Maximus Planudes, less often Maximos Planoudes (Greek: Μάξιμος Πλανούδης, c. 1260 – c. 1305) was a Greek monk, scholar, anthologist, translator, grammarian and theologian at Constantinople. Through his translations from Latin into Greek and from Greek into Latin he brought the Greek East and the Latin West into closer contact with one another. He is now best known as a compiler of the Greek Anthology.
Maximus Planudes lived during the reigns of the Eastern Roman Emperors, Michael VIII and Andronicos II. He was born at Nicomedia in Bithynia, but the greater part of his life was spent in Constantinople, where as a monk he devoted himself to study and teaching. On entering the monastery he changed his original name Manuel to Maximus.
Planudes possessed a knowledge of Latin remarkable at a time when Rome and Italy were regarded with some hostility by the Greeks of the Eastern Roman Empire. To this accomplishment he probably owed his selection as one of the ambassadors sent by emperor Andronicus II in 1327 to remonstrate with the Venetians for their attack upon the Genoese settlement in Pera near Constantinople. A more important result was that Planudes, especially by his translations, paved the way for the revival of the study of Greek language and literature in western Europe.
He was the author of numerous works, including: a Greek grammar in the form of question and answer, like the Erotemata of Manuel Moschopulus, with an appendix on the so-called "Political verse"; a treatise on syntax; a biography of Aesop and a prose version of the fables; scholia on certain Greek authors; two hexameter poems, one a eulogy of Claudius Ptolemaeus— whose Geography was rediscovered by Planudes, who translated it into Latin— the other an account of the sudden change of an ox into a mouse; a treatise on the method of calculating in use amongst the Indians (ed. C. J. Gerhardt, Halle, 1865); and scholia to the first two books of the Arithmetic of Diophantus.
His numerous translations from the Latin included Cicero's Somnium Scipionis with the commentary of Macrobius: Julius Caesar's Gallic War; Ovid's Heroides and Metamorphoses; Boethius' De consolatione philosophiae; and Augustine's De trinitate. These translations were not only useful to Greek speakers but were also widely used in western Europe as textbooks for the study of Greek.
It is, however, for his edition of the Greek Anthology that he is best known. This edition, the Anthology of Planudes or Planudean Anthology, is shorter than the Heidelberg text (the Palatine Anthology), and largely overlaps it, but contains 380 epigrams not present in it, normally published with the others, either as a sixteenth book or as an appendix.
J. W. Mackail in his book Select Epigrams from the Greek Anthology, has this to add of him:
- Among his works were translations into Greek of Augustine's City of God and Caesar's Gallic War. The restored Greek Empire of the Palaeologi was then fast dropping to pieces. The Genoese colony of Pera usurped the trade of Constantinople and acted as an independent state; and it brings us very near the modern world to remember that Planudes was the contemporary of Petrarch.
- Editions include: Fabricius, Bibliotheca graeca, ed. Harles, xi. 682; theological writings in Migne, Patrologia Graeca, cxlvii; correspondence, ed. M Treu (1890), with a valuable commentary
- K. Krumbacher, Geschichte der byzantinischen Litteratur (1897)
- J. E. Sandys, History of Classical Schol. (1906), vol. i
- E. A. Fisher, 'Planoudes, Maximos', in The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, ed. A. P. Kazhdan (1991. Oxford U.P.) (also Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press)
- A. Douglas, E. Cameron, 'Anthology', in The Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. S. Hornblower and A. Spawforth (2009. Oxford U.P.) (also Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press)
- Planudes from Charles Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1867), v. 3, pp. 384–390
- Select Epigrams from the Greek Anthology by J. W. Mackail (Project Gutenberg)
- The Greek Anthology, books 1–6, translated by W. R. Paton, with facing Greek text (Loeb Classical Library, 1916)