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Domizio Calderini, Niccolò Perotti en de controverse tussen Platonici en Aristotelici in het Quattrocento Domizio Calderini, Niccolò Perotti and the Plato-Aristotle Controversy in the Quattrocento

During the Council of Ferrara-Florence, in the first half of 1439, the Greek scholar and philosopher George Gemistos Plethon (1460-1454), who was attending the Council in the retinue of Byzantine Emperor John VIII Palaeologus, wrote a short treatise in Greek about the differences between Plato and Aristotle, De differentiis Platonis et Aristotelis. Pletho argues that both Plato and Aristotle are foreign to Christianity, but Aristotle much more so than Plato. This was a serious accusation, since, from Thomas Aquinas onwards, Aristotle’s philosophy had been a cornerstone of both Byzantine and Roman theology.

Just after Plethon’s death, in 1458, George of Trebizond (1395-1472/1473) replied to De differentiis with his Comparatio philosophorum Platonis et Aristotelis, a treatise containing a fierce attack on Plato and, in its last part, on Gemistos Plethon himself, who is called “the third Plato”. The reaction was immediate: Cardinal Bessarion (1408-1472), a pupil of Pletho’s, wrote a first draft of his most famous work, In calumniatorem Platonis (ICP). The final version of ICP was printed in Rome in 1469.

Soon after the publication of ICP, George replied to Bessarion with his Adnotationes. Unfortunately, no copy of this work has survived, but we still have the opuscula written by Bessarion’s familiares in reaction to the Adnotationes (and, of course, to the Comparatio itself), that is, Domizio Calderini’s Epistola ad Franciscum Baratium and Niccolò Perotti’s Refutatio deliramentorum Georgii Trapezuntii Cretensis.

Calderini’s Epistola is only preserved in ms. Verona, Biblioteca Capitolare, CCLVII (V), a manuscript that contains writings by and about Domizio Calderini (1446-1478). It was partly recycled in Niccolò Perotti’s Refutatio. The Refutatio is preserved in two manuscripts, Venice, Marc. lat. VI 210 (M), an autograph by Perotti, and Escorial, ms. C-IV-15 (E), while three manuscripts from the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, i.e. Vat. lat. 2934 (A), Vat. lat. 3399 (B) and Vat. lat. 6526 (C), contain only a part of the Refutatio. From a collation of these five manuscripts it appears that M, E and ABC display three different redactions of the Refutatio’s text.

This PhD project consists in the first critical edition of these two works, accompanied by an Italian translation and a commentary. The introduction contains an outline of the Plato-Aristotle controversy, in order to contextualize Calderini’s and Perotti’s writings; then the history of both texts and their relationship and transmission. The commentary on both texts will be followed by an appendix containing the edition of other texts regarding the Plato-Aristotle controversy (Andrea Trapezuntius’ Contra Platonem; Niccolò Palmieri’s and Fernando of Cordoba’s writings against and in defense of Plato; and Andrea Contrario’s Obiurgatio and De Platonis genitura).

This first commented edition of two writings that are exceptionally interesting as the last products pertaining to the important Quattrocento Plato-Aristotle controversy, a crucial anticipation of the flowering of Platonic studies in the works of Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola.

Date:12 Jul 2016  →  23 Mar 2018
Keywords:Bessarion, Plato-Aristotle controversy, Domizio Calderini, Niccolò Perotti
Disciplines:Language studies, Literary studies
Project type:PhD project