chapter  2
The Conflict between Scholarios and Plethon: Religion and Communal Identity in Early Modern Greece
Pages 18

The act for which George Gennadios Scholarios has been most negatively portrayed is the burning of George Gemistos Plethon’s Book of Laws, a guideline for a new society based upon a revival of pre-Christian Greek religion. When the book finally came into Scholarios’ hands, Plethon was dead and Scholarios was, or would soon become, the first Ecumenical Patriarch during the period of Ottoman rule.1 The rivalry between the two men originated with a book Plethon wrote on Plato’s superiority to Aristotle. Following Thomas Aquinas, Scholarios considered Aristotle to be the greatest ancient philosopher and the easiest to reconcile with Christianity. He responded to Plethon by writing a book of his own on the superiority of Aristotle. Plethon in turn composed a reply to Scholarios, and the controversy between the two men was largely responsible for beginning a trend among philosophers of juxtaposing Plato and Aristotle as though the two were polar opposites. The trend has not entirely died out to this day.2