Towards the Plato-Aristotle Controversy in the Renaissance
Volume 94 in the Series Graeca of the Corpus Christianorum marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter. It is the first volume of Thomas de Aquino Byzantinus, an ambitious new subseries which aims to produce the critical editions of Greek translations of, and commentaries on, various works by Thomas Aquinas composed by Byzantine scholars and theologians between the late thirteenth and fifteenth centuries.
With the present volume John Monfasani takes us to the sources of Cardinal Bessarion's defence of Plato and his new found erudition in medieval scholasticism. In the publication schedule of the TAB subseries, this is volume XIII of the Series altera.
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Cardinal Bessarion's great defense of Plato, the In Calumniatorem Platonis, written in response to George of Trebizond's Comparatio Philosophorum Platonis et Aristotelis and first published in 1469, was the first substantial statement of Platonism in the Plato-Aristotle Controversy of the Renaissance. Bessarion, however, had first written the In Calumniatorem Platonis a decade earlier, in 1459, without the massive Book III of the 1469 edition proving that medieval scholasticism supported Bessarion's interpretation of Plato and Aristotle. With the discovery of the treatise Notata in librum secundum Georgii Trapezuntii "Comparationis Philosophorum" by the Dominican theologian Giovanni Gatti, we now know the source of Bessarion's new found erudition in medieval scholasticism. Bessarion initially attempted to incorporate Gatti's Notata whole cloth into the In Calumniatorem Platonis, but in the end he exploited it as a storehouse of the scholastic references, quotations, and arguments that made up the new Book III of the 1469 In Calumniatorem Platonis. Thus, Giovanni Gatti's treatise played a major, though anonymous role in the Plato-Aristotle controversy for the rest of the Renaissance as Bessarion's work became in its turn a much used authority and source of information.
John Monfasani is Distinguished Research Professor at The University at Albany, State University of New York, and former Executive Director of the Renaissance Society of America. He has long published on Greek émigrés to Renaissance Italy.