We do not know with any certainty who Antonius Magirus really was. Magirus means cook in Greek, but to conclude that it “is obviously a pen-name”1 as Notaker and several other authors have done, is in our opinion erroneous. We concur with the Flemish scholar Willy Braekman who speculates that Magirus might well be the Hellenized name of a man who was born Antoon de Kok, Cock or De Cock2, names that in the Dutch language also signify “cook”, but that in the sixteenth and seventeenth century were already very common. The Latinizing or Hellenizing of surnames was also fairly common practice at that time, at least in humanist circles.
The World Biographical Index mentions at least twenty-three notable seventeenth century pastors, doctors, musicians, mathematicians and theologians called Magirus3. We found lots of (De) Cock’s in early seventeenth century parochial registers and citizen records in the area between Ghent and Antwerp (the so-called Waasland). We even found an “Antonis de Cock, schipper (bargeman), Moerbeke” who was written down as a citizen of Antwerp in August 1, 15784. We were however unable to make a positive identification. Future research probably will shed more light on the mystery of the identity of “our” Magirus.
On closer reading of the Koocboec, the author reveals intriguing tidbits of personal information. These lead us to conclude that the traditional identification of the author with the humanist writer of the Satyrae sive Sermones familiares and Antwerp alderman Peter Scholiers or Petrus Scholirius (1582-1635) is not correct. The identification was first made in 1739 by the Belgian biographer Jean François (Jan Frans) Foppens (1689-1761)5 without any reference to an authority. It has since been repeateduncritically by most scholars.
The case for the authorship of Scholiers looks promising at first. On 8 October of the same year as the cookery-book was published he obtained a degree in law in Louvain. This means he was in the city when the Koocboec was printed by Jan Christoffel Flavius. It might seem strange for a student to write a cookery-book, but Scholiers was at that moment already 29 years old. This son of a rich German family called Schüller had tried in vain to obtain a degree in philosophy since 1600. Another compelling fact is that Scholiers left Louvain immediately after obtaining his law degree, to make a six year “grand tour” of Italy in the company of the young Duke of Aarschot, Filips-Karel van Arenberg (1587-1640).
- Notaker (2002: 59). [↩]
- Braekman, W. L. 1995. Een Antwerps Kookboek voor “Lekkertonghen”. Uitgave van Cock Bouck. Handschrift nr. 240 (B 79834) Antwerpse Stadsbibliotheek. Publicaties SBA/AMVC 46. Antwerp: Stadsbibliotheek, 21. [↩]
- “World Biographical Index Internet Edition” Online-Databases from K.G. Saur [opened on 26/8/02]. [↩]
- Antwerp Vierschaar 151, 35. [↩]
- Foppens, J. F. 1739 Bibliotheca Belgica sive virorum in Belgio vita, scriptisque illustrum catalogus, librorumque nomenclatura etc. 2 vols. Brussels: Petrus Foppens, II,1008-1009. [↩]