(Arclin, February 9, 1705 – Perchtoldsdorf near Vienna, November 21, 1774)
A pioneer of oceanography
Janez Žiga Valentin Popovič was a remarkable man, an all-around thinker, and one of the most well-studied and well-read Slovenians of the 18th century. "The greatest scholar of Austria at the time, an apt philologist and natural scientist," as he is immodestly referred to by Jernej Kopitar, was in fact a true polymath, strongly believing that natural sciences and linguistics form a natural whole.
Janez Žiga Valentin Popovič, a Slovenian and Celje native ("Zillerischer Winde"), was born on February 9, 1705, in Arclin near Celje to a court official of Slovenian descent. He graduated in philosophy and theology in 1728 in Graz, but never became a priest. Rather, he travelled around Italy for three years, and then worked as a live-in teacher with reputable Styrian noble families for fifteen years, which included teaching Slovenian.
During his stay in Regensburg, he published his most extensive work called „Untersuchungen vom Meere“ (The Study of the Seas, 1750). The work brought him immediate scholarly fame. The book is a collection of contributions in natural sciences, linguistics, archaeology, geography, and culture policy, of lyric expressions and scientific plans of one of the leading Austrian thinkers of the time. Despite the eclectic character of the work, his treatises on the sea are seen as perhaps the earliest forms of oceanography.
In 1753, he was appointed chair of the German language and rhetoric department at the University of Vienna, founded only four years earlier upon initiative of his great adversary Johann Christoph Gottsched. Thus, a Slovenian, Janez Popovič, authored the first German descriptive grammar adapted for the Austrian imperial hereditary lands. Upon initiative by Maria Theresa, he published in 1754 "Die nothwendigsten Anfangsgründe der Teutschen Sprachkunst zum Gebrauche der Oesterreichischen Schulen" which sold like hot cakes.
Notable Celje natives in Europe:
- Roman Senator Titus Varius Clemens
- Count Herman II of Celje
- Barbara of Celje, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia
- Briccius Preprost
- Tomaž Prelokar
- Janez Žiga Valentin Popovič
Notable Europeans in Celje: