As such, these books are of enormous utility to the student of Latin, as they cover areas of knowledge with which we are somewhat familiar, and they provide a wealth of vocabulary, and knowledge about real things in the world – while at the same time giving us an insight into the mindset of the Renaissance, in a manner that no amount of academic study can give us – for by studying the course outlined by these textbooks, we become one of Comenius’ students, and are transported back in time. At the same time, we build up and strengthen our Latin.
Comenius' textbooks were very famous, and some editions remained in active classroom use until the early 1800's.Most editions are bilingual (Latin plus some other European language,including Hebrew and Classical Greek), some are trilingual or more,with the text running in parallel columns - such a text is a veritable Rosetta Stone for learning Latin. One of the online texts you can access has parallel translations in German, Polish, French, and Czech.
The next text in Comenius’series is the Vestibulum to the Janua Linguarum. This is a simple text,of a lower level than the Orbis Sensualium Pictus. Comenius also wrote an essential introduction to Latin Grammar, to accompany it. He wrote two versions of the Vestibulum, both of which are useful texts. Two versions of this text are in the Opera Didactica Omnia.
Latin for Beginners
Vestibulum in usum illustris paedagogei Albensis
Vestibulum ( Latine - Hungarice )
Much of the Vestibulum
is also available on the Tar Heel Reader.
Orbis Sensualium Pictus
The first text Latinum willpresent will be Comenius’ Orbis Sensualium Pictus.
This book is Comenius' foundation textbook, and it covers in a very basic format, all the main areas of knowledge as they were understood in the seventeenth century –biology, physics, geometry, trades, philosophy, music, recreation, law,politics,etc. This book was written for six to seven year olds, but it serves quite well for modern adults as well, although each topic is of course only treated in the barest of outlines.
Each lesson is an ‘object lesson’, and all the words givenare illustrated in drawings that accompany the lesson, aiding in memory and understanding. The lessons are interesting historically, as they describe the processes of long extinct trades, adding to your store of Latin words related to everyday life.
In order to progress to Comenius’ higher level textbooks, it is necessary to master the vocabulary in the Orbis Pictus – and going through the book seven or eight times will be necessary – possibly more. The Orbis will give you a vocabulary of a few thousand words.
I will use 1796 text of Johann Georg Lederer: Der Kleine Lateiner, for level 3. This text follows the outline of theOrbis Pictus very closely, whileintroducing some material some material from the Janua, and thus serves admirably as the ‘next step up’. This text is in German and Latin, but is similar enough to the Orbis for a beginner to assimilate after studying the Orbis.
The Janua Linguarum Reserata Aurea uses the same chapteroutlines as the Orbis Sensualim Pictus, but the material is fleshed outin muchmore detail. The text, reprinted so often, comes in several verrsions,as Comenius composed variant texts, and the editions from different places and times have important differences,but they all follow the same chapter structure.
Copies of the JanuaLinguarum can also beviewed as scans at the Comenius Library in Japan. (Before the first google editions appeared inlate 2008, this was the only way to view these texts).
This text with its parallel translations is a veritable Rosetta Stone for unlocking theLatin language. I will be using the critical edition of the Janua. The earlier editions of the Janua are simpler than later editions, so I may present this text in two versions, a lower level and higher level version.
Comenius also wrote an intermediate Latin Grammar,composed in accessible Latin, for students of the Janua Reserata. This material is now available online in the Two versions of this text are in the Opera Didactica Omnia.
This section will be theSchola Ludus, where the material ofthe Janua Linguarum Reserata is presented in short dialogues and‘plays’ –although these are not dramatic plays, but rather expositions, usingconversation.I will use the critical edition of the Schola Ludus. Thecolloquies in the Schola Ludus develop the educational themes in theJanua in moredepth. This text is available online as individual photographs of the pages, and can be found listed here.
Grammar Study in Latin Only
In Comenius' original system, grammar study using texts written in Latin would have taken place along with the study of the materials in the Vestibulum and Janua. As we do not have a classroom, it is better for us to look at these texts once we are a bit more advanced, which is why I have placed them sixth in the progression.
A text composed of 700 sentences,all in alliteration, for ease of memorisation, called
The Atrium. The atrium contains Comenius' Higherlevel Grammar, and advanced philosophical discussions of the materialinitially introduced in the Vestubulum and the Janua. See the Opera Didactica Omnia.
Comenius thought a student should not open anyworks of original Latin literature, until fluency had been developed. He estimated this would take three years, if conducted FULL TIME in a school only following his curriculum. Part time, you are looking at six - ten years to attain the level of fluency that Comenius would have expected from his students.
Comenius' Latin-Latin dictionary.
This dictionary was especially written for thevocabulary contained in the Janua and the Atrium. There are twoeditions, one for the Janua, one, more advanced, for the Atrium. The Lexicon Januale is in the OperaDidactica Omnia.
Several Editions of the Lexicon Atriale will be appearing on Google. The first one to appear online, is, unfortunately, a poor scan, with the edges of many pages sliced off. It, is, however, still very useful. There is (2012) not a clearer version available at europeana.eu .
Laura Gibbs has started a project to transcribe the dictionary, to create an online, fully searchabletext. several people are already contributing. This is a very importantproject, as no 'pocket' Latin-Latin dictionary is available, either inprint, or online, apart from this scan. As part of your Latin studies,I urge you to contribute, and help transcribe a few pages, lines, even one entry, of this dictionary. Every little will help to get this upand online as soon as possible.