Maximus, the Greek

Maximus, The Greek a celebrated personage in Russian Church history, was born at Arta, in Albania, towards the end of the 15th century. After studying at Paris, Florence, and other cities then distinguished as seats of learning, he took the monastic vows at the cloister of Mount Athos. The grand-duke Vassili Ivanovitch, having requested the patriarch of Constantinople to send two persons to arrange and describe a vast number of Greek manuscripts and books that had recently been discovered in some part of the palace, Maximus was selected, and accordingly set out for Moscow. He was directed by Vassili to examine the books, and to select such as were most deserving of publication; but as he was then wholly ignorant of the Slavonic tongue, he had first to prepare a Latin version, which was afterwards rendered by others into Slavonian. It was thus that the translations of a Psalter with a commentary, and Chrysostom's Homilies on St. John, were produced. Desirous of returning to his convent, it was only at the instances of the Czar, who wished him to revise the earlier translated books of the Greek Church, that he decided to remain, and he then undertook this task, for which he was now qualified by a successful mastery of the Slavonian. The diligence with which he executed it, resulting in many corrections, tended however only to raise up numerous enemies against him, among the rest Daniel the metropolitan. But what more immediately tended to his disgrace was the firmness with which he opposed Vassili's divorce from his first wife, Salome (on account of barrenness), and his marriage with the princess Helena Glinski (comp. Duncan, Hist. of Russia, p. 350). Maximus was condemned by a synod, excommunicated as a heretic, and imprisoned in the Otrotch monastery at Tver in 1525. In this confinement he was for some time treated with-great rigor, though the bishop of Tver interceded for him. At length removed to the Monastery of St. Sergius, he died there in 1556. A great number of works by him are extant, chiefly in manuscript, on a variety of subjects — dogmatical, polemical, philosophical, etc., from which considerable information has been derived with regard to the opinions and prejudices of the clergy and people in that age; nor was he at all timid in reproving the abuses and vices of the times. This alone would account for the persecution which he drew down upon himself; but after his death even those who had been among the more violent against him admitted his innocence, nor was it long before his memory came to be regarded as that of a holy man and a martyr. — English Cyclop. s.v.; Rose, New Gen. Biog. Dict. s.v.

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