Info

alone converts to Rome, but opposition to Palamas did spawn an influential group of Latin sympathisers. This was the work of Demetrios Kydones, who became chief minister in 1347 followingJohn Kantakouzenos's coup.35 At this stage, Kydones seems to have been indifferent to the Palamite controversy. This changed when he decided - with the emperor's approval - to learn Latin to help with his diplomatic duties. He made rapid progress; so much so that his tutor - a Spanish Dominican - suggested that he translate Thomas Aquinas's Contra Gentiles into Greek. The impact of Aquinas's thought on Kydones was immediate: it had the power of revelation and led very quickly to conversion to Rome.

This was the first major success for the Dominicans, who had been a presence in the Genoese factory of Pera - opposite Constantinople - since the early fourteenth century. But their Pera convent was more a staging post for the mission fields to the north and east of the Black Sea than for work in Constantinople, where their influence was superficial until the mid-fourteenth century, when Demetrios Kydones's enthusiasm for Thomas Aquinas made all the difference.36 He realised that Aquinas provided what Byzantine theologians had consistently failed to supply: a systematic philosophically based justification of Christian revelation.37 Aquinas had been dead for nearly eighty years when Kydones began his translation of the Contra Gentiles. Byzantine theologians had been able to ignore Aquinas for so long because he was deemed irrelevant to Byzantine needs. However, this was no longer the case once it became clear that at the heart of the Palamite controversy lay the competing claims of mysticism and authority.38 The traditionalists opposed to Palamas were adamant that mysticism defied rational explanation, but they could no longer appeal to authority because Palamite teaching now had the force of dogma. By way of contrast they found in the rigour of Aquinas's analysis an attractive alternative. By Byzantine standards it was fresh and invigorating, even if in the west its solutions were already being questioned. Furthermore, the translations made by Demetrios Kydones and his brother Prochoros were

35 R.-J. Loenertz, 'Démetrius Cydones', OCP 36 (1970), 47-72; 37 (1971), 5-39; F. Kianka, 'Demetrius Cydones and Thomas Aquinas', B 52 (1982), 264-86; F. Kianka, 'Byzantine-papal diplomacy: the role ofDemetrius Cydones', InternationalHistoricalReview7 (1985),

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment