The Life of Pável Ágoston
(linguist and ethnographer)
On August 1886, Pável Ágoston was born in Cankova (Slovenia), third child of
Pável Iván, the master tailor, and Obal Elisabeth. He went to elementary
school in his place of birth.
1897 - 1901
In spite of his Windish (Slovene) mother tongue, Pável Ágoston graduated
excellently from Hungarian-speaking high school in Szentgotthárd being one of
28 students. Already in the early days, an amicable relationship developed
between Pável Ágoston and his class teacher Győző Schmidt, who taught him
Hungarian and Latin and who was the director of the high school library and
the editor of the local newspaper.
1901 - 1905
Pável Ágoston continued his school career at Premont College in Szombathely,
where he also performed exquisitely. At this college he participated in the
Society for Volunteer Further Education. In the in-house gazette called
"Bimbófüzér" already some of his epigrams, ballads and historically
thematized elegies appeared.
1905 - 1909
Pável Ágoston studied Hungarian and Latin at the Philosophical Faculty of
Péter Pázmány University in Budapest. Beside his specialist area he attended
Serbian, Croatian, Russian classes and the subject called The Comparative
Research of the Slavic Languages. At that time, the friendship with professor
Oszkár Asbóth, whose lectures Ágoston attended and together with whom he
worked as research associate, was contracted. Pável Ágoston was holder of a
scholarship, was exempted from tuition fees and in addition to his studies he
also taught. One of his students was Albert Szent-Györgyi, Nobel Prize
winner for Physiology.
1906 - 1909
The first verses of Pável Ágoston were published in Hungarian in the
newspaper called "Murska Sobota and Neighborhood" and, in Windish,
in the gazettes "Novine", "Martijin List" and
May 15, 1909
On this day, his first printed essay on two disquisitions on Slavic-Hungarian
speech forms, in which Oszkár Asbóth scrutinized on the one hand Slavic stem
words and the mutations of the sounds "j" and "gy" in
Slovene language in Hungary and on the other hand the academic speech based
in western Hungary, which was mainly researched by Pável Ágoston.
November 13, 1909
Pável Ágoston read some Slovene vers translations and some of his own verses
at the Hungarian folklore symposium.
Pável Ágoston's essay on the phonology of the Slovene language in the
language district of Cankova, which was part of his dissertation, appeared in
the edition of the Hungarian Academy of Science. This work won an award at
the University and was highly recognized. Professor Oszkár Asbóth said:
"I am a little angry indeed, however not at Pletersnik (Slov. linguist
and literary historian), but at such Hungarian linguists who use their
vocabulary with simplicity. I explicitely recommend them Pável's rich essays,
because they can learn a lot from them!"
Pável Ágoston served in the 7th Graz and then in the 82nd Székhelyudvarhely
(Transylvania) infantry. Due to an administrative mistake, the infantry
number 83 was mistakingly written as number 82, he was detailed to military
service in Erdély (Transylvania). The People's News of 1986 wrote in memory
of Pável Ágoston that he spent his little spare time in the army on
collecting popular verse, songs, customs and clothing.
Pável Ágoston spent his practical year as a teacher at the academic main high
school in the second district in Budapest.
1911-1913 Pável Ágoston worked as a substitional teacher at the
national main high school of Torda. His fellow teachers and friends were:
Károly Visky and Gábor Kemény.
April 14, 1914
Pável Ágoston married Irene Benko in Szentgotthárd.
He was drafted into military service.
June 10, 1914
On that day, Pável Ágoston became a teacher.
September 6, 1914
He was badly injured in the battles of Lemberg, which caused 5 years of
sickness. In 1986 the People's News wrote: "Pável Ágoston despised the
war a lot. What bigger joy could have befallen him than being injured right
in the first battle, since he could get away from this senseless war. During
the years of sickness he kept writing and translating."
Pável Ágoston's work "The Newest Windish Literary Language" was
awarded at the academy. "With his work the author shows the ambitions
that can be noticed in the field of literary language with great poetic
linguist expertise and with the basic knowledge of the national Slovene
language, which approximates the Slovene language that can be found in
Austria and differs from it in its popularity". Academic information
sheet, May 1917.
Pável Ágoston was elected member of the Department of Public Eduction of
Dombóvár and furthermore, he was appointed to the editorial committee of the
local weekly paper.
May 1920-August 1933
He worked as a teacher at the national girls' high school of Szombathely.
