Τρίτη, 16 Ιουνίου 2015

12η Οκτωβρίου - Ανάμνηση μετακομιδής Ιερών Λειψανων τοῦ αγ. Μαξίμου στην Άρτα


Η μετακομιδή των Ιερών Λειψάνων του Αγίου Μαξίμου του Γραικού στην Άρτα έγινε την 12η Οκτωβρίου 1997. Συγκεκριμένα ο Καθηγούμενος της Ι. Μ. Μ.Βατοπαιδίου  Γέροντας Εφραίμ, συνοδευόμενος από τους Βατοπαιδινούς πατέρες Τιμόθεο, Αθανάσιο και Ανδρέα, μετέφεραν στην Άρτα τεμάχιο του λειψάνου του Aγίου, το οποίο δόθηκε μεν στον Μητροπολίτη Άρτας στη Ρωσία, αλλά κατόπιν επιθυμίας του Σεβασμιωτάτου παρέμεινε επί μερικούς μήνες στην Μονή Βατοπαιδίου .
Γράφονται στα Πρακτικά της Συνάξεως της Ι. Μ. Μ.Βατοπαιδίου τα εξής.
«…Tο απόγευμα αφίχθησαν εις Άρταν, συνοδεία πάντοτε περιπολικού οχήματος και οχήματος ασφαλείας της Αστυνομίας, όπου επεφυλάχθη μεγαλειώδης και θερμοτάτη υποδοχή εις τον άγιον Μάξιμον υπό του Σεβασμιωτάτου αγίου Άρτης και άλλων Aρχιερέων, των Aρχών της πόλεως και του Αρτινού λαού, υποδεχομένου τον ομαίμονα Άγιόν του εις τα χώματα ένθα ανετράφη.
Αξίζει να σημειωθή, ότι όλη η περιοχή τότε υπέφερεν εξ ανομβρίας και δια της αφίξεως του αγίου λειψάνου ήρχισε καταρρακτώδης βροχή, η οποία εσταμάτησε δι’ ολίγην ώραν κατά την υποδοχήν και μέχρι του πέρατος της υποδοχής. Ο λαός έζησε το γεγονός τούτο ως διπλούν θαύμα του αγίου Μαξίμου. Αφ ενὸς ο Άγιος έφερε τας ποθουμένας βροχάς, και αφ’ ετέρου έπαυσε ταύτας δι’ ολίγον, δια να δυνηθή ο κόσμος να παρευρεθή εις την υποδοχήν. Ο Άγιος Καθηγούμενος εξέφρασε την βαθείαν συγκίνησίν του από την ευλάβειαν του Αρτινού λαού προς τον Άγιον Μάξιμον.
Ετελέσθησαν λαμπραί Ιεραί Ακολουθίαι και αγρυπνία εις τον Μητροπολιτικόν Ναόν, όπου και εναπετέθη δια την προσκύνησιν το άγιον λείψανον. Τέλος ο Άγιος Καθηγούμενος ανέφερεν, ότι εξεφώνησεν ομιλίαν εις την αίθουσαν του Ομίλου «Σκουφάς», κατόπιν προσκλήσεως του Ομίλου, παρουσία των επισήμων και του χριστεπωνύμου πληρώματος υπό τον τίτλον: «Ο Μάξιμος ο Γραικός ως Άγιος της Ορθοδόξου Εκκλησίας».
Από την ομιλία του Γέροντος Εφραίμ του Βατοπαιδινού δημοσιεύουμε ένα μικρό απόσπασμα:
 «Η Ιερά Μεγίστη Μονή Βατοπαιδίου κατά το ιστορικό της παρελθόν έχει αποδειχθεί, ότι διαδραμάτιζε διπλό ρόλο όσον αφορά την πνευματική της δραστηριότητα. Αφ’ ενὸς μεν δρούσε στην ησυχία και την αμεριμνία, που είναι οι προϋποθέσεις για την κάθαρση από τα πάθη, το φωτισμό του νου και τη θέωση και αφ’ ετέρου τα θεωθέντα και αγιασμένα τέκνα της τα έστελνε στην ιεραποστολή, για να δώσουν την καλή μαρτυρία της ακραιφνούς Ορθοδόξου ημών Αγιορειτικής Παραδόσεως, προς στήριξη του λαού του Θεού, κάτι που δεν είναι ξένο στο ρου της διαχρονικής πορείας της Εκκλησίας. Και τολμούμε να πούμε, ότι τόσο πολύ διακρινόταν η Μεγίστη αυτή Μονή στον τομέα αυτό, ώστε να επιδοθεί σ’ αυτὴ ο κλήρος της Ιεραποστολής, όχι μόνο στην ημεδαπή αλλά και στα άλλα Ορθόδοξα Έθνη.
Ο Άγιος Μάξιμος ο Βατοπαιδινός, γνωστός σαν « ο Άγιος Μάξιμος ο Γραικός », υπήρξε ένας από τους διαπρεπέστερους μοναχούς, διεκρίθη δε σαν θεολόγος, φιλόσοφος, συγγραφέας και ποιητής κατά το αʹ ήμισυ του 16ου αιώνα, που έγινε γνωστός σαν «φωτιστής και αναμορφωτής του Ρωσσικού Έθνους».
Γεννήθηκε στην πόλη της Άρτας, στη Βορειοδυτική Ελλάδα, γύρω στο έτος 1470, καταγόταν από πλούσια, επιφανή και ευσεβή οικογένεια και ονομαζόταν Μιχαήλ Τριβώλης. Έλαβε τη βασική παιδεία από τους γονείς του, στα σχολεία Άρτας και Κέρκυρας. Σε ηλικία είκοσι χρόνων μετέβηκε στην Ιταλία,όπου παρακολούθησε ανώτερες σπουδές για μια δεκαπενταετία στα Πανεπιστήμια της Ιταλίας, Βενετία, Πάδοβα, Φερράρα, Φλωρεντία και στα Μεδιόλανα. Ένας από τους πλέον έγκριτους βιογράφους του Αγίου Μαξίμου, ο Πρίγκηπας Ε. Γκολουμπίνσκιϊ, ισχυρίσθηκε ότι, εάν παρέμενε τελικά στην Ιταλία, θα γινόταν ένας από τους διαπρεπέστερους Καθηγητές Πανεπιστημίων της εποχής εκείνης.
Όμως ο Άγιος Μάξιμος επιδόθηκε σε έντονη αναζήτηση του αυθεντικού τρόπου της χριστιανικής ζωής, αφού διαπίστωσε την γυμνότητα του ανθρώπου χωρίς το Θεό, ζώντας στην Ιταλία όπου τότε άκμαζε ο Αναγεννησιακός Ουμανισμός. Ακούοντας δε, για τη μοναστική πολιτεία του Αγίου Όρους και ποθώντας να επιτύχει τον ύψιστο ανθρώπινο προορισμό, τη θέωση, αφού διαπίστωσε την ματαιότητα κάθε επίγειας δόξας και σοφίας κατά κόσμο, αποφάσισε να αφοσιωθεί στον Κύριο σαν μοναχός στο περιφανέστερο λίκνο της Ανατολικής Ορθοδόξου Παραδόσεως της εποχής του και κατάληξε στην Ιερά Μεγίστη Μονή Βατοπαιδίου.
Το 1515 ο Τσάρος Βασίλειος Ιβάνοβιτς ζήτησε από το Οικουμενικό Πατριαρχείο, καθώς και από τον «Πρώτο» του Αγίου Όρου, εμπειρο, πεπαιδευμένο και ενάρετο μοναχό, για να μεταφράσει εκκλησιαστικά κείμενα στη ρωσική γλώσσα και συνάμα να διορθώσει εσφαλμένες μεταφράσεις και αντιγραφές της Αγίας Γραφής και Πατερικών κειμένων. Όλοι,συμπεριλαμβανομένης της Βατοπαιδινής Γεροντίας, επέλεξαν ομόφωνα τον χαρισματούχο μοναχό Μάξιμο.
Ο Άγιος Μάξιμος αναχώρησε από το Άγιο Όρος το 1516. Σαν εκπρόσωποι του ευγενούς Ρωσικού λαού, υποδέχθηκαν τον Αγιορείτη μοναχό και τη συνοδεία του, ο Μητροπολίτης Μόσχας Βαρλαάμ και ο Τσάρος Βασίλειος Ιβάνοβιτς.
Δυστυχώς, την εποχή εκείνη το Ρωσικό Έθνος μαστιζόταν από κενές ιδεολογίες, που είχαν υπεισέλθει και στα Ορθόδοξα εκκλησιαστικά βιβλία, ίσως όχι τυχαία. Ο Μάξιμος ανέπτυξε συγγραφικό, μεταφραστικό, διορθωτικό και ερμηνευτικό έργο. Παράλληλα η Ορθοπραξία του ήλκυσε σύντομα το Τσάρο και το Μητροπολίτη, καθώς επίσης και το λαό και αρκετούς επιφανείς και διακεκριμένους άνδρες, που διεπίστωσαν στο πρόσωπό του το σοφό μοναχό, που είχε τη δυνατότητα να επιλύει δυνάμει Θεού με τις συνετές του διδαχές και συμβουλές τα πολυσχιδή προβλήματα που ανήκαν στους ανθρώπους όλων των κοινωνικών τάξεων και δραστηριοτήτων. Έτσι άρχισε το συμβουλευτικό του έργο κυρίως προς το Ρώσο Ηγεμόνα και το Μητροπολίτη που διοικούσαν τα της Πολιτείας και τα της Εκκλησίας.
…Πρέπει δε να σημειώσουμε, ότι ο Άγιος Μάξιμος ο Γραικός υπήρξε ο πρώτος μύστης των Ρώσων στην αρχαία Ελληνική φιλοσοφία και φιλολογία, λόγω της σχετικής εμβριθούς και πολυετούς σπουδής του στη Δύση. Επίσης ήταν ο πρώτος εισηγητής της τυπογραφίας στη Ρωσία, ένεκα των στενών του σχέσεων με τον περίφημο Ιταλό τυπογράφο και λόγιο Άλδο Μανούτσι. Γενικά, ο Φωτιστής και Ισαπόστολος Μάξιμος ενεργούσε πολύτροπα και σοφά και φρόντιζε να μορφώνει πλήθος ανθρώπων, που συνέχισαν το κολοσσιαίο έργο της Ορθοδόξου διαφώτισης της Ρωσίας για τη σωτηρία του λαού και προς δόξα και χαρά της Εκκλησίας του Χριστού. Οι εν λόγω πολιτιστικές δραστηριότητες του Αγίου Μαξίμου εξάρουν την πολυποίκιλη ευεργετική δράση του Αγίου, που αναδείχθηκε όχι μόνον Ιεραπόστολο,ς αλλά και εκπολιστιστής του Ρωσικού λαού, που την εποχή εκείνη βρισκόταν σε κατάσταση αγραμματοσύνης και αμάθειας.
Η ιεραποστολική δράση του Αγίου Μαξίμου διάρκεσε για μια οκταετία. Το ομολογιακό του έργο όμως του επιφύλασσε βαρύ σταυρό, η μάλλον ο εχθρός της αλήθειας διάβολος επιχείρησε να καταστρέψει το έργο του Μαξίμου! Αλλά τελικά αστόχησε, διότι «ο κόκκος του σίτου έπεσεν εις την γην και απέθανεν και έδωκεν καρπόν εκατονταπλασίονα», κατά το Κυριακό λόγιο.
Ευκρινέστερα αναφέρομε, ότι λόγω ατασθαλιών εκ μέρους πολιτικών και ορισμένων εκκλησιαστικών φορέων – που οφείλονταν εν πολλοίς σε άγνοια – ο Αθωνίτης Πατήρ αναγκάσθηκε να διαμαρτυρηθεί και να ελέγξει κάποιους, με βάση τις Ευαγγελικές αξίες και σύμφωνα με την εκκλησιαστική ιδιότητα, που του χορηγήθηκε από τη Ρωσική Εκκλησία και τη Βασιλεία της χώρας. Δυστυχώς όμως, αντί η κατάσταση των πραγμάτων να βελτιωθεί, ο Μάξιμος είχε πλέον να αντιμετωπίση την έχθρα των ανθρώπων αυτών. Σ αυτοὺς συμπεριλαμβανόταν και ο ίδιος ο υπ’ αυτοῦ ελεγχθείς Τσάρος και ο Μητροπολίτης της Ρωσίας Δανιήλ, που αγνοούσαν το ειλικρινές ενδιαφέρον του Αγίου για τη σωτηρία τους και την ευθυδρομία της Ρωσικής Εκκλησίας.
Απ’ εδώ αρχίζει μια βαριά σταυρική πορεία του Αγίου, εν μέσω φυλακών και κατατρεγμών και μέχρι θανάτου δοκιμασιών. Αυτές ακριβώς οι δοκιμασίες τελειοποίησαν πνευματικά τον Μάξιμο, ώστε να θεωρείται σήμερα ο πρώτος από τα επιφανή τέκνα της Ιεράς Μεγίστης Μονής Βατοπαιδίου, ο άριστος από τους μεγαλύτερους στην αγιότητα, Ισαπόστολος και Ομολογητής, Μάρτυρας και Όσιος και Έγκλειστος και Ησυχαστής. Είναι αυτός που με θεία κλήση συγκέντρωσε όλα μαζί τα χαρίσματα και σ’ αυτὸν αρμόζουν όλες οι εν λόγω προσωνυμίες σε τέτοιο βαθμό, ώστε να μη θεωρείται κάτι απ’ αυτὰ υπερβολή, καθώς θα αποδείξομεν πιο κάτω με τις πενιχρές μας δυνάμεις και με τις πρεσβείες του Οσίου μας Πατέρα. Και όχι μόνον δεν μπορεί να θεωρηθούν υπερβολή όλες οι εν λόγω προσωνυμίες, αλλά αποδεικνύεται ακόμη ότι ο Άγιος αυτός ξεπερνούσε κατά πολύ και τους αγίους εκείνους που επιμελήθηκαν στο έπακρο ένα τρόπο ζωής κατά το ανθρώπινο δυνατό και μια ασκητικότητα, που τους διάκρινε και τους κατέταξε στο δικό τους τάγμα.
...Ο Άγιος, γέροντας στην ηλικία και καταβεβλημένος από τις πολλαπλές κακουχίες της ισοβίου φυλάκισής του, κατά την 21η Ιανουαρίου του 1556, ημέρα που η Εκκλησία τιμά τον ομώνυμο και προστάτη του Άγιο Μάξιμο τον Ομολογητή, και στην Ιερά Μονή της μετάνοιάς του στο Βατοπαίδι οι πατέρες και αδελφοί του αμέριμνοι και αγαλλώμενοι τιμούσαν κατά το έθος την εορτή της Παναγίας της Παραμυθίας, ξένος σε ξένη χώρα, χωρίς ανθρωπίνη παρηγοριά, παρέδωκε το πνεύμα του στα χέρια του αγαπημένου του Κυρίου, για να τον παραμυθήσει από τους κόπους και πόνους του η Κυρία Θεοτόκος η Βατοπαιδινή Μήτηρ του και Παραμυθία.
Η Θεία Πρόνοια, προκειμένου να μαρτυρήσει για τη σωστή ομολογία του Αγίου Μαξίμου και την ευαρέσκειά της για το ομολογιακό του έργο, οικονόμησε να κοιμηθεί ο Όσιος την ημέρα της μνήμης του ομώνυμου και προστάτη του Αγίου Μαξίμου του Ομολογητού, ημέρα που γιόρταζε και συνεχίζει να εορτάζει η Μεγίστη Μονή Βατοπαιδίου τη θαυματουργή της εικόνα την Παναγία την Παραμυθία, γεγονός που μαρτυρεί ότι η σκέψη και η αγάπη του Αγίου ήταν πάντοτε στη Μονή του και τη θαυματουργή της εικόνα και ότι επίσης ο πόθος του για επιστροφή παρέμεινε πάντοτε ακλινής, χωρίς όμως να μπορέσει να τον πραγματοποιήσει. Κι αυτό πάλιν από θεία Πρόνοια, ώστε το θείο σκήνος του να αποβεί – σαν άλλος μυθικός φοίνικας αναγεννώμενος από την τέφρα του – το θεμέλιο της πνευματικής του οικοδομής και του ιεραποστολικού του έργου στη Ρωσία, που συνεχίζεται μέχρι σήμερα. Ο αρχέκακος εχθρός διάβολος θέλησε να εμποδίσει το έργο του Οσίου, δηλαδή το έργο του Θεού, αλλά τραυματίσθηκε καίρια με τα δικά του όπλα και κατά το ψαλμικό: «η ρομφαία αυτού εισήλθεν εις την καρδίαν αυτού».
Γέρων κεκοιμηκώς από τη μαρτυρική του ζωή τελείωσε την επίγεια ζωή του και το αποστολικό έργο του, αναβαίνοντας στην επουράνια θριαμβεύουσα Εκκκλησία. Ήταν 86 περίπου χρόνων όταν κοιμήθηκε (1556) και είχεν υπηρετήσει μέχρι τελευταίας ικμάδας τη Ρωσική Εκκλησία και τον ευσεβή λαό της για συνολική περίοδο τριάντα οκτώ (38) χρόνων. Τα εικοσιέξι (26) χρόνια ήταν στη φυλακή υποκείμενος σε ανεικάστους ταλαιπωρίας.
Το Οικουμενικό Πατριαρχείο της Κωνσταντινουπόλεως προέβηκε στον κανονισμό ως Αγίου του Μαξίμου του Γραικού το 1988. Στη συνέχεια τον ίδιον χρόνο και στην εορτή της χιλιετηρίδας της Ορθοδοξίας στη Μόσχα κανονίσθηκε σαν Άγιος και από τη Ρωσική Εκκλησία.
Ο Άγιος Μάξιμος ο Γραικός αναδείχθηκε Πατέρας των Ορθοδόξων της Ρωσικής γης.
Ευχόμαστε ο Πανάγαθος Τριαδικός Θεός μας, που «έως άρτι εργάζεται» να αποστέλλει πάντοτε άξιους και άγιους εργάτες στον αμπελώνα Του, σαν τον ακάματο και μέγα Άγιο Μάξιμο, για τη σωτηρία όλων μας. Ευχόμαστε επίσης ο Θεός με τις πρεσβείες του Οσίου τούτου Πατέρα μας να δίδει τη Χάρη Του, για τη διαφύλαξη της ενότητας της πίστεως και το σύνδεσμο της αγάπης στη μία Αγία του Χριστού Καθολική και Αποστολική Εκκλησία».    

