Cosma Rosselli, i. e. Cosmas Rossellius: Thesaurus artificiosae memoriae

Rosselli Thesaurus artificiosæ memoriæ

Romberch and Rossellius may be said to be the leading names amongst writers on memory

Cosma Rosselli, i. e. Cosmas Rossellius:

THESAVRVS | ARTIFICIOSAE MEMORIAE, | Concionatoribus, Philoſophis, Medicis, Iuriſtis, Oratori-|bus, Procuratoribus, cæterisq; bonarum littera-|rum amatoribus: | Negociatoribus inſuper, alijsq; ſimilibus, tenacem, ac firmam rerum | Memoriam cupientibus, perutilis. | Ac omnes ſui amatores, & poſſeſiores valde locupletans, inſimulq; decorans, | Cum rerum celeſtium atq; terreſtrium tenax, ac tutum ſcrinium eſſe poſſit. | avtore r. p. f. cosma rosselio | Fiorensino, Sacri Ord. Prædic. minimo Profeſſore. | Cum Indicibus locupletiſſimis, tum Capitum, tum rerum omnium inſigniorum. | cvm privilegio.

Venedig: Antonius Paduanius, 1579.

Quarto. 216 × 147 mm. [16], 145 (recte 147), [1] Blätter. Lagenkollation: a-d4, A-Q4, R4+2, S-Z4, Aa-Mm4, Nn6 (fol. d4v & fol. Nn6v weiß). Mit 23 meist ganzseitigen Holzschnitten, vier Tafeln mit Alphabeten, einer ungezählten gefalteten Tafel nach fol. E3; vier- und siebenzeilenhohen Holzschnittinitialen, Holzschnittzierleisten, Holzschnittsignet auf Titel.

Marmoriertes dunkelbraunes Kalbleder des späten 17. Jh. auf fünf echten, erhabenen Bünden, reicher Panelled-calf-Vergoldung auf den Rückenfeldern, auf zweitem Feld ein rotbraunes Titelschildchen mit der goldgeprägten Titelei. Stehkantenvergoldung, handgestochene Kapitale, Schnitt braun und rot gesprenkelt; Vorsätze aus Marmorpapier.

Erste Ausgabe, herausgegeben von Damiano Rosselli. “In fact, Publicius, Peter of Ravenna, Romberch, and Rossellius may be said to be the leading names amongst writers on memory“ (Frances A. Yates: The Art of Memory, pp. 114-115).
 Wie Romberch zuvor sagt auch Rossellius, daß die Gedächtniskunst den Theologen, Predigern, Beichtigern, Richtern, Anwälten, Doktoren, Philosophen, Lehrern der freien Künste wie auch den Botschaftern nützlich sei. Romberch wie Rossellius berufen sich auf die klassischen lateinischen Quellen, also Ad Herennium, Ciceros De oratore und Quintilian, doch auch auf Thomas von Aquin und Petrarca, und - für die Häuser des Zodiak - natürlich auf Metrodoros von Skepsis.
 Jener eher Dantesche Typ der Erinnerungsorte geht auf die Scholastische Tradition des späteren Mittelalters zurück, visuelle Alphabete wohl auf die schwer zu interpretierende entsprechende Passage in “Ad Herennium“. Daneben werden die vorzustellenden klassischen architektonischen Gebäude wie Abteien, Klöster, Kirchen u. s. w. behandelt, wie sie in der Antike eingeführt wurden, und mit emblematischen bzw. der eigenen Biographie nahen Figuren gefüllt, die das zu Erinnernde durch Symbole, Zeichen oder Assoziationen quasi an sich ‚speichern‘.
 Ein Neues sind hier die mnemonischen Verse, die helfen sollen, die Ordnung imaginierter Orte zu erinnern.
Cosma Rosselli (gest. 1578): “Its author described on the title page as a Florentine and a member of the Order of Preachers. The book is on similar lines to Romberch’s and the main types of interpretation of artificial memory are discernible in it. The Dantesque type is given great prominence. Rosselius divides Hell into eleven places, as illustrated in his diagram of Hell [fol. 12 recto] as a memory place system. (...) The place of Paradise [fol. 37 verso, & fol. 51 recto] is to be imagined as surrounded with a wall sparkling with gems. (...) There is nothing at all unusual about Rossellius’s Paradise, except that it is classed as ‘artificial memory’. (...) Rossellius also envisages the constellations as memory place systems, of course mentioning Metrodorus of Scepsis in connection with a zodiacal place system. A feature of Rossellius’s book are the mnemonic verses given to help memorise orders of places, whether orders of places in Hell, or the order of the signs of the zodiac. These verses are by a fellow Dominican [Nicolaus Alexius (1505-1585), cf. Jöcher I,265] who is also an inquisitor. (...) Rossellius describes the making of ‘real’ places in abbeys, churches and the like. And discusses human images as places on which subsidiary images are to be remembered“
— Frances A. Yates: The Art of Memory, p. 122.
 “Rosselli gives instruction on how to position the fingers in order to make the individual letters (...) The finger alphabet has obvious advantages, such as allowing one to construct a list of persons, things, or ideas to be remembered by actually making and repeating the letters on the hand in a familiar order. Once learned this system is a readily available reminder valuable in preaching sermons and allied activities (...) Rosselli’s finger alphabet (...) not only continues the mnemonic tradition but also suggests further development of the fingers and the hand as an instrument of visual communication, allied with, but effective as a substitute for oral and written language.”
— Claire Richter Sherman: Writing on Hands. Memory and Knowledge in Early Modern Europe. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2001, p. 186.

Young 307 – Bird 2095 & 2096 – Durling 3947 – Wellcome I,5572 – Linet/Hillard: Sainte-Geneviève 1752 (incompl.) – Adams R803 – Rosenthal 6083 – Bibliographien.


Frances A. Yates: The Memory Treatises

But it is important that we should look here more particularly at what memory treatises by Dominicans were like in the sixteenth century, since the main strand, descending from the scholastic emphasis on memory, is in my opinion the most important strand in the history of the subject. The Dominicans were naturally at the centre of this tradition, and in Johannes Romberch, a German, and Cosmas Rosselius, a Florentine, we have two Dominicans who wrote books on memory, small in format but packed with detail, apparently intended to make the Dominican art of memory generally known. Romberch says that his book will be useful to theologians, preachers, confessors, jurists, advocates, doctors, philosophers, professors of the liberal arts, and ambassadors. Rossellius makes a similar statement. Romberch’s book was published near the beginning of the sixteenth century; Rossellius’s near its end. Together they span the century, as influential memory teachers who are frequently quoted. In fact, Publicius, Peter of Ravenna, Romberch, and Rossellius may be said to be the leading names amongst writers on memory. (...)

The Thesaurus artificiosae memoriae of Cosmas Rossellius was published at Venice in 1579. Its author described on the title page as a Florentine and a member of the Order of Preachers. The book is on similar lines to Romberch’s and the main types of interpretation of artificial memory are discernible in it.

The Dantesque type is given great prominence. Rossellius divides Hell into eleven places, as illustrated in his diagram of Hell as a memory place system. In its centre is a horrible well, led up to by steps on which are the places of punishment of Heretics, Jewish Infidels, Idolaters, and Hypocrites. Around it are seven other places adapted to the seven deadly sins punished in them. As Rossellius cheerfully observes ‘the variety of punishments, inflicted in accordance with the diverse nature of the sins, the different situations of the damned, their varying gestures, will much help memory and give many places.’

The place of Paradise is to be imagined as surrounded with a wall sparkling with gems. In its centre is the Throne of Christ; ranged in order below are the places of the celestial hierarchies, of Apostles, Patriarchs, Prophets, Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins, Holy Hebrews and the innumerable concourse of the saints. There is nothing at all unusual about Rosellius’s Paradise, except that it is classed as ‘artificial memory’. With art and exercise and vehement imagination we are to imagine these places. We are to imagine the Throne of Christ so that it may most move the sense and excite the memory. We may imagine the orders of spirits as painters paint them.

Rossellius also envisages the constellations as memory place systems, of course mentioning Metrodorus of Scepsis in connection with a zodiacal place system. A feature of Rossellius’s book are the mnemonic verses given to help memorise orders of places, whether orders of places in Hell, or the order of the signs of the zodiac. These verses are by a fellow Dominican who is also an Inquisitor. These ‘carmina’ by an Inquisitor give an impressive air of great orthodoxy to the artificial memory.

Rossellius describes the making of ‘real’ places in abbeys, churches and the like. And discusses human images as places on which subsidiary images are to be remembered. Under images, he gives general rules, and a visual alphabet of the same type as those in Romberch.
— Frances A. Yates: The Art of Memory. London: Routledgc & Kegan Paul, 1966. pp. 114-115, 122.


Koji Kuwakino: The Art of Memory as a Visualization of loci communes

In Thesaurus artificiosae memoriae of 1579, Florentine Dominican friar Cosma Rosselli tried to reform the traditional system of ‘mnemonic places’ in the shape of houses with a highly theological inspiration. Most likely influenced by the cosmological vision of the great poet Dante, Rosselli proposed to use the entire world, starting from Hell and Purgatory, and move through the realm of the four elements to finally reach the Empyrean sky, the Christian paradise depicted as heavenly Jerusalem. Once constructed, these mnemonic places in the mind allow readers to freely choose the appropriate one to store the information. For example, the locus of Paradise should be used for remembering theological doctrines; the physical worlds of the four elements are selected for secular matters, while the celestial sphere fits astronomical knowledge.

Rosselli’s method is characterized by a well-articulated system of places, divided into ‘common’ and ‘particular’. Images are directly placed in the particular places, which are in turn contained in the common ones. Rosselli further divides these common places into six categories according to their size: amplissima, ampliora, ampla, maiora, mediocrira and minima. For example, a series of traditional Christian world divisions inspired by Thomas Aquinas such as Hell, Purgatory, elemental worlds, celestial spheres and Paradise are assigned to the group of the largest places, amplissima. Then the middle classes comprise various artificial and natural structures such as cities, castles, roads, mountains and rivers. Finally, individual human beings, animals, plants and minerals are contained in the group of the smallest places, minima. For Rosselli most of these categories serve as mnemonic ‘commonplaces’. Thus they are labelled with ‘common nouns’ as a kind of empty container to be filled with more concrete information. In other words, they are equivalent to ‘topical headings’ in reference books to define larger topoi (cities, fortresses, roads, etc.), then more refined items (palaces, churches, streets, etc.), finally reaching specific data (the Archangel Michael, Apostle Peter, St. Thomas Aquinas, Lucifer as the king of Hell, etc.). These six categories are hierarchically organized so that larger commonplaces always contain smaller ones. Following this scheme, the entire universe is turned into a kind of Chinese box that can handle a huge amount of information.

To create the individual parts of those mnemonic places, especially for those of minima, Rosselli advises readers to consult various reference books such as Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia, encyclopaedic works by Vincent of Beauvais (c. 1190–1264?), a polyglot dictionary by Ambrogio Calepino (c. 1435–1509/10) and the Officina by Johann Ravisius Textor (c. 1480–1524). Among these books, Textor’s work is the most useful to the present study. First published in Paris (1520) and reprinted many times during the century, his Officina was one of the most popular printed commonplace-book of the time. It gathered a large quantity of ‘commonplace phrases’ (exempla) which were mainly extracted from classical literature and classified into 150 ‘topical headings’ (tituli). Readers can easily find required information through the elaborate index at the end of the work.

Browsing Textor’s pages that assemble many commonplaces on trees and gems allows us to acquire concrete notions which are necessary to depict mnemonic images of natural objects stored in Rosselli’s mnemonic world. Consulting Officina’s topical headings such as Elementa quatuor, Fluvii infernales, Lacus, paludes & stagna, Sylvae and Gymnasia, readers can easily imagine various natural settings and buildings that compose its larger ‘commonplaces’ (loca communia): ampliora, ampla, maiora and mediocrira.

Indeed, the ‘commonplaces’ in Rosselli’s mnemonic art literally corresponded to the commonplaces in rhetoric and dialectic, which were typical phrases and sentences on various topics. He adopted the famous image of the heavenly Jerusalem as one of loca communia amplissima. Well known by the description found in the book of Revelation, this city was celebrated to have a great number of saints, blessed and angels as holy inhabitants (see Fig. 2.1 [= my second fig.]). All of them are depicted with traditionally recognized outfits and attributes such as Saint Peter with a key and sword, the Archangel Gabriel with a lily and the Cherubim with books. Thus both the very structure of Paradise and its multiple residents functioned as ‘visualized’ commonplaces that presented the perennial image of each entity.
— Koji Kuwakino: From domus sapientiae to artes excerpendi: Lambert Schenkel’s De memoria (1593) and the Transformation of the Art of Memory. pp. 59-61.


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Platon: Symposium

Ὅτι ϰαὶ αἱ ἐπιστῆμαι μὴ ὅτι αἱ μὲν γίγνονται, αἱ δὲ ἀπόλλυνται ἡμῖν, ϰαὶ οὐδέποτε οἱ αὐτοί ἐσμεν οὐδὲ ϰατὰ τὰς ἐπιστήμας, ἀλλὰ ϰαὶ μία ἑϰάστη τῶν ἐπιστημῶν ταὐτὸν πάσχει. ὃ γὰρ ϰαλεῖται μελετᾶν, ὡς ἐξιούσης ἐστὶ τῆς ἐπιστήμης: λήϑη γὰρ ἐπιστήμης ἔξοδος, μελέτη δὲ πάλιν ϰαινὴν ἐμποιοῦσα ἀντὶ τῆς ἀπιούσης μνήμην σῴζει τὴν ἐπιστήμην, ὥστε τὴν αὐτὴν δοϰεῖν εἶναι. τούτῳ γὰρ τῷ τρόπῳ πᾶν τὸ ϑνητὸν σῴζεται, οὐ τῷ παντάπασιν τὸ αὐτὸ ἀεὶ εἶναι ὥσπερ τὸ ϑεῖον, ἀλλὰ τῷ τὸ ἀπιὸν ϰαὶ παλαιούμενον ἕτερον νέον ἐγϰαταλείπειν οἷον αὐτὸ ἦν. — Πλάτωνος Συμπόσιον 207ε-208β.

And here is a yet stranger fact: with regard to the possessions of knowledge, not merely do some of them grow and others perish in us, so that neither in what we know are we ever the same persons; but a like fate attends each single sort of knowledge. What we call “conning” implies that our knowledge is departing; since forgetfulness is an egress of knowledge, while conning substitutes a fresh one in place of that which departs, and so preserves our knowledge enough to make it seem the same. Every mortal thing is preserved in this way; not by keeping it exactly the same for ever, like the divine, but by replacing what goes off or is antiquated with something fresh, in the semblance of the original. — Translated by Harold N. Fowler. London: Heinemann, 1925.


Rhetorica ad Herennium

Memoria utrum habeat quiddam artificiosi, an omnis ab natura proficiscatur, aliud dicendi tempus [magis] idoneum dabitur. Nunc proinde atque constet in hac re multum valere artem et praeceptionem, ita de ea re loquemur. Placet enim nobis esse artificium memoriae; quare placeat, alias ostendemus; in praesentia, cuiusmodi sit ea, aperiemus.

Sunt igitur duae memoriae: una naturalis, altera artificiosa. Naturalis est ea, quae nostris animis insita est et simul cum cogitatione nata; artificiosa est ea, quam confirmat inductio quaedam et ratio praeceptionis. Sed qua via in ceteris rebus ingenii bonitas imitatur saepe doctrinam, ars porro naturae commoda confirmat et auget, item fit in hac re, ut nonnumquam naturalis memoria, [29] si cui data est egregia, similis sit huic artificiosae, porro haec artificiosa naturae commoda retineat et amplificet ratione doctrinae; quapropter [et] naturalis memoria praeceptione confirmanda est, ut sit egregia, et haec, quae doctrina datur, indiget ingenii. Nec hoc magis aut minus in hac re, quam in ceteris artibus fit, ut ingenio doctrina, praeceptione natura nitescat. Quare et illis, qui natura memores sunt, utilis haec erit institutio, quod tute paulo post poteris intellegere: et si illei, freti ingenio, nostri non indigerent, tamen iusta causa daretur, quare iis, qui minus ingenii habent, adiumento velimus esse. Nunc de artificiosa memoria loquemur.

Constat igitur artificiosa memoria locis et imaginibus. Locos appellamus eos, qui breviter, perfecte, insignite aut natura aut manu sunt absoluti, ut eos facile naturali memoria conprehendere et amplecti queamus: [ut] aedes, intercolumnium, angulum, fornicem et alia, quae his similia sunt. Imagines sunt formae quaedam et notae et simulacra eius rei, quam meminisse volumus: quod genus equi, leones, aquilae; [memoriam] si volemus habere imagines eorum, locis certis conlocare oportebit. [30] Nunc, cuiusmodi locos invenire et quo pacto reperire et in locis imagines constituere oporteat, ostendemus.

