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Ma'ximus Confessor

ὁμολουητής), known also as the MONK ( μοναχός), an eminent Greek ecclesiastic of the sixth and seventh centuries. He was born at Constantinople about A. D. 580. His parents were eminent for their lineage and station, and still more for their piety. Maximus was educated with great strictness; and his careful education, diligence, and natural abilities enabled him to attain the highest excellence in grammar, rhetoric, and philosophy. He gave his especial attention to the last, cherishing the love of truth and seeking its attainment, and rejecting all sophistical reasonings.

His own inclination would have led him to a life of privacy and study, but his merit had attracted regard; and Heraclius, who had obtained the Byzantine sceptre in A. D. 610, made him his chief secretary, and treated him with the greatest regard and confidence. How long Maximus held his important office is not clear; but long before the death of Heraclius (who died A. D. 641), probably about the middle of that emperor's reign, he resigned his post; and leaving the palace, embraced a monastic life at Chrysopolis, on the Asiatic side of the Bosporus, opposite Constantinople. Here he was distinguished by the severity of his ascetic practices, and was soon appointed hegumenus or abbot of his monastery.

Maximus did not spend his life at Chrysopolis: he withdrew into Africa (i. e. the Roman province so called, of which Carthage was the capital); but at what time and on what account is not clear. Whether Maximus returned to Chrysopolis is not known: he was still in Africa in A. D. 645, when he had his disputation with Pyrrhus, the deposed patriarch of Constantinople, in the presence of the patrician, Gregorius [GREGORIUS, historical, No. 4] and the bishops of the province. He had already distinguished himself by his zealous exertions to impede the spread of the Monothelite heresy, which he had induced the African bishops to anathematise in a provincial council. In this disputation, so cogent were the arguments of Maximus, that pyrrhus owned himself vanquished, and recanted his heresy, to which, however, he subsequently returned, and ultimately (A. D. 654 or 655) recovered his see. Maximus, apparently on the accession of Martin I. to the papal throne (A. D. 649), went to Rome, and so successfully stimulated the zeal of the new pope against the Monothelites, that he convoked the council of Lateran, in which the heresy and all its abettors were anathematized. This step so irritated the emperor, Constans II., who had endeavoured to extinguish the controversy by a "Typus " (Τύρος) or edict, forbidding all discussion of the subject [CONSTANS II.], that on various pretexts he ordered (A. D. 653) the pope and Maximus, with two disciples of the latter, Anastasius Apocrisiarius and another Anastasins, and several of the Western (probably Italian) bishops to be sent as prisoners to Constantinople. The pope arrived at Constantinople A. D. 654, and was treated with great severity; and after some time was exiled to Chersonae, in the Chersonesus Taurica or Crimea, where he died A. D. 655. Maximus, the time of whose arrival is not stated, was repeatedly examined, and afterwards sentenced to banishment at Bizya, in Thrace. The two Anastasii were also banished, but to different places; Maximus was not suffered to remain at peace in his place of exile. Theodosius, bishop of the Bithynian Caesareia, and two nobles, Paulus and another Theodosius, and some others, were sent to him apparently to get him to renounce his opposition to the Monothelites. Blows, kicks, and spitting, were resorted to by the messengers and their servants, but in vain; nothing could shake his firmness. He was brought back after some time to Constantinople, and subjected to still greater severities. He was severely scourged; and the two Anastasii, who had been also brought back to the city, were similarly treated, apparently in his presence. They were then all remanded to prison, but were brought out again in a few days, when their tongues were cut out, their right hands cut off, and they were again sent into exile. Maximus, from age and the effects of his tortures, was scarcely able to bear the journey. They were confined in separate places in the Caucasus, where Maximus and one of the Anastasii soon died from the effects of their sufferings, A. D. 662. Anastasius Apocrisiarius survived, and his recital of their sufferings is one of the authorities employed for this article. Various miraculous circumstances were reported to have attended the sufferings of these unhappy men. (Εἰς τὸν Βίον, κ.τ.λ., In Vitam ac Certamen S. Patris nostri ac Confessoris Maximi, published by Combéfis in his edition of the works of Maximus. This biography is not by Anastasius Apocrisiarius, as Fabricius has erroneously stated (Bibl. Graee. vol. ix. p. 635, and vol. x. p. 291); but Combéfis has subjoined some other ancient documents, including the narrative of Anastasius Apocrisiarius, already noticed, and has added some valuable notes. Theophan. Chronog. pp. 275, 276, 288, ed. Paris, pp. 219, 229, ed. Venice, vol. i. p. 509, 510, 530, 531, ed. Bonn; Cave, Hist. Litt. ad ann. 645, vol. i. p. 585; Fahric. Bibl. Graec. vol. ix. p. 635; Bolland. Acta Santor. August. vol. iii. p. 97, &c.)