 

Δευτέρα, 15 Ιουνίου 2015

St. Maximus the Greek, the tireless preacher of Patristic Tradition.Πηγή: ΠΕΜΠΤΟΥΣΙΑ

 During its long historical past the Great Holy Vatopedi Monastery has proved to have played a double role in its spiritual activities. It pursued both a  hesychastic life and freedom from worldly care, that are the basics to achieve theosis, and it also sent its saintly children out on missionary work  to be the living examples of the Orthodox Athonian Tradition  and thus support the people of God, something not alien in the life of the Church through the centuries. We can here say that it excelled in this role so much that the lot of missionary work fell on it not only within Greece but out of it too.
St. Maxim Vatopedinos, known as “St. Maxim the Greek”, was one of the most erudite monks , who stood out as a theologian, philosopher and poet during the first half of the 16th century, and became known as “the illuminator of the Russian people.
He was born in Arta, a town in the northwest of Greece in 1470. He came from a well-to-do, illustrious and God-fearing family, and his name was Michael Trivolis. His parents sent him to school in Arta and then to Corfu. At the age of twenty he went to Italy, where he studied at the universities of Venice, Padua, Ferrara, Florence and Milan for fifteen years. E. Golubinski, one of the most reputable of St. Maxim’ biographers, states that if he had decided to stay on in Italy, he would have become one of the most eminent professors at any one of those universities at the time.

But St. Maxim began to search in earnest for the authentic way of Christian life, because he realized man’s poverty without God’s grace, after having a taste of the Renaissance Humanism in Italy where it was at its peak just then. He saw that moralism had turned people towards the irrational passions of hypocrisy, greed, inhumanity and vice. He happened to hear about the monastic community of Mt. Athos and, fervently wishing to reach the highest human achievement that of theosis, after having a first hand taste of the futility of all kinds of human glory and wisdom, he decided to become a monk and dedicate himself to God. So he went to Mt. Athos, this renowned cradle of Eastern Orthodox Tradition, and finally settled at the Great Holy Vatopedi Monastery.


An Anchorite in Mt. Athos

At the Vatopedi Monastery he lived a life of ascesis for about 10 years. He practised the fundamental virtues of obedience and abstinence, which helped him overcome all human passions actually, because he cut off his own will, desire, greed and pride. His unquenchable desire to acquire virtues and his admirable application of them, made him reach the high virtues of   humility, poverty and love. These virtues turned him into a man of constant self-sacrifice towards his fellow ascetics and fellow men. At the same time, by practising constant prayer, he merged his soul with God and turned it into a temple of the Holy Spirit.

The extensive library of the Monastery offered spiritual food to the saint. He never stopped taking delight in its books. His studying of the rare manuscripts of the library, helped him harvest the wisdom of the preceding hosii of Orthodoxy, while the example of the other scholarly fathers of the monastery was the signal-light and guide of his angelic monastic life.

The other fathers of the brotherhood soon became aware of his cultivated and rich in virtues and charismata soul, and they entrusted him with some necessary jobs outside the monastery walls. This gave the saint the chance to help our orthodox people who were suffering because of their illiteracy, the Turkish yoke and the heresies from the West.

In 1515, the Tsar Vasilius Ivanovitz, asked both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the “Protos” of Mt. Athos to send him an experienced scholar and virtuous monk to translate various ecclesiastic texts into the Russian language and also to emend the incorrect translations and copies of the Holy Bible and the Patristic texts in existence. Monk Savvas from Vatopedi was initially chosen, but he declined because of his advanced years; then the lot fell to the eminent monk Maxim.


His going to Russia

Maxim left Mt. Athos in 1516. The Moscow Metropolitan Valaam and the Tsar Vasilius Ivanovitz welcomed the Athonian monk and his followers on behalf of the Russian people. Unfortunately, during that time the Russian nation was suffering because of various newfangled ideas that had also found their way into the orthodox ecclesiastic books maybe not inadvertently. Maxim worked hard and wrote many books of spiritual content, translations, emendations and hermeneutic works. His upright and virtuous behaviour soon attracted the Tsar, the Metropolitan and the simple people together with some prominent men that saw in him the wise monk, who- with God’s help- could solve, by his wise teachings and advice, the many and various problems of people from all walks of life. In this way he began his advisory work mainly towards the Russian ruler and the Metropolitan, who governed the state and the church.

It is worth mentioning here that St. Maxim Vatopedinos was the first to introduce the Russians to the ancient Greek philosophy and literature due to his long scientific studies in Italy. He was also the first to introduce printing in Russia, having close ties with the famous scholar and printer Aldus Manutius. In general, the illuminator and isapostle Maximus worked wisely in various ways, taking care to educate as many people as possible, who in turn continued the colossal work of the Orthodox enlightenment of the Russian people for the glory and joy of the Church God. All these cultural activities of St. Maxim underline the various and beneficial efforts of the Saint, that prove him to be not only a missionary but also a civilization worker for the Russian people, at a time when Russia was in a state of illiteracy and ignorance.

St. Maxim missionary work lasted for eight years. His confessional work, though, resulted in a heavy cross he had to bear, or, to put it in other words, the Devil, the enemy of all truth tried to destroy Maxim’s work but he failed, because the grain of seed ‘ fell into the good ground, and grew, and brought forth fruit a hundredfold’ ( Luk. 8. 8)


Conflict with the state and church authorities

We have to make it quite clear here that because of the many wrongdoings of certain political and church people- which sometimes happened because of ignorance- the Athonite Father had to protest and castigate some people, based on the teachings of the Bible and according to the authority bestowed upon him by the Russian Church and the Emperor. Unfortunately, this, instead of helping ameliorate things, it bought him the enmity of the people concerned. Among them we find the Tsar himself and the new  Metropolitan of Russia Daniel, who did not understand the real concern of the saint for the salvation and the adherence to the right dogma of the Russian Church.

