Cicero, De Oratore

LCL 348: 466-467

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De Oratore, II

killing them; and when their friends wanted to bury them but were altogether unable to know them apart as they had been completely crushed, the story goes that Simonides was enabled by his recollection of the place in which each of them had been reclining at table to identify them for separate interment; and that this circumstance suggested to him the discovery of the truth that the best aid to clearness of memory consists in orderly arrangement. 354He inferred that persons desiring to train this faculty must select localities and form mental images of the facts they wish to remember and store those images in the localities, with the result that the arrangement of the localities will preserve the order of the facts, and the images of the facts will designate the facts themselves, and we shall employ the localities and images respectively as a wax writing tablet and the letters written on it.


LXXXVII. But what business is it of mine to specify the value to a speaker and the usefulness and effectiveness of memory? of retaining the information given you when you were briefed and the opinions you yourself have formed? of having all your ideas firmly planted in your mind and all your resources of vocabulary neatly arranged? of giving such close attention to the instructions of your client and to the speech of the opponent you have to answer that they may seem not just to pour what they say into your ears but to imprint it on your mind? Consequently only people with a powerful memory know what they are going to say and for how long they are going to speak and in what style, what points they have already answered and what still remains; and they also can remember from other cases many arguments which they have

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.marcus_tullius_cicero-de_oratore.1942