De duodecim abusivis saeculi “On the Twelve Abuses of the World” is a self-help book written by an Irish author between 630 and 700AD. You could say that it was the earliest precursor to Steven Covey, Brian Tracy or Jim Rohn.
The work was widely propagated throughout Europe by Irish missionaries in the 8th century. Its authorship was often attributed to Saint Patrick (the general view today is that it was not his work).
Duodecim abusivis saeculi
De duodecim condemns the following twelve abuses:
- the wise man without works; sapiens sine operibus
- the old man without religion; senex sine religione
- the young man without obedience; adolescens sine oboedientia
- the rich man without charity; dives sine elemosyna
- the woman without modesty; femina sine pudicitia
- the nobleman without virtue; dominus sine virtute
- the argumentative Christian; Christianius contentiosus
- the proud pauper; pauper superbus
- the unjust king; rex iniquus
- the neglectful bishop; episcopus neglegens
- the community without order; plebs sine disciplina
- the people without a law; populus sine lege
This form of document is part of a broad category of medieval literature called “Mirrors for Princes”. They were developed to educate future kings in the leadership qualities that would be needed in their role as king. The best known of these works is The Prince by Machiavelli.
- The image is from the Collectio Canonum Hibernensis Domkapitel zu Köln Codex 210 15v“, a copy of early Irish works. Public Domain.