From this point on there begins for the saint a difficult and painful journey with a heavy cross to bear. This would take him through imprisonment to his death. But all these difficulties perfected Maxim spiritually and today he is considered to be one of the most renowned children of the Vatopedi Monastery and the Eastern Orthodox Church in general, being an isapostle, a confessor, a martyr and a hosios. He is one who – through holy calling- combined all the above charismata and names to such a degree that none is considered to be an exaggeration.

St. Maxim criticized church authorities about their inappropriate (for monks and priests) way of life as well as their behaviour towards the people. At the same time he criticized some political authorities about the same, and – as a new St. John the Baptist who was beheaded because he dared castigate the king for committing adultery- St. Maxim became a confessor, defending the right way of life and criticizing anyone who happened to live immorally, never stopping to take into consideration the high office they might be holding. He never showed pride because of the high honours bestowed upon him by the Tsar, not even when he was the first Councilor of the king and sat at the same table with him for eight years as if he was a prince. He never forgot that he was an Athonite monk who had been summoned by God to set upright the ethos of the Russian people. He disregarded completely that he would lose the high regard that the Tsar and the Church held him in, because he dared point their misdeeds out to them.


 Imprisonment

He was falsely accused of being a heretic and given a life sentence in prison in chains. They excommunicated him too. He was forbidden Holy Communion and the rest of the sacraments and he was held incommunicado from the rest of the faithful. All this befell him because, as we mentioned, he dared criticize his accusers of living immorally and not according to the Christian teachings. They also forbade him the writing and receiving letters, as well as the reading of books. This last was the most difficult to bear because he was a scholarly monk, and a philosopher and his spiritual food consisted of reading and writing books.

The Metropolitan Daniel, who was the instigator  of Maxim’s incarceration, had put him in the hands of two inhuman jail keepers who tortured him mercilessly for six consecutive years; as Maxim himself wrote later on to Moscow Metropolitan Makarius, ‘ I was kept locked and in chains and tortured to death by the use of cold, smoke and hunger’. His biographer Curbiskyi, writes that “he suffered grievously from being kept in chains for years in horrible dungeons”, “…suffering terribly both in body and spirit for six years…” Because of such tortures there were times when Maxim lost consciousness so completely that he appeared to be dead. Once, in an effort to comfort the pain of his soul, he used a piece of charcoal and wrote a canon to the Holy Spirit on the prison walls, since he was not allowed to have paper and writing materials.   Living under such horrible conditions, he did not even once complain or speak against anyone! Close to the end of his earthly life St. Maxim wrote characteristically in a letter, where he prays for the main instigator of his countless tortures, Metropolitan Daniel: “Let God not weigh heavily this sin against him!”

During his first imprisonment in the Volokolamsk Monastery and then during his second term at the Ostrots Monastery, he was kept incarcerated in an underground damp and dark dungeon without light or heating, deprived of all human comfort that is the right of even the worst criminal. But who can guess and write about his sufferings especially the agony of the excommunication interdict? Only one who has come to know the love of sweet Jesus can describe this torture. Despite his remonstrances against the heavy and unjust penalty imposed, and despite his constant begging to be at least given permission to receive Holy Communion, the clerics of injustice did not rescind their interdict for eighteen years! He kept begging them, saying in deep pain: “ …I beg you to let me receive the life-giving Holy Communion, after being banned from it for seventeen years …Grant me, I beg of you, this favour … save my lost soul…” “I appeal to your philanthropic feelings…”, “… I am asking for mercy and philanthropy…”, “ mercy, I beg your mercy, and may God grant the same mercy to you…”. They, nevertheless, kept him without Holy Communion for eighteen years! And, as we mentioned before, his sufferings grew worse because of his being chained for so long: for six years in the Bolokomsk Monastery, and then the first eight years of his imprisonment in the Ostrots prison cell. All in all he was kept in chains for fourteen years (1525- 1539) and he was kept in prison for twenty six years.


His trials and how he faced them

St. Maxim bore his terrible ordeal in patience and forbearance; he never blamed those responsible for his sufferings. He did not ever overstep the limits of polite behaviour and meekness. This was due to his humility. Following in the steps of the holy Fathers before him, he denounced the accusations that he was a heretic and a blasphemer, but he accepted the sufferings as God-given because of his sins. So he wrote to  Metropolitan Daniel: “I appeal to you about your accusing me of being a heretic and that you have not allowed me to partake of the Holy Sacraments. As for the rest, my sins are so many that I dare not even open my mouth; yet I must not despair but hope in the endless mercy of God…” In another place he says: “God, the just Judge, Who wants to save all men, has granted me these sufferings because of my countless and terrible sins and not because of my heretic ideas or blasphemies…”

The patience of the Saint stems from heavenly succour too. Here we have the realization of   the psalm: “In the multitude of my doubts within me Thy comforts delight my soul.” (Ps.93. 19).The comforts of the Holy Spirit were such, that not only compensated for his sufferings, his pain from torture and his tears, but they also filled his heart to overflowing with the love of God, which became his “bread day and night”. The hosios father was blessed with a vision of a holy Angel who visited him in prison and brought him the body and blood of Jesus Christ; this miracle and mind- surpassing vision inspired him to compose and write on the walls of his cell the above- mentioned ode to the Holy Spirit which begins: “ He who with the Manna fed Israel in the wilderness…”, and then goes on “ with your incorporeal ministering spirits, I will sing too ”, implying the holy vision of the Angel, who brought him the Holy Communion.

Yet who can know and narrate the other holy visions and heavenly help he might have had? God, through this hard road, led him towards perfection. We know this from the words of the holy Angel who appeared before him and said: “Maxim, be patient in these sufferings so as to escape the horrors of eternal Hell”. In this way, St. Maxim through holy intelligence, fully understood that he was fulfilling God’s will, when he was forsaken and considered an abomination by all, a stranger in a strange land. Keeping his spirit in a state of extreme humility, he held in his heart that he was the lowest of the low on this earth, aware that God, in His grace, allowed all his sufferings, because, through extreme humility, He wanted to lead him to spiritual perfection. An internee and a hesyhast, he constantly prayed laboriously with inexpressible sighs, repeating ceaselessly deep in his heart the name of sweet Jesus. So, through his sufferings, when God in due time took away his heavy cross, the saint had become perfect in Jesus, having achieved apatheia and becoming a sweet-sounding psalter and guitar of the Holy Spirit and a temple of the Holy Trinity.

St. Maxim was one among the few hosii who struggled spiritually without a guide or supporter. He had no spiritual father to strengthen him and lighten the burden of his cross. He fought alone without the support of: “brother helping brother as a strong and fortified city”. “Battles raged outside”, as “he was kept incarcerated and in chains and was tortured to death by cold, smoke and hunger”, but inside too “fears raged” lest he complain against God because of his many trials, or transgress God’s commandments and rouse to anger against all those who treated him unjustly, or curse  them or feel bitter towards them. He had to fight hard to keep at bay all the swarms of passions that attacked him on all sides. The battle the saint waged was of gigantic proportions and the fighting conditions beyond our comprehension; yet he prevailed, having the Lord who loved him as his ally; the Lord who sacrificed Himself for all of us. St. Maxim saved the Church of Russia from all kinds of superstition and heretic beliefs that were prevalent all over the land at that time.


His sentence is lightened

 During his imprisonment at the Otrots monastery from 1531- 1551, Metropolitan Acacius of Tver, by God’s consent, gave Maxim relative freedom of communication so his light wouldn’t remain hidden but “shine before men” (Math. 5, 15). So he went on tirelessly- and for a long time still in chains- in a dark damp cell, to write and translate in the Russian language holy texts, write anti-heretic homilies and other texts for the benefit and enlightment of the Russian people. He also began again with fatherly love to preach and comfort all the Christians who sought him in the prison asking for his advice and his prayers on their behalf.

A few years after the imprisonment of Metropolitan Daniel, the Metropolitan of all Russias Makarius rescinded the unjust excommunication interdict  (1543) that had lasted for eighteen years (1525- 1543).

Several times in the course of the passing years he had begged to be set free to return to his home Monastery in Athos, but to no avail. When Ivan the Terrible ascended to the throne, the Greek monk repeated his petition, but the result was negative again. The Patriarch of Constantinople Dionysius (1545), the Patriarch of Jerusalem Germanus, the Patriarch of Alexandria (4- 9- 1545), as well as the Vatopedi Monastery petitioned the Tsar to set St. Maxim free but nothing came of it. In one of his letters to the Tsar Maxim writes: “In the name of God, show mercy to poor me. Grant me permission to see Mt. Athos, the heart that prays for the whole world; let me go back to the  hosii fathers and brothers who pray for my release to you; accept their begging and tears on my behalf; do not turn deaf ears to the Ecumenical Patriarch who is petitioning for my release”, and in another letter he says: “ Check, please, if  I should be hated because of all the things I put to rights, or  if I was justly defamed as a heretic and interdicted from the Holy Communion for so many years… So, if I am telling the truth, show to poor me your goodwill and mercy, as god-fearing and fair judges, and deliver me from the unjust defamation and suffering of so many years… grant me, I beg you, my return to Mt. Athos to have my bones buried there, where- since my youth- I laboured both spiritually and in the flesh in the hope of salvation.” And in another letter: “Most devout Tsar, let me go back to the  Holy Vatopedi Monastery devoted  to the most holy Mother of God; gladden the spirits of the hosii monks who dwell there, your servants and constant well-wishers; do not grieve them any longer.” It is worth mentioning here that, in every letter the saint wrote, asking for his being granted permission to return to Mt. Athos, he repeated the phrase ‘so that my bones may rest there in peace.” His sufferings went on though. The Tsar and the Church deemed his return dangerous because he knew all the dark secrets of the political and ecclesiastical life in Russia and they were afraid that he would expose them to the public. They were also afraid that he would reveal their cruelty towards his person.


Suspension of his sentence

In 1551, the new Tsar, reviewing the matter with  some of his councilors, who insisted on the saint’s vindication, ordered Maxim to be transferred to the famous Lavra of St. Sergius, suspending the imprisonment sentence which had lasted for 26 consecutive years, but the saint was not permitted to go back home to his monastery for the above mentioned reasons.

St. Maxim, old in age and in poor health because of his many hardships during his imprsonment, died on the 21st of January 1556, on the day the church commemorates his namesake St. Maxim the Confessor and at the Holy Vatopedi Monastery the fathers and brothers also commemorate, according to custom, the day of Panagia of Paramythia/ the Comforter. On this very day, St. Maxim gave up his soul in the hands of the Lord to be comforted by Him for his labours and sufferings.

When he died in 1556, he was about 86 years old and he had served to the death the Church of Russia and her people for thirty- eight years. Twenty- six of those years were spent in prison. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople canonized St. Maximus the Greek in 1988. During the same year and at the celebrations for the Millennium of the Orthodox Church in Moscow, he was canonized by the Russian Church too. The removal of his relics took place on 21st June, 1996 (Julian/ old Calendar) at the church of the Holy Spirit of the St. Sergius Monastery, where his reliquary is kept, while a part of his relics was given over to the Holy Vatopedi Monastery, the monastery of his repentance, on 8th July, 1997 (Julian/old Calendar), to be kept at the church of Panagia of Kazan, by Alexius  Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias. On 14th July, 1997 (Old Calendar), the Vatopedi Monastery held celebratory services for the transport of the holy relics.

