The “Dear Augustin” (Marx Augustin, or Markus Augustin) is said to have actually existed (1643-1685 or 1702) in Vienna. Because of his indestructible humor, the bagpiper Augustin was dear to the Viennese during the time of the plague. Generally, he was just called “dear Augustin” and that’s how we remember him:
It is the year 1679, and winter in Vienna will soon be over. The bagpiper Augustin is a modest and simple man, who every day in the evening played his jokes in a different inn, mainly in the “Roter Hahn”, a pub that still exists today, or in the “Gelber Adler”, in the beer house“Zum roten Dachl” at the Fleischmarkt or elsewhere. With his good humor and healthy Viennese humor, he provides a happy and exuberant mood for which the hosts like to spoil him.
The coming spring, however, brings dark times to Vienna, as the plague breaks out and ravages the city. Within a short period of time, thousands of people are killed, many flee, others spend their entire fortune, and despair spreads. At first Augustin manages to cheer people up a little, at least for a moment, but when everyone has to mourn one or more deaths in their own circle, people stay at home to mourn or out of fear of infection.
One night Augustin staggers heavily drunk through the streets of Vienna, falls, remains lying, immediately falls fast asleep. So he doesn’t notice when the servants come by with the hearse and load him up. They dump the dead into the plague pit near St. Ulrich, where the Augustinbrunnen stands today. When morning dawns, Augustin awakens from his deep sleep and is dazed. He doesn’t know where he is. It seems strange to him when he sees himself surrounded by brown walls, swarmed by swarms of flies and enveloped in the awful stench. But now he realizes that he is sitting on a pile of corpses , and it dawns on him what has happened.
Apart from fear and terror, he cries desperately for help, but no one can hear him. Then he grabs his bagpipes and starts playing. One song after another he lets ring out to endure his fear. But now the first churchgoers come by and wonder what kind of music that is, which does not come from the church. Following the sounds, they step up to the plague pit and find Augustin . They immediately help him out of the pit. It is believed to be a miracle that he spent the night with the dead without catching it. Augustin lives for a long time in perfect health.
On the other hand, the story is said to date back to the Middle Ages, or was brought by Abraham a Santa Clara from his native Saxony. But nobody knows for sure…
To this day, Augustin epitomizes the resilient spirit of life in this city and the fact that you can survive even the worst in life with humor, wine and music . A true Viennese, after all.
“Living funny and dying funny is spoiling the devil’s reckoning.”
Time Travel Tip: In today’s restaurant “Griechenbeisl” you can meet the dear Augustin. A doll figure sits in a pit near the entrance under a viewing grate and is happy when guests throw coins down to him.