leipzig