Maximus is reverenced as a saint both by the Greek and Latin churches; by the former his memory is celebrated on the 21st of January, and the 12th and 13th August; by the latter on the 13th August.


Major Works

The writings of this father were in the middle ages held in the highest esteem, and possessed considerable authority. The more discriminating judgment of Photius has severely criticised the style of his Ἀποήματα γραφικά, Dubia S. Scrip turae, or rather Γραφικῶν ἀπορημάτων λύσεις, Dubiorum S. Scripturae Solationes. He notices his long, spun-out sentences, his frequent transpositions and circumlocutions, and his metaphors, so carelessly and awkwardly employed as to render his meaning often very obscure, and making his works very wearisome to read. He charges him with wandering from his subject, and indulging in irrelevant and abstract speculations. Photius, however, is less severe in criticising his other works, and observes that all his writings in every part manifest the purity and earnestness of his piety. (Phot. Bibl. Cod. 192-195.) His orthodoxy on some points is questionable.


Various of his pieces were published in the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, either separately or in the different collections of the writings of the fathers, sometimes in the original, sometimes in a Latin version. The only considerable collection of his works is that of Combefis, S. Maximi Confessoris, Graecorum Theologi, eximiique philosophi Opera, 2 vols. fol. Paris, 1675. An introduction contains the ancient biography of Maximus, and some other ancient pieces relating to his history; and the works are in some cases accompanied by ancient anonymous Greek scholia, as well as by the notes of the learned editor. This edition is not complete: a third volume was in preparation by Combéfis at the time of his death, A. D. 1679; but no successor undertook to complete the unfinished labour.

Miscellaneous Works

The works are too numerous, and many of them too unimportant for distinct notice. The following are the most important:--

1. Πρὸς Θαλάσσιον τὸν ὁσιώτατον πρεσβύτερον καὶ ἡγούμενον περὶ διαφόρων ἀπόρων τῆς Δείας γραφῆς, Ad Sanctissimum Presbyterum ac Praepositum Thalassium, de variis Scripturae Sacrae Quaestionibus ac Dubiis. This is the work already noticed as severely criticised in respect of style by Photius: it contains the solution of sixty-five scriptural difficulties, and is accompanied by the Scholia of an anonymous commentator, apparently of the close of the eleventh or beginning of the twelfth century.

2. Εἰς τὴν προσευχὴν τοῦ Πάτερ ἡμῶν πρός τινα φιλόχριστον ἑρμενεία σύντομος, Orationis Dominicae brevis Expositio, ad quendam Christo devotum.

3. Λόγος ἀσκητικὸς κατὰ πεῦσιν καὶ ἀπόκρισιν, Liber ad Pietatem exercens per Interrogationem et Responsionem. This piece had been published by Fl. Nobilius, with some small pieces of Chrysostom and Basil, Rome, 1578.

4. Κεφάλαια περὶ ἀγάπης, Capita de Charitate. This work, to which an ancient Greek writer has added Scholia, was published by Vicentius Opsopoeus (who ascribed the work to Maximus of Turin), with a Latin version, 8vo. Haguenau, 1531, and was repeatedly reprinted in the course of the same century; and a Latin version was given in most of the editions of the Bibliotheca Patrum.

5. Περὶ Θεολοψίας καὶ τῆς ἐνσάρκου οἰκονομίας τοῦ υἱοῦ Θεοῦ ς´, Ad Theologiam Deique Filii in Carne Dispensationem spectantia Capita Ducenta.

6. Κεφάλαια διάφορα Δεολοψικά τε καὶ ὀκονομικὰ, καὶ περὶ ἀρετῆς καὶ κακίας, Diversa Capita ad Thelogiam et Oeconomiam spectantia, deque Virtute ac Vitio, first published by Joannes Picus. 8vo. Paris, 1560.

7. Περὶ τῆς ἁψίας Τριάδος διάλοψοι έ, Dialoyi quinque de Sancta Trinitate. These are ascribed to Maximus in several MSS., and by various ancient Greek writers who have cited them. Other writers have, however, ascribed them to Athanasius, in some editions of whose works they consequently appear. The opinion of Garnier, that they are the production of Theodoret, has been generally rejected; and the preponderance of evidence seems to be decidedly in favour of the authorship of Maximus.

8. Μυσταψωψια περὶ τοῦ τίνων σύμβολα τὰ κατὰ τὴν ἁψίαν ἐκκλησιαν ἐπὶ τῆς συνάεεως τελούμενα καφέστηκε. Mystagogia qua explicantur quorum Signa sint quae in Sacra Ecclesia peraguntur in Divina Synaxi s. Collecta. This was published by David Hoeschelius, Augsburg, 1599; and afterwards in the Auctarium of Ducaeus, vol. ii. fol. Paris, 1624.

