A Dutch translation of Bartolomeo Scappi’s Opera (1612)

Magirus wrote not only for culinary reasons. He starts his Koocboec with a long, rather philosophical foreword1, in which he not only mentions Aristoteles, “the Prince of Philosophers”, but also starts a polemic – without mentioning him by name – with Erycius Puteanus (Eerrijk de Put, 1574-1646), son of the burgomaster of Venlo in Upper Gelderland, and successor to Justius Lipsius – “the most influential European philosopher of his age”2 – as Professor of Latin Literature at the University of Louvain.
In 1608 Puteanus published De luxu conviviorum against luxurious feasts. This pamphlet caused an uproar in Antwerp, because the rich – and, to many contemporaries, decadent – citizens of that city thought Puteanus was ridiculing them. Copies of the pamphlet were publicly burnt in Antwerp. Puteanus wrote in a letter to his friend Max Plouvier that he feared for his life3. To “defend his good name” Puteanus soon after these frightening events published a moral allegory titled Comus, sive Phagesiposia Cimmeria. This “somnium” or dream was translated in Dutch (1611) and French (1613) and was later reprinted in Oxford (1636).
“Phagesiposia” are the feasting days of the deity of lechery Comus and are dedicated to debauchery. Puteanus’ Comus is a neo-Latin “Satura Menippea” and allegory against opulence and excessive luxury. To some scholars Puteanus is “one of the most well-spoken defenders of the ideal of temperance” propagated by the University of Louvain during the Contrareformation4. To others the work of Puteanus is “un chaos d’élucubrations en prose et en vers”5.

  1. Ibid., 2r-4v. All citations that follow are from this chapter. []
  2. Israel, Jonathan I. 1998 The Dutch Republic. Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall 1477-1806. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 411. []
  3. Brussels: Royal Library, Ms. 6523, f. 9. See also Sobry, Charles 1938 Comus of de Kimmerische zwelgpartij van Erycius Puteanus, hoogleraar te Leuven. Antwerp: De Sikkel, 1938: x-xi. []
  4. Witteveen, Joop 1999 “Vlaamse kookboeken”, in Mededelingsblad en verzamelde opstellen ASG, jrg. 17 nr. 4, 33-34. []
  5. Nève, F. 1856 Mémoire historique et littéraire sur le collège des Trois-Langues, Brussels, as cited by Sobry (1938: vii). []

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