November 16, 1920
Pável Ágoston was appointed to the Philosophical Faculty of the University of
In this year, he was in charge of the library of the cultural organisation of
Vas County and of the city of Szombathely.
Pável Ágoston compiled and published a composition of the directory service
of the cultural organisation library of Vas County and the city of
January 1, 1926
After indexing and restructuring the museum library he inaugurated it.
"The year 1926 marks a watershed in the history of the cultural
organisation library, because due to the cooperation of Pável Ágoston a new
vitality ran through the veins of the library, and thus the former strict
rules of restrictions were lifted."
The beginning of a friendship with Ferenc Móra and Vilko Novak.
Pável Ágoston took charge of the museum of Vas County and of the folklore
Pável Ágoston founded the Association of Amity of the Vas County museum.
He donated a home for the students of Sándor Weörös High School. Sándor
Weörös remembers (Szombathely 1986): "The few months that I spent with
my elder friend Guszti were the most precious of my life... In fact, Guszti
triggered the "avalanche" of my life. Until that day I used to be a
precocious and sick child and thanks to him I started a new life, which was
not infantile, "decadent" on the outside anymore but intact in
reality. Our relationship was very special. Pável, the eternal child and me,
already a precocious man. Somewhere in the depth of life we met. Maybe it is
not overstated to claim that it was not only me who learned from him but that
he learned from me too."
April 27, 1932
Pável Ágoston became a member of the caucus of the Folklore Society, and on
June 12, 1939 a member of the correspondency department.
The date of publication of his first compendium of verse called "Praying
in The Bosom of The Blind Valley". Ferenc Móra 's comment on March 5,
1933: "...unbelievably quickly you can name him being one of the modern
contemporary Hungarian lyricists who "sing" just for themselves in
today's turbulent times, however, they will also be heard by future
Pável Ágoston was in charge of the scientific journal "Vas Review",
of which he was the editor until his death in 1946. Pável formulated the
program of the journal as follows: "Our objective...dedication to the
cultural problems in the history of Vas County and west Hungary and being
appreciative of it."
August 1, 1933
He was shifted to Faludi High School.
Pável Ágoston became a honorary secretary member of the Hungarian National
Culture Association. In the same year he gained membership of the
"Erdély Szépmíves Céh" publishing company.
March 26, 1936
Ordinary member of the "Tömörkény-Society" in Szeged.
Together with Dr. Sándor Gonyei Pável Ágoston went on a journey through the
national park "Örség", which resulted in his work "Pictures
In this year, his second compendium of verse entitled "Forest On
Fire" was published. Béla Dezsényi's comment in the journal
"Élet" in 1936: "Those who finish reading this small
compendium get the feeling that the conscience of the world is tolling like a
In the "Nyugat" Pável Ágoston's translation of the most significant
literary works of Cankar Ivan, "Jernej, The Servant and His
Truths", "Scapegrace Marko" and the novels entitled "King
Matthew" were published.
Due to the fusion of Vas and Zala County Pável Ágoston expanded the Vas
review to a review for west Hungary.
June 15, 1940
He became a member of the "Gárdony"-Society.
August 26, 1940
On that day, Pável Ágoston started an expedition to Örség. Together with
István Gyorffy and Károly Visky he accumulated material for his monography.
December 13, 1940
He was elected member of the "Pen Klub".
The translation of the literary works of Ivan Cankar appeared as part of the
series on south Slavic authors. The Hungarian culture review wrote on March
15, 1941: "The translation by Pável Ágoston is artistic and
At the Philosophical Faculty of Szeged University Pável Ágoston habilitated
as private tutor for the subjects south Slavic language and literature due to
his paper "King Matthew" about Slovene folklore and literature.
September 27, 1941
He became member of the "Janus Pannonius" Society.
Pável Ágoston elaborated the curricular about the knowledge of the Hungarian
language and composed the Hungarian literary history in favor of the schools
in the Mura region in Slovene.
In this month he was elected president of the local pedagogic "Free
Province Organisation". Furthermore, he worked as an official
interpreter for Russian in Vas County.
On the initiative of Pável Ágoston the first Russian course was held in
Szombathely, which he also designed on his own.
November 18, 1945
He was elected ordinary member of the "János Batsányi" Literary
Society of Pécs.
Pável Ágoston died on January 2, 1946.
Translated from German into English: Joël
The German text is based on: "Pável Ágoston"; Tilcsikné
Pásztor Ágnes, Berzsenyi Dániel Megyei Könyvtár Szombathely, (1986)