Maximus the Greek

Maximus the Greek
Saint Maximus the Greek

Maximus the Greek has been held in the greatest repute by Old Believers, and his images are normally featured in every Old Believer church.
Born c. 1475
Arta, Greece
Died c. 1556
Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra, Sergiyev Posad
Honored in Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Catholic Churches
Feast January 21

Maximus the Greek, also known as Maximos the Greek or Maksim Grek (Greek: Μάξιμος ὁ Γραικός, Russian: Максим Грек, c. 1475-1556), was a Greek monk, publicist, writer, scholar, humanist, and translator active in Russia.[1] He is also called Maximos the Hagiorite (Greek: Μάξιμος ὁ Ἁγιορήτης).[2]


Early years

Maximus was born Michael Trivolis (Greek: Μιχαήλ Τρίβολης, Russian: Михаил Триволис) in 1475 in Arta, Greece.[3][4] As a young man (probably in 1493[4]), Maximus went to Italy to study ancient languages, as well as ecclesiastic and philosophic works. He knew prominent figures of the Renaissance era such as the Venetian printer Aldus Manutius[5] and made the acquaintance of scholars Angelo Poliziano, Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, and Janus Lascaris.[4] Maximus was also greatly influenced by the preachings of the fiery Dominican priest and reformer Girolamo Savonarola.[6][7] Upon his return from Italy in 1507, he took monastic vows at the Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos.[8]

In 1515, Grand Prince Vasili III asked the abbot of the monastery to send him a certain monk by the name of Savva to translate a number of religious texts. Savva was so old that the abbot decided to send the energetic Maximus instead, though he had no knowledge of the Church Slavonic language. Nevertheless, the monks vouched for him, and he went to Moscow, where he was met with great honor.[9]

Assignment to Moscow

Maximus' first major work in Russia was a translation of the Psalter together with the Russian translators (including the scholar Dmitry Gerasimov) and scriveners, which would be solemnly approved by the Russian clergy and the grand prince himself. After Vasili III rejected his request to go home, Maximus continued to work on translations and would later create an inventory of the princely library and correct the books for divine service. Observing the "defects" and injustices of the Muscovite life, which had been in direct opposition to his Christian ideals, Maximus began to expose them and criticize the authorities, attracting different people with similar views, such as Ivan Bersen-Beklemishev, Vassian Patrikeyev, and others. With regards to the question of monastic estates, which had already divided all of the Russian clergy into two antagonistic camps (the Possessors and the Non-Possessors), Maximus took sides with Nilus of Sors and his startsy, who headed the Non-possessors camp.[10] This would make him one of the worst enemies of the Josephinians, who stood for the right of the monasteries to own land. Maximus and his followers discussed freely the shortcomings of Russia's internal and foreign policies, criticized the lifestyle of the Russian clergy, exploitation of peasants, and the system of supporting local authorities by "milking" the peasants (the so called кормление, or kormleniye).

During this period of his life (1540), Maximus wrote a manuscript that contains the first reference in Old Russian to the existence of the New World.

Maximus falls into disgrace

Maximus' relations with Vassian Patrikeyev, Ivan Bersen-Beklemishev, and Turkish ambassador Skinder, Metropolitan Daniel's hostility towards him, and Grek's own negative attitude towards Vasili III's intention to divorce Solomonia Saburova decided his fate. The sobor of 1525 accused Maximus of nonconformism and heresy based on his views and translations of ecclesiastic books, disregarding his mediocre knowledge of Russian and obvious mistakes on the part of the Russian scriveners (his improper use of the imperfect tense was used to imply that he no longer believed the Holy Spirit was the Third Person of the Trinity but only had been temporarily). He was then exiled to the Joseph-Volokolamsk Monastery and placed in a dungeon without the right to correspond. Maximus' "irritating" behavior at the monastery, newly discovered mistakes in his translations, and old suspicions of his unscrupulous relations with the now dead Turkish ambassador were all used against him once again at a new sobor in 1531. Worn out by the harsh conditions of his imprisonment, Maximus acknowledged some minor mistakes in his translations and excessive wine drinking. Finally, the sobor banned him from receiving communion and exiled him to the Otroch Monastery in Tver, where he would spend his next twenty years. The Patriarch of Antioch, Patriarch of Constantinople, and Patriarch of Jerusalem all attempted to negotiate Maximus' release with the Russian authorities, but to no avail. He himself pleaded with Ivan the Terrible and Metropolitan Macarius for his freedom. Moscow was afraid of Maximus' ability to expose wrongdoings and criticize the powers that be and, therefore, was reluctant to let him go. In 1551 (according to other accounts, 1553), Maximus was transferred to the Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra at the solicitation of some boyars and Hegumen Artemiy of the lavra. That same year, the tsar visited Maximus during his pilgrimage to Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, who would advise the ruler to take care of the families of those soldiers who died in the process of annexation of Kazan instead of merely praying for the dead. In 1554, Maximus was invited to join a sobor, which would deal with the heresy of Matvei Bashkin, but he refused, being wary of getting entangled in this case. Maximus died in 1556 in Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra, Sergiyev Posad.