Quemadmodum igitur qui litteras sciunt, possunt id, quod dictatur, eis scribere et recitare quod scripserunt, item qui nemonica didicerunt, possunt, quod audierunt, in locis conlocare ⟨et⟩ ex his memoriter pronuntiare. Nam loci cerae aut cartae simillimi sunt, imagines litteris, dispositio et conlocatio imaginum scripturae, pronuntiatio lectioni. Oportet igitur, si volumus multa meminisse, multos [nos] nobis locos conparare, uti multis locis multas imagines conlocare possimus. Item putamus oportere [ex ordine hos locos habere,] ne quando perturbatione ordinis inpediamur, quo setius, quoto quoquo loco libebit, vel ab superiore vel ab inferiore parte imagines sequi et ea, quae mandata locis erunt, edere possimus: nam ut, si in ordine stantes notos quomplures viderimus, nihil nostra intersit, utrum ab summo an ab imo an ab medio nomina eorum dicere incipiamus, item in locis ex ordine conlocatis eveniet, ut in quamlibebit partem quoque loco lubebit imaginibus commoniti dicere possimus id, quod locis mandaverimus: [31] quare placet et ex ordine locos conparare. Locos, quos sumpserimus, egregie commeditari oportebit, ut perpetuo nobis haerere possint: nam imagines, sicuti litterae delentur, ubi nihil utimur; loci, tamquam cera, remanere debent. Et, ne forte in numero locorum falli possimus, quintum quemque placet notari: quod genus, si in quinto loco manum auream conlocemus, [si] in decumo aliquem notum, cui praenomen sit Decumo; deinde facile erit inceps similis notas quinto quoquo loco conlocare. Item commodius est in derelicta, quam in celebri regione locos conparare, propterea quod frequentia et obambulatio hominum conturbat et infirmat imaginum notas, solitudo conservat integras simulacrorum figuras. Praeterea dissimilis forma atque natura loci conparandi sunt, ut distincti interlucere possint: nam si qui multa intercolumnia sumpserit, conturbabitur similitudine, ut ignoret, quid in quoquo loco conlocarit. Et magnitudine modica et mediocris locos habere oportet: nam et praeter modum ampli vagas imagines reddunt et nimis angusti saepe non videntur posse capere imaginum conlocationem. [32] Tum nec nimis inlustris nec vehementer obscuros locos habere oportet, ne aut obcaecentur tenebris imagines aut splendore praefulgeant. Intervalla locorum mediocria placet esse, fere paulo plus aut minus pedum tricenum: nam ut aspectus item cogitatio minus valet, sive nimis procul removeris sive vehementer prope admoveris id, quod oportet videri.

Sed quamquam facile est ei, qui paulo plura noverit, quamvis multos et idoneos locos conparare, tamen si qui satis idoneos invenire se non putabit, ipse sibi constituat quam volet multos licebit. Cogitatio enim quamvis regionem potest amplecti et in ea situm loci cuiusdam ad suum arbitrium fabricari et architectari. Quare licebit, si hac prompta copia contenti non erimus, nosmet ipsos nobis cogitatione nostra regionem constituere et idoneorum locorum commodissimam distinctionem conparare.

De locis satis dictum est; nunc ad imaginum rationem transeamus.

[33] Quoniam ergo rerum similes imagines esse oportet, ex omnibus rebus nosmet nobis similitudines eligere debemus. Duplices igitur similitudines esse debent, unae rerum, alterae verborum. Rerum similitudines exprimuntur, cum summatim ipsorum negotiorum imagines conparamus; verborum similitudines constituuntur, cum unius cuiusque nominis et vocabuli memoria imagine notatur.

Rei totius memoriam saepe una nota et imagine simplici conprehendimus; hoc modo, ut si accusator dixerit ab reo hominem veneno necatum, et hereditatis causa factum arguerit, et eius rei multos dixerit testes et conscios esse: si hoc primum, ut ad defendendum nobis expeditum [sit] meminisse volemus, in primo loco rei totius imaginem conformabimus: aegrotum in lecto cubantem faciemus ipsum illum, de quo agetur, si formam eius detinebimus; si eum non, at aliquem aegrotum [non] de minimo loco sumemus, ut cito in mentem venire possit. Et reum ad lectum eius adstituemus, dextera poculum, sinistra tabulas, medico testiculos arietinos tenentem: hoc modo et testium et hereditatis et veneno necati memoriam habere poterimus. [34] Item deinceps cetera crimina ex ordine in locis ponemus; et, quotienscumque rem meminisse volemus, si formarum dispositione et imaginum diligenti notatione utemur, facile ea, quae volemus, memoria consequemur.

Cum verborum similitudines imaginibus exprimere volemus, plus negotii suscipiemus et magis ingenium nostrum exercebimus. Id nos hoc modo facere oportebit:

Iam domum itionem reges Atridae parant.

Hunc versum meminisse si volemus, conveniet primo in loco constituere manus ad caelum tollentem Domitium, cum a Regibus Marciis loris caedatur: hoc erit «Iam domum itionem reges»; in altero loco Aesopum et Cimbrum subornari, ut ad Ephigeniam, in Agamemnonem et Menelaum: hoc erit «Atridae parant.» Hoc modo omnia verba erunt expressa. Sed haec imaginum conformatio tum valet, si naturalem memoriam exsuscitaverimus hac notatione, ut versu posito ipsi nobiscum primum transeamus bis aut ter eum versum, deinde tum imaginibus verba exprimamus. Hoc modo naturae subpeditabitur doctrina. Nam utraque altera separata minus erit firma, ita tamen, ut multo plus in doctrina atque arte praesidii sit. Quod docere non gravaremur, nei metueremus, ne, cum ab instituto nostro recessissemus, minus commode servaretur haec dilucida brevitas praeceptionis.

[35] Nunc, quoniam solet accidere, ut imagines partim firmae et acres et ad monendum idoneae sint, partim inbecillae et infirmae, quae vix memoriam possint excitare, qua de causa utrumque fiat, considerandum est, ut cognita causa, quas vitemus et quas sequamur imagines, scire possimus.

Docet igitur nos ipsa natura, quid oporteat fieri. Nam si quas res in vita videmus parvas, usitatas, cottidianas, meminisse non solemus propterea quod nulla nova nec admirabili re commovetur animus: at si quid videmus aut audimus egregie turpe aut honestum, inusitatum, magnum, incredibile, ridiculum, id diu meminisse consuevimus. ⟨Itaque quas res ante ora videmus⟩ aut audimus, obliviscimur plerumque; quae acciderunt in pueritia, meminimus optime saepe; nec hoc alia de causa potest accidere, nisi quod usitatae res facile e memoria elabuntur, insignes et novae diutius [manent in animo. [36] Solis] exortus, cursus, occasus nemo admiratur, propterea quia cottidie fiunt; at eclipsis solis mirantur, quia raro accidunt, et solis eclipsis magis mirantur quam lunae, propterea quod hae crebriores sunt. Docet ergo se natura vulgari et usitata re non exsuscitari, novitate et insigni quodam negotio commoveri. Imitetur ars igitur naturam et, quod ea desiderat, id inveniat, quod ostendit, sequatur. Nihil est enim, quod aut natura extremum invenerit aut doctrina primum; sed rerum principia ab ingenio profecta sunt, exitus disciplina conparantur.

[37] Imagines igitur nos in eo genere constituere oportebit, quod genus in memoria diutissime potest haerere. Id accidet, si quam maxime notatas similitudines constituemus; si non multas nec vagas, sed aliquid agentes imagines ponemus; si egregiam pulcritudinem aut unicam turpitudinem eis adtribuemus; si aliquas exornabimus, ut si coronis aut veste purpurea, quo nobis notatior sit similitudo; aut si qua re deformabimus, ut si cruentam aut caeno oblitam aut rubrica delibutam inducamus, quo magis insignita sit forma, aut ridiculas res aliquas imaginibus adtribuamus: nam ea res quoque faciet, ut facilius meminisse valeamus. Nam, quas res ⟨veras⟩ facile meminerimus, easdem fictas et diligenter notatas meminisse non difficile est. Sed illud facere oportebit, ut identidem primos quosque locos imaginum renovandarum causa celeriter animo pervagemus.

[38] Scio plerosque Graecos, qui de memoria sripserunt, fecisse, ut multorum verborum imagines conscriberent, uti, qui ediscere vellent, paratas haberent, ne quid in quaerendo consumerent operae. Quorum rationem aliquot de causis inprobamus: primum, quod in verborum innumerabili multitudine ridiculumst mille verborum imagines conparare. Quantulum enim poterunt haec valere, cum ex infinita verborum copia modo aliud modo aliud nos verbum meminisse oportebit? Deinde cur volumus ab industria quemquam removere, ut ne quid ipse quaerat, nos illi omnia parata quaesita tradamus? Praeterea similitudine alia alius magis commovetur. Nam ut saepe, formam si quam similem cuipiam dixerimus esse, non omnes habemus adsensores, quod alii videtur aliud, item fit [in] imaginibus, ut, quae nobis diligenter notata sit, ea parum videatur insignis aliis. [39] Quare sibi quemque suo commodo convenit imagines conparare. Postremo praeceptoris est docere, quemadmodum quaeri quidque conveniat, et unum aliquod aut alterum, non omnia, quae eius generis erunt, exempli causa subicere, quo res possit esse dilucidior: [ut] quom de prohemiis quaerendis disputamus, rationem damus quaerendi, non mille prohemiorum [genera conscribimus, item arbitramur] de imaginibus fieri convenire.

Nunc, ne forte verborum memoriam aut nimis difficilem aut parum utilem arbitrere, rerum ipsarum memoria contentus sis, quod et utilior sit et plus habeat facultatis, admonendus es, quare verborum memoriam [non] inprobemus. Nam putamus oportere eos, qui velint res faciliores sine labore et molestia facere, in rebus difficilioribus esse ante exercitatos. Nec nos hanc verborum memoriam inducimus, [ut versus meminisse possimus,] sed ut hac exercitatione illa rerum memoria, quae pertinet ad utilitatem, confirmetur, ut ab hac difficili consuetudine sine labore ad illam facultatem transire possimus. [40] Sed cum in omni disciplina infirma est artis praeceptio sine summa adsiduitate exercitationis, tum vero in nemonicis minimum valet doctrina, nisi industria, studio labore, diligentia conprobatur. Quam plurimos locos ut habeas et quam maxime ad praecepta adcommodatos curare poteris; in imaginibus conlocandis exerceri cotidie convenit. Non enim, sicut a ceteris studiis abducimur nonnumquam occupatione, item ab hac re nos potest causa deducere aliqua. Numquam est enim, quin aliquid memoriae tradere velimus et tum maxime, cum aliquo maiore negotio detinemur. Quare, cum sit utile facile meminisse, non te fallit, quod tantopere utile sit, quanto labore sit adpetendum: [quod] poteris existimare utilitate cognita. Pluribus verbis ad eam te hortari non est sententia, ne aut tuo studio diffisi aut minus, quam res postulat, dixisse videamur.
Rhetorica ad Herennium, III,28-40.

The question whether memory has some artificial quality, or comes entirely from nature, we shall have another, more favourable, opportunity to discuss. At present I shall accept as proved that in this matter art and method are of great importance, and shall treat the subject accordingly. For my part, I am satisfied that there is an art of memory — the grounds of my belief I shall explain elsewhere. For the present I shall disclose what sort of thing memory is.

There are, then, two kinds of memory: one natural, and the other the product of art. The natural memory is that memory which is imbedded in our minds, born simultaneously with thought. The artificial memory is that memory which is strengthened by a kind of training and system of discipline. But just as in everything else the merit of natural excellence often rivals acquired learning, and art, in its turn, reinforces and develops the natural advantages, so does it happen in this instance. The natural memory, if a person is endowed with an exceptional one, [29] is often like this artificial memory, and this artificial memory, in its turn, retains and develops the natural advantages by a method of discipline. Thus the natural memory must be strengthened by discipline so as to become exceptional, and, on the other hand, this memory provided by discipline requires natural ability. It is neither more nor less true in this instance than in the other arts that science strives by the aid of innate ability, and nature by the aid of the rules of art. The training here offered will therefore also be useful to those who by nature have a good memory, as you will yourself soon come to understand. But even if these, relying on their natural talent, did not need our help, we should still be justified in wishing to aid the less well-endowed. Now I shall discuss the artificial memory.

The artificial memory includes backgrounds and images. By backgrounds I mean such scenes as are naturally or artificially set off on a small scale, complete and conspicuous, so that we can grasp and embrace them easily by the natural memory — for example, a house, an intercolumnar space, a recess, an arch, or the like. An image is, as it were, a figure, mark, or portrait of the object we wish to remember; for example, if we wish to recall a horse, a lion, or an eagle, we must place its image in a definite background. [30] Now I shall show what kind of backgrounds we should invent and how we should discover the images and set them therein.

Those who know the letters of the alphabet can thereby write out what is dictated to them and read aloud what they have written. Likewise, those who have learned mnemonics can set in backgrounds what they have heard, and from these backgrounds deliver it by memory. For the backgrounds are very much like wax tablet or papyrus, the images like letters, the arrangement and disposition of the images like the script, and the delivery is like the reading. We should therefore, if we desire to memorize a large number of items, equip ourselves with a large number of backgrounds, so that in these we may set a large number of images. I likewise think it obligatory to have these backgrounds in a series, so that we never by confusion in their order be prevented from following the images — proceeding from any background we wish, whatsoever its place in the series, and whether we go forwards or backwards — nor from delivering orally what has been committed to the backgrounds. For example, if we should see a great number of our acquaintances standing in a certain order, it would not make any difference to us whether we should tell their names beginning with the person standing at the head of the line or at the foot or in the middle. So with respect to the backgrounds. If these have been arranged in order, the result will be that, reminded by the images, we can repeat orally what we committed to the backgrounds, proceeding in either direction from any background we please. [31] That is why it also seems best to arrange the backgrounds in a series.

We shall need to study with special care the backgrounds we have adopted so that they may cling lastingly in our memory, for the images, like letters, are effaced when we make no use of them, but the backgrounds, like wax tablets, should abide. And that we may by no chance err in the number of backgrounds, each fifth background should be marked. For example, if in the fifth we should set a golden hand, and in the tenth some acquaintance whose first name is Decimus, it will then be easy to station like marks in each successive fifth background.

Again, it will be more advantageous to obtain backgrounds in a deserted than in a populous region, because the crowding and passing to and fro of people confuse and weaken the impress of the images, while solitude keeps their outlines sharp. Further, backgrounds differing in form and nature must be secured, so that, thus distinguished, they may be clearly visible; for if a person has adopted many intercolumnar spaces, their resemblance to one another will so confuse him that he will no longer know what he has set in each background. And these backgrounds ought to be of moderate size and medium extent, for when excessively large they render the images vague, and when too small often seem incapable of receiving an arrangement of images. [32] Then the backgrounds ought to be neither too bright nor too dim, so that the shadows may not obscure the images nor the lustre make them glitter. I believe that the intervals between backgrounds should be of moderate extent, approximately thirty feet; for, like the external eye, so the inner eye of thought is less powerful when you have moved the object of sight too near or too far away.

Although it is easy for a person with a relatively large experience to equip himself with as many and as suitable backgrounds as he may desire, even a person who believes that he finds no store of backgrounds that are good enough, may succeeded in fashioning as many such as he wishes. For the imagination can embrace any region whatsoever and it at will fashion and construct the setting of some background. Hence, if we are not content with our ready-made supply of backgrounds, we may in our imagination create a region for ourselves and obtain a most serviceable distribution of appropriate backgrounds.

On the subject of backgrounds enough has been said; let me now turn to the theory of images.

[33] Since, then, images must resemble objects, we ought ourselves to choose from all objects likenesses for our use. Hence likenesses are bound to be of two kinds, one of subject-matter the other of words. Likenesses of matter are formed when we enlist images that present a general view of the matter with which we are dealing; likenesses of words are established when the record of each single noun or appellative is kept by an image.

Often we encompass the record of an entire matter by one notation, a single image. For example, the prosecutor has said that the defendant killed a man by poison, has charged that the motive for the crime was an inheritance, and declared that there are many witnesses and accessories to this act. If in order to facilitate our defence we wish to remember this first point, we shall in our first background form an image of the whole matter. We shall picture the man in question as lying ill in bed, if we know his person. If we do not know him, we shall yet take some one to be our invalid, but a man of the lowest class, so that he may come to mind at once. And we shall place the defendant at the bedside, holding in his right hand a cup, and in his left tablets, and on the fourth finger ram’s testicles. In this way we can record the man who was poisoned, the inheritance, and the witnesses. [34] In like fashion we shall set the other counts of the charge in backgrounds successively, following their order, and whenever we wish to remember a point, by properly arranging the patterns of the backgrounds and carefully imprinting the images, we shall easily succeed in calling back to mind what we wish.

When we wish to represent by images the likenesses of words, we shall be undertaking a greater task and exercising our ingenuity the more. This we ought to effect in the following way:

Iam domum itionem reges Atridae arant.

“And now their home-coming the kings,
the sons of Atreus, are making ready.”

If we wish to remember this verse, in our first background we should put Domitius, raising hands to heaven while he is lashed by the Marcii Reges — that will represent “Iam domum itionem reges” (“And now their home-coming the kings,”); in the second background, Aesopus and Cimber being dressed as for the rôles of Agamemnon and Menelaüs in Iphigenia — that will represent “Atridae parant” (“the sons of Atreus, making ready”). By this method all the words will be represented. But such an arrangement of images succeeds only if we use our notation to stimulate the natural memory, so that we first go over a given verse twice or three times to ourselves and then represent the words by means of images. In this way art will supplement nature. For neither by itself will be strong enough, though we must note that theory and technique are much the more reliable. I should not hesitate to demonstrate this in detail, did I not fear that, once having departed from my plan, I should not so well preserve the clear conciseness of my instruction.

[35] Now, since in normal cases some images are strong and sharp and suitable for awakening recollection, and others so weak and feeble as hardly to succeed in stimulating memory, we must therefore consider the cause of these differences, so that, by knowing the cause, we may know which images to avoid and which to seek.

Now nature herself teaches us what we should do. When we see in everyday life things that are petty, ordinary, and banal, we generally fail to remember them, because the mind is not being stirred by anything novel or marvellous. But if we see or hear something exceptionally base, dishonourable, extraordinary, great, unbelievable, or laughable, that we are likely to remember a long time. Accordingly, things immediate to our eye or ear we commonly forget; incidents of our childhood we often remember best. Nor could this be so for any other reason than that ordinary things easily slip from the memory while the striking and novel stay longer in mind. [36] A sunrise, the sun’s course, a sunset, are marvellous to no one because they occur daily. But solar eclipses are a source of wonder because they occur seldom, and indeed are more marvellous than lunar eclipses, because these are more frequent. Thus nature shows that she is not aroused by the common, ordinary event, but is moved by a new or striking occurrence. Let art, then, imitate nature, find what she desires, and follow as she directs. For in invention nature is never last, education never first; rather the beginnings of things arise from natural talent, and the ends are reached by discipline.

[37] We ought, then, to set up images of a kind that can adhere longest in the memory. And we shall do so if we establish likenesses as striking as possible; if we set up images that are not many or vague, but doing something; if we assign to them exceptional beauty or singular ugliness; if we dress some of them with crowns or purple cloaks, for example, so that the likeness may be more distinct to us; or if we somehow disfigure them, as by introducing one stained with blood or soiled with mud or smeared with red paint, so that its form is more striking, or by assigning certain comic effects to our images, for that, too, will ensure our remembering them more readily. The things we easily remember when they are real we likewise remember without difficulty when they are figments, if they have been carefully delineated. But this will be essential — again and again to run over rapidly in the mind all the original backgrounds in order to refresh the images.

[38] I know that most of the Greeks who have written on the memory have taken the course of listing images that correspond to a great many words, so that persons who wished to learn these images by heart would have them ready without expending effort on a search for them. I disapprove of their method on several grounds. First, among the innumerable multitude of words it is ridiculous to collect images for a thousand. How meagre is the value these can have, when out of the infinite store of words we shall need to remember now one, and now another? Secondly, why do we wish to rob anybody of his initiative, so that, to save him from making any search himself, we deliver to him everything searched out and ready? Then again, one person is more struck by one likeness, and another more by another. Often in fact when we declare that some one form resembles another, we fail to receive universal assent, because things seem different to different persons. The same is true with respect to images: one that is well-defined to us appears relatively inconspicuous to others. [39] Everybody, therefore, should in equipping himself with images suit his own convenience. Finally, it is the instructor’s duty to teach the proper method of search in each case, and, for the sake of greater clarity, to add in illustration some one or two examples of its kind, but not all. For instance, when I discuss the search for Introductions, I give a method of search and do not draught a thousand kinds of Introductions. The same procedure I believes be followed with respect to images.

Now, lest you should perchance regard the memorizing of words either as too difficult or as of too little use, and so rest content with the memorizing of matter, as being easier and more useful, I must advise you why I do not disapprove of memorizing words. I believe that they who wish to do easy things without trouble and toil must previously have been trained in more difficult things. Nor have I included memorization of words to enable us to get verse by rote, but rather as an exercise whereby to strengthen that other kind of memory, the memory of matter, which is of practical use. Thus we may without effort pass from this difficult training to ease in that other memory. [40] In every discipline artistic theory is of little avail without unremitting exercise, but especially in mnemonics theory is almost valueless unless made good by industry, devotion, toil, and care. You can make sure that you have as many backgrounds as possible and that these conform as much as possible to the rules; in placing the images you should exercise every day. While an engrossing preoccupation may often distract us from our other pursuits, from this activity nothing whatever can divert us. Indeed there is never a moment when we do not wish to commit something to memory, and we wish it most of all when our attention is held by business of special importance. So, since a ready memory is a useful thing, you see clearly with what great pains we must strive to acquire so useful a faculty. Once you know its uses you will be ab le to appreciate this advice. To exhort you further in the matter of memory is not my intention, for I should appear either to have lacked confidence in your zeal or to have discussed the subject less fully than it demands.
— Translated by Harry Caplan. London: Heineman, 1954. pp. 204-224.


Marcus Tullius Cicero: De oratore

Gratiamque habeo Simonidi illi Cio, quem primum ferunt artem memoriae protulisse. [352] Dicunt enim, cum cenaret Crannone in Thessalia Simonides apud Scopam fortunatum hominem et nobilem cecinissetque id carmen, quod in eum scripsisset, in quo multa ornandi causa poetarum more in Castorem scripta et Pollucem fuissent, nimis illum sordide Simonidi dixisse se dimidium eius ei, quod pactus esset, pro illo carmine daturum; reliquum a suis Tyndaridis, quos aeque laudasset, peteret, si ei videretur. [353] Paulo post esse ferunt nuntiatum Simonidi, ut prodiret; iuvenis stare ad ianuam duo quosdam, qui eum magno opere evocarent; surrexisse illum, prodisse, vidisse neminem: hoc interim spatio conclave illud, ubi epularetur Scopas, concidisse; ea ruina ipsum cum cognatis oppressum suis interisse: quos cum humare vellent sui neque possent obtritos internoscere ullo modo, Simonides dicitur ex eo, quod meminisset quo eorum loco quisque cubuisset, demonstrator unius cuiusque sepeliendi fuisse; hac tum re admonitus invenisse fertur ordinem esse maxime, qui memoriae lumen adferret. [354] Itaque eis, qui hanc partem ingeni exercerent, locos esse capiendos et ea, quae memoria tenere vellent effingenda animo atque in eis locis conlocanda; sic fore, ut ordinem rerum locorum ordo conservaret, res autem ipsas rerum effigies notaret atque ut locis pro cera, simulacris pro litteris uteremur. [355] Qui sit autem oratori memoriae fructus, quanta utilitas, quanta vis, quid me attinet dicere? Tenere, quae didiceris in accipienda causa, quae ipse cogitaris? Omnis fixas esse in animo sententias? Omnem descriptum verborum apparatum? Ita audire vel eum, unde discas, vel eum, cui respondendum sit, ut illi non infundere in auris tuas orationem, sed in animo videantur inscribere? Itaque soli qui memoria vigent, sciunt quid et quatenus et quo modo dicturi sint, quid responderint, quid supersit: eidemque multa ex aliis causis aliquando a se acta, multa ab aliis audita meminerunt. [356] Qua re confiteor equidem huius boni naturam esse principem, sicut earum rerum, de quibus ante locutus sum, omnium; sed haec ars tota dicendi, sive artis imago quaedam et similitudo est, habet hanc vim, non ut totum aliquid, cuius in ingeniis nostris pars nulla sit, pariat et procreet, verum ut ea, quae sunt orta iam in nobis et procreata, educet atque confirmet; [357] verum tamen neque tam acri memoria fere quisquam est, ut, non dispositis notatisque rebus, ordinem verborum omnium aut sententiarum complectatur, neque vero tam hebeti, ut nihil hac consuetudine et exercitatione adiuvetur. Vidit enim hoc prudenter sive Simonides sive alius quis invenit, ea maxime animis effingi nostris, quae essent a sensu tradita atque impressa; acerrimum autem ex omnibus nostris sensibus esse sensum videndi; qua re facillime animo teneri posse ea, quae perciperentur auribus aut cogitatione, si etiam commendatione oculorum animis traderentur; ut res caecas et ab aspectus iudicio remotas conformatio quaedam et imago et figura ita notaret, ut ea, quae cogitando complecti vix possemus, intuendo quasi teneremus. [358] His autem formis atque corporibus, sicut omnibus, quae sub aspectum veniunt, [admonetur memoria nostra atque excitatur;] sede opus est, etenim corpus intellegi sine loco non potest. Qua re ne in re nota et pervulgata multus et insolens sim, locis est utendum multis, inlustribus? explicatis, modicis intervallis; imaginibus autem agentibus, acribus, insignitis, quae occurrere celeriterque percutere animum possint; quam facultatem et exercitatio dabit, ex qua consuetudo gignitur, et similium verborum conversa et immutata casibus aut traducta ex parte ad genus notatio et unius verbi imagine totius sententiae informatio pictoris cuiusdam summi ratione et modo formarum varietate locos distinguentis. [359] Sed verborum memoria, quae minus est nobis necessaria, maiore imaginum varietate distinguitur; multa enim sunt verba, quae quasi articuli conectunt membra orationis, quae formari similitudine nulla possunt; eorum fingendae sunt nobis imagines, quibus semper utamur; rerum memoria propria est oratoris; eam singulis personis bene positis notare possumus, ut sententias imaginibus, ordinem locis comprehendamus. [360] Neque verum est, quod ab inertibus dicitur, opprimi memoriam imaginum pondere et obscurari etiam id, quod per se natura tenere potuisset: vidi enim ego summos homines et divina prope memoria, Athenis Charmadam, in Asia, quem vivere hodie aiunt, Scepsium Metrodorum, quorum uterque tamquam litteris in cera, sic se aiebat imaginibus in eis locis, quos haberet, quae meminisse vellet, perscribere. Qua re hac exercitatione non eruenda memoria est, si est nulla naturalis; sed certe, si latet, evocanda est.

Und ich weiß es dem Simonides aus Keos Dank, daß er, wie man sagt, zuerst die Kunst des Gedächtnisses gelehrt hat. Man erzählt nämlich, Simonides habe einst zu Krannon in Thessalien bei Skopas, einem begüterten und vornehmen Mann, gespeist und ein auf ihn gedichtetes Lied gesungen, worin er vieles nach Art der Dichter zur Ausschmückung auf das Lob des Kastor und Polydeukes eingestreut habe; Skopas habe hierauf gar zu knickerig zu Simonides gesagt, er werde ihm nur die Hälfte der ausbedungenen Summe für dieses Lied geben, die andere Hälfte möge er sich, wenn es ihm beliebe, von seinen Tyndariden erbitten, die er eben so sehr gelobt habe. Bald darauf, erzählt man weiter, wurde dem Simonides gemeldet, er möchte herauskommen; zwei junge Männer ständen vor der Tür, die ihn dringend zu sprechen wünschten. Er erhob sich von seinem Sitz, ging hinaus, sah aber niemand. In der Zwischenzeit stürzte das Zimmer, in dem Skopas speiste, zusammen, er wurde mit den Seinigen durch den Einsturz unter den Trümmern begraben und kam um. Als nun die Angehörigen diese zu bestatten wünschten und die Zerschmetterten durchaus nicht unterscheiden konnten, soll Simonides dadurch, daß er sich erinnerte, welchen Platz jeder bei Tisch eingenommen hatte, allen gezeigt haben, wen jeder zu begraben habe. Durch diesen Vorfall aufmerksam gemacht, erzählt man, machte er damals ausfindig, daß es besonders die Ordnung sei, die dem Gedächtnis Licht verschaffe. Es müßten daher die, die dieses Geistesvermögen üben wollten, gewisse Plätze auswählen, das, was man im Gedächtnis behalten wolle, sich unter einem Bild vorstellen und in diese Plätze einreihen. So werde die Ordnung der Plätze die Ordnung der Sachen bewahren; die Sachen selbst aber würden durch Bilder bezeichnet, und so könnten wir uns der Plätze statt der Wachstafeln und der Bilder statt der Buchstaben bedienen. Wie gewinnreich aber, wie nützlich und wie wichtig das Gedächtnis für den Redner ist, wozu soll ich das erwähnen? Daß wir nämlich mittelst seiner das behalten, was wir bei Annahme der Sache vernommen, was wir selbst ausgedacht haben, daß alle Gedanken in unserer Seele festhaften, daß der ganze Vorrat von Worten gehörig angeordnet ist, daß wir sowohl den, von dem wir uns belehren lassen, als auch den, dem wir antworten müssen, so anhören, daß sie die Reden nicht in unsere Ohren hineinzugießen, sondern in die Seele einzugraben scheinen. Nur die also, die ein starkes Gedächtnis besitzen, wissen, was, wieviel und wie sie reden müssen, was sie beantwortet haben und was noch übrig ist; ebenso haben sie auch aus anderen Verhandlungen vieles im Gedächtnis, was sie irgendeinmal vorgetragen haben, vieles, was sie von anderen gehört haben. Ich muß nun allerdings gestehen, daß diese Gabe wie alle die Eigenschaften, von denen ich zuvor sprach, hauptsächlich von der Natur ausgehen; beruht doch das Wesen unserer ganzen Kunst der Beredsamkeit – wenn man sie nicht vielleicht lieber ein Abbild oder Nachbild der Kunst nennen will – darauf, daß sie zwar nicht ein Ganzes, von dem in unserem Geist gar keine Spur vorhanden ist, erzeuge und hervorbringe, wohl aber die uns angeborenen und in uns bereits erzeugten Naturanlagen aufziehe und kräftige. Indes besitzt nicht leicht jemand ein so starkes Gedächtnis, daß er ohne vorhergegangene Anordnung und Bezeichnung der Sachen die Reihenfolge der Worte und Gedanken auffassen könnte, sowie auch nicht ein so schwaches Gedächtnis, daß ihm nicht durch eine solche Gewohnheit und Übung einige Erleichterung gewährt werden sollte. Denn einsichtsvoll erkannte Simonides, oder wer sonst der Erfinder dieser Kunst war, daß das am leichtesten in unserer Seele haftet, was ihr durch die Sinne zugeführt und eingeprägt ist, und daß unter allen Sinnen der des Gesichts der schärfste ist; daher lassen sich die durch das Gehör oder durch die Denkkraft aufgefaßten Vorstellungen am leichtesten in der Seele festhalten, wenn sie zugleich auch durch Vermittelung des Gesichtssinnes der Seele zugeführt werden; auf die Weise können wir unsichtbare und der Beurteilung durch die Augen entrückte Gegenstände durch die sinnliche Vorstellung in Bildern und Gestalten so bezeichnen, daß wir Dinge, von denen wir uns nicht imstande sein würden, uns eine Vorstellung zu machen, gleichsam durch Anschauung festhalten. Durch solche sinnlichen Bilder sowie durch alles, was Gegenstand der Anschauung ist, wird unser Gedächtnis erweckt und angeregt. Aber man hat Plätze nötig; denn ein Körper läßt sich nicht denken, ohne daß er einen Platz einnimmt. Wir müssen also, um nicht in einer allgemein bekannten Sache zu weitläufig und lästig zu werden, viele Plätze verwenden, und zwar solche, die in die Augen fallen, leicht übersehbar und durch mäßige Zwischenräume getrennt sind; die Bilder aber müssen lebhaft, eindringlich und hervorstechend sein, so daß sie der Seele leicht entgegentreten und sie schnell erregen können. Die Geschicklichkeit gewinnen wir teils durch Übung, aus der Gewohnheit entsteht, teils durch Bildung ähnlicher Wörter entweder mittels Umwandlung und Abänderung ihrer Endungen oder durch Übertragung ihrer Bedeutung vom Teil auf das Ganze, teils durch die Vorstellung eines ganzen Gedankens unter dem Bild eines einzigen Wortes nach der Verfahrungsart eines großen Malers, der durch Verteilung der Gestalten die einzelnen Stellen seines Gemäldes gegeneinander abstechen läßt. Aber das Wortgedächtnis, das für uns jedoch minder notwendig ist, unterscheidet sich durch eine größere Mannigfaltigkeit der Bilder. Es gibt nämlich viele Wörter, welche, gleichsam wie Gelenke, die Glieder der Rede verknüpfen. Die lassen sich durch keine sinnliche Bezeichnung vorstellen, und wir müssen uns daher für sie willkürliche Bilder aussinnen, die wir immer gebrauchen können. Das Sachgedächtnis ist eine wesentliche Eigenschaft des Redners. Dieses können wir durch einzelne aufgestellte Bilder kenntlich machen, indem wir die Gedanken an die Bilder, die Gedankenfolge aber an die Plätze knüpfen. Auch ist nicht wahr, was von trägen Menschen gesagt wird, das Gedächtnis erliege unter der Last der Bilder, und sogar das werde hierdurch verdunkelt, was es durch sich selbst vermöge seiner natürlichen Kraft hätte festhalten können. Denn ich habe ausgezeichnete Männer von einem fast übermenschlichen Gedächtnis gekannt, zu Athen den Charmadas, in Asien den Metrodoros aus Skepsis, der noch jetzt leben soll, die mir beide versicherten, daß sie, wie durch Buchstaben auf Wachs, so durch Bilder auf den Plätzen, die sie sich ausgewählt hätten, das, was sie im Gedächtnis behalten wollten, niederschrieben. Durch diese Übung nun läßt sich zwar das Gedächtnis, wo keines von Natur vorhanden ist, nicht herausarbeiten, aber sicherlich, wo es versteckt liegt, hervorlocken.
— Marcus Tullius Cicero: Vom Redner. De Oratore. Übersetzt, eingeleitet und erläutert von Raphael Kühner. Stuttgart: Hoffmann’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 2. Auflage, 1873. II,351-360.


Marcus Fabius Quintilianus: Institutio oratoria

Ex hoc Simonidis facto notatum videtur, iuvari memoriam signatis animo sedibus, idque credere suo quisque experimento potest. Nam cum in loca aliqua post tempus reversi sumus, non ipsa agnoscimus tantum, sed etiam, quae in his fecerimus, reminiscimur personaeque subeunt, nonnunquam tacitae quoque cogitationes in mentem revertuntur. nata est igitur, ut in plerisque, ars ab experimento. loca deligunt2 quam maxime spatiosa, [18] multa varietate signata, domum forte magnam et in multos diductam recessus. in ea quidquid notabile est, animo diligenter adfigunt, ut sine cunctatione ac mora partes eius omnes cogitatio possit percurrere. et primus hic labor est non haerere in occursu; plus enim quam firma debet esse memoria, quae aliam memoriam adiuvet. [19] tum, quae scripserunt vel cogitatione complexi sunt, aliquo signo, quo moneantur, notant; quod esse vel ex re tota potest, ut de navigatione, militia, vel ex verbo aliquo; nam etiam excidentes unius admonitione verbi in memoriam reponuntur. Sit autem signum navigationis ut ancora, militiae ut aliquid ex armis. [20] haec ita digerunt. primum sensum vestibulo quasi adsignant, secundum, puta, atrio, tum impluvia circumeunt, nec cubiculis modo aut exedris, sed statuis etiam similibusque per ordinem committunt. hoc facto, cum est repetenda memoria, incipiunt ab initio loca haec recensere, et quod cuique crediderunt reposcunt, ut eorum imagine admonentur. ita, quamlibet multa sint, quorum meminisse oporteat, fiunt singula conexa quodam choro, nec errant2 coniungentes prioribus consequentia solo ediscendi labore. [21] quod de domo dixi, et in operibus publicis et in itinere longo et urbium ambitu et picturis fieri potest. etiam fingere sibi has imagines licet. opus est ergo locis, quae vel finguntur vel sumuntur, et imaginibus vel simulacris, quae utique fingenda sunt. imagines voces sunt, quibus ea quae ediscenda sunt notamus, ut, quomodo Cicero dicit, locis pro cera, simulacris pro litteris utamur. [22] illud quoque ad verbum ponere optimum fuerit: locis est utendum multis, inlustribus, explicatis, modicis intervallis, imaginibus autem agentibus, acribus, insignitis, quae occurrere celeriterque percutere animum possint. quo magis miror, quomodo Metrodorus in XII signis, per quae sol meat, trecenos et sexagenos invenerit locos. vanitas nimirum fuit atque iactatio circa memoriam sua potius arte quam natura gloriantis.
— XI,ii,17-22.

The achievement of Simonides appears to have given rise to the observation that it is an assistance to the memory if localities are sharply impressed upon the mind, a view the truth of which everyone may realise by practical experiment. For when we return to a place after considerable absence, we not merely recognise the place itself, but remember things that we did there, and recall the persons whom we met and even the unuttered thoughts which passed through our minds when we were there before. Thus, as in most cases, art originates in experiment. Some place is chosen of the largest possible extent and characterised by the utmost possible variety, such as a spacious house divided into a number of rooms. Everything of note therein is carefully committed to the memory, in order that the thought may be enabled to run through all the details without let or hindrance. And undoubtedly the first task is to secure that there shall be no delay in finding any single detail, since an idea which is to lead by association to some other idea requires to be fixed in the mind with more than ordinary certitude. The next step is to distinguish something which has been written down or merely thought of by some particular symbol which will serve to jog the memory; this symbol may have reference to the subject as a whole, it may, for example, be drawn from navigation, warfare, etc., or it may, on the other hand, be found in some particular word. (For even in cases of forgetfulness one single word will serve to restore the memory.) However, let us suppose that the symbol is drawn from navigation, as, for instance, an anchor; or from warfare, as, for example, some weapon. These symbols are then arranged as follows. The first thought is placed, as it were, in the forecourt; the second, let us say, in the living-room; the remainder are placed in due order all round the impluvium and entrusted not merely to bedrooms and parlours, but even to the care of statues and the like. This done, as soon as the memory of the facts requires to be revived, all these places are visited in turn and the various deposits are demanded from their custodians, as the sight of each recalls the respective details. Consequently, however large the number of these which it is required to remember, all are linked one to the other like dancers hand in hand, and there can be no mistake since they what precedes to what follows, no trouble being required except the preliminary labour of committing the various points to memory. What I have spoken of as being done in a house, can equally well be done in connexion with public buildings, a long journey, the ramparts of a city, or even pictures. Or we may even imagine such places to ourselves. We require, therefore, places, real or imaginary, and images or symbols, which we must, of course, invent for ourselves. By images I mean the words by which we distinguish the things which we have to learn by heart: in fact, as Cicero says, we use ‘places like wax tablets and symbols in lieu of letters.’ It will be best to give his words verbatim: ‘We must for this purpose employ a number of remarkable places, clearly envisaged and separated by short intervals: the images which we use must be active, sharply-cut and distinctive, such as may occur to the mind and strike it with rapidity.’ This makes me wonder all the more, how Metrodorus should have found three hundred and sixty different localities in the twelve signs of the Zodiac through which the sun passes. It was doubtless due to the vanity and boastfulness of a man who was inclined to vaunt his memory as being the result of art rather than of natural gifts.
— Translated by Harold Edgeworth Butler. Loeb Classical Library, 1920.


Petrus Ravennas seu Petrus Tommai: Phoenix sive Artificiosa Memoria


Quoniam ætate nostra paucos excellenti memoria præditos fuisse cognovimus, statui pulcherrimum opus Italiæ et toti orbi tradere, cuius præcepta si quis seruare voluerit, huius artis altissimum culmen parvo tempore mirabiliter attinget. Nec fallor, o lector carissime, dum enim præcepta mea per totam Italiam experirer, cuncti divinum potius quam humanum opus se vidisse affirmabant, aliqui etiam se cruce signabant. Nec in artificiosa memoria præceptorem habui, sed Deo mihi auxilium præbente regulas pulcherrimas maximis tamen laboribus inveni. Hunc ego libellum doctissimis auditoribus legi, meque legente præcepta huius artis ab ore meo pendentes scripsere et qui doctrina mea usi sunt et honorem et laudem sunt consecuti. Hoc meum inventum excellentissimi viri laudauerunt, quorum nomina in fine huius operis inscribere placuit, ne solus videar quod est meum laudauisse, quod profecto pulchrius iudicabitur, si excellentiores habuerit laudatores. Mea igitur præcepta, carissime lector, amplectaris omnique studio et diligentia exerceas. Ex ipsis enim non ex aliis grana colliges, et toto opere perfecto, mihi crede, maximam gloriam reportabis.

Non sumus sufficientes cogitare aliquid ex nobis, scribit Apostolus II ad Corinthios III. Omne donum optimum desursum est, descendens a patre luminum, Iacobi primo. Glosa in lemma ‚nam et Demosthenes‘, Digesto, de legibus. Quid enim habes quod non accepisti, I ad Corinthios IV. Sine me nihil potestis facere, Iohannis XV. Nolite gloriari, neque loquamini elata, neque procedat magniloquentia de ore vestro, quia Deus scientiarum est dominus. Primi Regum II. Intellectum tibi dabo et instruam te in hac via qua gradieris, ait Deus omnipotens in libro Psalmorum per os prophetæ; et Baldus in principio Libri feudorum.

Non potest aliquid homo boni velle, nisi iuvetur ab eo qui non potest malum velle, dixit Augustinus ad Bonifacium Papam. Gratia prævenit ut velimus bonum; Augustinus in Enchiridion. Movet ad quærendum salutem libertas arbitrii, movente prius Deo; Augustinus de Ecclesiasticis dogmatibus. Sine gratia Dei nullum prorsus sive volendo, sive agendo faciunt homines bonum; Augustinus de correptione et gratia. Velle etiam quod bonum est non possum nisi tu velis. Augustinus in Soliloquiis. Et scribit ingeniosus poeta in principio sui præclari operis: Dii, coeptis (nam uos mutastis et illas) / adspirate meis. Et alibi: Adsis et coepto, Iuppiter alte, meo.

Et pulchre loquitur Cæsar in lemma ‚in nomine Domini‘, cap. ‚de officio præfecti prætorio Africæ‘. In lemna ‚Deo nobis auxilium præbente‘ cap. ‚de episcopis et clericis‘. Et in lemma ‚Deo auctore nostrum gubernante imperium‘, cap. ‚de veteri iure enucleando‘. Et textus est in cap. ‚in nomine Domini‘, XXIII distinctio; et in capitulo ‚in nomine domini‘, ‚de testibus‘; et in cap. ‚veritatis‘, ‚de dolo et contumacia‘; et in cap. ‚non licet‘ XXVI quæstio V; et in capitulo ‚in nomine patris‘ LXXIII distinctio. In Authentico ‚ut præponatur nomen imperatoris‘, in versiculo ‚mox inchoetur auctore Deo‘. In Authentico ‚de armis‘, in principio. In Authentico ‚de quæstore‘. In capitulo primo ‚de baptismo‘. Glosa in Rubrica Institutionum Baldi, in rubrica cap. ‚de iure iurando‘.

Ad omnipotentis igitur Dei providentiam animum meum referens, hoc utilissimum opus ordinare disposui, in quo amicis satisfecero, si obscuritates verborum et sententiarum evitavero, ut etiam indocti utilitatem aliquam ex hoc libello assequi possint. In horum igitur præceptorum traditione loqui non autem dicere cogitaui. Vt autem res clarius habeatur, conclusiones in tota arte facillimas adducam, ut cum legista sim, legistas videar imitari.

The art of memory, that otherwyse is called the Phenix. A boke very behouefull and profytable to all professours of scyences. Grammaryens, Rethoryciens Dialectyke, Legystes, Phylosophres and Theologiens.
[London: Wyllyam Myddylton, ca. 1545.
Translated by Robert Copland.]

For asmuch as many (in this tyme moderne yt presently renneth) be of a slow memory and late mynded, this lytell boke was made and composed, for to gyue and present it to all people, albeit that at the begynnynge it was dyrected to the Italyke nacion. Knowe ye therfore all noble reders that yf any do kepe these preceptes and commaundementes of this boke, easyly and in short tyme he may touch ye sunmite, and reach ye heyght of this art It is of a great effect and profyt to them that haue nat theyr myndes prompte, stronge and redy. For it semeth more to be inuented by dyuyne inspyracion than by arte or scyence of mankynde. I haue also founde by wrytynge that whan the authour of this present worke experymented his knowledge through al the Itallies that many affirmed to haue seyne this worke more dyuyne than humayne, so that some dyd blysse then by great admiracion The author reported that he had no teacher of this art, but yt it came to hym by inuencion throughe the socour and help of god that lyghtned and inspired his spyrite. Rede therfore my preceptes ryght dere and dyscret persones and yf thou take laboure and dyligence to vnderstande these purposes perfytly thou shalt gather the grayne therof, and bere with the great and prosperous worke of proffytte and honoure.

Conclusio I

Prima erit conclusio: ars ista constat ex locis et imaginibus. Loca sunt tanquam charta seu alia materia in qua scribimus. Imagines sunt similitudines rerum, quas memoriæ volumus commendare. Chartam ergo primum parabo in qua imagines collocare possimus. Et pro fundamento huius primæ conclusionis quatuor regulas pono.

Prima est hæc: loca sunt fenestræ in parietibus positæ, columnæ, anguli et quæ his similia sunt.

Secunda sit regula: loca non debent esse nimium vicina aut nimium distantia. Vicinitas enim, ut expertus sum, in appositione rerum memoriam naturalem conturbat, si autem nimium distarent loca, cum mora, quæ locis tradita sunt, recitamus. Mediocriter ergo distabunt, si unus ab altero quinque vel sex pedibus distabit.

Tertia sit regula: vana, ut mihi videtur, est opinio dicentium loca fieri non debere ubi sit hominum frequentia, ut in ecclesiis, aut in plateis; nam ecclesiam quandoque vacuam vidisse sufficit, non enim semper ibi hominum deambulatio visa fuit et in hoc experientia, quæ est rerum magistra, contrarium docuit.

Quarta sit regula: loca non sint alta, quia volui quod homines pro imaginibus positi loca tangere possint, quod utile semper iudicavi.

Accipio ergo ecclesiam mihi multum notam, cuius partes diligenter considero, in ea terque quater deambulans discedo, domumque redeo et ibi per me visa mente revoluo et hoc pacto principium locis do: in parte dextra portæ, ex qua recto tramite ad altare maius itur, mihi primum locum constituo; deinde in pariete post quinque aut sex pedes secundum, et si ibi aliquid reale sit positum, ut est columna, fenestra aut his simile, ibi locum pono. Si autem reale deficiat, ad arbitrium meum imaginarium fingo. Si tamen hæc loca fabricans omittere vellet, timens ne rei appositæ obliviscatur, concedatur dummodo sit memor ibi locum constituisse et sic de loco in locum procedatur, donec ad eandem portam loca fabricans revertatur et ista fiant in parietibus primis ecclesiæ, omissis omnibus quæ in medio ipsius sunt.

Et si quis locorum copiam habere cupiat, hoc ordine monasterium intret et illud totum locis impleat, aut in parietibus extra ecclesiam sibi loca comparet et qui multa voluerit meminisse, multa sibi loca comparare debet. Ego autem quia omnes homines Italiæ copia rerum absque chartarum revolutione superare volui, in Sacris scripturis, iure canonico civilique et aliis multarum rerum auctoritatibus, dum essem adolescens mihi centum millia locorum paravi et nunc ipsis decem millia addidi, in quibus per me dicenda posui, ut in promptu sint. Quando memoriæ vires experiri cupio et cum patriam relinquo, ut peregrinus urbes Italiæ videam, dicere possum ‚omnia mea mecum porto‘, nec cesso tamen loca fabricare. Hoc suadeo, ut in aliqua ecclesia et monasterio habeantur loca solum pro reponendis rebus, quas cotidie convenit recitare, ut sunt argumenta, rationes, historiæ, fabulæ et prædicationes, quæ in quadragesima fiunt; et hoc officium illis locis tantum deputetur. Et unum quod utile iudicabitur pro istis locis in fine scribere disposui. Volo equidem iuvenes huius artis cupidos perfectissime docere, loca autem sic constituta ter aut quater in mense memoria repetantur; repetitio enim locorum nullo pretio emi potest.

The fyrste conclusyon shalbe suche. This arte is, and consysteth of places and magnytudes. The places be as cardes or scrollis or other thynges for to wrytte in. The ymages be ye symylytudes of the thynges that we wyll retayne in mynde. Than I wyl fyrst prepare my carde wherin we may colloke and ordre ye ymages in places. And for the foundacion of this fyrst conclusyon I wyll put foure rules. The fyrste is this. The places are the wyndowes set in walles, pyllers, and anglets, with other lyke. The .ii. rule is. The places ought nat to be to nere togyther nor to fare a sonder. For the nerenesse trouble greatly the naturall memory, by the opposytion of thynges for yf ye places were to fare dystaunt. We wyl recyte with a lytel leaser the thynges that shalbe gyuen to places, where by they shalbe of meane dystaunce. And that shalbe done whan one is. vi. fote fro ye other. The .iii. rule is suche. But it is vayne as me semeth. For it is the opynyon of talkers that the places ought nat to be made where as men do haunt, as in churche and comyn places. For it suffyseth to haue sene church vacaunt wher as people walke nat alway and in that hath ben taught ye contrary experyence. Whiche is the mayster of those thynges. The .iiii. rule is this. That the places be nat to hye. For I wyl that the men set for the ymages or in the steade of ymages may touch the places, yt whiche I haue iudged as behouefull. I take than the churche greatly knowen by me, the partyes wher of I do consyder, and go into it walkynge it .iii. or .iiii. tymes, and than retourne home to my house, and there I tourne in my thought to remembre the thynges by me sene. And in that maner I gyue the begynnyng of the worke to ye places on ye ryght syde of the gate fro the whiche men go in the ryght pathe or yle to the hygh auter ther I fyx and ordayne the fyrst place, and the seconde on ye walle next it a .v. or .vi. fote of. And yf there be any notable thynge set, as a pyler in the wyndowe, or other lyke, there put the place. And yf the notable thyng be nat there, or lacke I feyn that in my ymagynation or at myne arbytre ymagynary although some forgynge these placis wolde leaue then, fearynge that he shulde put in forgetfulnes. The thynge opposyd to that is taken and suffred, so that he be myndfull to haue constytued and ordeyned the place. And so to be proceded fro place to place tyl yt ye fabrycant of ye places retourne to the same gate. And these thynges to be done on ye fyrste walle of the churche, al thyngs lest that be in the myds therof. And yf any desyre to haue ye circunference of the places entre by ordre in to a monastery, and fyll it ful all of places or conpare the places on the walles without the churche. And he that wylbe remenbred of many thynges, must conpare many placis. But bicause yt I haue wylled to surmount all the men of Itally by habundaunce of thynges and holy scryptures, in Canone lawe and Cyuyl, and in other authoritees of many thynges, whyle that I was but yonge adolescent I haue prepared a C. M. places. And now I haue added to them ye other .x. M. places wherin I haue put the thynges which are to say and vtter by my selfe, so yt they be promptements whan I wyll experyment the vertues and strengthes of my memory. And whan I do leaue my countre assigned I visite ye cytyes of Itally as a pylgryme or a wayfarer. I may frely say that I bere with me all my thynges, and yet I ceas nat to edyfy. I do you to wyte yt the places in any churche or mynster is sene onely for to repose and marke the thigis which must be recyted euery day as be ye argumentes, reasons, hystoryes, fables and predicacions made in Lenten. And let this offyce be deputed to these places onely. And I haue set and declared at the ende for these places a thynge that shalbe Iudged necessary and vtile. For I wyl that the yonge infants shalbe couyetous herof by my ryght document ensygned by the places so constytuted and put in ordre, by often repetynge, thre or foure tymes in a moneth. For the repeticion of placis can nat be praysed in any maner.

Conclusio II

Secunda erit conclusio, ut charta habita, modum scribendi in ipsa doceam. In magna nobilium corona, dum essem adolescens, mihi semel fuit propositum ut aliqua nomina hominum per unum ex astantibus dicenda recitarem. Non negavi, dicta ergo sunt nomina. In primo loco posui amicum illud nomen habentem; in secundo, similiter; et sic quot dicta fuerunt tot collocavi et collocata recitavi. Et advertat collocans ut semper amicum ponat agentem illud, quod communiter ab eo fieri solet.

Et ista conclusio clare procedit in nominibus cognitis, si autem non cognoscitur amicus illud nomen habens, veluti Bozdrab, Zorobabel, tunc collocabis quod loco suo dicetur et idem dico in nominibus animalium, ut est equus, bos, asinus, ut in primo loco ponatur equus, in secundo bos, in tertio asinus; et idem in rebus anima carentibus, ut est liber, cappa, vestis. Sed adverte ne decipiaris, si in primo loco poneretur liber, in secundo cappa, sic simpliciter posses, dum recitares, deficere.

Excitare enim memoriam naturalem est artis huius officium, sed hæ res commovere non possunt, quia gestus imaginis positæ excitat, qui in talibus naturaliter non reperitur. Imago igitur in loco talis poni debet, quæ se moveat, si non potest, ab alio moveatur: rem talem in manu alicuius motoris ponas, ut ex motu illo memoria naturalis commoveatur. Sed acutissimi ingenii iuvenis dicet quod hæc præcepta non sunt omni ex parte perfecta: ‚Formica in loco posita se movet, non tamen, propter sui parvitatem, commovebit granum piperis in manu motoris positum, etiam non excitabit‘. Fateor hoc, si formica sola collocetur, sed multitudinem formicarum ascendentium et descendentium arborem in loco ponam. Quod ergo formica sola facere non potest, faciet multitudo et amicus etiam in loco multa grana movebit. Instabit etiam ingeniosus iuvenis: ‚pulex saltat nec commouet, multitudo autem bene collocari non potest‘. Sed pro pulice amicum pulicem capientem collocabo; et ego sæpissime pro pulice excellentissimum omnium ætatis nostræ medicum magistrum Gerardum Veronensem posui, quem semel capientem pulicem aspexi.

The seconde conclusyon shalbe that whan any hath the carde or scroll I wyll shewe the maner to wryt in the same, as I was some tyme beynge yonge adolescent in ye conpany of sondry noble men. It was proposed of then to recyte names of men, that one of ye assysten•s shulde say I denye nat that. And these be the names that folowe. I dyd set in the fyrst place a certayne frende of myne hauynge the same name. In the seconde place lykewyse, and as names dyd I colloke and set in place as they had named, and they thus collocated were by me recyted afterwarde. And let the collocatoure aduyse him to set alway his frende doynge the thynge that he is accustomed to do comynly, and procede this conclusion clerely, and names knowen. And yf the frende be knowen haue suche a name Boxdrab, Zorobabell, than set ye same thinge that is spoken or named in his place I say asmuche of lyke thynges in names of beastes as of the hors, ye oxe, and asse, do that the hors be set in the fyrst place. In the seconde ye oxe, and the asse in the thyrde. And thus must be done in thynges that haue no lyfe, as the boke, the cote, ye gowne, and of other thynges in lykewyse. But he wel ware that thou be nat deceyued, yf the boke were set in the fyrst place, and the cote in ye seconde for so thou mayste symply whan thou shulde recyte ye names The offyce of this arte is to excyte the mynde naturall yt neuer is nat nor can be admonested. For ye gest of the ymage is to set and vnset and apposyted therfore ye ought to be set in the place that moueth. And yf it can nat moeue to be moeued with another, put such a thynge in he hande of mouer, bycause that by the mouynge the memory be moued to the naturall. But some yonge man of his spyryte and subtyll wyt wyll saye that these preceptes and commaundementes be nat perfyte in all partyes. For ye ampt set in the place moueth. And howbeit bycause that it is so lytell it can nat moue for the grayne of peper put ī the hande of the mouer nor also lyft it, whiche I graunt, yf ye onely ampt be there collocat. But yf ye set a multytude of ampts mountynge and descendynge on a tree. That yt ye onely ampt coude nat do alone, ye multytude wyll do it. And the frende also wyll moue in the place dyuers graynes of peper. Some other yonglynge wyll contraryenge. The full bely doth nat moue me ye multytude of fleas, may nat be set nor well collocated. But I wyll collocat there for the flea the frende takynge a flea. And I haue afore set in the place of the flea the ryghte excellent mayster of all then of oure tyme the good phisitien Gyrard of Uelonne, ye whiche I behelde ones takynge a flea.

Conclusio III

Tertia est aurea conclusio. Quia pro litteris alphabeti homines habeo et sic imagines vivas, pro littera enim a Antonium habeo; pro littera b, Benedictum; et sic personas in quarum nominibus prima littera est illa quam collocare volo; et ego communiter pro litteris formosissimas puellas pono – illæ enim multum memoriam meam excitant - et frequentissime in locis Iuniperam Pistoriensem mihi carissimam dum essem iuvenis collocavi, et, mihi crede, si pro imaginibus pulcherrimas puellas posuero, facilius et pulchrius recito quæ locis mandavi.

Secretum ergo habe utilissimum in artificiosa memoria, quod diu tacui ex pudore. Si cito meminisse cupis, virgines pulcherrimas colloca, memoria enim collocatione puellarum mirabiliter commovetur, et qui vidit, testimonium perhibuit. Hoc autem utile præceptum prodesse non poterit illis qui mulieres odiunt et contemnunt, sed isti artis huius fructum difficilius consequentur. Veniam tamen mihi dabunt viri religiosissimi et castissimi, præceptum enim quod in hac arte mihi honorem et laudem attulit, tacere non debui, cum successores excellentissimos relinquere totis viribus nitar.

The .iii. conclusyon is al of gold yf I take men for the lettres of the alphebete, and so I haue the lyuynge amages. For I set for the lettre. A. Anthony. B. for Benet, and so the other persones and names of whom the fyrst lettre is that which I wyll collocat. And I do set by ye lettres some fayre maydens for they excyte greatly my mynde and frequentation whan I was yonge I dyd collocat Iunipere pistorien or of pyse which I loued greatly. Beleue hardily to my sayenges that yf I set the fanyre maydens mooste facylly and decently recyte this yt I haue set in my memory. Reteyne this secret very behoueful than into ye artificiall memory, whiche I haue of a longe whyle put in science. And for feare of blame or shame ye thou wolde haue a remembraunce incontynent collocat fayre maidens. For the mynde by the location of maydens and vyrgyns is a merueylous mouynge to hym that hathe sene ye wytnes testyfyeth the thynge. But this behouefull precept can nat profyt to then that haue women in hate and dyspyle then. Nor shall nat folowe the fruyt of this art but dyfficylly, and slowly, howbeit all good and chast men are except. For the preceptes yt hath borne me so much honesty I ought nat to hyde, saing yt I desyre, and enforce me wt all my powers to leaue it to my successors excellently lerned in goodnes.

Conclusio IV

Quarta est conclusio: ut imagines alphabeti seu nomina demonstrantia litteras bene memoria teneantur et sæpe repetantur. Incipio ergo sic: si mihi contingat in loco ponere istam copulam et in loco pono Eusebium et Thomam, hoc tamen ordine, quia Eusebius locum tangit et Thomas astat coram eo. Si autem Thomas locum Eusebii tenuerit et Eusebius Thomæ, non copulam et, sed hoc pronomen te, in loco videbimus appositum. Est enim in arte hac hæc regula: ut prius in ordine, loco sit propinquius. Sicut enim in charta primum ‚e‘ scribimus in ista copula et, ita et in loco. Et idem observandum est generaliter in omnibus dictionibus et aliis collocandis.

The .iiii. conclusion is, that the ymages of the alphabete, or ye names demonstratyfs of lies shuld be well reteyned and fyxed in mynde and often repeted, I begyne than this wyse yf it chaunce me to sette in place of this copulatyue. And I set in place Eusebe and Thomas, howebeit that in this ordre eusebe be in place, and Thomas standynge afore hym, but yf Thomas holde of eusebe, and eusebe holde the copulatif of Thomas that is mas, yt of mas we se this pronowne of Thomas And in ye place apposed in this arte the rule is suche that fyrst in ordre is moost presed of the place, and so of the ende. And fyrst we wryte in this copulatyfe and lykewyse in ye place. And lyke thinges is to be obserued generally in all dyctions, and other thīgs to be colloqued.

Conclusio V

Quinta est conclusio in syllabis trium litterarum, in quibus sic proceditur: si enim vocalis est in medio, ut in hac syllaba bar, tunc imaginem ultimæ litteræ accipio, et rem aliquam addo, cuius principium duabus præcedentibus litteris simile sit. Si ergo in loco Raymumdum cum baculo locum percutientem posuero, legetur in loco syllaba bar; et si Simon locum percusserit, habebitur syllaba bas. Ista ergo sit regula, quæ sic repetitur, ubi vocalis est in medio in syllaba trium litterarum, accipitur imago ultimæ litteræ, re aliqua apposita mobili aut se movente, cuius principium simile sit duabus litteris præcedentibus. Si autem vocalis sit in fine, ut in syllaba bra, tunc imaginem primæ litteræ in loco colloco et rem mobilem seu se moventem cuius principium sit simile duabus sequentibus. Si ergo Benedictum cum rapis vel ranis in loco posuero, dabit syllabam bra. Si autem Thomam syllabam tra. Copia ergo rerum incipientium ut syllabæ, si in promptu habeatur, magnam afferet utilitatem, sed si vocalis est, in principio syllabam faciens, ut in hoc verbo amo, tunc semper imago primæ litteræ collocanda est in loco et res principium habens simile sequenti syllabæ. Si ergo Antonius voluat molam, hoc verbum amo positum legemus; si Eusebius, verbum emo. Est tamen sciendum quod non possumus commode dictionem trium aut quatuor syllabarum collocare, sed nec opus est, quia frustra sit per plura, quod potest fieri per pauciora, sufficit enim primam et secundam syllabam posuisse. Dictionem tamen duarum syllabarum possumus totam collocare, veluti pater; ponam in loco rem vel hominem pro imagine syllaba pa, ut Paulum, et pro syllaba ter, cum vocalis sit in medio, Raymundum accipiam telam in manu habentem.

Concludo ergo sic: pulchræ imagines alphabeti simul iunctæ et copia rerum incipientium ut syllabæ, semper nobis servient si aliæ imagines defuerint. Si enim alias habere possum, istas omitto, de quibus in aliis conclusionibus dicetur.

The .v. conclusion is ī ye syllables of .iii. letts, in whon we procede thus, for yf ye vowel be in ye myddel as this syllable (bar) I take than ye ymage of the last lettre and adde some thinge therto, of the which let be ye begynnyng in lykewyse to the two other letters yt do procede. Than yf I set in the place of Raymonde smyttynge the place with his stafe, the syllable (bar) shalbe reysed in ye place. And yf Symon hyt ye place we shall haue the syllable belowe. Than lete this rule be kept whiche is thus. Repeted there where ye vowel is in the myddle of the syllable of the letters the ymage of the laste letter .R. is taken apposynge another mobyle, or mouynge her selfe to the two letters afore. But yf the vowell beyne the ende as the syllable (bra) than I colloke to yt ymage of ye fyrst letter of yt thynge mobyle or mouynge, wherof lete the begynnynge be lyke to ye two folowynge Than I set and appose Benet amonge the Frogges in the place shal haue the syllable (bra) And yf I set Thomas I shall haue the syllable (tra) The habundaunce than of these thynges that begyn as the syllable yf they be redyly had here great vtylyte and profyte. But yf the vowell be in the begynninge, making any syllablis as ī this word (Amo) than alway the ymage of the fyrst letter is to be colloqued in the place of ye thynge hauynge hys lyke begynnynge of the syllable folowe, yf ye harnest turne ye mylstone, this worde (Amo) set there shalbe ye place. And yf, this eusebe, rede, this word, enio to vs ye must alway knowe yf we may profytably collocat, the diction of thre or foure syllables, and it is no nede. For in vayne one is to be made by many thynges whan it may be by few. It suffyfeth to haue set the fyrst or seconde syllable, we may always collocat the totall dyction of two syllables as, Pater, I wyl set in the place the thynge or ye man for the ymage of the syllable. Pa. as Paule, and for the syllable, ter, sythe that the vowell is in the myddel I wyl take Raymonde hauynge a pyece of lynnene clothe in his hande. I conclude than thus nobly that the ymages of ye alphabete adioyned togyther, and the habundance of ye thynges begynning as the syllables wyl serue vs euer, yf the ymages do lacke in then. For yf I can haue other I wyl leaue these wherof we shal speke in the other conclusions.

Conclusio VI

Sexta est conclusio: in istis dictionibus panis, vinum, lignum, vestis et similibus, et in nominibus dignitatum, ut est Papa, Imperator, Abbas, Canonicus, quæ omnia etiam rustici intelligunt quid demonstrent, vel ut clarius loquar, uniformes sunt in lingua vernacula et latina; in talibus dictionibus alias imagines non quæro, sed pono illud quod dictio ipsa sonat et syllabæ omnes talium dictionum possunt pulchro invento facile collocari, in corpore namque humano casuum imagines inveni. Nam caput est casus nominativus, manus dextra genitivus, manus sinistra dativus, pes dexter accusativus, pes sinister uocativus et venter seu pectus casus ablativus. Et pro numero singulari pono aut pulchram puellam nudam et pro numero plurali ipsam egregie ornatam, aut illum, quem meminisse volo. Aut ergo volo collocare rem aut hominem. Si rem, ut panem, puellam nudam in loco sibi pedem dextrum cum pane tangentem collocabo. Si autem dictionem collocare volo hominem in aliquo officio vel dignitate constitutum demonstrantem, ut Abbatem, Abbatem unum in loco nudum, qui cum pede dextro locum percutiat, pono. Et si diligenter, o lector dulcissime, considerabis, hoc inventum pulchrum videbitur; et sic has dictiones totas soleo collocare.

The .vi. conclucyon is in these dyctions, breade, wyne, wood, and other like. And in al dygnitees as is the Emperour, the Kynge. &c And so of eche I make collocacion by the sonunde of ye voyce, the which all thynges do vnderstande, and ye Rustykes in theyr demonstration, and to speake more euydent they are concordinge and vnyformal in speche vulgar and latyn. In suche dyctions I demaunde none other ymages. But put that same that ye sayd dyction sounde, and all the syllables of suche dyctions may be by good mention collocate easyly. For in ye body of man I haue sounde ymages of cases so that the head is the case Iuuima. The ryght hande the genityfe. The lyft hande ye datyue, The ryght fote the accusatyue, the lyfte fote the vocatyue. And the bely or stomake the ablatyue. And for the synguler nonbre I set a fayre mayden naked. And for the plurell the same mayde, well arayed and rychely or her that I wolde be remembred of. Or I wyll collocate some thynge, or a man yf it be some thynge as bread I wyll collocate a mayden all naked in the place touchynge ye bread with her ryght fote And yf I wyll collocat any dyction I set a man constytued in offyce or dygnyte as a Bysshop, I collocat a Bysshop in the place, smytynge ye bare erth with his ryght fote. And yf thou consyder dylygently these thynges, O ryght swete reder, thys mention wyll shew very goodly vnto the, and thus I was accustomed for to collocat these dyctions.

Conclusio VII

Septima est conclusio: Quia possumus etiam collocare dictiones sono vocis, gestu corporis et similitudine, et istis imaginibus frequentissime utor, pono enim amicum pro dictione. Doctorem unum cognovi qui semper in ore habebat ‚legem per hanc causam, de temporibus appellationum‘. Illam enim tantum legem legum dolor memoriter dicebat, volens ergo illam legem collocare, illum dolorem pono qui semper risum excutit et sic sono vocis collocationem facio. Gestu corporis ponuntur imagines, quando sit gestus in dictione compræhensus, pro verbo enim spolio amicum pono qui alium spoliet; pro verbo rapio, amicum per vim aliquid rapientem. Similitudine colloco imagines, quando rem dictioni similem in litteris, licet in significatione dissimilem invenio, ut quando pro verbo cano, canem colloco.

The .vii. conclusyon is that we may collocat dyctions by sounde of the voyce, Iestures of the body, of the symilytudes, and of their ymages. I vse it ofter for I set my frende for the dyction. I knew a doctour that had alway in his mouth communication of ye law spekynge of the tyme of appellations. Thys doctour of law sayde he coulde say all the lawe by herte or rote only I than wyllynge to collocat the sayd lawe I set thys dolour that alway hytteth laughters, and by the Iestes of the body are set ye ymages whan any Iestures be made in the dyction I make my frende (for this worde spolio) the whiche dyspoyleth another. And for this worde, Rapio, I set my frende rauysshynge somewhat by force, by symylytude I set the ymages whan I fynde ye thyng at the dyction semblable letters, howbeit that they are vnlyke in sygnyfycation whan I colloke well for this worde cano.

Conclusio VIII

Octava est conclusio: pro dominis iureconsultis et de voluminibus Iuris civilis dicere incipiam et quando illa locis tradere volo, colores quibus teguntur accipio, pro Digesto veteri, pellem albam; pro Digesto novo, pellem rubeam; pro Infortiato, pellem nigram; pro Codice, pellem viridem; pro Volumine, varii coloris pellem; pro Institutionibus, librum parvum; et pro Authentico, tabellionem instrumentum magnum habentem colloco; pro Authentica, puellam privillegium habentem; pro Libro feudorum, comitem alicuius castri; pro Decreto autem, cum in eo sint Sanctorum Patrum auctoritates, senem aliquem in loco scribentem pono; pro Decretalibus, Papam in throno sedentem colloco; pro Clementinis, puellam, cui nomen est Clemens; pro Sexto libro, instrumentum illud ita in Italia dictum, de quo scribit Ovidius: Altera pars staret, pars altera duceret orbem; pro Commentatoribus iuris, eos qui idem nomen habent.

