Archipelago Republic: concept notes

The 15th century was of tremendous importance to European affairs. It was the beginning of the expansion of “western civilisation” across the globe, through Renaissance and the Age of Discoveries. During the same time, the Greek Empire of Byzantium fell to the Turks – in 1453 – and most of the historical Greek lands became part of the all-mighty Ottoman Empire.
This resulted in many Greek intellectuals fleeing to the West, bringing along manuscripts and knowledge from the imperial libraries of Constantinople, and “fertilising” the re-birth of civilisation in Europe. One of the most influential figures of that time had been the neoplatonic philosopher Georgios Pletho, who lived in Mystras (near ancient Sparta). Pletho was a teacher of the Paleologi, the last Greek Imperial family, and of the Medici, who established their Platonic Academy in Florence as homage to him.
“Archipelago Republic”, inspired by Pletho’s legacy, builds its hypothesis on a fictitious student
of Pletho (named Laonikos Kantzis in the novel), who flees Mystras and lands on the island of Irekoussa, where he establishes a “plethonian” community. Pletho’s ideas are put into practice, including his strange beliefs on the re-instatement of a syncretic religion incorporating ancient Greek gods and Mithraic Rituals, as well as the development of a socialist-type political system (inspired, of course, by Plato’s “Republic”).
The novel further explores the historical fact of Christopher Columbus’ visit to the Aegean in 1474, in search of information, which would help him navigate the Atlantic Ocean. Could he have visited Irekoussa, met with Kantzis and obtained a most valuable map? After all, it was Plato who wrote extensively about Atlantis. It would be easy to assume that Pletho disclosed to Kantzis sacred ancient knowledge pertaining to the whereabouts of America. In fact, the Platonians believed in a land to the west, beyond the Great Ocean, which was called “Mericia”!
In the novel, an emissary of theMedici family travels with Columbus to Irekoussa. It is his chronicle – in the aftermath of fallen Byzantium – (read excerpt) which provides the main axis of the novel.
What sorts of teachings were held secret in Irekoussa? Centred upon the ethics and physics of Plato (and his Renaissance counterpart Pletho), the novel explores the demarcation between “essence” and “knowledge”. For example, are computer memories a “true” depiction of facts about the world, or a new universe altogether?
Do “new ideas” pre-exist their thinking up by someone?
Is the Universe bounded, as cosmologists seem to agree that it is, or by “thinking” we drill holes into it, expanding it forever?
The heroes of “Archipelago Republic” pose the questions.
But, in the end, it is the reader who must decide.