St. Maxim’s example should encourage us. His Christian instruction did not annihilate him, but through faith, prayer and the practice of virtues he drew strength from Heaven and was able to exercise patience through his indescribable temptations. We narrate the lives of the saints as examples to help as stand fast and approach- through proper behaviour- God by church-going, confession and partaking of the Holy Sacraments. Each of us will carry, according to one’s strength, the cross of one’s own Resurrection. The knowledge of the way towards the holy Transfiguration is necessary, especially for us Greeks, who with our wise men, the isapostles and the saints have guided many other nations to the true knowledge of God.

We hope and pray that our Triadic God that “is still working”, will always send saintly workers to His vineyard, such as the tireless St. Maxim, for the salvation of all people. We also hope that God, through the mediations of this hosios father, will grant His grace for the safekeeping and the unity of the Faith and love in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus.

Σάββατο, 13 Ιουνίου 2015

Maxim the Greek and the Great Conjuncion of 1524, by Robert Collis

Note: Robert Collis, is a Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield.

THE SLAVONIC AND EAST EUROPEAN REVIEW
(Volume 88, Number 4 – October 2010)

In the early 1520s the theologian Maxim the Greek (c . 1470–1555) wrote a series of polemical letters in Moscow in which he lambasted what he saw as the pernicious astrological and religious inuence of Nicolaus Bülow (. 1490–1533), the German chief physician to Vasilii III (1479– 1533). According to Maxim, the German was a false prophet, a ‘fraudulent sophist’ and a wolf in sheep’s clothing, who was ‘acting on the evil contrivances of Balaam.1.
The vitriolic tone adopted by Maxim reects the degree of danger he felt regarding Bülow, the chief promoter in Muscovy of astrological predictions that foresaw a disastrous ood in 1524.In this article I will study the antiastrological tracts written by Maxim against the background of the great conjunction of 1524 — a celestial phenomenon that engendered an acute sense of eschatological anxiety across much of Europe in the rst quarter of the sixteenth century.2.
I will devote muchneeded attention to how the great Maxim the Greek & the great conjunction conjunction of 1524 was viewed in Muscovite Russia in the years immediately preceding the celestial event. Moreover, the polemical debate entered into by Maxim the Greek, against Bülow and his beliefs, arguably ranks as the most wideranging and articulate discussion of the role of astrology in Muscovite Russia.3.
As I will argue, however, the scope of the debate encompassed far more than the likelihood of a deluge in 1524, as it touches on fundamental issues, such as the relationship between astrology and Orthodoxy and the place of the controversial art in determining the policies and actions of the grand prince. What is more, the astrological debate between Maxim and Bülow provides an excellent example of the extremely complex cultural and religious dynamic at play in early sixteenth-century Muscovy. In the person of Maxim alone, one is able to study the transmission of religious and philosophical ideas from Renaissance Italy and from the centre of Greek Orthodoxy at Mount  Athos, accompanied with an awareness of a distinct Muscovite history and heritage.4.
Accordingly, I will demonstrate how the astrological predictions of a disastrous ood in 1524 — championed in Muscovy by Bülow — provoked a passionate rebuttal by Maxim the Greek. It will be argued that this response drew heavily on the arguments of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463–94). However, within this Italian framework Maxim used distinct colours betting his Orthodox surroundings and heritage  — namely by drawing on Eastern Church Fathers and Byzantine chroniclers. To them the earth at this time was to suffer ‘indubitable mutation,  variation and alteration such as we have scarce perceived for many centuries’, as a result of a great conjunction of the planets in Pisces. 5.
In the intervening quarter of a century this doomladen prediction gave rise to much trepidation across Europe, with at least 160 works addressing the issue. 6.
Whilst Stöfer and Paum made no specic mention of a ood, many subsequent commentators wrote of a cataclysmic deluge. These dire predictions drew on the inuential astrological theories of the ninthcentury Islamic scholar Abu Ma’shar al-Balkhi (787–886), who in the Great Conjunctions outlined how pivotal historical and religious events occurred at moments when planetary conjunctions took place. Indeed, many early sixteenthcentury European astrologers seized on Abu Ma’shar’s calculations that the original deluge was on 17 February 3102 BC, when a great conjunction of the planets in the last phase of Pisces had taken place.7.
Both Catholics and Lutherans were swept up in the tide of panic that engulfed Europe in the period immediately preceding 1524. On the one hand, some Catholics viewed the conjunction as a sign of Luther being a false prophet and consequently a herald of a time of great tribulation. Many Lutherans, on the other hand, saw the conjunction as a sign that their leader had been chosen to save them from the waters of the second Flood.8.
Thus, amidst a period of profound religious schism between Lutheranism and Catholicism, and extensive military conict between Charles V of the Habsburg Empire and Francis I of France, many people across Europe in the early sixteenth century were swayed by the bleak predictions of an imminent ood. The allconsuming nature of what Pierre Bayle (1647–1706) called the ‘great terror all over Europe’ was such that the French Huguenot thinker commented that ‘Princes, and even learned men, were afraid of that calamity as well as the people’.9.
In Vienna, for example, the court astrologer Georg Tannstetter noted on 20 March 1523 that: This rumour [about the impending ood] has already taken root every-where [...] it has provoked the wise and the learned to heated debate, and in some it has caused such consternation that they can no longer manage, their affairs properly: they sell their lands, elds and other properties [...] because they believe it will be easier to convey money up to the mountains.10.
Moreover, in Italy, as Ottavia Niccoli has demonstrated, there was a case of collective panic regarding the imminent onset of a deluge: so much so that the carnival season in Rome in February 1524 was satu-rated with ood themes. The carnival included a oat representing Noah’s Ark, for example, whilst Archbishop Marco Corner created another oat on ‘which was a boat being prepared to ee the deluge, and inside there was a very good musical group with lutes and viols’.11.
In Florence, the extent of the anxiety concerning the predictions of a ood is aptly demonstrated by Niccolò Machiavelli, who mocked these general fears through lewd, carnivalesque humour: Because all the astrologers and diviners have bewildered you, according to what many have understood, [by saying] that horrible and strange weather threatens all lands [with] plague, ood, and war, lightning, storms, earthquakes [and] destruction, as if it were already the end of the world, and they insist that the stars will overow with so much water that the whole world will be covered. Thus, graceful and beautiful women, if ever  you were pleased to make use of something on top of you [...] come away with us to the top of our high rocks.12.
This colourful and bawdy rsthand account of the atmosphere at carnival time in Florence in 1524 wonderfully captures the mood of the city’s inhabitants. According to Niccoli the prediction of a ood in piscibus ‘had a vast and farreaching resonance’, as testied by its preeminence during the carnival season in Italy in 1524. However, this ‘far-reaching resonance’, unbeknown to Western scholars, also extended eastwards into the Orthodox lands of Muscovite Russia.13.

2. The Russian Context. 
The explosive mix of eschatology and astrology, central to the controversy surrounding the great conjunction of 1524, had already created a religious furore in Russia in the last years of the fteenth century. The ofcial doctrine of the Orthodox Church in Russia stipulated that the end of the world would occur in 1492, that is in 7000 anno mundi.  Belief in this eventuality was such that until 1490 the Church had not sought  to calculate the paschal canon, which determined the date of Easter, for after 1492.14.
The religious ferment around this time in Russia was greatly exac-erbated by the rise of the so-called Judaizer (Zhidovstvuiushchie) movement, which emerged in Novgorod in the early 1470s. According to the rapid anti-Judaizer, Joseph Sanin of Volokolamsk (c . 1440–1515), the movement was brought to Russia in 1470 by a Kievan Jew named Skharia, who was ‘an instrument of the devil’ and ‘learned in all evil inventions: magic and black books, stargazing and astrology’.15.
Moreover, Sanin goes on to state that the Judaizer movement soon gained support in prominent Novgorod circles, including a priest named  Aleksei and the high-ranking diplomat Fedor Kuritsyn: In this time Aleksei the priest and Fedor Kuritsyn had inuence on the grand prince like no other. They engaged in astronomy, astrology, magic and [the study of] black books and other false teachings. Many joined them because of this and became stuck in the depths of apostasy.16.
The perceived threat of the Judaizers was felt most acutely in relation to their use of astronomical calculations to argue against the belief in the imminent end of the world. The Judaizers’ main weapon in this regard was the utilization of the astronomical set of tables called Six Wings  (Shestokryl  ), compiled in 1365 by Immanuel Ben Jacob Bonls. In order to counter the Judaizers’ arguments Archbishop Gennadii of Novgorod chose to enlist a skilled astronomer and mathematician from Catholic Germany by the name of Nicolaus Bülow. For well over a decade Bülow worked for Archbishop Gennadii in Novgorod and aided the cleric in his concerted efforts to eradicate the Judaizer movement. It is known, for example, that Bülow helped to translate two fourteenth-century anti-Jewish tracts — Nicholas de Lyra’s Quaestiones disputate contra Hebraeos and the Rationes breues magni rabi Samuelis iudei nati . These works attacked Jewish beliefs and their calendar.17.
Some time after 1504 Bülow left Novgorod and spent several years working at the Papal court in Rome during the reign of Julius II (1503–13), who is known to have been favourable towards astrology.18.
By 1508 Bülow was residing in Moscow, where he became chief physician to Vasilii III. According to the Habsburg ambassador Francesco da Collo, writing in 1518, Bülow was ‘a professor of medicine and of astrology and wise in all sciences’.19. Thus, in bringing Bülow to Russia, Gennadii had unwittingly introduced a stargazing viper into his Orthodox nest.20.
It is arguable that if Bülow would have limited his use of astrology to the medical sphere he would have largely avoided the ire of the Orthodox Church. However, the German increasingly became embroiled in highly contentious religious questions. At some point before 1515, for example, he wrote a letter in defence of the union of the Greek and Latin Churches to Vassian Sanin, the Archbishop of Rostov.21.
In either 1520 or 1521 Bülow raised the stakes considerably by incorporating an eschatological element into his astrological predictions. He did this by producing a Russian translation of Stöfer and Paum’s Almanach nova . In doing so he sought to acquaint the Muscovite court and the church authorities with the furore surrounding the predictions of a deluge associated with the great conjunction of 1524. Indeed, Maxim the Greek refers to the fact that the publication was on sale at markets in Moscow, Pskov and, possibly, Rostov.22.
As an ardent Catholic and a staunch believer in astrology Bülow would have most likely viewed Luther as a false prophet, whose appearance, as Denis Crouzet notes, was linked to the grand conjunction and onset of the longawaited Tribulation.23.
During this period of intense upheaval Bülow predicted that there would soon be ‘a new transformation, a new law and a new monarchy and both the clergy and the people will live in purity’.24.
In other words, he was prophesying that the Holy Roman Emperor would be victorious over the Ottoman Turks, thereby facilitating an era of Christian unity and brotherhood. This achievement — crucially brought about by Catholic leadership — would then herald Christ’s Second Coming.Thus Bülow’s translation of Stöfer and Paum’s Almanach nova was an act of religious (and political) propaganda, designed to convince his Muscovite audience about the inevitable and impending triumph of the Catholic Church. Unsurprisingly, this potent binding of astrology with Catholic eschatological prediction elicited a distinct sense of acute unease from many within the Orthodox Church, from whom the most eloquent critique was supplied by Maxim the Greek.

3. Maxim the Greek’s Response to Bülow
If Bülow’s mix of astrological science and eschatology had fallen on unreceptive ears in Moscow, his grand predictions would have either simply been ignored by church ofcials or, more likely, he would have been punished as a heretic. However, the German’s arguments were favourably received by both prominent courtiers and sections within the Orthodox Church itself. Why did Bülow’s dramatic prognostications attract support among Muscovite courtiers and clergymen? It is possible that some were swayed by a sense of anticipation at the impending arrival of a crucial period in the biblical drama. After all, an infectious spirit of expectancy, mixed with profound anxiety, was sweeping across Europe at the time. Moreover, those of an inquisitive frame of mind might well have been drawn to the pseudo-scientic basis of Bülow’s astrological predictions. It is also possible that some gures in Muscovy were attracted to the fatalistic dimension of astrology, whereby human free will is sacriced to the whims of the stars. Whatever the reasons for its appeal in Muscovy, the great majority of church ofcials would have viewed Bülow’s prediction as an alarming development that attacked the basic tenets of accepted Orthodox faith. This called for a swift and decisive response from talented polemicists from within their own ranks. One such response was supplied by Filofei, a monk from the Pskov-Eleazarov Monastery. In either 1523 or 1524 he wrote to Mikhail Grigor´evich Munekhin (d. 1528), chastizing the diplomat and Pskov ofcial for falling under the sway of Bülow’s charms. Filofei writes that astrological beliefs are simply fables (basni  ) and blasphemy (koshchunstvo ). More specically, he lambasts Munekhin for giving credence to Bülow’s predictions about the great conjunction of 1524.  According to Filofei, the stars cannot foretell the onset of the second Flood, when all towns, kingdoms and countries will cease to exist. Drawing on Acts 3:21, Filofei argues that only God, and not the stars, have the power to bring about the restitution of all things.25.
Filofei concentrated his attack on Bülow by adopting a historical and eschatological approach in order to explain decisive moments in the history of countries and monarchies. In this regard, it is highly signicant that Filofei’s renowned doctrine of Russia as the Third Rome was rst articulated in his epistle to Munekhin. Consequently, Bülow’s astrological prediction can be seen as one of the principal catalysts for spurring Filofei to develop his religious thesis. Based on biblical exegesis and a historical/eschatological approach to pivotal ecclesiastical events, Filofei argued that the rst Rome had fallen with the coronation of Charlemagne in 800. Furthermore, the second Rome, that is Constantinople, had fallen as a result of the union of the Greek Orthodox Church with the Roman Catholic Church, agreed at the Council of Florence in 1439.26.
Subsequently, in Filofei’s mind Russia became the Third Rome, as its church had retained its pure spirit. What is more, Filofei’s telling assertion that there would not be another Rome was signicantly based on an exegetical analysis of the Book of Revelation. In particular, he interpreted chapter 12:6 of Revelation, which states ‘and the woman ed into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God’ and chapter 12:10, in which it is prophesied that ‘now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God’.27.
The refutation articulated by Filofei has resonated down the ages, but was not as extensive or, I would argue, as learned as that offered by Maxim the Greek between 1518–24. The Greek theologian was a relative newcomer to Muscovy, having only arrived in Moscow in March 1518. He had been invited by Vasilii III initially to translate Greek patristic commentaries on the Psalter. Prior to his arrival in Moscow Maxim had spent twelve or thirteen years as a monk in the Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos. However, before his time at the centre of Eastern Orthodox monasticism, Maxim had spent around twelve years in Renaissance Italy. Between 1492 and 1496 Maxim (or Michael Trivolis as he was then known) lived and studied in Florence, where he was inuenced by the Greek philologist John Lascaris and the renowned philosopher Marsilio Ficino. This was followed by two  years in Venice, where he had close contact with Aldus Manutius, the famed printer and publisher of Greek classics. Signicantly, in 1498 Maxim moved to Mirandola, where he was employed by Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola, the nephew (and editor) of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, who shared his uncle’s erce anti-astrological beliefs. Maxim’s last two years in Italy were spent at the San Marco Monastery in Florence, where Savanorola had been prior.28.
This rich philosophical and theological background proved invaluable for Maxim in 1521, when he sought to articulate his refutations of Bülow’s extraordinary predictions. In practice Maxim adopted a three-pronged approach in order to counter Bülow’s claims and to weaken their appeal to the Muscovite court and clergy. First, he wrote a series of polemics specically tackling the religious and astrological arguments propounded by Bülow. Indeed, three extant letters are directly addressed to Bülow: ‘Against Nikolai the Latin — a sermon about the emanation of the Holy Spirit’; ‘An epistle to the polymath Nikolai the German’, and ‘Against Nikolai the German, fraud and astrologer’.29.
As one would expect, the tone of these epistles and sermons is severe. Bülow is branded a false prophe t who speaks ‘from his belly (from the wisdom of the esh), and not according to the evangelical statutes and theology’. Moreover, through ‘superstitious contrivances’ he is able to ‘charm the hearts of simple-minded people’.30.
In addition to these direct attacks Maxim also wrote to courtiers who harboured sympathetic attitudes towards Bülow’s astrological and religious teachings. In one such letter for example, entitled ‘An instructive epistle to a certain prince about the falsehood of astrology and comfort [for those] living in sorrow’, Maxim warns the courtier about the ills stemming from harmful foreign inuences: Many different illnesses occur when our body is decaying: rstly, due to the entry and distribution of several unpleasant and irregular elements into our body, and secondly, by divine observance difcult circumstances occur in our souls in order to lead to knowledge and to correct our sins.31.
In other words, Maxim is decrying the harmful effects of Bülow’s alien doctrines, which are spreading disease throughout the body of Orthodox Russia. According to Maxim, the remedy for such ills is not to be found from the medicines dispensed by foreign physicians, but by adherence to the Holy Scriptures. The tone taken by Maxim in this letter is akin to a teacher disappointed at the erroneous approach adopted by his students. He is stern, but not abusive, and the letter is imbued with a sense of hope that the offenders will rectify their ways.Evidently Maxim was particularly concerned about what he saw as Bülow’s pernicious inuence on the court diplomat Fedor Ivanovich Karpov (d. 1545), as he entered into direct correspondence with this senior ofcial.32.
The general tone of Maxim’s correspondence with Karpov is respectful and conciliatory. In a lengthy epistle directed against Karpov’s espousal of astrology, for example, Maxim sought to demonstrate the latter’s erroneous views by gentle persuasion. The cleric emphasizes that he is seeking to cure Karpov of his illfounded stance ‘for the sake of love’. Furthermore, he atters the diplomat by calling him ‘most wise’ (premudryi).33.
Lastly, Maxim also wrote an epistle to ‘a certain monk [holding] the post of Father Superior in regard to the foreign deception [nemetskaia  prelest´ ] by the name of Fortune and about her wheel’.34.
In the letter he sought to respectfully reprimand his fellow Orthodox cleric for dallying with Bülow’s teachings: ‘I being bound to your reverence with such love, would consider it wrong, beloved brother, if I were to remain silent, seeing that you follow the Greek, Chaldean and Latin teachings, devised by demons.’35.
The epistle then continues with Maxim expressing surprise that ‘such a person, more experienced than others in knowledge of the divinely inspired scriptures’ is so quickly ‘attracted by such impious teachings [as propounded by] the fraud Nikolai the German’.36.
The manner in which Maxim directed his attack towards the intellectual position espoused by Bülow, alongside epistles to both religious and civil gures, corresponds to Pico della Mirandola’s assertion that astrology negatively impacts on three areas of human life: the intellectual, the religious and the civil.37.
Moreover, Maxim’s exposition of his arguments against astrology is extremely redolent of the methodology used by Pico in his Disputationes adversus astrologiam, which was published posthumously in 1495 by Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola.38.
Having spent four years employed by Gianfrancesco in Mirandola, Maxim would have been well schooled in the Piconian criticism of astrology. One should bear in mind that Gianfrancesco was not simply his uncle’s editor but had also ‘fully developed the teaching of the Disputationes.39.
According to Pico, astrology was wholly incompatible with Christi-anity as a religion based on revelation and on man’s free will. Indeed, Pico argued that astrology was a dangerous doctrine that offered man a fundamentally different philosophy towards life and the world, which actively distracted and led man away from God: [Astrology] corrupts all philosophy, adulterates medicine, weakens religion, generates or reinforces superstition, fosters idolatry, destroys prudence, pollutes morals, disgraces the heavens, makes men miserable, anxious, restless, slaves instead of free and quite unfortunate in doing almost everything.40.
Thus, signicantly, Pico perceived astrology as a general conception of reality and of history that had the power to undermine the foundations of Christian society on all levels.In the opening book of Disputationes Pico methodically draws on religious authority in order to counter what he regarded as the perdious inuence of astrology. He lays signicant stress on the oracles of the prophets found in the Bible, alongside a powerful elucidation of anti-astrological thinking evident in patristic literature, particularly leaning on the writings of Augustine, Eusebius, Tertullian and Origen. What is more, he cites canon law as a powerful authority against astrology.41.
Crucially, he also cites the opposition to astrology evident in the thinking of Plato and Aristotle, who embody a form of philosophy based on reason.42.
Alongside authority, a notable and original feature of the Disputationes is Pico’s in-depth analysis of the history of astrology. This begins with a discussion of the beliefs of the ancient Chaldeans and Egyptians, who ‘naturally ascribed everything to the stars’ as they ‘continuously devoted themselves to measuring the movement of the heavens and observing the courses of the stars’.43.
Lastly, Pico sought to drive a wedge between what he saw as the worthy scientic pursuit of astronomy and the thoroughly disreputable beliefs associated with astrology: When I say astrology, I do not mean that art which measures the size and motions of the stars by mathematical calculations, a sure and noble art which is very worthy in its merits [...] but that art which predicts future occurrences from the stars.44.
The anti-astrological writings of Maxim are strikingly similar to those propounded by Pico in their fundamental espousal of human free will and their unerring faith in divine providence. In a lengthy epistle to Fedor Karpov, for example, he decries ‘the false science regarding the stars [...] which overthrows all divine laws’, in which virtues and vices are dependent upon the arbitrary and despotic changes in celestial movements.45.
One must conclude from this position, Maxim argues, that ‘the most benevolent God is the initiator and creator of evil. You see the stars in essence are his creation.46.
This argument is elaborated upon in another tract, entitled About the  fact that Divine Providence and not the stars or the wheel of fortune govern the fate of humans.47.
Herein Maxim reects that ‘our minds have the power and the strength to follow or oppose whoever we want’. Thus, Maxim reasons that goodness in humans is not dictated by the stars, but by three factors: 1) holy powers which always lead us to goodness; 2) a natural propensity in humans towards goodness; and 3) the undertaking of good actions. Evil, on the other hand, exists due to 1) human passion; 2) the work of demons; and 3) evil actions.48.
One also hears a distinct echo of Pico’s anti-astrological stance when Maxim chastises a fellow Orthodox monk for following a doctrine that is ‘alien to divine providence, the infallible and Goddevoted reason of the prophecies, and the God-inspired Scriptures’.49.
In support of his repudiation of astrology Maxim also closely follows the Piconian model. In other words he constructs his argument by drawing extensively on religious authority and historical examples and discourse, as well as highlighting what he regards as the positive merits of the reasonbased philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. An emphasis is also placed on the intrinsic difference between the pursuit of worthy scientic endeavours, such as astronomy, and the dangerous folly of being swayed by astrology. However, as mentioned, Maxim did not simply transplant Pico’s ideas wholesale into Moscow; rather he astutely adapted the Italian’s model to t into the religious and cultural context of his adopted homeland. In brief, this entailed draw-ing on the heritage of Eastern and Western Church Fathers, Byzantine canonical law and historical examples, which still resonated powerfully in early sixteenth-century Moscow.In by far his longest epistle to Karpov, for example, Maxim imme-diately begins his denunciation of astrology by turning to the authority of the Church Fathers: We suggest to you the many notable Christian teachers, who, so to say, laid bare before you and manifestly pointed to the fraud of studiously observing the movement of the stars, and far repudiated this teaching from the holy enclosure of the Church, so that from their words, which are brought to us, you may fully study the truth.50.
He cites Basil of Caesarea, John Chrysostomos and Augustine as gures who warned of the dangers of astrology as an instrument of the devil. Indeed, Maxim paraphrases the latter’s The Literal Meaning of Genesis , when he states ‘that [astrology] is the invention of the devil and by means of secret intercourse with the devil [it is possible] to prophesy about the future and to divinate about events.51.
Maxim also stresses the fundamental place of revealed prophecy, rather than astrological prediction. In this regard he illustrates to Karpov how the ‘righteous Ezekiel’ did not resort to ‘divining by the stars or to observing the songs and ights of birds’; instead, he draws on Ezekiel 26 when describing how the Old Testament prophet went with ‘heartfelt tears and grief to the All-Mighty to save him from sin’ when he had the vision of the destruction of the city walls of Tyre.52.
Interestingly, Maxim also includes a long quotation from The Clementine Homilies in his disputation against astrology. This tract was purportedly written by Pope Clement I (. 96) and tells the story of a dialogue between his father, Faustus, and the apostle Peter. It is treated with utter credulity by Maxim, who introduces the story in the following manner: ‘Faust, the father of Clement, as a Greek and experienced in astrology, tried to convince and demonstrate to Peter that there was no divine providence, but that everything was dependent upon birth (under the known planet) and from fate, which the Romans called “fortune”.53.
        There then follows nearly the entirety of Peter’s arguments against astrology, which conclude with the apostle reiterating its blasphemous nature: Most certainly it is. For if all the sins of men, and all their acts of impiety and licentiousness, owe their origin to the stars, and if the stars have been appointed by God to do this work, so as to be the efcient causes of all evils, then the sins of all are traced up to Him who placed Genesis in the stars.54.
Like Pico, Maxim argues that Plato refuted astrological thought, stressing that he was ‘the very rst external philosopher’ and that he ‘expelled [astrology] far from the general philosophical statutes of his philosophy.55.
Indeed, in the epistle he wrote to ‘a certain monk’ Maxim also follows the Piconian model of providing a history of the origins and acceptance of astrology. Thus, it is noted that ‘the false teaching received its origins from Zoroaster and other ancient magicians, residing in Persia’.56.
Thenceforth, it was energetically embraced by the Egyptians, and then the Greeks, who according to Maxim ‘invented many other villainous abuses’.57.
One such abuse, as stated by Maxim, was the wheel of fortune, which was described in the Tabula by Cebes the Theban.58.
By far the largest section of Maxim’s epistle to Karpov is devoted to the highly controversial (and topical) question of whether astrology can aid rulers in their onerous duties. It is evident that in broaching this thorny subject Maxim is seeking to directly refute Karpov’s positive evaluation of astrology: You say that nobody from ancient royalty and the most glorious and  valiant military leaders achieved anything without observing the stars for forewarnings and answers. On this basis you explain that the science is necessary, as it preserves and strengthens in human society that which in it is all the more honest.59.
The rst line of attack utilized by Maxim is to cite various examples from classical history, which demonstrate the falsehood of Karpov’s claim. Initially Maxim refers to the military exploits of Scipio Africanus the Elder (236–183 bc ) against Carthage. He asserts that it is not written down in any sources that the Roman general was inspired by astrological predictions to leave Rome and to attack Hannibal’s powerbase.60.
