Jan Amos KOMENSKÝ - life, work, legacy

De libris


De primario ingenia colendi instrumento solerter versando, libris, oratio. Sub laborum auspicia in Patakinae scholae auditorio majori recitata anno 1650, 28. Novembris


An oration on how to skilfully work with books – the primary instrument in the cultivation of ability. Delivered at the beginning of labour at the grand auditorium of the Sárospatak school in the year 1650 on the 28th of November



Origin of the work:
  1650 Sárospatak

  (1652 Sárospatak), without date or place of publication, in: Primitiae laborum scholasticorum

1657 Amsterdam, in: Latinitatis schola triclassis

1657 Amsterdam, Opera didactica omnia III

1894 Prague, in the collection: Řeči potocké, Czech translation by F. J. Zoubek & J. V. Novák

1957 Prague, Opera didactica omnia III, (phototype edition)

1960 Prague, Vybrané spisy J. A. Komenského, vol. II, Czech translation by J. Kopecký

1970 Prague, parallel translations of the Latin text into Czech, Slovak, Russian, Polish, Hungarian and German

1992 Prague, J. A. Comenii Opera omnia, vol. 15/III



This is one of the speeches given by Comenius when after months of being in residence at Sárospatak he could see little success in his work at the school. He gives three reasons for the situation: 1. there is a lack of suitable books; 2. where the books exist, few have access to them, and 3. the teachers do not have an appropriate method. He sees the remedy as lying in three things: 1. candidates for education should value books above gold and precious stones; 2. they should choose from them things useful for their own education, and 3. they should use them properly.




In later parts of the speech, Comenius provides very specific advice on how to study, the benefits that follow from this, and in what manner useful books are to be obtained. A major help lies on the foundation of a well-stocked school library, and in the diligent and carefully thought-out use thereof. Books, however, can also be a suitable instrument for extra-mural study (among the self-taught). Comenius included this speech, together with the preceding Oration on the Cultivation of the Soul (the De cultura ingeniorum) and the somewhat later Latin School Divided into Three Classes (the Schola Latina) in the collected First Fruits of Labour at the Enlightened Sárospatak Gymnasium (the Primitiae laborum).


For further study, see also:

J. V. Novák & J. Hendrich, Jan Amos Komenský, jeho život a spisy. Prague 1932, p452

Vybrané spisy J. A. Komenského, vol. II. Prague l960, pp479-480

J. A. Comenii Opera omnia, vol. 15/III. Prague 1992, pp335-339

Jan Kumpera, Jan Amos Komenský, poutník na rozhraní věků. Prague & Ostrava 1992, pp289-290




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