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Georgius Gemistus Plethon


Has anyone done any research on a possible connection between Plethon's ideas and the Tarot? He was in Ferrara and Florence during the Council of 1438-39, and was a great influence on Cardinal Bessarion, Cosimo d'Medici and Sigismondo Malatesta (who brought his body back to the Temple Malatesta), as well as spurring many of the early translations of the Greeks. Is there any record of Filippo Maria Visconti having an interest in Plethon's Platonic-Zoroastrian paganism? Ezra Pound puts the young Bianca Maria Visconti in Florence, gracing a parade in honor of the Council, as well as Francesco Sforza.

http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Medi/MediDebo.htm

Here's Ficino's description of the founding of the academy (from the above site):
Quote:
At the time when the Council was in progress between the Greeks and the Latins in Florence under Pope Eugenius, the great Cosimo, whom a decree of the Senate (Signoria) designated Pater patriae, often listened to the Greek philosopher Gemistos (with the cognomen Plethon, as it were a second Plato) while he expounded the mysteries of Platonism. And he was so immediately inspired, so moved by Gemistos' fervent tongue, that as a result he conceived in his noble mind a kind of Academy, which he was to bring to birth at the first opportune moment. Later, when the great Medici brought his great idea into being, he destined me, the son of his favorite doctor, while I was still a boy, for the great task.
Oops. Just found a fabulous discussion of some of this here as it relates to the Cary-Yale deck:
http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?p=966339

Anyone know anything more about the influence of Plethon?
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Huck  Huck is offline
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1438 (as part of the Greek delegation to the council) Plethon was in Ferrara, but had a place in the second row and not much influence (possibly due to language difficulties, which was a problem for most of the delegates; Plethon was possibly around 85 years old, so there was just a limitation by age also).
He got more attention at the end of the year ... and then in Florence (1439), where he got a lot of interest from the Florentine humanists.

"Instead of attending the Council, he spent his time discoursing on Platonism and Zoroastrianism to the Florentines. "

In end of 1439 (or 1441 ? I've the impression, that 1439 is correct) he left Italy. In 1452 he was dead.

This is interesting:
http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Medi/MediDebo.htm

This also:
http://books.google.com/books?id=3FG...lethon&f=false

Generally it's said, that Gemisthos Plethon caused, that Cosimo di Medici opened the library of San Marco in Florence. However, it seems, that the operation "public library" in Florence was already running in 1337 [typo ... correct is 1437], before Plethon arrived in Italy.

Then there's the story of the boy Marsilio Ficino, who was educated to translate Plato's scriptures according Plethon's suggestion ... what Ficino definitely did later.
However, the new renaissance education ideal was already running in Mantova (Vittorino da Feltre) and Ferrara (Guarino). The interest to study Greek scriptures was also already born with Chrysolares (1400-1403). Filippo Maria Visconti had ordered the Michelino deck with Greek-Roman gods already before 1425. Filippo Maria had intimate relations with the Greek Emperor before in the 1420's.

So these causal relations, which some Plethon interpreters used to make Plethon more interesting, are not "too reliable".

Malatesta later brought the bones of Plethon to the Tempio of Rimini - after a personal military engagement at the Peloponnes. This had a family background - Plethon was of importance for a Malatesta princess, who had made a Greek marriage to the Peloponnes.

Theodoros Palaiologos, Despot of Achaia [at the Peloponnes], a scholar and mathematician, *1394/99, +1448; m.1421 Cleofa Malatesta (+1433), dau.of Malatesta di Malatesa of Pesaro and Fano by Elisabetta Varano

Cleofa was a niece of pope Martin V., who attempted to make her husband emperor of Byzanz in 1425 (which didn't work). So Cleofa's marriage had been in its time part of some careful political calculation, which was overcome by political reality. Nonetheless there were hopes in the Malatesta family for more.

Plethon had the political position pro-Peloponnes. A part of this he interpreted reality with a terminology based on Greek mythology (the Peloponnes region was seen as mother place of Greek mythology). This was by his foes interpreted as heresy and paganism. So an important detailed work of Pletho was burnt in 1460 (and was lost forever by this - burnt after the death of the author).
Tarot - in its common form - hasn't too much typical Greek mythology components. The Michelino deck has them, but this was made before 1425 and can't be called "influenced by Plethon".
Common Tarot shows an influence of Petrarca's "Trionfi" poem (card Love - Chastity in the Form, that virtues appear in Tarot - card Death - card Fame at least in Minchiate variants - card Father Time - Eternity with elements in the card World) : this became popular also around the council time (1438/39), cause in 1439 in the Florence period Trionfi as "triumphal celebrations" became popular and it was manifested in 1441 with the order of an illustrated manuscript by Pietro de Medici - precisely in the time, when "Trionfi as playing cards" show up in Ferrara (1441-1442). They show up in Ferrara and not in Florence, where at the same we cannot localize a playing-card-friendly mood (pope Eugen is in Florence and Eugen has an intimate relation to the Franciscans and Franciscans make politic against playing cards; further we have documents of increased prohibition tendencies).
Plethon had his great show in Florence, not in Milan and Ferrara (which were playing card friendly).

We have to keep to the obvious (and that was is documented) and not to mystify the process of Tarot development (there are enough, who do this).

Sigismono Malatesta showed an interest in the Sforza Tarot 1452 and himself ordered figures from Ducchio in the Tempio, which occasionally show some similarity to Mantegna Tarocchi motifs ...


http://trionfi.com/0/m/68/

... and in early 1433 (carnival ?), the same time, when young Sigismondo married a Parisina daughter from Ferrara, in Ferrara is recorded a Greek-mythology-theme for a sort of triumphal procession, likely with disguising elements. There's not a concrete report, but likely Greek mythology show (Cleofa was still living and presented Greek Malatesta hopes (?) ) and carnival and wedding were all connected in this moment. In the Tempio Sigismondo ordered a picture ...


http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps...und/tempio.htm

... which refered to the saint San Sigismondo, but also to Emperor Sigismondo, who just in 1433 knighted the young Sigismondo Malatesta. So one may assume that this year 1433 was important for Sigismondo and perhaps the Greek mythology scene at the wedding had (perhaps) a personal impression on the young man, which later influenced his interest in Plethon.

From the whole situation one might develop the hypothesis, that S. Malatesta caused an own Trionfi card production in the 1450's with "own motifs" ... why not, this wouldn't have been a complicated task. But these (hypothetical) cards are lost ... and so we have nothing to talk about ... :-)

No, I don't see a deeper influence of Plethon on the Trionfi card development (as far it is well known).
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Huck -

Thank you so much for the information. I wasn't sure if there was a more of a connection between Plethon and the Viscontis or Francesco Sforza than is generally known. I would like to suggest that although the Council moved to Florence, wouldn't it have been possible for people from Ferrara and Milan to have gone there for the event, or was part of the intention of the move to eliminate all the people from these two courts?

I have noticed at conferences that two people can leave the same talk deeply inspired and produce totally different products as a result of that inspiration. Two reports on the talk will emphasize different things to the point that it is hard to believe both people were at the same talk.

Quote:
Generally it's said, that Gemisthos Plethon caused, that Cosimo di Medici opened the library of San Marco in Florence. However, it seems, that the operation "public library" in Florence was already running in 1337, before Plethon arrived in Italy.
I assume you meant 1437? Actually, in the quote from Ficino, he stated that Plethon inspired Cosimo's Academy, unless the Academy and the library were one and the same.
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Huck, the link to Ezra Pound and Neoplatonism is very helpful. Thanks.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teheuti View Post
Huck -
Thank you so much for the information. I wasn't sure if there was a more of a connection between Plethon and the Viscontis or Francesco Sforza than is generally known. I would like to suggest that although the Council moved to Florence, wouldn't it have been possible for people from Ferrara and Milan to have gone there for the event, or was part of the intention of the move to eliminate all the people from these two courts?
I think, it can't be excluded, that some people came for observation. But ... it was limited. As Pero Tafur (a not totally reliable source, I would say) describes it, there was a lot of fear for an attack for the delegations, when they moved from Ferrara to Florence. Again there is some talk about dangers by other authors, when they left Florence.
Filippo's war activities against Venice stopped for some time, when the council had been in Florence (likely Filippo Mari observed the development and likely there was a lot of diplomatic exchange to the council of Basel, how one should proceed), but the war got its its most heavy development at end of 1439 (when the council was finished).

