Maximus, Alexandrinus

Maximus, Alexandrinus, called also the Cynic Philosopher, was born in the fourth century, in Alexandria, of Christian parents of rank. He united the faith of an orthodox believer with the appearance and conduct of a cynic philosopher, and was greatly respected by the leading theologians of the orthodox party. Athanasius, in a letter written about A.D. 371 (Epist. ad Maxim. Philosoph. in Opp. 1:917, etc., ed. Benedict.), compliments him on a work written in defense of the orthodox faith. Tillemont and the Benedictine editor of the works of Gregory Nazianzen (Monitum ad Orat. xxv), misled by the virulent invectives of that father, attempt to distinguish between this Maximus and the one to whom Athanasius wrote, for the reason that Athanasius could ever have approved of so worthless a character. They also distinguish him from the Maximus to whom Basil the Great addressed a letter (Ep. 41, Paris, 1839) in terms of great respect, discussing some points of doctrine, and soliciting a visit from him; but they are not successful in either case. The Maximus Scholasticus. however, to whom Basil also wrote (Ep. 42), was a different person. In A.D. 374, during the reign of the emperor Valens, in the persecution carried on by Lucius, Arian patriarch of Alexandria, Maximus was barbarously scourged and banished to the Oasis, on account of his zeal for orthodoxy, and the alacrity with which he aided those enduring the same persecutions (Gregory Nazianzen, Orat. 25, 100:13, 14). He was released at the end of four years, probably on the death of Valens; and it was soon after this event that he presented to the emperor Gratian at Milan his work De Fide, written against the Arians (compare Jerome, De Viris Illustr. 100:127). He wrote also against other heretics, but whether in the same work or in another is not certainly known; and he disputed ably against the heathens. He appears to have returned from Milan and visited Constantinople, where Gregory Nazianzen had just been made patriarch, A.D. 379. Gregory received him with the greatest honor, and pronounced an oration (Orat. 25) in his praise, where his warm panegyrics cause the commendations of Athanasius and Basil to seem exceedingly tame. He welcomed him at his table, treated him with much confidence and regard, but was subsequently grievously disappointed in him. Whether in the succeeding events Maximus was himself ambitious or merely the tool of others, does not appear. Profiting by the sickness of Gregory, and supported by some Egyptian ecclesiastics, sent by Peter, patriarch of Alexandria, under whose guidance they professed to act, Maximus was ordained, during the night, patriarch of Constantinople, in the place of Gregory, whose election had not been perfectly canonical. This bold proceeding greatly excited the indignation of the people, with whom Gregory was popular. The emperor Theodosius, to whom the usurper applied, showing him no favor, the latter withdrew to Alexandria, from whence he was speedily expelled by his patron Peter (see Gregory Nazianzen, Carmen de Vita sua, vss. 750-1029). The resignation of Gregory did not benefit Maximus. His election was declared null and void by the second general council, and the presbyters whom he had ordained were declared not to be presbyters (Concil. Constantinop. can. 3, sec. Dionys. Exiguum; Capital 6, sec. Isidor. Mercat; apud Concil. vol. 1, col. 809, 810, ed. Hardouin). He attempted again to assert his claims to the patriarchate; but, though the Italian bishops seemed inclined for a time to second his efforts, he met with no permanent success. The invectives of Gregory Nazianzen against Maximus (Carmina, sec. De Vita sua, l. c.; In Invidos, vs. 16, etc.; In Maximum) were written after their struggle for the patriarchate, and contrast strongly with his former praises in his twenty- fifth Oration, to which some of Gregory's admirers, to conceal the inconsistency, prefixed the name of Heron or Hero (In Laudem Heronis; Jerome, De Viris Illustr. l. c.), which it still bears. The work of Maximus, De Fide, which is well spoken of by Jerome, is lost. (See Athenas, Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, Jerome, l. c.; Sozomen, H. E. 7:9, cum not. Vales; Tillemont, Memoires, 9:443, etc.; Cave, Hist. Litt. ad ann. 380, 1:276, ed. Oxford, 1740-42; Fabricius, Bibl. Graeca, 3:520). — Smith, Dict. Gr. and Rom. Biog. vol. 2, s.v.

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