Images of “monsters” and performers: J A Comenius's Orbis pictus and Aristotle's Masterpiece

Katritzky, M. A. (2011). Images of “monsters” and performers: J A Comenius's Orbis pictus and Aristotle's Masterpiece. In: Kümper, Hiram and Simić, Vladimir eds. Practicing new editions: transformation and transfer of the early modern book, 1450-1800. Bibliothemata (26). Nordhausen: Bautz, pp. 77–118.



The Moravian schoolteacher Johann Amos Comenius’s pioneering "Orbis pictus" was first published in 1658 in a bilingual German‐Latin edition. Within a year, the first English‐Latin edition was published in London, and the book rapidly established itself as a major teaching tool. For well over two centuries, hundreds of editions and revisions of Comenius’s textbook, covering numerous languages, introduced millions of Europe's future professionals and academics to varying ranges of modern and classical European languages. Comenius’s reputation as an astonishingly innovative and inspired language teacher is universally acknowledged. Equally deserving of recognition is the impetus of "Orbis pictus" to the great encyclopaedic publishing projects of the long eighteenth century. Using the format of 150 individually illustrated sections, Comenius’s first edition grasped the teaching of foreign vocabularies as the opportunity to present impressionable young school pupils with nothing less than a didactic overview of God's natural world, and all that early modern Man had achieved in it. Several of the 150 numbered sections in Comenius’s first edition concern three closely related early modern spheres of activity: marketing, medicine and theatre. Drawing on seventeenth,eighteenth and early nineteenth century editions of Orbis pictus, this article examines how the sections on marketing, medicine and theatre fared, in precursors to Comenius’s book, in the first edition, and in later editions.

Viewing alternatives

No digital document available to download for this item

Item Actions