Imaginem autem glossæ accipio ex doctrina per me primo loco data. In collocatione dictionum pro Digesto Iuniperam habeo Florentino cytharam dantem, ut Orlandi gesta cantare possit. Allegationes autem Decreti sic collocantur, nam pro allegatione, quæ sit per distinctiones, ponitur puella, quæ pannum vel chartam laceret; pro quæstione autem colloco Iuniperam percutientem famulam; pro consecratione est sacerdos hostiam consecrans; pro poenitentia, est Iunipera, quæ mihi sua peccata levia confitetur.

The .viii. conclusyon is for the lordes Iurisconsultes, a lawyers. And I wyll begyne to speake of the volumes of the cyuyll lawe. And whan I wyll gyue these thynges to the places I take ye colours of ye couerynges, as for F. veteri. a blacke skynne. For ye Code a grene skynne. For a volume a skynne of varyable colour. For the instytutions a lytell boke. And ye autentyke a Notary hauynge a great Instrument. For ye autentike I set a mayden hauynge a pryuylege. For the boke of feodes, I set some castell. For the decret autentyke I sette an olde man wrytynge in the place, by cause ye auctorytees of holy fathers is in it. For yt decretalles a bysshop syttynge in a chayre. For clementynes, a mayden named Clemence. For the syxt, an instrument, so called in Itally, wherof Ouyde wryteth. Altera pars staret, pars altera duceret orbet. For ye conmentatours of the lawe I set then that haue lyke name. But I take the ymage of ye glose of the doctryne by my selfe of me fyrst gyuen in ye collocacions of dyctions. And I haue for the Dygestes fayre Iunipera gyuynge a harp to a florentyne, that he maye synge the Iester of Rome. The allegations of ye decrete shalbe thus collocated, for a mayden is set for ye allegation. And this mayden maketh a cloth or a cedule. And set for the question ye fayre Iunipera beatynge her mayde. And for the consyderation I set a preste consecratynge the hoost. And for Penaunce I set Iunipera shryuyng her to me of her lyght synnes.

Conclusio IX

Nona est conclusio: ut ostendam quomodo Rubricas utriusque iuris locis tradere debeamus et duas imagines communiter pro illis ponere soleo. Si enim meminisse voluero rubricam de transactionibus, Thomam ranas habentem colloco, vel gestum corporis pono: duos enim qui diu litigarunt a lite recessisse fingo et alterum alteri signum pacis præbere. Hæc est pulcherrima imago Rubricæ de transactionibus. Principia autem legum vel capitulorum in locis ponuntur alphabeto, vel sono vocis, vel similitudine, vel gestu corporis, de quibus iam plene dictum est.

The .ix. conclusyon shalbe, that I wyll shew how placis ought to be gyuen to ye rubrysshes of eche lawe, and set two ymages for ye same as I am wont, for yf I wyll remenbre me of the rubrysshe of transaction I set Thomas hauyng frogges or the gest of the body. I feyn two men that wolde nat of longe tyme cease theyr contension and debate and gyuynnge eche to other tokens of peace. That is the fayre ymage of the rubryshe of the transactions But the pryncyples of the lawes where as chapyters be set in place by alphabete or sounde of voyce symylytude or gestures of the body, wherof is spoken afore and playnly ynoughe.

Conclusio X

Decima est conclusio: in argumentis collocandis pro quibus imagines duas ponere soleo. Prima est gestus corporis, ut si dicatur sic: Testamentum sine septem testibus factum non valet, testatorem coram duobus testibus testamentum fecisse fingo et virginem unam illud lacerare. Secunda est imago, quia duas aut tres dictiones argumenti principaliores colloco. Exemplum habe tu, iurisconsulte, et me intelligent philosophi: Quando in actu requiritur iussus alicuius, ille debet præcedere. Hic sunt multa verba, sed sufficit, iussum et præcedere collocare, et reliquas argumenti partes memoriter dicere poterimus. Ex collocatione ergo duarum aut trium dictionum, cætera eleganter recitabimus. Et hoc experto crede magistro.

The .x. is in collocatynge, argumentes. For the whiche I am accustomed to set two images. The fyrst is the gest of ye body, as yf one sayd thus. The testament a vayleth to none but yf it be made with .vii. witnesses. Therfore I feyne the testatour to haue made this testament before two wytnesses, and a rynge that sealeth the sayde testamente. The seconde ymage is it that collogateth two other diction more princypall of the argument. Take here of an example, thou Iurisconsul, of this phylosophres wote my meanynge. Whan in the act the wyll is demaunded of any, he ought to procede. Here be sondry wordes, but it suffyseth to collocat and set the wyll fro procedynge. And than we may say by and in memory ye other partyes of the argument of the collocation of two or thre dyctions. The other thynges we shall recyte elegantly, and beleue this yt the mayster hath experymented it ryght well.

Conclusio XI

Undecima est conclusio, cum quæreret quidam utrum in eodem loco plura collocare deberet, respondi: si in locis ponere volo quæ ab alio mihi proponuntur, ut illa proposita statim recitare debeam, imagines unius rei tantum in loco colloco; sed si, quæ in libris lego, in locis ponere dispono, ut illa memoriter pronunciare possim, tunc imagines plurium rerum in loco uno sæpissime ponere non dubitavi.

The .xi. conclusyon, and thus I haue the ymages vnto the non of a C. whiche are .x. I haue also .ix ymages of the nombre begynninge from one to ye nonbre .x. The whiche I haue dyuyded on the fyngers of men. I haue gyuen to the fyrst fynger of the ryght hande for the fyrst nombre, or for one. The seconde for ye seconde, or for two. And so I procede to ye .iiii. fynger of the left hande. And bycause that these thynges may the better be retayned in mynde. I saye the fyrste fynger of the ryght hande to be of the Gelfes, The seconde of the Gelbilayts. The thyrde of the Iewes the forth of the rynges. The v. of the eares. And so of the lefte hande I call the fyrst fynger of the Gelfes, for Gelfes be estemed ryche and of great estymation, the seconde of the Gelbelayts. And the thyrde of the Iewes, For yf ye poynt to a Iewe with that fynger he wyll loke away fyersly. And who that wyll knowe the cause, shall fynde it euydent. Therfore I call the forthe and the .v. euen so for the nombre of a M. I haue set here, yf any nonbre be to me proposed easyly to haue the ymage of the same. The conclusyon is suche, yf any shulde aske yf that in one selfe place he ought to set many thynges. I answere thus yf I wolde put the thynges in places that are proposed to me of other bycause that I ought forthwith to reherce the sayde thinges proposed I wyll collocat onely in the place the ymages of one thynge. But yf I dyspose to set in places the thynges that I rede ī my bokes, so that I maye recyte by herte in remembrynge them, I doubt nat to set very often in one place the ymages of many thynges.

Conclusio XII

Duodecima erit pulcherrima conclusio: ut aperiam quo pacto numerorum imagines fieri debeant; et pro omnibus numeris quos possumus excogitare, viginti tantum imagines inveni. Illas ergo specialiter describam: pro numero decem, est mihi crux magna aurea vel argentea, pro viginti, similitudo litteræ r ferrea vel lignea rei alicui rotundæ coniuncta, quia numerum viginti hoc modo (20) in charta scribimus 20; pro triginta, similitudo illius figuræ eodem modo rei rotundæ coniuncta. Et sic usque ad numerum centum imagines habeo, quæ decem sunt.

Nouem etiam imagines numerorum habeo, incipiendo ab uno usque ad numerum novem, quas in digitis manuum hominis fabricavi. Est igitur digitus primus manus dextræ mihi pro primo numero seu pro uno, secundus pro secundo seu pro duobus, et sic usque ad quartum digitum manus sinistræ procedo. Ut autem facilius ista memoria teneantur, primum digitum manus dextræ dico esse Guelphorum, secundum Gibellinorum, tertium Iudæorum, quartum anulorum, quintum aurium, et sic de digitis manus sinistræ sit dictum. Primum Guelphorum appello, quia Guelphi illum in magno pretio habere dicuntur. Gibellinorum secundum, tertium Iudæorum appello, quia si digitum illum Iudæis ostendimus, torvo visu respiciunt. Qui autem causam scire cupiet, quærat et inveniet. Cur autem quartum et quintum sic nominem, notissimum est.

Pro numero autem mille, Michaelem habeo. Si ergo mihi numerus aliquis proponatur, imaginem eius facillime inveniam. Aliqua exempla ponam, quibus positis lector etiam rudis ingenii conclusionem istam optime intelliget. Si XI quæstio III dicere volvero, in loco Guelphum fingam crucem in manu dextra tenentem, et Iudæum qui totis viribus per vim illam manu dextra rapere tentet. Si II ad Corinthios IV, ponere volvero, in loco Gibellinum fingam, qui in manu dextra cortinam teneat, quam pulchræ puellæ ostendat illamque in manu dextra recipiat. Puellam enim desponsatam pro quarto digito, et sic pro quarto et nono numero colloco. Si de pænitentiis distinctione IV meminisse volvero, sacerdotem senem, non iuvenem, cui peccata confiteatur Iunipera, collocabo et ipsa mirabile faciet, sacerdotem namque absolvet capiti suo manum dextram imponens.

Et sic, ne in infinitum sic processus, sit finis huic pulcherrimæ artificiosæ memoriæ, in cuius præceptis omnia, si non explicite, saltem implicite, comprehenduntur. Unum tamen non omittam, quod hoc in loco scribere promisi. Utile in locis esse iudico, quæ pro rebus auditis reponendis fabricavimus, si in quinto loco manus aurea ponatur, in decimo crux aurea, in quinto decimo manus argentea, in vigesimo imago ipsius numeri et sic in cæteris facere monet mea doctrina.

The .xii. conclusyon shalbe very propre. That is I wyl make and shewe in what maner ought to be made the ymages of nombres for all nombres that we can thynke I haue onely founde .xx. ymages. And therfore I wyll descrybe them chyefly, For ye nombre of .x. I take a great crosse of golde or syluer, for the nombre of .xx. I take the symylytude of ye lettre of yren or of wood vnioyned to any thynge that is rounde. For we shall wryte the nonbre of .xx. in ye carde or scroll in this maner, or for .xxx. and ye symilytude of this fygure is coniunct in thys maner to the thynge. Therfore I shall fynde some examples whiche I wyll set wherby the reder maye vnderstande in the more easyly, although it be of a rude wyt or conclusion, yf I wyl say .ii.q.iii. I must haue a g•lfe in the place holdynge in his ryght hande a crosse. and a Iewe that with all his strengths seketh to take it fro hym by vyolence of that made fro the ryghthande. Yf I wyll say .ii. Corinthios .iiii. I wyll feyn the Gebelyn in the place that shall holde a curtayne in his ryghthande shewynge it to a fayre mayden whiche shall receyue it in her ryghthande, for the fourth fynger I wyll set a mayden maryed. And so I collocat and set for the. iiii. and .ix. nombre, yf I wyll remembre me of penaunce in the .iiii. dystynction, I wyll colloke an olde preeste and nat yonge to whom Iunipera shal shryue her fautes. And she shall do a wounderous thynge, for she shall absolue the preste holdynge her ryght hande ouer his head, and so of the other. And bycause that this be nat that processe let vs here make an ende of the art of memory artificyall, and preceptes, of whome all thynges is conprised simplycytyuely, at ye lest so explycityuely to leaue any thynge, that I promysed to wrytte in this place to Iudge an vtyle thynge herī in place to set in ye .v. place a hande of gold In the .x. a crosse gylted, in ye .xv. a hande of syluer. And in the .xx. ye ymage of ye same nombre. And this my doctryne teacheth for to do in all other thynges.
Thus endeth the art of memory / other wyse called the Phenix. Translated out of french in to englyshe by Roberte Coplande. And Impryted at London in Fletestrete at the sygne of the George by Wyliyam Myddylton.


Excellentissimos in artificiosa memoria habui auditores, o lector dulcissime, meamque doctrinam miris laudibus extulerunt, quorum aliquos hic legere tibi, ut puto, placebit. Fuere mei discipuli magister Antonius Trombeta ordinis minorum theologus, celeberrimus magister Petrus Rochabonella, magister Iohannes de Aquila, magister Nicoletus Teatinus, magister Hieronymus Veronensis, magister Hieronymus de Polchastris, artium et medicinæ doctores consummatissimi et Paduæ legentes; spectabiles Severius et Nicolaus illustrissimi ducis Ferrariæ secretarii, dominus Iohannes Maria Riminaldus, dominus Dominicus de Massa, dominus Antonius de Liutis, dominus Iohannes Franciscus de Canali, et dominus Leonellus de Bruturis, iurisconsulti consummatissimi et Ferrariæ legentes. Tacebo nobiles Venetos, qui me audito multa memoriter pronunciare didicerunt, Dominicum tamen Georgium virum illustrem silentio involvere nequeo, qui doctrina mea, ut ipse affirmabat, inmortalem sibi gloriam comparavit. Bononiæ, Papiæ, Ferrariæque legi et qui me audierunt multa memoriter scire inceperunt. Et quamvis mea artificiosa memoria aliorum auctoritatibus sit comprobata, peccare tamen non puto si acta mea in hoc libello legentur quæ ipsam mirabiliter approbabunt.

Dum essem iuris auditor nec vigesimum vidissem annum, in universitate Patavina dixi me totum Codicem iuris civilis posse recitare. Petii namque ut mihi leges aliquæ ad arbitrium astantium proponerentur; quibus propositis summaria Bartoli dicebam, aliqua verba textus recitabam, casum adducebam, tacta per doctores examinabam lexque ista tot habet glossas dicebam et super quibus verbis erant positæ recordabar, contraria allegabam et solvebam. Visum est astantibus vidisse miraculum. Alexander Imolensis diu obstupuit. Nec fabulam narro, ego palam locutus sum in universitate Paduæ, et quia in ore duorum vel trium testium stat omne verbum, testes huius rei tres habeo: magnificum dominum Iohannem Franciscum Pasqualicum, senatorem Venetum, et iuris utriusque doctorem excellentissimum, apud illustrissimum Mediolani ducem nunc legatum; et clarissimum doctorem dominum Sigismundum de Capitibus Listæ, civem nobilem Patavinum, cuius pater Franciscus fuit acutissimi ingenii iurisconsultus; spectabilem dominum Monaldinum de Monaldinis, Venetiis commorantem, in quo virtus domicilium suum collocauit.

Lectiones etiam Alexandri Imolensis, Paduæ legentis, copiosissimas memoria tenebam, et illas ex verbo ad verbum in scriptis redigebam, illas etiam postquam finierat, astante magna auditorum copia, a calce incipiens recitabam, ex suisque lectionibus, dum in scholis audirem, carmina faciebam et omnes earum partes in carminibus positas statim replicabam, et qui hoc viderunt obstupuere. Huius rei testes habeo clarissimum equitem et doctorem dominum Iohannem Franciscum de Miliis Brixiensem, spectabilem doctorem dominum Sigismundum de Capitibus Listæ et filium Alexandri Imolensis, qui nunc est iurisconsultus celeberrimus. Centum et quadraginta quinque auctoritates religiosissimi fratris Michaelis de Mediolano Paduæ prædicantis, immortalitatem animæ probantes coram eo memoriter et prompte pronunciavi, qui me amplexus est dicens: ‚Vive diu gemma singularis! o utinam te religioni dicatum viderem!‘ Testis est tota civitas Patavina, sed magnificum dominum Iohannem Franciscum Pascualicum et dominum Sigismundum de Capitibus Listæ et dominum Monaldinum de Monaldinis, testes habeo.

Petii ego doctor creatus in universitate Patavina, ut mihi in cathedra sedenti aliquis de universitate auditor unum ex tribus voluminibus Digestorum quod eligeret præsentaret, locumque in quo legere deberem designaret. Dixi enim: ‚Super re proposita innumerabiles leges allegabo‘. Testes sunt clarissimus iuris utriusque doctor dominus Gaspar Orsatus, Paduæ iura canonica legens et doctissimus dominus Prosper Cremonensis, Paduæ commorans.

Omnes prædicationes quas in una quadragesima magister Antonius eremita Paduæ pronunciaverat, eo ordine quo ipse dixerat memoriter pronunciavi et in scriptis sibi dedi, quo viso, dixit quod amplius Paduæ non prædicaret. Et huius rei, si vivit, testis est ipse omni exceptione maior.

Prædicationes etiam domini Matthei Veronensis canonici regularis et viri eloquentissimi, quas in tota quadragesima fecerat, sibi in scriptis dedi, quia memoriter tenebam et in chartis reponebam. Testis est ipse et dominus Deodatus Vincentinus canonicus regularis. Dum Pistorii legerem a dominis Florentinis conductus sermonem verbi Dei fratris Blasii de Plombino eremitæ recitavi. Testes sunt magistri Paulus, Michaelis et Domitius Cancellarius; Pistorienses cives et tota civitas illa de mea artificiosa memoria testificari poterit, quæ me immunitatibus et privilegiis decoravit.

Dominus Georgius vir illustris Paduæ præfectus et in artificiosa memoria discipulus, dum litteras Ducales semel legeret, earum verba collocaui et statim recitavi. Testis est dominus Anibal de Magiis de Bassiano, nobilis civis Patavinus, cuius pater Nicolaus fuit excellentissimus iurisconsultus.