He is considered a saint by the Eastern Orthodox Church, which commemorates him on January 21.



  1. ^ Wieczynski (1976), p. 26.
  2. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. (1993), p. 967.
  3. ^ Golubinskii (1900), pp. 666-667.
  4. ^ a b c Medlin and Patrilenis (1971), p. 20.
  5. ^ Golubinskii (1900), p. 670.
  6. ^ Golubinskii (1900), pp. 672-673.
  7. ^ Medlin and Patrinelis (1971), p. 22.
  8. ^ Golubinskii (1900), p. 674.
  9. ^ Golubinskii (1900), pp. 675-676.
  10. ^ Golubinskii (1900), pp. 650ff.


  • Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. The New Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 7. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1993, ISBN 0852295715.
  • Golubinskii, E. E. Istoriia Russkoi Tserkvi. Moscow: Universitetskaia Tipografiia, 1900, Volume 2, Part 1.
  • Wieczynski, Joseph L. The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History (Volume 21). Academic International Press, 1976, ISBN 0875690645.
  • William K. Medlin and Christos G. Patrinelis. Renaissance Influences and Religious Reforms in Russia. Genève: Librairie Droz, 1971, ISBN 2600038949.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужна курсовая?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Maximus the Greek — born 1480, Árta, Greece died 1556, near Moscow, Russia; feast day January 21 Greek scholar and linguist. Educated in Paris, Venice, and Florence, he became part of a circle of humanist scholars and was influenced by the Dominican reformer… …   Universalium

  • Maximus the Confessor — Saint Maximus Icon of St. Maximus Confessor, Theologian, Homologetes Born c. 580 Constantinople or Palestine …   Wikipedia

  • Maximus the Confessor, Saint — ▪ Byzantine theologian born c. 580, , Constantinople died Aug. 13, 662, Lazica       the most important Byzantine theologian of the 7th century, whose commentaries on the early 6th century Christian Neoplatonist Pseudo Dionysius the Areopagite… …   Universalium

  • Maximus — (Hellenised as Maximos) is the Latin term for greatest or largest . In this connexion it is used to refer to: Circus Maximus (disambiguation) Pontifex Maximus, the highest priest of the ancient Roman College of Pontiffs It was also a common name …   Wikipedia

  • Greek scholars in the Renaissance — The migration of Byzantine Greek scholars and other émigrés from Byzantium during the decline of the Byzantine empire (1203 1453) and mainly after the fall of Constantinople in 1453 until the 16th century, is considered by modern scholars as… …   Wikipedia

  • Greek — Greekdom, n. Greekish, adj. /greek/, adj. 1. of or pertaining to Greece, the Greeks, or their language. 2. pertaining to the Greek Orthodox Church. 3. noting or pertaining to the alphabetical script derived from a Semitic form of writing and… …   Universalium

  • Maximus — (as used in expressions) Fabius Maximus Cunctator Quintus Maximus the Greek Planudes Maximus * * * …   Universalium

  • Greek Church — • Details the history and various divisions of the church Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Greek Church     Greek Church     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Maximus Planudes — Maximus Planudes, less often Maximos Planoudes (Greek: Μάξιμος Πλανούδης, c. 1260 c. 1305[1]), Byzantine grammarian and theologian, flourished during the reigns of Michael VIII Palaeologus and Andronicus II Palaeologus. He was born at Nicomedia… …   Wikipedia

  • Greek Anthology — The Greek Anthology (also called Anthologia Graeca or, sometimes, the Palatine Anthology ) is a collection of poems, mostly epigrams, that span the classical and Byzantine periods of Greek literature.While papyri containing fragments of… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”