Max Müller (Friedrich Maximilian Müller, Friedrich Max Müller, or Friedrich Max-Müller) (mäks mül´ər;frē´drĬkh mäk´sēmēl´yän), 1823–1900, German philologist and Orientalist, b. Dessau; son of the poet Wilhelm Müller. After specializing in Sanskrit in Germany, he went to Oxford, where he lived for the remainder of his life. Müller did more than any other scholar to popularize philology and mythology, particularly in his lectures Science of Language (1861, 1863). He advanced the theory that myths originated from metaphors describing natural pnenomena. Greatly interested in comparative religion, he wrote works on Indian religion and philosophy, including the standard edition of the Rig-Veda with Commentary (6 vol., 1849–73). From c.1875 until his death Müller was engaged in his greatest work, the editing of Sacred Books of the East (51 vol.), being translations of important Asian religious writings.
See his memoirs (tr. 1906); studies by J. H. Voigt (1967) and R. Neufeldt (1980).