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Posts Tagged ‘Cicero’

The method of loci is ancient. Cicero, the Roman orator, recommended it. Lecturers in his day were not allowed to use lecture notes, so memorization techniques were valued.

Cicero told a traditional story about how the method of loci was discovered. A Greek poet named Simonides was entertaining a group of wealthy noblemen at a banquet. Suddenly a pair of mysterious figures called him outside. They turned out to be messengers from the Olympian gods Castor and Pollux, praised by Simonides in his poem. As soon as Simonides stepped outside, the roof of the banquet hall collapsed, squashing everybody inside. The mangled corpses could not be identified until Simonides stepped forward, pointed to the place where each victim had been sitting, and said each name in turn.

How did Simonides accomplish this feat? He mentally recreated the scene of the banquet, visualizing each reveler in his place. When he saw the places, it helped him remember the person who had been sitting there.

Story of Simonides from: Psychology: An Introduction by Russell A. Dewey

To use the method of loci, bring to mind a familiar building, such as your house.
Take a moment to conduct a mental walk through the rooms in your house.
Pay particular attention to the details , noticing any imperfections, like scratches: anything that makes your mental images more vivid.
Make sure you can move easily from one room to another.
Along your route create a list of “loci” – i.e. well defined parts of the room that you can use later to memorize things.
A locus can be a door, a bed, an oven, etc.
Be sure that you can easily go from locus to locus as you visit the house.
Now, when you are faced with a list of words or ideas to be memorized, you must form visual images for each of the words and place them, in order, on the loci in your route.
To recall the words or ideas now you take a mental walk throughout your house, asking yourself , “What is on the living-room door? What’s on the sleeping room bed. What’s in the oven?” And so on.
Associating the words or ideas to remember with the loci, you should create surprising images.
More striking is the created image, more easily you will remember the thing.

More fascinating facts on the Method of Loci can be found at:  http://www.ba.infn.it/~zito/loci.html

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