Monday, February 06, 2017
How to Stop Drinking: Stephan Bergler's Supposed Conversion to Islam
Fabricius counted among his correspondents the leading scholars of his age. He was assisted in the compilation of the Bibliotheca Latina by the Danish scholar, Christian Falster3; and, in that of the Bibliotheca Graeca, by Küster4. He was also largely aided in the latter by Stephan Bergler (c. 1680-c. 1746), who, by his knowledge of Greek, might have attained a place among the foremost scholars of his time, but was reduced to the level of a literary hack by an insatiable craving for drink. Early in the century he was a corrector of proofs at Leipzig; in 1705 he left for Amsterdam, where he produced indices to the edition of Pollux begun by Lederlin and continued by Hemsterhuys, and himself completed Lederlin's edition of Homer (1707). We next find him helping Fabricius at Hamburg and elsewhere. During his second stay at Leipzig, he produced an excellent edition of Alciphron (1715); his edition of Aristophanes was published after his death by the younger Burman (1760); his work on Herodotus is represented only by some critical notes in the edition of Jacob Gronovius (1715); while his Latin translation of Herodian was not published until 1789. His rendering of a modern Greek work on moral obligations5 led to, his being invited to undertake the tuition of the author's sons at Bucharest, a position for which his intemperate habits made him peculiarly unfit. However, he was thus enabled to send Fabricius a few notes on the Greek MSS in his patron's library. After this he disappears from view. On his patron's death in 1730, he is said to have left for Constantinople, and to have adopted the religion of Islam. If so, he probably ended his days in perfect sobriety6.On the dispute as to whether Bergler converted to Islam, see Christoph Saxe (1714-1806), Onomasticon Literarium, sive Nomenclator Historico-Criticus, Pars Sexta (Utrecht: Paddenburg, 1788), pp. 78-81 (at 80-81):
3 Cp. chap. xxxviii init.
4 ii 445 supra.
5 Nic. Mavrokordatos, Περὶ τῶν καθηκόντων, 1722.
6 Cp. Burman's Aristophanes, i 2-14; Reimar, De Vita Fabricii, 169 f, 222 f; Saxe, Onom. vi 78-81 ; [Conrad] Bursian, [Geschichte der classischen Philologie in Deutschland (1883),] i 362-4.
Rumor fuit, pulsum domo a Maurocordato abiisse ad Turcos, iisque circumsecandum se praebuisse. v. Christo. Wollius ad Clarkii Dissertationem de verbis Mediis, p. 240. ex eo P. Burmannus, in Praefatione ad Aristophanem, p 3 & 9. & Io. Matthi. Gesnerus ad Isagogen §. 524. p. 422. 423. Tom. I. qui varia de eo singularia habet. Sed in alia omnia nuper abiit Paulus Wallaszky, in Conspectu Reipublicae Litterariae in Hungaria, Posonii, & Lipsiae, 1785 8. edito, p. 243 (b.) qui vti eum vocat Cynicae vitae Philologum, sic refert, euocatum in Valachiam a Nicol. Maurocordato principe, vt filios eius doceret, mortuumque esse non tamen, vt Turcicum recutitum, quemadmodum Cl. Gesner in Praelect. Isag. in Erudit. vniversam §. 524. false ait, sed Bucharesti magna cum pompa elatum esse.Paullus Wallaszky (1742-1824), Conspectus Reipublicae Litterariae in Hungaria, 2nd ed. (Buda: Typis Regiae Vniversitatis Hungaricae, 1808), p. 355, note a:
In short, Wallaszky contradicts Gesner's claim that Bergler ended up as a circumcised Turk, and states instead that he died and was buried in Bucharest. But Gesner knew Bergler personally ("Novi istum hominem Lipsiae....Fui aliquando apud ipsum"), and so his account should be given some weight. See Johann Matthias Gesner (1691-1761), Primae Lineae Isagoges In Eruditionem Universalem, 2nd ed. (Leipzig: Fritsch, 1784), pp. 423-424:
Note that, in contrast to Sandys' speculation ("he probably ended his days in perfect sobriety"), Gesner suggests that maybe the Turks killed him for drinking ("Sine dubio periit vt pecus, aut a Turcis inter pocula interfectus est"). But this is just a guess, since Gesner admits that he lost contact with Bergler after his move to Turkey ("Postea nihil de illo mihi innotuit").
Maria C. Marinescu, "Umanistul Ştefan Bergler (1680-1738). Viața şi activitatea sa," Rivista istorică romănă 11-12 (1941-1942 ) 163-213, is unavailable to me.
I took a quick look at Marina Marinescu, "Neue Erkenntnisse über den Siebenbürgischen Humanisten Stephan Bergler (1680-1738)," Balkan Studies 30.2 (1989) 221-260, but didn't notice anything about Bergler's conversion to Islam, except for this excerpt (on p. 222) from Peter Burmann the Younger's preface to his edition of Aristophanes (Leiden, 1760), pp. 3-4:
Est hic Stephanus Berglerus Transilvanus, Hermanstadiensis (falsch!), qui Homeri editionem Barnesianam erudite recensuit, atque in Acta nostra Latina retulit. Vivebat eo tempore vir hic Graece doctissimus in hac Academia (Lipsiensi) deque Graecis literis egregie merebatur. Ego ipse cognovi hominem, in Graecis quidem literis praecipuum, at moribus impolitum, atque ex ejus usu, quum hanc linguam in hac Academia colerem, non parum profeci. Post aliquot annos hinc Hamburgum ad Fabricium, deinde Amstelodamum ad Kusterum ivit. Hinc vero Lipsiam rediens Graecos quosdam auctores (Aristophanem nempe & Herodotum) Th. Fritschii sumtu, praelo paravit, qui et Seren. Principis Valachiensis Alex. Maurocordati Tò περί των καθηκόντων βιβλίον Latine ipsi vertendum dedit, an. 1722. formis hic descriptum. Pro quo labore quum Princeps valde liberalis eximium ei pretium solvisset, consilium tandem Cl. Berglerus capiebat in Valachiam ad ipsum proficiendi, commodam ibi plures hujusmodi libros convertendi nacturus occasionem. Hoc autem in vivis non amplius reperto, Constantinopolim se contulit, ac, si famae tunc emananti credendum, Mohammedicam adscivit religionem.