January 1439: 3 battles between Milan and Venice
February - May: no battles
June till December: 11 battles in the rest of the year

Francesco Sforza fought for Venice then - against Filippo. But there is good reason to assume, that Sforza himself didn't participate in the arrangement of Trionfi card motifs ... :-).

But I would assume, that neither Filippo Maria nor Francesco Sforaza had very much to do with Gemisthos Plethon.
Filelfo was close to Filippo Maria. Filelfo hated Cosimo and attempted to hire an assassin ... Filelfo had the suspicion, that Cosimo had also an assassin for himself.

Gemisthos Plethon hadn't so much time in Italy to make much contacts in Italy. He was an old man, and he had his own opinions and he didn't love the union between Eastern and Western church.
And the "union" was just an opportune "result of the moment" and "good for pope Eugen", not more. The Eastern population felt cheated by the result. The delegates got a very difficult position, when they returned back. Constantinople was taken, anyway. The Osmans started their dominance in Greece, which endured centuries.

Quote:
I have noticed at conferences that two people can leave the same talk deeply inspired and produce totally different products as a result of that inspiration. Two reports on the talk will emphasize different things to the point that it is hard to believe both people were at the same talk.
Sure .. but a council surely existed of more than two persons ... :-) ... and especially the war of 1438/39 is famous for its quick changes of political directions of single participants. For instance Niccolo d'Este changed his side from organizer of the council in 1438 to a helping hand for Filippo Maia a short time later.

Quote:
I assume you meant 1437? Actually, in the quote from Ficino, he stated that Plethon inspired Cosimo's Academy, unless the Academy and the library were one and the same.
Right, a typo, correct is 1437.
No, the library at San Marco and the academy are naturally not the same.

But it seems, you're right, possibly my memory only hallucinated to have seen Plethon given as responsible for the installment of the San Marco library, now, when I search for a literary example, I find none and feel corrected.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huck View Post
Sure .. but a council surely existed of more than two persons ... :-)
Actually, I was thinking of those who attended gatherings with Plethon. Cosimo may have come away with the idea of an Academy. Someone else may have come away with some other piece of the philosophy that became incorporated into something else. Certainly not the tarot. :-( He did seem to have a relatively big impact for such a short time spent in Italy. Still, big things have come out of lectures at even a weekend conference or workshop.
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I agree that he could have influenced the creation of tarot, but I have not found evidence that it happened.

Plethon certainly influence a trend already underway in Northern Italy toward Platonic type thinking as opposed to the Aristotelian, scholastic trend in Europe since Aquinas...

I read "Gemistos Plethon: The Last of the Hellenes" last year specifically looking for any reference to Milan or the Visconti or Sforza courts and found no direct reference.

Book link: http://www.amazon.com/George-Gemisto.../dp/0198247672

I like to think about the possibilities though...certainly, people from the Milanese courts attended his lectures and were influenced by the talk...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RexMalaki View Post
I agree that he could have influenced the creation of tarot, but I have not found evidence that it happened.

Plethon certainly influence a trend already underway in Northern Italy toward Platonic type thinking as opposed to the Aristotelian, scholastic trend in Europe since Aquinas...

I read "Gemistos Plethon: The Last of the Hellenes" last year specifically looking for any reference to Milan or the Visconti or Sforza courts and found no direct reference.

Book link: http://www.amazon.com/George-Gemisto.../dp/0198247672

I like to think about the possibilities though...certainly, people from the Milanese courts attended his lectures and were influenced by the talk...
hi RexMalaki,
I've found for "Gemisthos Plethon leaving Italy" the contradicting years 1439 and 1441? Did your text give an answer, which one is correct?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huck View Post
hi RexMalaki,
I've found for "Gemisthos Plethon leaving Italy" the contradicting years 1439 and 1441? Did your text give an answer, which one is correct?
14 June, 1439, according to Michael Angold, Eastern Christianity (Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 77:

"He (Scholarios) left Florence on 14 June 1439, scarcely a month after drawing up the Byzantine statement, in the company of two anti-unionists: the emperor's brother Demetrios and George Gemistos Plethon. Like them Scholarios was departing early, so as to avoid signing the union decree."

Woodhouse himself seems to have a clearer understanding of why they left early:

"Demetrios, with Scholarios and Gemistos, left Florence after the Patriarch's funeral. They did so not to avoid signing the decree, which as laymen they would not have been expected to do, but simply as a gesture of disapproval."

