In my opinion, the affair of 1468 set the stage, and very dramatically, for the subsequent history of underground Paganism in Renaissance Europe. It should be kept in mind that this all took place during a relatively tolerant period, compared to what was to come soon afterward. The imprisonment and torture of the Roman Academicians, the fact that they only very narrowly escaped with their lives, and, most especially, what was required of them to accomplish that escape, all served to establish a very clear precedent for how far one could go in expressing one's true religious feelings, even in secret.
Clearly at least some of the Academicians had hoped, prior to 1468, to move in the direction of establishing in Rome something like what had until very recently (prior to the final Muslim conquest, of what remained of the eastern Roman Empire in 1453) had existed in the Byzantine Peloponnese: a self-conscious, organized, functioning, full-blown Pagan Underground. Of course, even in Mistra, this was truly an underground movement that could only be, at most, an open secret. But the suppression of the Roman Academy in 1468 made it painfully clear that even that much was to be denied the Heathen-minded Humanists of Rome, and other like-minded religious dissenters throughout western Europe, if they wished for their heads to remain attached to their necks.
The Heathen-Minded Humanists:
- Part One provides the background of the struggle between Pope Paul II and the Roman Academy
- Part Two describes the crisis of 1468;
- Part Three (what you are reading now) presents the denouement, in which all charges are dropped and the Heathen Academy survives intact.
- Part Four tells the tale of the surprising evidence discovered four centuries later of the literally underground Paganism that existed in Rome in the 15th century;
- Part Five looks at the other Roman Academy and its head, Cardinal Bessarion.]
- Part Six gives a nice thumbnail sketch of Pomponius Laetus.