A Study on the Chief Physician Mustafa Behçet Efendi’s Translation Risâle-i FrengiSibel Pekdoğan
Taking human health to the center has made medical science one of the most interesting areas throughout history. Especially in times and societies where epidemic diseases such as tuberculosis, plague, leprosy, malaria, cholera, and Syphilis, which significantly threaten social health and cause mass deaths, accelerate, physicians, have written works both about the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases and to inform the public about these diseases. One of these physicians is Mustafa Behçet Efendi, one of the essential names in Turkish medical history. In addition to medical science, Behçet Efendi, who had the best foreign language knowledge among the Ottoman physicians and was a high figure in the provinces, brought many medical works in Arabic, Persian, Latin, and Italian. The fact that he wrote not only in medical history but also in natural sciences and political history shows his versatility. In this article, the treatise “Risâle-i Frengi”, which includes the origin, symptoms, and treatment of syphilis disease, translated from the translation of Physician Mustafa Behçet Efendi into Italian while it was originally Latin, was examined. The work has been translated into many European languages and published many times. This study aimed to draw attention to the existence of this precious work. Firstly, it outlines the spread of the disease through the Ottoman state and the measures taken by the authorities against the disease; then, it provides information about the life and works of Mustafa Behçet Efendi and presents a general introduction of the content of the work.
Hekimbaşı Mustafa Behçet Efendi’nin Çeviri Eseri Risâle-i Frengi Üzerine Bir İncelemeSibel Pekdoğan
İnsan sağlığını merkeze alması tıp bilimini, tarih boyunca ilgi duyulan alanlardan biri haline getirmiştir. Özellikle toplum sağlığını önemli ölçüde tehdit eden ve kitle ölümlerine neden olan verem, veba, cüzzam, sıtma, kolera ve frengi gibi salgın hastalıkların ivme kazandığı dönemlerde ve toplumlarda, hekimler gerek bu hastalıkların tanı ve tedavileri hakkında, gerekse halkı bu hastalıklara karşı bilgilendirmek için eserler kaleme almışlardır. Bu hekimlerden biri, Türk tıp tarihinin önemli isimlerinden Mustafa Behçet Efendi’dir. Tıp biliminin yanı sıra Osmanlı dönemi hekimleri arasında mümtaz bir şahsiyet olan Behçet Efendi, Arapça, Farsça, Latince ve İtalyancadan birçok tıp eserini Türkçeye kazandırmıştır. Sadece tıp tarihi alanında değil, doğa bilimleri ve siyaset tarihi alanlarında eserler de kaleme alması onun çok yönlülüğünü göstermektedir. Bu çalışmada, frengi hastalığının menşei, belirtileri ve tedavisini içeren, Mustafa Behçet Efendi’nin aslı Latince olan “Doctrina de Morbis Venereis” adlı eserin İtalyanca tercümesinden Osmanlı Türkçesine çevirdiği “Risâle-i Frengi” “eseri incelenmiştir. “Doctrina de Morbis Venereis” birçok Avrupa diline çevrilmiş ve defalarca basılmıştır. Bu kıymetli eserin varlığına dikkat çekmeyi amaçlayan çalışmada, öncelikle hastalığın Osmanlı Devleti’ne sirayeti ve devletin hastalığa karşı aldığı önlemler ana hatlarıyla izah edilmiş, daha sonra Mustafa Behçet Efendi’nin hayatı ve eserleri hakkında bilgi verilerek, eserin içeriğinin genel bir tanıtımı yapılmıştır.
Syphilis, which emerged in the late fifteenth century, is a highly contagious disease that affects the body’s finest tissues. Although treatable, it causes a lot of mental and emotional damage. The disease leaves physical scars and, in most cases, leads to death. The fact that a pregnant infected with Syphilis infects the baby in the womb causes the disease to be inherited. Like other states, the Ottoman State has been affected by this epidemic. Since it transmits through sexual interaction, people with Syphilis were excluded from the community. It was called “Syphilus” in Europe, “French disease” in England, “Italian or Naples disease” in France, “Portuguese or Chinese disease” in Japan, and Frankish (effrenci) in the Ottoman State.
Syphilis cases in the Ottoman realm were rare owing to the lack of interaction with Europeans and the consideration of prostitution as a great sin. The disease started in the Ottoman territory in the nineteenth century. It was first detected in Istanbul and spread to Anatolia in a short time. Whereas the reason for its spread in Istanbul was thought to be foreign women settling in Galata uncontrolled, it was due to the flow of people from the war zone of the Ottoman-Russian Wars and the soldiers discharged from duty in Anatolia.
As a part of the fight against Syphilis, the Ottoman administration initiated the first brothel (1856-1858) in Istanbul, where the outbreak began to be seen. Later on, the Health Commission (1869-1870) was established to combat prostitution, and the ‘Regulation for Venereal Diseases’ (Emrâz-i Zühreviye Nizamnamesi) came into force in 1880. Thus, regular inspection and health checks of women in brothels were made, and necessary measures were taken to prevent infectious diseases. It was reported to the central administration that the German General Von der Goltz Pasha also saw the disease in the Ottoman army. Thereupon, German Dermatologist Ernst von Düring was invited to Turkey. Düring Pasha and his team, who served in the Ottoman State between 1889 and 1902, conducted some research and lectures on Syphilis in Anatolia.
Measures taken in Istanbul were expanded throughout the country, and reports on the fight against Syphilis were prepared. The fight in Anatolia started in the regions where the epidemic was prevalent. With the new regulation issued in 1915, precautions became stricter in terms of controlling brothels, directing infected people to examination, and not discharging those who were treated without complete recovery. Besides, doctors, pharmacists, medicines, and medical supplies were sent to the areas where outbreaks occurred. Mobile syphilis teams were established in 1924, and treatment stations were established in various towns and villages to increase the efficiency of syphilis studies.
Struggle with the epidemic was not limited to these actions. Some physicians defined the disease, symptoms, and treatment methods by writing books, treatises, and leaflets. One of them was the chief physician Mustafa Behçet Efendi. Behçet Efendi was the physician of Selim III (r. 1789-1807) and Mahmut II (1808-1839). He has written and translated many works, mainly in medicine. Among them was his translation from Italian titled Risâle-i Frengi (Treatise on Syphilis). In this work, which is the primary source of this contribution, the origin, symptoms, complications, damage it causes for various organs, Syphilis in women, and its treatment are discussed in detail.