Maximus of Ephesus

Maximus of Ephesus (Greek: Μάξιμος ὁ Ἐφέσιος) was a Platonist philosopher who lived c. 310 – 372 ACE.

Maximus was born around the beginning of the 4th century ACE, perhaps 310 ACE, from a rich family. His exact place of birth is unknown; though it is certain thathe came from the west of Asia Minor and Ammianus Marcellinus calls Ephesus the hometown of Maximu. Maximus had a brother named Claudianus, who also became a philosopher. Another brother, Nymphidianus, was appointed by emperor Julian Magister epistolarum graecarum (secretary for Greek correspondence). Ammonius Hermiae reported that Maximus was a pupil of the Platonist “Hierius”.

From around 335–350 ACE Maximus was in Pergamon as a pupil of Aedesius, a Platonist philosopher who founded a school in Pergamon which emphasized polytheism and theurgy. While he was there, Maximus studied alongside Chrysanthius, Eusebius of Myndus, and Priscus. Many Platonists practiced theurgy (attempting to commune with God by special ritual actions), and there is a testimony according to which Maximus successfully breaking a love-spell which had been cast on the philosopher Sosipatra by one of her relatives.

Around 350 ACE, Maximus left Pergamon in order to work in Ephesus as a philosophy teacher. In 351, the yet-to-be emperor Julian went to Pergamon, in order to study with Aedesius. Whilst there, Eusebius, who was critical of theurgy, warned Julian against getting involved with Maximus or theurgy. Instead, this warning had the opposite effect, and Julian went to Ephesus between May 351 and April 352, in order to continue his training with Maximus there.