Jan Amos KOMENSKÝ - life, work, legacy



Ventilabrum sapientiae sive Sapienter sua retractandi ars. Cum adjuncta authoris omnium didacticarum suarum cogitationum retractatione brevi


The winnowing fan of wisdom, or, The art of wisely considering particular matters. With a short evaluation by the author of his didactic efforts


Origin of the work:
  1656 – 1657 Amsterdam

  1657 Amsterdam, Opera didactica omnia IV

1872 Prague, in: Besedě učitelské, pp469-472, Czech translation by F. J. Zoubek

1955 Prague, in: Praeceptor gentium. Vychovatel národů, (Latin & Czech; Czech translation by J. Patočka, M. Klučka & F. Heřmanský

1957 Prague, Opera didactica omnia IV (phototype edition)

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



In this work Comenius undertakes stern self-criticism of his didactic treatises. In the introduction he relates that his works have had many judges, both well and poorly educated. He welcome their criticisms, however, and would be first to acknowledge and rectify his errors. He wishes, too, to judge his own work for himself. He then explains the meaning of the word ventilabrum (winnowing fan); as in the farmer’s work, where this is a tool by means of which the pure grain is separated from the chaff, so in the life of every person it is possible to separate the good from the erroneous. Life is a school, in which Man attains true wisdom by overcoming his mistakes and weaknesses. The judgements of both friends and opponents aid him in recognising his errors and insufficiencies – but the author must also judge his own work.

Comenius goes on to consider and judge particular of his own works, the main criterion for his assessment being to what extent they have assisted young people in the study of Latin, as this is the teaching language of all secondary schools and universities.

An example of a textbook of New Testament Greek is attached, under the title Epitome Novi Testamenti (NT Epitome; Summary of the New Testament).


For further study, see also:

Vybrané spisy J. A. Komenského, vol. II. Prague 1960, pp486-487

J. V. Novák & J. Hendrich, Jan Amos Komenský, jeho život a spisy. Prague 1932, pp526-528

Jan Kumpera, Jan Amos Komenský, poutník na rozhraní věků. Prague & Ostrava 1992, p308



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