9. Κεφάλαια Δεολοψικά, ἤτοι ἐκλοψαὶ ἐκ διαφόρων Βιβλίων τῶν τε καθ̓ ἡμᾶς καὶ τῶν γύραφεν, Capita Thelogica, id est scite dicta atque electa ex Diversis tum Christianorum turn Gentilium ac Profanorum Libris; or more briefly, Sermones per Excerpta, or Loci Communes. This selection of sentences is arranged in seventy-one λόψοι, Sermones, and has been repeatedly published. It first appeared, with the similar compilation of Antonins Mlissa [ANTONIUS No. 2], under the care of Conrad Gesner, fol Zurich, 1546; and a Latin version was given in the first edition of De la Bigne's Bibliotheca Patrum, fol. Paris, 1579.

10. Παρασημείωσις τῆς γενομένης ζητήσεως, κ. τ. λ., Acta Disputationis, &c.; a record of the discussion between Pyrrhus and Maximus in the presence of the patrician Gregory in Africa, already referred to. It was published by Baronius, with a Latin version by Turrianus, as an appendix to the 8th vol. of his Annales Ecclesiastici; and reprinted from thence in the Concilia.

11. Epistolae, partim communes, partim dogmaticae et polemicae. The other works given in the edition of Combéfis are shorter and of little value, except as materials for a history of the Monothelite controversy, to which several of them refer.

Works not in Combéfis but published elsewhere

The following works of Maximus, not included in the collection of Combéfis, have been published elsewhere:--

12. Fragments, incorporated in the Catenae of the Fathers on the Sacred Books, and especially on the expository paraphrase of Solomon's Song (Expositio Cantici Canticorum per Paraphrasin collecta ex Gregorii Nysseni, Nili, et Maximi Commentariis), contained in the Auctarium of Ducaeus, vol. ii. fol. Paris, 1624.

13. Scholia on the works of the pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita, first published with the works of Dionysius, 8vo. Paris, 1562, and repeatedly reprinted. Maximus earnestly contends that these are the genuine works of the Areopagite converted by St. Paul.

14. Ἐξήγησια κεφαλαιώδης περὶ τοῦ κατὰ Χρεστὸν τὸν Θεὸν ἡμῶν σωτηρίου πάσχα, τὸ διαψραφὲν κανόνιον ἑρμηνεύουσα, Brenis Enarration Christiani Paschatis, qua descripti Laterculi ratio declaratur, or Computus Ecclesiasticus. This calculation of Easter was drawn up by Maximus, according to his own declaration (pars iii. cap. 9), in the fourteenth indiction, in the thirty-first year of Heraclius (i. e. A. D. 640). Scaliger, in his Emendatio Temporum, lib. vii. p. 736, gave considerable extracts from the work, and it was first published entire in the Uranologion of Petavius, p. 313, fol. Paris, 1630.

15. Ἄπορα, Ambigua sive Difficilia Loca in Orationibus quibusdam Gregorii Nazianzeni explanata, ad Joannem Cyzici Episcopum. These Ἄπορα were translated into Latin by Joannes Scotus Erigena about the middle of the ninth century; and the work itself, with the version, or perhaps only a part of them, was edited by Thomas Gale, with some of the works of Erigena, folio, Oxford, 1681. It is preceded by a letter of Maximus to Joannes of Cyzicus. Gale also added the following work of Maximus,

16. Περὶ διαφόρων ἀπόρων τῶν ἁψίων Διονυσίου καὶ Γρηγορίου, De variis Difficilibus Locis Dionysii Areopagitae et Gregorii Nazianzeni, with a Latin version by the editor himself.

17. A Fragment, thought to be from the Ἄπορα just mentioned (No. 15), is given in the Appendix to the fourteenth volume of Galland's Bibliotheca Patrum, fol. Venice, 1781. The fragment is entitled Θεωρία σύντομος πρὸς τοὺς λέγοντας προϋπάρχειν καὶ μεφυπάρχειν τῶν σωμάτων τὰς ψυχάς, Animaduersio breuis ad eos qui dicunt Animas ante vel post Corpora existere.

Other Lost or Unpublished Works

There are some other works of Maximus either lost, or at least unpublished, which are enumerated by Fabricius.

Further Information

Combefis, S. Maximi Opera; Phot. l.c.; Cave, l.c.; Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. viii. p. 430, vol. ix. pp. 599, &c., 635, &c., vol. x. pp. 238, 736, vol. xii. p. 707; Concilia, vol. v. ed. Labbe, vol. iii. ed. Hardouin, vol. x. ed. Mansi; Oudin, De Scriptor. et Script. Eccles. vol. i. col. 1635, &c.; Ceillier, Auteurs Sacrés, vol. xvii. p. 689, &c.; Galland, Biblioth. Patrum. Proleg. ad Append. Vol. XIV. c. 10.


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