(Gemistos Plethon, the Last of the Hellenes, p. 175)
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If this card (highest trump = Jupiter) ...



... would have been done in 1441/1442 in Florence, the suggestion, that Plethon influenced the origin of Tarot, would make sense. But .. this card has developed much later and not in Florence, but in the Tarocco Siciliano.

Really old and similar to later Tarot is the curious Cary-Yale Tarocchi, which exists only in fragments and contained the three theological virtues Fides, Spes and Caritas (and it doesn't contain Star-Moon-Sun). About the Cary-Yale Tarocchi the suggestion exists, that it didn't have 22 special cards, but only 16 (according the 5x14-theory). The Cary-Yale is clearly given to Milan ... which wasn't influenced by Plethon, at least not in 1439.

From Florence (influenced by Plethon) we have, that the socalled Charles VI deck (which was earlier considered to be from Ferrara) recently found to some arguments, that it had been made in Florence. The 5x14-theory interprets the Charles VI deck (which has 16 trumps) as having had in its original state ALSO not 22 special cards, but ALSO only 16 (like the Cary-Yale).

The Care-Yale Tarocchi (given to Milan') had 3 theological virtues, the Charles VI (now given to Florence) hasn't. Instead the Charles VI has a Sun and a Moon card (but no Star card; it's assumed, that the 3rd card was the Fool, which - according the 5x4-theory was missing in the Cary-Yale). For specific reasons the 5x14-theory gives the Charles deck to around 1463.

The first complete triade of Sun-Moon-Star in Trionfi cards we perceive in the additional 6 cards (or six cards painted by a second unknown artist) of the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo-Tarocchi (these are given - according 5x14-theory to 1465). With this step the theological virtues (Cary-Yale) seem to be completely replaced ... with the condition, that they later reappear in the later Minchiate versions (which also belong to Florence).

***********

This replacement operation (from 3 theological virtues to Sun-Moon-Star) has to be understood on the background of the Florentine development in this time. The Medici family got a special interest in the 3 Magi, and this was manifested in the Medici-chapel by Benito Gozzoli in the years 1459-1464.




http://enelvallearte.blogspot.com/20...yes-magos.html

Between the group of the participating persons it was identified the person we're talking about, ...



... Gemisthos Plethon.

Well, the project of the Medici-Chapel was started 1459 and that's a year to which also is given the foundation of the Platonic academy (another object, we're talking about).
Contemporary to this big start of a new idea we have a remarkable visit of Pope Pius II in Florence (April 1459), the publication of Flavio Biondo's work Roma Triumphans (1457-59; the text describes old Triumphs and seems to be a "How-to-do triumphal processions correctly" in the eyes of his time and this was a major discussion in the preparation of the visit of Pius), ...

[quote]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flavio_Biondo
The second was the highly popular De Roma triumphante (Rome Triumphant, (1459)) about pagan Rome as a model for contemporary governmental and military reforms. The book was highly influential in reviving Roman patriotism and respect for ancient Rome, while presenting the papacy as a continuation of the Roman Empire.[/quote

... an improvement for the Medici situation in Florence (the Medici stabilized after a longer political weakness in 1458) and naturally ALSO the development of the Trionfi games we're ALSO talking about.

So .... let's understand the 3 Magi in Florence.

***********

Emperor Barbarossa in 1162-1164 caused major destruction to the city of Milan in his 3rd Italian campaign. As part of this operation the bones of the 3 Magi (a young man of 15, a middle-aged man of c. 30, an old man of 60 years) were transferred from to the city of Cologne.
The bones were earlier located in the Basilika of St. Eustorgios near Milan (that's of some importance)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eustorgius_I

The city of Cologne was definitely master in the marketing of relics of saints. It's engagement made the 3 Magi (3 Kings in the German language) very popular North of the
Alps ... which first hadn't too much influence on Italy, which is a place with a lot of old bones.
So we have, that 6th of January is called Dreikönigstag (day of 3 Holy King's) in Germany, but Epiphanias elsewhere.

The relations Germany-Italy slowed down after 1250 (death of Fredrick II.) and it endured till 1312, before the next Emperor visited Italy. But after this (plague etc.) there was also not much opportunity. So the German love for the 3 holy kings seems to have stayed a German mystery in Italy.

