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Maximus The Confessor

c.580-662. Byzantine theologian and writer. As a young, well-educated aristocrat he was appointed chief secretary to Emperor Heraclius I. About 615 he renounced his civil career for monasticism, eventually becoming abbot of the monastery of Chrysopolis. Having fled to North Africa during the Persian invasion (626), Maximus contended with the Monothelites,* notably Pyrrhus, temporarily exiled patriarch of Constantinople, whom he bettered in a famed disputation at Carthage in 645. His victory was instrumental in the triumph of orthodox, Chalcedonian Christology at several local African synods and at the Lateran Council of 649, in which he participated at the invitation of Pope Martin I. For his theology, sympathy with Roman hierarchical claims, and opposition to Emperor Constans II, he was tried for treason and exiled to Thrace. His tongue and right hand were subsequently cut off for his recalcitrance, and he was banished to Lazica on the Black Sea, where he died eighteen years later. His approximately ninety remaining works include commentaries on Scripture and the Fathers, doctrinal and polemical writings, and literature on ascetics, ethics, and liturgics. Known for interpreting the mysticism of Pseudo-Dionysius* for the West, Maximus was studied in Byzantium as a doctrinal theologian in his own right.