Semel in scachis ludebam et alius taxillos iaciebat, aliusque omnes iactus scribebat et ex themate mihi proposito duas epistolas dictabam. Postquam finem ludo imposuimus, omnes iactus scachorum et taxillorum et epistolarum verba ab ultimis incipiens repetii. Hæc quatuor per me eodem tempore collocata fuerunt. Testes sunt dominus Petrus de Montagnano et Franciscus Nevolinus, nobiles Patavini cives.

Dum essem Placentiæ, monasterium monachorum nigrorum intravi ut illud viderem in dormitorioque eius comitante monacho quodam bis deambulans monachorum nomina quæ in ostiis cellarum erant, collocavi; deinde congregatis eis nomine proprio quemlibet salutavi, licet quem nominabam digito demonstrare non potuissem. Mirabantur monachi quo pacto ego peregrinus nomina eorum memoriter proferrem; ipsis mirari non desinentibus dixi tandem: ‚Hoc potuit mea artificiosa memoria‘. Quorum unus dixit: ‚Ergo hoc Petrus Ravennas facere potuit et non alius‘.

In capitulo generali canonicorum regularium Paduæ prædicationem domini Deodati Vincentini, eo ordine quo ipsam pronunciaverat, recitavi, astante ipsius prædicationis auctore.

Semel me traxit ad sui contemplationem Cassandra Fidelis, Veneta, virgo excellentissima, quæ dum legeret litteras serenissimæ coniugis Regis Ferdinandi ad se missas, illas collocavi et recitavi. Testis est illa doctissima virgo, dominus Paulus Raimusius doctor excellens Ariminensis et Angelus Salernitanus, vir clarus.

Scribebat quidam illustrissimæ Ducissæ Eleonoræ privilegium, alius legebat. Præsens eram; illudque ex verbo ad verbum locis tradidi et ab ultima dictione incipiens totum recitavi. Mirabantur astantes. Huius rei testis est dominus Iohannes de Bruturiis, clarissimus Ferrariæ civis, qui etiam multa de hac artificiosa memoria narrare poterit. Quid autem de actis meis referre possit nepos Maximi Pontificis Pauli, reverendus Paduæ canonicus et Decretorum doctor insignis, dominus Augustinus Barbus, omitto, cum compater sit carissimus. Sed quid plura. Testis est Brixia, Papia et Cremona. Quid potuerit mea artificiosa memoria, declarant hoc carmina quæ in principio huius libelli leguntur. Testis est illustrissimus Marchio Bonifacius et eius pulcherrima uxor, quæ me egregio munere donavit. Testis est novissime Bononia. Testis est illustrissimus Hercules dux et illustrissima uxor Eleonora. Testis est tota Ferraria. Duas enim prædicationes celeberrimi verbi Dei præconis magistri Mariani eremitæ recitavi, quo audito, obstupuit dictus magister et dixit: ‚Illustrissima Ducissa, hoc est divinum et miraculosum opus‘.

Testis est universitas Patavina. Omnes enim lectiones meas iuris canonici sine libro quotidie lego, ac si librum ante oculos haberem, textum et glossas memoriter pronuncio, ut nec etiam minimam syllabam omittere videar. In locis autem meis quæ collocaverim, hic scribere statui et quæ locis tradidi perpetuo teneo. In decem et novem litteris alphabeti, viginta millia allegationum iuris utriusque posui et eodem ordine, Sacrorum librorum septem millia; mille Ovidii carmina, quæ ab eo sapienter dicta continent; ducentas Ciceronis auctoritates; trecenta philosophorum dicta; magnam Valerii Maximi partem; naturas fere omnium animalium, bipedum et quadrupedum; quarum auctoritatum singula verba collocavi.

Et cum vires artificiosæ memoriæ experiri cupio, peto ut mihi una ex litteris illis alphabeti proponatur, super qua proposita allegationes profero. Et ut clare intelligar, exemplum habe. Proposita est mihi nunc littera a, in magno doctorum virorum conventu et statim a iure principium faciens, mille allegationes et plures proferam de alimentis, de alienatione, de absentia, de arbitris, de appellationibus et de similibus quæ in iure nostro habentur, incipientibus a dicta littera a. Deinde in Sacra scriptura, de antichristo, de adulatione et multas allegationes Sacræ scripturæ ab illa littera incipientes; pronunciabo carmina Ovidii, auctoritates Ciceronis et Valerii; non omittam de asino, de aquila, de agno, de accipitre, de apro, de ariete; auctoritates allegabo et quæcumque dixero, ab ultimis incipiens, velociter repetam. Et hanc memoriæ demonstrationem pulcherrimam esse puto, cui me obligavi semper et ad semper. Interrogetur reverendissimus nunc vicem gerens Bononiæ cum consummatissimo iurisconsulto domino Iohanne de Sala, quid super littera m mihi proposita allegaverim. Interrogetur universitas Bononiæ quid super littera p, de Dei potentia et potestate Papæ pronunciaverim. Et hunc legendi modum a rerum multitudine Chaos appello et quando Deo Optimo Maximoque placuerit hoc tantum opus Italiæ ac toti orbi tradam. Hæc etiam in iure canonico tantum locis tradidi tria millia allegationum Decreti, duo millia Decretalium; totum Sextum et eius mille glossas, Clementinas et earum mille glossas. Et quando de glossis Decretalium, Sexti et Clementinarum verbum facio, dictiones in quibus sunt positæ profero. Mille etiam singulariter dicta in iure civili memoriæ tradidi nec fabula narratur, in his enim quotidie periculum facio. ‚Omnia mea mecum portare‘ volui; maiora tamen cupere ab his disco: naturalia enim desideria insaciabilia sunt, ut ait Seneca ad Lucillum.

Non omitto etiam illustrem principem Marchum de Piis, qui me audiens obstupuit et ex hoc me absentem sæpissime nominat. Dominus Bartholomeus Pigasetus Vincentinus, vir quidem sapientissimus dicere audet: ‚Dominum Thomam Reatinum, qui omnium ætatis suæ memoriosissimus fuit, novi et magna amicitia ei coniunctus fui, sed te superiorem esse iudico‘.

F i n i s


Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim: De arte memorativa

His artibus adnumeratur etiam memorativa, quæ (ut ait Cicero) nihil aliud est quam inductio quædam, et præceptionis ratio, locis et imaginibus tanquam membrana constans et characteribus à Simonide Melitone primum excogitata, deinde per Metrodorum Sceptium perfecta, ipsa tamen qualis fit, sine naturali memoria persistere minime potest, quam tot sæpissime monstrosis obtundit imaginibus, et pro memoriæ tenacitate maniam et phrenesim nonnunquam inducat, dum videlicet naturalem memoriam innumerabilium rerum ac verborum imaginibus prægravans, naturæ finibus non contentos, arte insanire facit.

Hanc itaque cum Simonides aut alius quivis Themistocli obtulisset, ait ille: oblivionis mallem, nam multa memoro quæ nollem, oblivisci non possum quæ vellem. Et Quintilianus de Metrodoro: vanitas inquit nimirum fuit atque iactatio, circa memoriam suam potius arte quam natura gloriantis. Scripserunt de ea Cicero libro rhetoricorum novorum, et Quintilianus in institutionibus et Seneca, et ex recentioribus Franciscus Petrarcha, Matheolus Veronensis, Petrus Ravennas, et Hermannus Buschius, et alii, sed indigni catalogo, obscuri homines per multi, et multi hanc quotidie profitentur, sed non reperitur, qui in ea multum proficiat, et magistri eius pro lucro infamiam sæpe reportant. Solent enim in gymnasiis plerumque huius artis professione nebulones quidam scholaribus imponere, ac rei novitate pecuniolam ab incautis emungere, denique puerilis gloria est ostentare memoriam, turpe et impudentis est, multarum rerum lectionem instar mercimoniorum ante fores explicare, cum interim vacua domus sit.
De incertitudine et vanitate scientiarum declamatio invectiva, denuo ab autore recognita et marginalibus annotationibus aucta. S.l.: s.t., ca. 1540. ff. c8v-d1r.

Unter diese Kunst wird auch gezählet die Gedächtniskunst, welche, wie Cicero sagt, nichts anders ist als eine Anleitung, welche mit gewissen Örtern, Bildern und Charakteren das Gedächtnis gleichsam zuverlässig wie ein geschriebenes Buch macht; erstlich von dem Simonide Melitone meistenteils erdacht, darnach durch den Metrodorum Scepticum zur Vollkommenheit gebracht. So groß als sie sein mag, kann diese Kunst doch ohne das natürliche Gedächtnis keineswegs bestehen, welches oftermals durch unzählige Vorstellungen der Wörter und Sachen also beschweret ist, daß welche mit ihrer natürlichen Begabtheit nicht zufrieden sind, durch diese Kunst unsinnig werden.

Dahero, als Simonides oder ein anderer diese Wissenschaften dem Themistocli gewiesen, hat er gesaget: ich halte es lieber mit der Vergessenheit, denn ich behalte oft, was mir nicht anstehet, und vergesse nicht, wie ich möchte; und Quintilianus saget von Metrodoro: Es ist nur eine bloße Eitelkeit und ein nichtswürdiger Ruhm, den man mit dem Gedächtnis führet, wenn man sich einer Kunst mehr rühmet als der Natur. Hiervon hat geschrieben Cicero (in libr. Rhetoric.), Quintilianus (in Institut.) und Seneca; von neuen aber Franciscus Petrarca, Matheolus Veronensis, Petrus Ravennas, Hermannus Buschius und andere; sie sind aber nicht wert, daß sie im Catalogo stehen. Die meisten sind dunkel, und obwohl heutiges Tages ihrer viel sich dieser Kunst befleißigen und darinnen weit fortzukommen gedenken, so sehen wir doch, daß sie ihren Lehrmeistern anstatt des Nutzens nichts als Schande bringet; und pflegen diese leichtfertigen betrügerischen Lehrer mit ihrer Neuigkeit ihre armen Schüler um ihr bißchen Geld zu bringen. So ist es auch endlich ein recht kindischer Ruhm, sich mit dem Gedächtnis hervorzutun, schändlich aber und unverschämt vor den Türen solche Sachen ums Lohn zu weisen, und das Haus inzwischen leer und öde zu lassen.
De arte memorativa oder von der Gedächtniskunst, in Die Eitelkeit und Unsicherheit der Wissenschaften, herausgegeben von Fritz Mauthner, erster Band, Kapitel X.


Lodovico Dolce: Dialogo del modo di accrescere e conservar la memoria

Hortensio: Parimente è da fare intorno al Paradiso, ponendovi i quattro fiumi de’ quali fanno menzione le sacre lettere, et altresì ogni qualità di arboro fruttuoso: come il pomo, il pesco, la noce, e gli altri. Così altrove il grano, l’orzo, la spelta, e somiglianti. Le viti, e l’herbe di diverse sorti, fiori, viole, e gigli. E con questo vario distinguimento di cose vedute e non vedute, che siano in effetto o imaginarie, ciascuno si potrà formare de i luoghi; come più inanzi tu vedrai più chiaramente. Onde potremo imaginarci lo Inferno, e le habitazioni di là giù, distinguendolo nel Limbo de gli antichi Padri, nel ricetto de’ fanciulli che muoiono senza battesimo, e aggiungendovi il Purgatorio, nel quale, come nell’Inferno, ordineremo diverse magioni. E sebben vi saranno luoghi comuni, si faranno essi propri e particolari con seggi di particolari iscrizioni. In che ci gioverà assai l’ingeniosa inventiva di Virgilio e di Dante.

Fabrizio: Cioè in distinguere le pene, secondo la qualità de’ peccati.

Hortensio: Così è a punto. E da ciò che insino a qui detto abbiamo, si comprende alcuni luoghi esser comuni, alcuni propri; e gli uni e gli altri venir dalla natura, o dall’arte, overo esser finti dal nostro pensiero; essendo che noi a guisa di quelli che in effetto sono, formiamo luoghi non veduti, né mai uditi: come quelli che giamai non furono, né hoggi in alcuna parte sono, né in veruna giamai saranno oltre la nostra imaginazione. E che ciò sia agevole a potersi fare, lo ci dimostra la industria de gli Artefici, i quali alla sola voce di cui ordina fanno politi e stupendi edifici, de’ quali mai alcun simile non videro. Oltre a ciò cotal cosa si conferma esser di gran lunga facile per lo esempio di altri: come Sibuto, col testimonio delle Scritture e parimente anco con moltissimi esempi, questa facilità ci fa toccar con mano.

Fabrizio: Io questo Sibuto non ho giamai non pur letto, ma né pure udito raccordare.

Hortensio: Ciò poco importa. Ora, la necessità ci costringe le più volte a valerci di luoghi imaginari, e ciò aviene quando, ricercando in ciò la natura, ella non ci serve. Ma usar solamente questi è nel vero pericoloso. Onde io consiglio che o solo si adoprino quegli che sono effettualmente (per usar questa voce nuova), o astringendoci la necessità, mescolandogli insieme con gl’imaginari; come seguendo, più chiaramente vedrai. Fabrizio: Questo ragionamento già comincia a dilettarmi. Hortensio: Le cose vere, che stanno ne i loro termini fuor de la nostra imaginazione, sono, come poco dianzi dicemmo, rupi, monti, colli, fiumi, prati, selve; e cose simili con le loro parti. Le imaginarie e invisibili sono il Cielo, il Paradiso, l’Inferno, e’l Purgatorio. Quelle che hanno luogo dall’arte sono le case, i palazzi, le chiese, i monasteri, e cose tali. E partendole in particolari luoghi e comuni, questi luoghi saranno di tre qualità: grandissimi, maggiori, e grandi; che da altri sono detti necessari, commodi, et artificiosi; ma comunque si chiamino, non abbiamo a quistionar de’ nomi. Le pareti, le fenestre, le colonne, e le altre cose così fatte, in cui dicemmo che si ha da fare la iscrizione, noi chiamiamo grandi. Ma non perciò mi piace che si commetta alcuna cosa a gli angoli, affine che la strettezza delle collocate imagini, e l’oscurezza che ve ne nasce, non impedisca l’ordine. Onde è da stimare isciocca e vana la openion di coloro che in qual si voglia maggior luoco vi comprendono cinque cose: cioè quattro angoli, o pareti, e la porta, o centro della camera; essendo che né l’arte né la natura ci amministra alcuna cosa in tal guisa. Ora le cose che vi si contengono (come le camere delle case, le sale, i cenatoi, e i ricetti da dormire, e le altre parti), nelle quali si pongono i luoghi particolari, da alcuni si sogliono dir luoghi maggiori, che da altri sono detti commodi. I grandissimi e comunissimi sono le città, i castelli, et in questi i monasteri, le chiese, le capelle, le badie, et i collegi. Similmente i theatri, le fortezze, le case, e se altro vi si truova. E così fatti chiamano luoghi necessari. Il che non mi par detto acconciamente, percioché anco i particolari, ne’ quali si fanno le iscrizioni, sono necessari, e parimente quelli che sono detti commodi. E per far lo allogamento delle imagini, è mistiero di proprio e diterminato luoco, il quale immediate ricevi esse imagini.
— Venedig: appresso Gio. Battista et Marchio Sessa fratelli, 1562. ff. 12v-14r.


Giordano Bruno: De Umbris idearum

Jam ad triginta idearum conceptus, primo simpliciter, secundo cum intentionibus umbrarum complexe concipiendis consequenter progrediamur.
Conceptus primus. A.
Luciferos (inquit Plotinus) in facie Deus oculos fabricavit, cæterisque sensibus adhibuit instrumenta, ut inde tum naturaliter servarentur, tum etiam cognata luce aliquid contraherent. Quibus sane verbis manifestat aliquid esse præcipuum, quod de mundo intelligibili ad ipsos pertineat. (...)
— Paris: Aegidius Gorbinus, 1582. fol. ī8r-ī8v.


Robert Fludd: Tomus secundus de supernaturali, naturali, præternaturali, contranaturali Microcosmi historia

De animæ memorativæ scientia, quæ vulgo ars memoriæ vocatur.


Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: Disputatio inauguralis de casibus perplexis in iure

...Kupferstich auf erstem Blatt. [Altdorf]: Hagen, 1666.


Christophor Freyherr von Aretin: Kurzgefasste Theorie der Mnemonik.

Wenn man die Form der Ideenreproduktion aufmerksam beobachtet, so entdeckt man erstens, dass dasselbe von gewissen Gesetzen beherrscht wird, Man bemerkt zweytens, dass beide Vermögen, nämlich das Vermögen sich ’elwas einzupvägen, um es Zurückrufen zu können (das eigentliche Gedächtniss) und das Vermögen eine gehabte Vorstellung mit dem Bewustseyn, dass und wie man sie gehabt, wieder zurückzurufen, nicht nach einerley Gesetzen wirksam sind, sondern jedes nach besondern — und zwar das Gedichtuiss nach dem Gesetze der Klarheit, das Erinnerungsvermögen aber nach dem Gesetze der Ideenassoziation. (...) Aus diesen 3 Regeln, welche auf die beiden Gesetze des Gedächnisses und des Erinnerungsvermögens gegründet sind, besteht die ganze Mnemonik. Sie beruht also auf drey verschiedenen Operationen der Seele, nämlich:
 1. Dass man die einzuprägenden Worte oder Gegenstände in Bilder verwandle, (Symbolik oder Glyphographie).
 2. Dass man sich ein gewisses Bild vorstelle, welches man nöthig hat, um die einzuprägenden Worte oder Gegenstände in einer gewissen Ordnung zu merken, (Topologie).
 3. Dass man beide Bilder miteinander verbinde.
— Nürnberg und Sulzbach: Seidel, 1805. p. 20, 27.