In 1395 Giangaleazzo, Signore of Milan, bought the duke title from King Wenzel in Prague. This was a major impact in German-Italian relations and German nobility took it as a reason to depose King Wenzel in 1400. This was later ... but Peter of Milan, catholic martyr in the activities against catharic heretics in Milan, was made patron of the Cologne beer producers in 1396. A minor occurrence, but this seems to have been part of a renewed friendship between Milan and Cologne. A second saints-trade operation seems to have been, that suddenly the 3 Magi appear in Bologna around the same time, also we have, that the future archbishop of Cologne had studied in Bologna, Dietrich II. von Moers, archbishop from 1414 - 1463 (that's a rather long time and mean, that he was archbishop in an important position, when the Trionfi cards developed).

But we're interested of 3 Magi in Florence ... it seems, that signs of some 3 Magi adoration in Florence started at the end of 14th century (possibly parallel to the Giangaleazzo duke title and the 3 Magi adoration in Bolgna ?). Then (when precisely ?) a Compagnia dei Magi formed and as a result we have the appearances of 3 Magi pictures in Florence.



Altar piece, commissioned by the Strozzi family; 1423, Gentile da Fabriano,

Further it seems, that special religious 3 Magi activities at 6th of January were installed, which grew in their importance with the time.
In 1435 the Dominicans got the object, which was later called San Marco. The Dominicans requested the help of Cosimo in 1437 ...

Quote:
In 1435 the Benedictines were replaced by Dominicans from the Convent of San Domenico in Fiesole. Two years later, they appealed to Cosimo de' Medici the Elder, who lived nearby in the family palace, now known as the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, to fund the renovation of the entire complex. The works were entrusted to Michelozzo. Each cell of the monks cloister and many other walls were decorated by Fra Angelico in collaboration with others, including Benozzo Gozzoli. Cosimo de' Medici had a cell at the convent for his personal retreat.
...

The church was consecrated in 1443, in the presence of Pope Eugene IV.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Marco,_Florence

Then a traditional 3 Magi march developed leading from St. Marco to the Baptisterium, taking it's way also beneath the Medici palace. The Baptisterium was the natural place of the John-the-Baptist veneration and this was the traditional strongest religious cult in Florence. A connection between Epiphanias (6th of January; Jesus baptised as a child) with John the Baptist (Jesus baptised as grown up) has some internal logic.

It's said that the Medici dominated the Compagnia dei Magi since the 1440's and that they made it their political home.

Now we have, that Dominicans were traditionally strong in Cologne, and also we have, that Cosimo di Medici had been in exile in 1434 in Venice. Cologne and Venice had also traditionally strong trade connections, and about the Medici we know, that they became for some time the dominating international bank of Europe. And these international connections helped, that Cosimo could soon return to Florence and his enemies had to disappear from Florence.

How this all operated would likely be a difficult task to research, but we have after 1435 a following orientation of the Medici towards the cult of the 3 Magi, which gets its highest development with the Medici-chapel by Gozzoli since 1459. This is said to have been completed in 1464.
In 1465 (likely around 6th of January), there was a great triumphal celebration in Florence around the theme of the 3 Magi.
With this background the young Lorenzo di Medici made in May 1465 his big journey towards Milan (he introduced himself as a future important man in Florence in various cities, personally just 16 years old) to partake at the celebrations of the marriage of Ippolita Sforza with a prince of Naples.

The 5x14-theory calculates, that around this time the six-added-trumps of the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo (including the complete triade Sun-Moon-Star) ...



... were produced likely with some influence from the Florentine development (1466 the name Minchiate appears for the first time in a document; this clearly seems to indicate, that the number of trumps were increased since then from 14 or 16 before).

**********

For the church St Eustorgios in Milan (where the Magi bones had been first) we have the background, that Florence and Milan had rather bad relations during the whole first half of 15th century. This changed, when Sforza took Milan in 1450 (Sforza was friend of Cosimo). Then Cosimo became the banker of the Sforza and the banking house had a representatie in Milan. In the 1460's this representative engaged especially for the church St. St. Eustorgios and sponsored a personal chapel there.

Generally the Medici were interested in the trade with Northern Europe. Engaging for a cult, which was popular in Northern Europe, had been a natural way to get international sympathies.
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