Jan Amos KOMENSKÝ - life, work, legacy



Latinae lingvae janua reserata rerum et lingvae structuram exhibens ordine nativo (ad leges Methodi lingvarum novissimae). Die offene Tür der lateinischen Sprach  


The open gate of the Latin language, set out in the natural order of affairs and tongues (according to the fundamentals explained in the Newest method of languages



Origin of the work:
  1644 – 1648 Elbląg

  1649 Leszno

1656 London

1657 Amsterdam, Opera didactica omnia II, only the Latin foreword and four chapters of Latin and German text

1957 Prague, Opera didactica omnia II (phototype edition), only the Latin foreword and four chapters of Latin and German text

1959 Prague, in: J. Červenka, J. A. Comenii Ianua linguarum reserata, only the Latin text without the parallel German text




A Latin-German re-working of the second version of the textbook the Janua linguarum, amended according to the fundamentals of the Newest method of languages (the Methodus). It is closely related to the Latin textbook for beginners, the Vestibule of the Latin language (the Vestibulum – Vortür) and in this sense represents a higher level of Latin teaching. Like the latter, it was intended to serve in the reform of Swedish schooling. While it has the same number of chapters as the Leszno Janua (the Janua linguarum), the text is more extensive, and in its structure and explanations it is better thought out and more precise. It was received with praise by the public, but also prompted criticism.

Comenius writes regarding the aims of this work in a letter to the German teacher and alchemist Petrus Colbovius dated August 5th 1650. He explains that he wrote the new Janua so that pupils would understand things, not words. To the objections of several men of learning, not excepting Colbovius himself, that in its new form the Gate of Tongues does not acknowledge all the Classical Latin words (in particular from the period of Plautus and Pacuvius), Comenius replies that words, sentences and language are merely the medium of knowledge. His endeavour has been to ensure that students recognise and properly understand all that they see around them, and what is in the world. He would thus seek to obtain from the Janua an “encyclopaedia of things”, i.e. he had regard for its pansophic character in improving society and the world. This caused considerable growth in the text of the Janua, but Comenius retained the same number of chapters and sentences in order that it might not appear that the work was different. With regard to its shortcomings, he promises that he will remove wordiness at an appropriate juncture, and that access to its practical use will be improved by the addition of parallel texts in national (mother) tongues to the Latin text, and a limited grammar. A grammar (Grammatica vernacula) and an etymological dictionary were appended to the Gate of Tongues.


For further study, see also:

J. Červenka, J. A. Comenii Ianua linguarum reserata. De Comenii Ianua linguarum reserata commentatio. Prague, 1959, ppXX-XXI

J. V. Novák & J. Hendrich, Jan Amos Komenský, jeho život a spisy. Prague 1932, pp432-435

Jan Kumpera, J. A. Komenský, poutník na rozhraní věků. Prague & Ostrava 1992, pp247-248




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