This example is followed by questioning whether astrological predictions played a role in the bravery and courage displayed by Julius Caesar in his Gallic campaign.61.
The senatorial decree issued against astrologers in ad52, during the reign of Claudius, is also referred to by Maxim, who states that they were regarded ‘as fraudsters and seducers and not as philosophers’.62.
After these Roman examples, Maxim proceeds to question Karpov as to where in the histories of Alexander the Great it is written that ‘he achieved his glorious and brave deeds over the course of thirteen  years by means of Aristotelian astrology’? The Greek theologian then reveals even more knowledge of ancient history by demonstrating that Thucydides at no point refers to astrology in his account of the naval exploits of Themistocles against the eet of Xerxes at the Battle of Salamis in 479 bc. 63.
Moving from the ancient to the modern, Maxim then draws on personal reminiscences of his time in Milan at the close of the fteenth century when he refers to the ruinous inuence of the astrologer  Ambrogio Varese da Rosate (1437–1522) on Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan (1452–1508).64.
According to Maxim, Ludovico’s indulgence in astrological falsehood was such that ‘even if it was necessary [for him] to sit on a horse, and if Ambrogio happened to be there and said to him that the hour was not benecial, then he would remove his feet from the stirrups’. Indeed, the duke would only depart ‘when permitted [to do so] by astrology’.65.
Thus, Maxim writes that it was as a direct consequence of his dependence upon astrology that the duke was defeated by the French army of Louis XII in 1499 and died in captivity the following year.66.
Moreover, Maxim lambasts the pernicious inuence of dishonest philosophers in other parts of the Italian peninsula who ‘do violence to our great sacraments’.67.
Specic reference in this regard is made to Niccolò Lelio Cosmico (d. c . 1500), a court poet and humanist from Ferrara who, according to the disparaging Maxim, proclaimed on his deathbed that ‘tomorrow I shall be laid to rest in the Elysian Fields with Socrates and Plato’.68.
Maxim also singles out Agostino Nifo of Sessa (1473–1546) as a Neapolitan astrologer with a particular hatred of ‘our faith and its rites’.69.
Switching to Russian examples, Maxim also argues that no ruler after Vladimir’s conversion in 988 resorted to astrology against the Tatar threat from the east. In particular, he cites the renowned victory of Grand Prince Dmitrii Donskoi against Mamai at the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380 as an example of how Russian rulers did not turn to astrologers at decisive moments.70. 
Another distinct feature of Maxim’s polemic with Karpov is his wish to illustrate how divine intervention, rather than astrological meddling, aided David, Gideon and Constantine the Great in their greatest military victories. In regard to the biblical gures of David and Gideon, Maxim is livid that Karpov should think that they achieved their ‘notable and miraculous victories’ by divination from the stars and from the ight and songs of birds. He asks Karpov whether ‘you consider the appearance of angels [to Gideon] as some kind of astrology’. Furthermore, Maxim remarks how David consulted with God by way of a garment — the ephod — worn by the high priest, when seeking direction against Saul’s intrigues.71.
Maxim also refutes Karpov’s suggestion that Constantine the Great was swayed by astrology. In this regard he turns to Eusebius’s Life of Constantine to demonstrate the divine nature of the rst Christian emperor’s victory over Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge in ad 312. Thus, whilst Maxentius is described by Maxim as being ‘zealously devoted’ to ‘divination, magic and astrological deceptions’.72.
Constantine received divine help when, as Eusebius writes, ‘he saw [...] the trophy of a cross of light in the heavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription, CONQUER BY THIS’.73.
In his concerted effort to trounce Karpov’s arguments in favour of astrology Maxim also astutely draws on the highly inuential work of Matthew Blastares, a Greek Orthodox monk, theological writer and Byzantine legal authority. In particular Maxim draws on Blastares’s magnum opus, the Syntagma Alphabeticum (1335), which alphabetically listed church and civil laws. It was translated into Russian in the early sixteenth century, and quickly became established as the authoritative source for both church and state legal procedures.74.
More specically, Maxim draws on Syntagma Alphabeticum in order to provide an Orthodox authority for what is effectively his Piconian approach towards the need to separate reasoned scientic study from the dangerous pursuit of astrology. The opening salvo of Maxim’s attack concentrates on Blastares’s general assertion that it is forbidden to discuss mathematics, but permissible to study geometry:
If, according to your opinion, our tsar needs the advice of astrologers and without their instruction and advice nothing can be undertaken, then in what manner is the tsar [meant to] dene civil laws by manifestly studying mathematics? For the royal law speaks about this with the following words: let geometry be openly taught, but mathematics is condemned as forbid-den. Listen deaf people, look blind people! Mathematics, it is said, is con-demned as a forbidden practice. The tsar condemns it and expels it from his state, but you claim that it is necessary for the tsar, and [is something] not to be ashamed [of], speaking so patently against the truth.75.
To the modern reader this division of mathematics and geometry appears somewhat strange. However, by citing Blastares Maxim is adopting a demarcation stressed in the Corpus Civilis Iuris , issued by Emperor Justinian between ad529–34. Indeed, magicians in general in the famed Justinian Code are referred to as mathematici.76.
Moreover, article 9.18.2 states that in ad 294 the Emperors Diocletian and Maximian and the Caesars declared that: ‘to learn and apply the science of geometry is to the public interest. But the damnable art of the mathematicions is forbidden.’77.
Emperor Constantius is also cited in  Article 9.18.5 of the Justinian Code, when he decreed in ad 357 that ‘no one shall consult a mathematici’, meaning an astrologer.78.
Throughout Byzantine history astrologers were commonly called mathematici, and up until the late seventeenth century in Russia they were also known as matematiki.79.
Thus, in Maxim’s mind there was a great deal of overlap between ‘mathematicians’ and ‘astrologers’, whereas geometry was viewed as a rational science more akin to what we would understand as astronomy.Maxim then directly cites Blastares’s section about number diviners (chislogadateli ). This extract is itself drawn from the commentary on the Thirty-Sixth Canon of the Council of Laodicea (ad 364) by Theodore Balsamon, the twelfth-century canonist of the Greek Orthodox Church: The followers of mathematics are they who hold the opinion that the celestial bodies rule the universe, and that all earthly things are ruled by their inuence. Astrologers are they who divine by the stars through the agency of demons, and place their faith in them.80.
The commentary by Balsamon confusingly refers to both mathematici and astrologers, with the latter being particularly demonized for their divinatory practices.However, whilst Maxim is adamantly opposed to all forms of astrol-ogy, he is keen to stress his endorsement of Blastares’s stance towards the study of the four acceptable mathematical sciences: arithmetic, music, geometry and astronomy. This position effectively permits the study of these disciplines, although Maxim warns that it is forbidden to ‘use them wrongly and to believe that our circumstances are dependent upon the movement of heavenly bodies, and to attempt to nd out something about the future.81.
In this regard Maxim is not only follow-ing in the tradition of Blastares, but also of John Zonaras, the renowned twelfth-century Byzantine theologian and chronicler. In his commen-tary on the Thirty-Sixth Canon of the Council of Laodicea, for example, Zonaras noted that ‘the science of mathematics or astronomy is not at all hereby forbidden’, only ‘the excesses and abuse of that science.82.
In other words, Maxim is following a Byzantine tradition that permits astronomical studies as long as they do not veer into the forbidden astrological realm. Such recourse to Byzantine canon law is powerfully deployed by Maxim, as he is then able to refute Karpov’s claim that he is an obscurantist standing in the way of scientic inquiry. Where is it to be found that I somehow in detail commanded you, Gospodin Feodor [sic], or at some time would deter you from studying medicine, or from some other form of philosophical knowledge? Even from the contemplation of the illuminated heavens; knowledge of their movements and interaction from which arise the changes of the four seasons of the year and which establish for us the months, seasons and  years.83.
In his polemics addressed to Karpov, Maxim is forthright and persuasive, but is always aware of the need to avoid completely alienating the inuential courtier. However, such concerns are wholly absent in his diatribes with Nicolaus Bülow, whom he perceives as his principal foe. Indeed, in the two tracts Maxim wrote that directly related to the great conjunction of 1524, the Greek theologian is keen to stress the battle between good and evil embodied in his personal struggle against Bülow. At the beginning of his tract entitled ‘Against those who try to predict the future by means of considering the stars’, for example, Maxim incorporates his present conict with Bülow into a tradition dating back to the Apostle Peter’s confrontation with Simon the Magus. Moreover, to stress this link further he then cites the example of St Leo, Bishop of Catania (709–787), who battled against the sorcerer Heliodorus, a man described in the Vita  of the saint as a servant of the devil.84.
As Alexander Kazhdan has noted, the Byzantines created a series of Faust-like legends that reached their peak in the Heliodorus story.85.
Thus, Maxim is deliberately tapping into a potent source, whereby he can place his religious and astrological duel with Bülow within a long tradition of holy gures engaging Faustian sorcerers.In this tract, Maxim fully articulates the weight of Orthodox authority upon which he is resting his case, prior to directly refuting Bülow’s astrological predictions regarding the likelihood of a second Flood in 1524. He begins by providing a long citation from Basil’s Sixth Homily on The Creation of Luminous Bodies . The crux of the passage cited by Maxim rests on the legal and civil chaos that would ensue if societies endorsed the deterministic basis at the core of astrology: If the origin of our virtues and of our vices is not in ourselves, but is the fatal consequence of our birth, it is useless for legislators to prescribe for us what we ought to do, and what we ought to avoid: it is useless for judges to honour virtue and punish vice. The guilt is not in the robber, not in the assassin: it was willed for him: it was impossible for him to hold back his hand, urged to evil by inevitable necessity. Those who laboriously cultivate the arts are the maddest of men.86.
The extensive quotation from Basil is then quickly followed by a lengthy extract from the fourteenth oration of St Gregory of Nazianzus (330– c. 390): One school of thought [...] postulates some kind of irrational and indissoluble dominion of the stars that orchestrate our existence to suit them-selves [...] and, further, conjunctions and oppositions on the part of certain planets and xed stars as well as a universal motion that controls all things.87.
This quotation is less legalistic in tone and, I would argue, in its discussion of conjunctions is utilized by Maxim to prepare the ground for his more direct attack on Bülow’s predictions. Similarly, he provides a sizeable extract against astrology from The Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith by John of Damascus (c . 676–749), which stresses free will and repudiates the predictive powers of stargazing:
Now the Greeks declare that all our affairs are controlled by the rising and setting and collision of these stars [...] for it is with these matters that astrology has to do. But we hold that we get from them signs of rain and drought, cold and heat, moisture and dryness, and of the various winds, and so forth, but no sign whatever as to our actions.88.
Arguably the most pertinent citation utilized by Maxim (in terms of refuting the predictions concerning the grand conjunction of 1524) comes from Chrysostomos’s Seventh Homily on Matthew:
Where then are they who set up the power of a nativity and the cycle of times against the doctrines of the church? For who has ever recorded that another Christ appeared: that such a thing took place? Although they falsely afrm other things, that ten myriads of years passed, yet this they cannot even feign. Of what kind of cycle then would ye speak? For there was never another Sodom, nor another Gomorrah, nor another ood. How long do ye trie, talking of a cycle and nativity? 89.
Alongside these powerful excerpts from key patristic texts against astrology, Maxim also cites the words of the prophets Isaiah and  Jeremiah in his efforts to counter the inuence of Bülow, who is characterized as a student of the devil, whose teacher makes him wiser by instilling in him ‘the secret of beautiful speech and demonstrations of reasoning in order to deceive the more simple-minded’. Thus, he specically draws on Isaiah 47:12–14, which addresses the supposed deceptions practised by astrologers, and beseeches Bülow to listen to the words of the Old Testament prophet.90.
Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. Behold they shall be as stubble; the re shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the ame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor re to sit before it.
This denunciation of astrology is reinforced by a warning from  Jeremiah 10:2–3 to ‘learn not the way of the heathen’ and, what is more, ‘not to be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the heathen are dismayed at them’. In addition to general refutations of astrology and its purported ability to predict future events, Maxim does directly tackle the predictions of a second Flood, which sprang forth from Stöfer’s  Almanach of 1499. Indeed, he directly draws on the central passage of the almanac, as translated by Bülow:
In the month of February will occur twenty conjunctions [...] of which sixteen will occupy a watery sign, signifying to well nigh the whole, climates, kingdoms, provinces, estates, dignitaries, brutes, beasts of the sea, and to all dwellers on earth indubitable mutation, variation and alteration such as we have scarce perceived for many centuries from historiographers and our elders.91.
According to Maxim, it is as if Bülow ‘is laughing at us’, that is Orthodox Christians, for upholding the tenets of the Holy Scriptures.92.
In reply, Maxim cites Genesis 9:11 and 9:15, which contain God’s promise to Noah not to inict another deluge on the earth:
And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall be esh cut off any more by the waters of a ood; neither shall there any more be a ood to destroy the earth. (Gen 9:11) And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all esh; and the waters shall no more become a ood to destroy all esh. (Gen 9:15)
By emphasizing this crucial passage in Genesis, Maxim aims to demonstrate that those prophesying a second deluge in 1524, such as Bülow, are contradicting the ‘testament and indisputable word’ given by God to Noah. In other words, they are rejecting Christianity in favour of ‘the teachings of the devilish Chaldeans’.93.
Interestingly, the second tract by Maxim against the Almanach translated by Bülow was written at some point after February 1524, when a second Flood had not inundated the earth.94.
In a triumphant tone Maxim ridicules his German foe for persisting in his belief that the grand conjunction signied a time of enormous upheaval: ‘As this prediction has been rendered false and you are disgraced, you now claim that the divination does not foretell a ood, but changes and alterations of everything existing on the earth.’95.
However, Maxim is quick to remind Bülow that the Almanach ‘clearly claims that this must be accomplished by means of water’ and that ‘other stars must gather in  Aries and carry out certain transformations in the universe’.96.
Hence, in Maxim’s eyes the German physician has been unmasked as a false prophet. He sarcastically remarks that Bülow has been ‘sunk by his peripatetic syllogisms and cunning words’, which have prevented the German from being reconciled with ‘what the prophets and apostles said about the mystery of the Most High Trinity’.97.
The second half of the denunciatory sermon reiterates God’s testament to Noah, as uttered in Genesis 9:11 and 9:15. Moreover, Maxim articulates three reasons — in contradistinction to the astrological predictions of a ood — why God decides to inict punishment on people. Firstly, Maxim states that this occurs when people lead a debauched and unclean life. As examples, he cites the corruption of the earth before the Flood as well as the destruction inicted on Sodom and Gomorrah because of the sins of its inhabitants. Secondly, God is said to punish dishonesty and recalcitrance, as evident in his treatment of the Egyptians, who ignored all the miracles enacted before their eyes by Moses. Lastly, God is said to punish those who perpetrate crimes against his Commandments. In this instance, the Babylonian captivity of the Israelites is cited as an example of a punishment inicted on a people, who after prevailing over the Promised Land went on to commit crimes against God’s Commandments.98.