Christophor Freyherr von Aretin: Systematische Anleitung zur Theorie und Praxis der Mnemonik, nebst den Grundlinien zur Geschichte und Kritik dieser Wissenschaft.

Ihr Objekt, das Erinnerungsvermögen ist nichts anders als Gedächtniss in der zweiten Potenz, und verhält sich zu demselben wie die Vorstellung zur Anschauung. Das Gedächtniss nämlich ist nur das Vermögen ehemalige Eindrücke zu reproduciren, das Erinnerungsvermögen aber ertheilt uns dabey das Bewustseyn, dass und wie wir die Eindrücke schon vormals gehabt haben. Das Erinnerungsvermögen hängt zum Theil von der Sinnlichkeit ab, denn diese muss den Stoff zum Auffassen und Zusammensetzen empfangen. Aber es ist auch zugleich mit Operationen des Verstandes verbunden, denn dieser muss den Stoff selbstthätig auffassen und zusammensetzen. Und in dieser Hinsicht macht die Mnemonik einen Theil der Logik aus. (...) Wenn man die Form der Ideenreproduktion aufmerksam beobachtet, so entdeckt man erstens, dass dasselbe von gewissen Gesetzen beherrscht wird, : Man bemerkt zweytens, dass beide ‚Vermögen, nämlich das Vermögen sich etwas einzuprägen, um es zurückrufen zu können (das eigentliche Gedächtniss) und das Vermögen eine gehabte Vorstellung mit dem Bewustseyn, dass und wie man sie gehabt, wieder zurückzurufen, nicht nach einerley Gesetzen wirksam sind, sondern jedes nach besondern — und zwar das Gedächtniss nach dem Gesetze der Klarheit, das Erinnerungsvermögen aber nach dem Gesetze der Ideenassociation. (...) Ein einzelnes Wort, oder einen einzelnen Gegenstand im Gedächtniss zu behalten, wird wohl selten der Fall seyn. Sollte man aber wirklich dieses Bedürfniss manchmal empfinden, so’ist es nicht schwer die oben angegebenen Regeln auf diesen Fall anzuwenden. Sie heissen dann:
 1. Verwandle das einzelne Wort, den einzelnen Gegenstand in ein Bild.
 2. Verbinde dieses Bild mit einem raum- oder zeitgemässen Gegenstand, der dir eben lebhaft vorschwebt, oder der dir vorschweben wird, wenn dir die Zurückrufung jenes Bildes nothwendig wird. Anmerkung. Die Art und Weise, wie jedes Wort, jeder Gegenstand in ein Bild verwandelt werden kann, kommt in dem praktischen Theile vor.
Der ungleich häufigere Fall ist, dass man sich eine ganze Reihe von Worten oder Sachen einprägen will. In diesem Falle kommt zu den bereits gegebenen zwei Regeln die dritte, nämlich:
 3. Verbinde jedes der zu.merkenden Worte, oder jede der zu merkenden Sachen mit einem einzelnen Theile des raum- oder zeitmässigen Gegenstandes; oder mit andern Worten: um die Aufeinanderfolge mehrerer Dinge zu behalten, musst du Gegenstände suchen, deren Succession dir hinlänglich bekannt ist, und mit jedem einen von den in ihrer Ordnung zu behaltenden Gegenständen verknüpfen.
Aus diesen 3 Regeln, welche auf die beiden Gesetze des Gedächnisses und des Erinnerungsvermögens gegründet sind, besteht die ganze Mnemonik. Sie beruht also auf drey verschiedenen Operationen der Seele, nämlich:
 1. Dass man die einzuprägenden Worte oder Gegenstände in Bilder verwandle, (Symbolik oder Glyphographie).
 2. Dass man sich ein gewisses Bild vorstelle, welches man nöthig hat, um die einzuprägenden Worte oder Gegenstände in einer gewissen Ordnung zu merken, (Topologie).
 3. Dass man beide Bilder miteinander verbinde.
Daher entstehen zweyerley bildliche Vorstellungen oder mnemonische Bilder:
 a. die Stoffbilder (nach dem Gesetze der Klarheit).
 b. die Ordnungsbilder (nach dem Gesetze der Ideenassociation).
In der Verbindung beider Bilder besteht das Auswendiglernen des Mnemonikers.
— Sulzbach: Seidel, 1810. pp. 10-11, 20, 25-8.


Ludwig Volkmann: Ars memorativa

Es ist nichts darüber bekannt, ob die antike Mnemonik sich jemals auch wirklicher, bildlicher Darstellingen bedient hat, Wir sahen oben, daß es sich bei ihr zunächst nur um vorgestellte, fingierte Bilder handelte, und der Autor ad Herennium erhob sogar die ausdrückliche Forderung, daß jeder sie sich selbst nach Bedarf und Eigenart erfinden solle. Er kritisiert es gewissermaßen, daß die Griechen »die Bilder für tausend Worte zusammenschrieben, damit der Lernende alles schon vorgearbeitet fände«; allein diese schriftlicher Zusammenstellungen waren mindestens vorhanden, und sie konnten gar leicht den Übergang zu greifbaren Bildern vermitteln. Jedenfalls lagen hier Möglichkeiten der Entwicklung vor, als spätere Zeiten sich der — oft nur halb verstandenen — antiken Systeme bemächtigten, und hier liegt die eine Quelle bildlicher Gedächtniskunst zu Tage, die vornehmlich von Italien ihren Ausgangspunkt nimmt und besonders von den humanistischen Strömungen ergiebig gespeist wird. Zur Darstellung gelangen dabei meist nur die sogenannten »Ordnungsbilder«.
Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien. Neue Folgee, III. Wien: Schroll, 1929. p. 118.


Frances A. Yates

The first basic fact which the student of the history of the classical art of memory must remember is that the art belonged to rhetoric as a technique by which the orator could improve his memory, which would enable him to deliver long speeches from memory with unfailing accuracy. And it was as a part of the art of rhetoric that the art of memory travelled down through the European tradition in which it was never forgotten, or not forgotten until comparatively modern times, that those infallible guides in all human activities, the ancients, had laid down rules and precepts for improving the memory.

It is not difficult to get hold of the general principles of the mnemonic. The first step was to imprint on the memory a series of loci or places. The commonest, though not the only, type of mnemonic place system used was the architectural type. The clearest description of the process is that given by Quintilian. In order to form a series of places in memory, he says, a building is to be remembered, as spacious and varied a one as possible, the forecourt, the living room, bedrooms, and parlours, not omitting statues and other ornaments with which the rooms are decorated. The images by which the speech is to be remembered—as an example of these Quintilian says one may use an anchor or a weapon—are then placed in imagination on the places which have been memorised in the building. This done, as soon as the memory of the facts requires to be revived, all these places are visited in turn and the various deposits demanded of their custodians. We have to think of the ancient orator as moving in imagination through his memory building whilst he is making his speech, drawing from the memorised places the images he has placed on them. The method ensures that the points are remembered in the right order, since the order is fixed by the sequence of places in the building. Quintilian’s examples of the anchor and the weapon as images may suggest that he had in mind a speech which dealt at one point with naval matters (the anchor), at another with military operations (the weapon).
— Frances A. Yates: The Art of Memory. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1966. pp. 2-3.


Lynn Thorndike

In the sixteenth century treatises on improving the memory seem to have had a certain association, whether justified or not, with works of magic, necromancy and the notory art. This was perhaps because they employed devices akin to characters and incantations, or were connected in men’s minds with secret writing and thought transference. Trithemius seems to have been concerned with all these subjects. Perazonus was put on the Index for writing on the notory art and memory. Giordano Bruno, who touched on magic in his writings, had been engaged, professedly at least, to teach the art of artificial memory to the Venetian noble who betrayed him in 1592 to the Inquisition and who was thought to have informed on Bruno because he had been disappointed in the results of his instruction. Bruno had previously in 1583 and 1591 printed two books of seals, characters and images, of which one was professedly mnemonic and the other at least partially so.
— Lynn Thorndike: A History of Magic and Experimental Science. New York: Morningside Heights, Columbia University Press, 1941. V, p. 606.


John Michael Greer

One goal of the Hermetic tradition, by contrast, is to maximize human capacities, as tools for the inner transformations sought by the Hermeticist. Many of the elementary practices of that tradition – and the same is true of esoteric systems worldwide – might best be seen as a kind of mental calisthenics, intended to stretch minds grown stiff from disuse. This quest to expand the powers of the self stands in opposition to the prosthetic culture of the modern West, which has consistently tended to transfer power from the self to the exterior world. The difference between these two viewpoints has a wide range of implications-philosophical, religious, and (not the least) political – but the place of the Art of Memory can be found among them.

From what might be called the prosthetic standpoint, the Art is obsolete because it is less efficient than external data-storage methods such as books, and distasteful because it requires the slow development of inner abilities rather than the purchase of a piece of machinery. From a Hermetic standpoint, on the other hand, the Art is valuable in the first place as a means of developing one of the capacities of the self, the memory, and in the second place because it uses other capacities-attention, imagination, mental imagery-which have a large role in other aspects of Hermetic practice.

Like other methods of self-development, the Art of Memory also brings about changes in the nature of the capacity it shapes, not merely in that capacity’s efficiency or volume; its effects are qualitative as well as quantitative – another issue not well addressed by the prosthetic approach. Ordinarily, memory tends to be more or less opaque to consciousness. A misplaced memory vanishes from sight, and any amount of random fishing around may be needed before an associative chain leading to it can be brought up from the depths. In a memory trained by the methods of the Art, by contrast, the chains of association are always in place, and anything memorized by the Art can thus be found as soon as needed. Equally, it’s much easier for the mnemonist to determine what exactly he or she does and does not know, to make connections between different points of knowledge, or to generalize from a set of specific memories; what is stored through the Art of Memory can be reviewed at will.
John Michael Greer: An Introduction to the Hermetic Art of Memory.


Voltaire: Aventure de la mémoire

Le genre humain pensant, c’est-à-dire la cent millième partie du genre humain tout au plus, avait cru longtemps, ou du moins avait souvent répété que nous n’avions d’idées que par nos sens, et que la mémoire est le seul instrument par lequel nous puissions joindre deux idées et deux mots ensemble.

C’est pourquoi Jupiter, représentant la nature, fut amoureux de Mnémosyne, déesse de la mémoire, dès le premier moment qu’il la vit ; et de ce mariage naquirent les neuf muses, qui furent les inventrices de tous les arts.

Ce dogme, sur lequel sont fondées toutes nos connaissances, fut reçu universellement, et même la Nonsobre[1] l’embrassa dès qu’elle fut née, quoique ce fût une vérité.

Quelque temps après vint un argumenteur, moitié géomètre, moitié chimérique[2], lequel argumenta contre les cinq sens et contre la mémoire, et dit au petit nombre du genre humain pensant : « Vous vous êtes trompés jusqu’à présent, car vos sens sont inutiles, car les idées sont innées chez vous avant qu’aucun de vos sens pût agir, car vous aviez toutes les notions nécessaires lorsque vous vîntes au monde ; vous saviez tout sans jamais avoir rien senti ; toutes vos idées, nées avec vous, étaient présentes à votre intelligence, nommée âme, sans le secours de la mémoire. Cette mémoire n’est bonne à rien. »

La Nonsobre condamna cette proposition, non parce qu’elle était ridicule, mais parce qu’elle était nouvelle : cependant, lorsque ensuite un Anglais[3] se fut mis à prouver, et même longuement, qu’il n’y avait point d’idées innées, que rien n’était plus nécessaire que les cinq sens, que la mémoire servait beaucoup à retenir les choses reçues par les cinq sens, elle condamna ses propres sentiments, parce qu’ils étaient devenus ceux d’un Anglais. En conséquence elle ordonna au genre humain de croire désormais aux idées innées, et de ne plus croire aux cinq sens et à la mémoire. Le genre humain, au lieu d’obéir, se moqua de la Nonsobre, laquelle se mit en telle colère qu’elle voulut faire brûler un philosophe ; car ce philosophe avait dit qu’il est impossible d’avoir une idée complète d’un fromage à moins d’en avoir vu et d’en avoir mangé ; et même le scélérat osa avancer que les hommes et les femmes n’auraient jamais pu travailler en tapisserie s’ils n’avaient pas eu des aiguilles et des doigts pour les enfiler.

Les liolisteois[4] se joignirent à la Nonsobre pour la première fois de leur vie, et les séjanistes[5], ennemis mortels des liolisteois, se réunirent pour un moment à eux ; ils appelèrent à leur secours les anciens dicastériques, qui étaient de grands philosophes ; et tous ensemble, avant de mourir, proscrivirent la mémoire et les cinq sens, et l’auteur qui avait dit du bien de ces six choses.

Un cheval se trouva présent au jugement que prononcèrent ces messieurs, quoiqu’il ne fût pas de la même espèce, et qu’il y eût entre lui et eux plusieurs différences, comme celles de la taille, de la voix, de l’égalité des crins et des oreilles ; ce cheval, dis-je, qui avait du sens aussi bien que des sens, en parla un jour à Pégase dans mon écurie ; et Pégase alla raconter aux muses cette histoire avec sa vivacité ordinaire.

Les muses, qui depuis cent ans avaient singulièrement favorisé le pays longtemps barbare, où cette scène se passait, furent extrêmement scandalisées ; elles aimaient tendrement Mémoire ou Mnémosyne leur mère, à laquelle ces neuf filles sont redevables de tout ce qu’elles savent. L’ingratitude des hommes les irrita. Elles ne firent point de satires contre les anciens dicastériques, les liolisteois, les séjanistes et la Nonsobre, parce que les satires ne corrigent personne, irritent les sots, et les rendent encore plus méchants. Elles imaginèrent un moyen de les éclairer en les punissant. Les hommes avaient blasphémé la mémoire ; les muses leur ôtèrent ce don des dieux, afin qu’ils apprissent une bonne fois ce qu’on est sans son secours.

Il arriva donc qu’au milieu d’une belle nuit tous les cerveaux s’appesantirent, de façon que le lendemain matin tout le monde se réveilla sans avoir le moindre souvenir du passé. Quelques dicastériques, couchés avec leurs femmes, voulurent s’approcher d’elles par un reste d’instinct indépendant de la mémoire. Les femmes, qui n’ont eu que très rarement l’instinct d’embrasser leurs maris, rejetèrent leurs caresses dégoûtantes avec aigreur. Les maris se fâchèrent, les femmes crièrent, et la plupart des ménages en vinrent aux coups.

Messieurs, trouvant un bonnet carré, s’en servirent pour certains besoins que ni la mémoire ni le bon sens ne soulagent. Mesdames employèrent les pots de leur toilette aux mêmes usages ; les domestiques, ne se souvenant plus du marché qu’ils avaient fait avec leurs maîtres, entrèrent dans leurs chambres sans savoir où ils étaient ; mais, comme l’homme est né curieux, ils ouvrirent tous les tiroirs ; et comme l’homme aime naturellement l’éclat de l’argent et de l’or, sans avoir pour cela besoin de mémoire, ils prirent tout ce qu’ils en trouvèrent sous la main. Les maîtres voulurent crier au voleur ; mais l’idée de voleur étant sortie de leur cerveau, le mot ne put arriver sur leur langue. Chacun ayant oublié son idiome articulait des sons informes. C’était bien pis qu’à Babel, où chacun inventait sur-le-champ une langue nouvelle. Le sentiment inné dans le sens des jeunes valets pour les jolies femmes agit si puissamment que ces insolents se jetèrent étourdiment sur les premières femmes ou filles qu’ils trouvèrent, soit cabaretières, soit présidentes ; et celles-ci, ne se souvenant plus des leçons de pudeur, les laissèrent faire en toute liberté.

Il fallut dîner ; personne ne savait plus comment il fallait s’y prendre. Personne n’avait été au marché ni pour vendre ni pour acheter. Les domestiques avaient pris les habits des maîtres, et les maîtres ceux des domestiques. Tout le monde se regardait avec des yeux hébétés. Ceux qui avaient le plus de génie pour se procurer le nécessaire (et c’étaient les gens du peuple) trouvèrent un peu à vivre : les autres manquèrent de tout. Le premier président, l’archevêque, allaient tout nus, et leurs palefreniers étaient les uns en robes rouges, les autres en dalmatiques : tout était confondu, tout allait périr de misère et de faim, faute de s’entendre.

Au bout de quelques jours les muses eurent pitié de cette pauvre race : elles sont bonnes, quoiqu’elles fassent sentir quelquefois leur colère aux méchants ; elles supplièrent donc leur mère de rendre à ces blasphémateurs la mémoire, qu’elle leur avait ôtée. Mnémosyne descendit au séjour des contraires, dans lequel on l’avait insultée avec tant de témérité, et leur parla en ces mots :

« Imbéciles, je vous pardonne ; mais ressouvenez-vous que sans les sens il n’y a point de mémoire, et que sans la mémoire il n’y a point d’esprit. »

Les dicastériques la remercièrent assez sèchement, et arrêtèrent qu’on lui ferait des remontrances. Les séjanistes mirent toute cette aventure dans leur gazette ; on s’aperçut qu’ils n’étaient pas encore guéris. Les liolisteois en firent une intrigue de cour. Maître Cogé, tout ébahi de l’aventure, et n’y entendant rien, dit à ses écoliers de cinquième ce bel axiome. « Non magis musis quam hominibus infensa est ista quæ vocatur memoria[6]. »