4. Conclusion
Ironically, less than a year after the non-appearance of a great inundation in 1524 it was Maxim the Greek, and not Bülow, who was charged with non-conformism and heresy and tried by a Church Council in Moscow. Subsequently, whereas Maxim was to spend the rest of his life exiled and imprisoned in various monasteries, Bülow remained the chief physician to Vasilii III until the latter’s death in 1533. Thus, in many ways, Maxim suffered a pyrrhic victory over Bülow. Despite the embarrassment no doubt endured by the German after his predictions were proved false, he could fall back on his medical duties. If carried out to the Grand Prince’s liking, Bülow’s position as chief physician ensured his protection. Evidently the Orthodox authorities felt more threatened by the great learning of a Greek monk schooled in Italy than from a Catholic physician espousing astrological principles and preaching eschatological changes. Hence, after the Orthodox leadership had weathered the storm whipped up by Bülow prior to February 1524, it would seem that they felt secure enough to jettison their principal weapon of attack. One imagines not even Bülow would have predicted this outcome at the height of his polemic with Maxim between 1521 and 1524. The intensity of the debate played out between these two highly inuential foreign gures at the Muscovite court is indicative of the extent to which the conjunction of 1524 was a major preoccupation among many eminent personages across the whole of Europe. In this regard, Muscovy was no exception. Although the general populace may not have been constructing arks on Moscow’s Sparrow Hills, eminent theologians and courtiers were undeniably transxed by the enormous implications of the ominous predictions extolled by Bülow.Thus, by studying Maxim’s diatribes against astrology, and particu-larly against Bülow’s prediction concerning 1524, one is able to glimpse the collision of two fundamentally differing worldviews vying for pre-eminence. Moreover, one is able to see how religious, philosophical and scientic ideas, which ostensibly emanated from Western Europe, were debated in a Muscovite arena. Both Maxim and Bülow catered to their Russian audience, and in the extant writings of the former the reader can witness the unique fusion of Piconian reasoning, Byzantine theology and Muscovite historical tradition.
1. Maxim, the Greek (Prepodobnyi Maksim Grek),Tvoreniia, 3 vols, Sviato-Troitskaia Sergieva Lavra, 1996, 2, pp. 121–22, 277. In referring to Bülow as ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’, Maxim is drawing on Matthew 7:15, which in the King James Version reads: ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.’
2. Over the past century our knowledge of the furore surrounding this great conjunction in Western Europe — and principally Italy, Germany, France and Spain — has been greatly increased by the scholarly efforts of Gustav Hellmann, Lynn Thorndike, Ottavio Niccoli and Paola Zambelli. See Gustav Hellmann, ‘Beiträge zur Geschichte der Meteorologie’,Veröffentlichungen des Königlich Preussischen Meteorologischen Instituts, 273, 1914, pp. 5–102; Lynn Thorndike, A History of Magic & Experimental Science, 8 vols, New York, 1923–58, 5, pp. 178–233; Ottavio Niccoli, Prophecy and Power in Renaissance Italy, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane, Princeton, NJ, 1990; Paola Zambelli, ‘Many Ends for the World: Luca Gaurico Instigator of the Debate in Italy and Germany’, in Paola Zambelli (ed.), ‘Astrologi Hallucinati’: Stars and the End of the World in Luther’s Time, Berlin, 1986, pp. 239–63.

Notes:
1. The European Context. In 1499 the German astrologers Johannes Stöfer (1452–1531) and  Jakob Paum (c . 1450–1500) published their Almanach nova in Ulm, which contained catastrophic predictions for February 1524.
3. A number of Russian scholars over the past hundred years have discussed Maxim’s relationship to astrology. See, for example, V. S. Ikonnikov, Maksim Grek i ego vremia. Istoricheskoe issledovanie , Kiev, 1915, pp. 260–360; B. E. Raikov, Ocherki po istorii geliotsentricheskogo mirovozzreniia v Rossii , Moscow and Leningrad, 1937, pp. 92–94; L. S. Kovtun, ‘Planida—furtuna—schastnoe koleso (k istorii russkoi idiomatiki)’, Trudy Otdela drevnerusskoi literatury, 24, 1969, pp. 327–30. In English, see W. F. Ryan, The Bathhouse at Midnight: An Historical Survey of Magic and Divination in Russia , Stroud, 1999, pp. 392–93.
4. For more on Maxim’s time in Italy and Greece and his debt to Renaissance thought and Greek Orthodox theology, see Jack Haney, From Italy to Muscovy: The Life and Works of  Maxim the Greek , Munich, 1971; Aleksei Ivanov, ‘Maksim Grek i ital´ianskoe Vozrozhdenie’, Vizantiiskii vremennik , 33, 1972, pp. 140–57; 34, 1973, pp. 112–19; 35, 1973, pp. 119–36; D. Obolensky, ‘Italy, Mount Athos and Muscovy: The Three Worlds of Maximos the Greek (c. 1470–1556)’, Proceedings of the British Academy, 67, 1981, pp. 143–61; Arno Langeler, Byzan-tijn en humanist in Rusland. Een onderzoek naar enkele van zijn bronnen en denkbeelden, Amsterdam, 1986; Hugh Olmsted, ‘A Learned Greek Monk in Muscovite Exile: Maksim the Greek and the Old Testament Prophets’, Modern Greek Studies Yearbook , 3, 1987, pp. 1–73.
5. Thorndike,  A History of Magic, 5, p. 181.
6. Denis Crouzet, ‘Millennial Eschatologies in Italy, Germany, and France: 1500–1533’, Journal of Millennial Studies , 1, 1999, 2, pp. 1–8 (p. 5).
7. B. L. van der Waerden‚ ’The Conjunction of 3102 b.c.’, Centaurus, 24, 1980, pp. 117–31 (p. 125).
8. Crouzet, ‘Millenial Eschatologies’, p. 5.
9. Pierre Bayle, The Dictionary Historical and Critical of Mr Peter Bayle , 2nd edn, 5 vols, London, 1734–38, 5, p. 243.
10. Zambelli,  Many Ends , pp. 325–26.
11. Marino Sanudo, I Diarii , ed. Rinaldo Furin et al., 58 vols, Venice, 1879–1902, 35, cols 422–23. See also, Niccoli, Prophecy and Power , p. 142.
12. Niccolò Machiavelli, Opere , ed. Ezio Raimondi, Milan, 1976, p. 958. See also, Niccoli, Prophecy and Power , p. 155.
13. N. V. Sinitsyna, Tretii Rim. Istoki i evoliutsiia russkoi srednevekovoi kontseptsii (XV–XVI vv.), Moscow, 1998, p. 176.
14. For more on the calendar question in Muscovy in the late fifteenth century, see H. R. Huttenbach, ‘Muscovy’s Calendar Controversy of 1491–1492’, Science and History: Studies in Honor of Edward Rosen (Studia Copernicana), 16, 1978, pp. 187–203.
15. Iosif Volotskii, ‘Prosvetitel´’, Biblioteka Iakova Krotova  <www.krotov. info/acts/16/1/1505pros_rus2.html> [accessed 4 May 2009] (Predislovie , para. 13).
16. Ibid. (predislovie  para. 25).
17. David B. Miller, ‘The Lübeckers Bartholomäus Ghotan and Nicolaus Bülow in Novgorod and Moscow and The Problem of Early Western Influences on Russian Culture’, Viator , 9, 1978, pp. 395–412 (p. 402).
18. It is known that Julius II sought the most favourable astrological moment for the foundation of Galliera Castle and the erection of his own statue in Bologna. See Thorndike, A History of Magic , 6, p. 150.
19. Polnoe sobranie russkikh letopisei , 6, Moscow, 1853, p. 266; V. Malinin, Starets Eleazarova  Monastyria Filofei: ego poslaniia. Istoriko-literaturnoe izsledovanie , Kiev, 1901, p. 261; Miller, ‘Lübeckers’, p. 405.
20. Joseph L. Wieczynski, ‘Hermetism and Cabalism in the Heresy of the Judaizers’, Renaissance Quarterly, 28, 1975, 1, pp. 17–28 (p. 27).
21. Sinitsyna, Tretii Rim, p. 176.
22. Maxim, Tvoreniia , 1, pp. 429–30.
23. Crouzet, ‘Millenial Eschatologies’, p. 5.
24. Gosudarstvennyi istoricheskii muzei, Moscow, Sinodal´noe sobranie, no. 384, ll. 365– 66. Also see, Sinitsyna, Tretii Rim, p. 178. The unpublished manuscripts of Maxim the Greek held at the Gosudarstvennyi istoricheskii muzei contain verbatim citations from Nicolaus Bülow, such as the current example. See ‘Bumaga nechina nekoego rodom, ucheniem zhe i veroiu latynina astrologin’.
25. D. S. Likhachev and L. A. Dmitrieva (eds), Biblioteka literatury drevnei Rusi , 9, St Petersburg, 2000, pp. 291–93.
26. Sinitsyna, Tretii Rim, pp. 228–35.
27. Citations from the King James Version. For an indepth analysis of Filofei’s articulation of his thesis of Russia being the Third Rome, see Sinitsyna, Tretii Rim, pp. 174–252.
28. Obolensky, Three Worlds , p. 146.
29. The Russian titles are as follows: Protiv Nikolaia latinianina  —  slovo ob iskhozhdenii Sviatago  Dukha ; Poslanie ko mnogouchitel´nomu Nikolaiu nemchinu; Protiv Nikolaia nemchina obmanshchika i zvezdochetsa . See Maxim, Tvoreniia , 2, pp. 191–202, 202–06 and 275–76 respectively.
30. Ibid., p. 121.
31. Ibid., p. 263.
32. See ibid., pp. 206–25. See also N. K. Nikol´skii, ‘Materialy dlia istorii drevnerusskoi dukhovnoi pis´mennosti’, Khristianskoe Chtenie , 8–9, 1909, pp. 1119–25.
33. Maxim, Tvoreniia , 2, pp. 214, 224.
34. Ibid., pp. 270–75. ‘Poslanie k nekotoromu inoku, sanom igumenu, o nemetskoi prelesti imenuemoi Fortunoiu, i o kolese eia.’
35. Ibid., p. 270.
36. Ibid., pp. 270–71.
37. Sheila J. Rabin, ‘Two Renaissance Views of Astrology: Pico and Kepler’, unpublished PhD, City University of New York, 1987, p. 53.
38. In her discussion of Maxim the Greek’s defence of free will against astrology, Sinitsyna makes no reference to the influence of Pico della Mirandola. Instead, she refers to the debate on free will between Erasmus and Luther that took place between September 1524 and February 1526. The former initiated the argument by publishing On the Free Will:  Diatribe or Discussionin September 1524. Luther replied in December 1525 with  Bondage of the Will . In turn, in February 1526 Erasmus replied to Luther’s work. However, these works postdate those by Maxim the Greek. Thus, I would argue that Maxim’s arguments in favour of free will, expounded in a dialogue with Bülow against astrology, were formulated in the light of Pico’s exposition of similar views in the 1490s. This is supported by his close relationship with Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola at the turn of the sixteenth century. See Sinitsyna, Tretii Rim, p. 182. For more on the Erasmus-Luther debate, see Michael  Allen Gillespie, The Theological Origins of Modernity, Chicago, IL, 2008, pp. 146–61.
39. Eugenio Garin, Astrology in the Renaissance: The Zodiac of Life, London, 1983, p. 96.
40. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinatricem, ed. Eugenio Garin, 3 vols, Florence, 1946–52, 1, p. 44.
41. Rabin, Two Renaissance Views, p. 48.
42. Ibid., pp. 48, 86.
43. Pico, Disputationes , 2, pp. 498, 500, 502.
44. Ibid., 1, p. 40. Also quoted in Rabin, Two Renaissance Views, p. 47.
45. Maxim, Tvoreniia, 2, p. 210.
46. Ibid., p. 211.
47. The Russian title is: ‘O tom, chto Promyslom Bozhiim, a ne zvezdami i krugom schastiia ustraivaetsia chelovecheskaia sud´ba.’ See ibid., pp. 225–39.
48. Ibid., p. 234.
49. Ibid., p. 271.
50. Ibid., p. 207.
51. Ibid., p. 210. Compare with the words of Augustine in The Literal Meaning of Genesis : ‘Hence, we must admit that when astrologers speak the truth, they are speaking by a mysterious instinct that moves a man’s mind without his knowing it. When this happens for the purpose of deceiving men, it is the work of evil spirits. To these spirits some knowledge of the truth about the temporal order has been granted [...] But sometimes these wicked spirits also feign the power of divination and foretell what they themselves intend to do.’ See Augustine, The Literal Meaning of Genesis , ed. John Hammond Taylor, New York, 1982, 1, p. 72.
52. Maxim, Tvoreniia , 2, p. 220. 53. Ibid., p. 221.7
54. Revd Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (eds), The Ante-Nicene Fathers: The Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325, Volume VIII: The Twelve Patriarchs, Excerpts and Epistles, The Clementia, Apocrypha, Decretals, Memoirs of Edessa and Syriac Documents, Remains of the First  Ages, Grand Rapids, MN, 1977, p. 306.7
55. Maxim, Tvoreniia , 2, p. 211.7
56. Ibid., p. 271.
57. Ibid.
58. See The Tablature of Cebes the Theban, a disciple of Socrates. Being an Allegorical picture of human life , trans. Samuel Boyse, Glasgow, 1750, p. 11, pp. 34–35.
59. Maxim, Tvoreniia , 2, p. 211.
60. Ibid.
61. Ibid., p. 212.
62. Ibid.
63. Ibid., p. 214.
64. On Maxim’s acquaintance with the astrological views of Rosate, see É. Denisoff, Maxime le Grec et l’Occident. Contribution à l’histoire de la pensée religieuse et philosophique de Michel Trivolis , Paris-Louvain, 1943, p. 200; Ivanov, ‘Maksim Grek’, p. 146.
65. Maxim, Tvoreniia , 2, p. 258.
66. Ibid., pp. 258–59.
67. Ibid., p. 280.
68. Ibid. Maxim refers to ‘a certain Kobezmik Ferrarskii’. Both V. N. Zabugin and V. S. Ikonnikov argue that Maxim is here referring to Cosmico. See V. N. Zabugin, ‘Iulii Pomponii Let: “Kriticheskoe issledovanie”’, Istoricheskoe obozrenie , 18, 1914, p. 16; Ikonnikov, pp. 113–14.
69. Ibid. For more on Nifo, see Thorndike, A History of Magic , 5, pp. 69–93.
70. Maxim, Tvoreniia , 2, p. 213.
71. Ibid., p. 219.
72. Ibid., p. 214.
73. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (eds), A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, second series, 14 vols, Grand Rapids, MN, 1952–56, 1, p. 490.
74. ‘Matthew Blastares’, Encyclopædia Britannica Online , <http://www. britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/69039/Matthew-Blastares> [accessed 14 May 2009].
75. Matthew Blastares, ‘Alfavitnaia Syntagma’, in Biblioteka Iakova Krotova , <www.krotov.info/acts/canons/vlastar06.html> [accessed 30 April 2009]. (Letter M, ch. 1). Also see Maxim, Tvoreniia , 2, p. 215.
76. Article 9.18 in the Codex Iustinianus , for example, states: ‘De maleficiis et mathematicis et ceteris similibus.’ This translates as: ‘Concerning enchanters, magicians and other similar persons.’ See, Corpus Iuris Civilis , ed. Paul Krüger, 3 vols, Berlin, 1906, 2, p. 379.
77.The Latin text reads: ‘Artem geometriae discere atque exerceri publice intersit. Ars autem mathematica damnabilis interdicta est.’ See ibid., p. 379.
78. The Latin text reads: ‘Nemo haruspicem consulat aut mathematicum.’ See ibid., p. 380.
79. R. A. Simonov, ‘Rossiiskie pridvornye “matematiki” XVI–XVII vekov’, Voprosy istorii , 1986, 1, pp. 76–84 (pp. 76–77).
80. Maxim, Tvoreniia , 2, p. 215. For Blastares’s commentary, see Blastares, ‘Alfavitnaia’, (‘O chislogadateliakh’, Letter M, ch. 1). For Balsamon’s commentary, see Schaff and Wace, A Select Library, 14, p. 151.
81. Maxim, Tvoreniia , 2, p. 216.
82. Schaff and Wace, A Select Library, 14, p. 151.
83. Maxim, Tvoreniia , 2, p. 222.
84. For an account of St Leo’s encounters with Heliodorus, see V. Latyshev, Neizdannye  grecheskie agiograficheskie teksty, St Petersburg, 1914, pp. 12–28.
85. Alexander Kazhdan, ‘Holy and Unholy Miracle Workers’, in Henry Maguire (ed.), Byzantine Magic , Washington, D.C., 1995, p. 77.
86. Schaff and Wace, A Select Library, 8, p. 86. See Maxim, Tvoreniia , 2, pp. 244–45.
87. St. Gregory Nazianzus, The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation. St. Gregory of Nazianzus: Select Orations , trans. Martha Vinson, Washington, D.C., 2003, pp. 64–65.
88. Schaff and Wace, A Select Library, 9, p. 24b. See Maxim, Prepodobnyi , 2, pp. 260–61. John of Damascus’s work is commonly referred to as the  Bogoslovie in Russia. It was translated into Old Church Slavonic by John the Exarch of Bulgaria, probably before 893. For more information on the importance of this work in early Rus´, see Anne-Laurence Caudano, ‘“Let there be Lights in the Firmament of the Heaven”: Cosmological Depictions in Early Rus’, in Palaeoslavica , 14, 2006, 2, pp. 10–11.
89. Schaff and Wace,  A Select Library, 10, p. 436.
90. Maxim, Tvoreniia , 2, p. 290.
91. Cited from Thorndike, A History of Magic , p. 181. See Maxim, Tvoreniia, 2, pp. 255, 277.
92. Ibid., p. 255.
93. Ibid., p. 277.
94. The tract is entitled ‘Slovo oblichitel´noe, otchasti, protiv latinskago zloveriia: zdes´ zhe i protiv “Al´manakha”, kotoryi vozvelerechi, chto budet vsemirnyi potop bolee gibel´nyi, chem upominaemyi kogdalibo’ (‘Denunciatory Sermon, partly against the evil belief of the Latins: here against the “Almanach”, which extols that there shall be a universal flood more destructive than ever recorded’). See Maxim, Tvoreniia , 2, pp. 276–93.
95. Ibid., p. 278.
96. Ibid.
97. Ibid., p. 279.
98. Ibid., p. 287.