– Written by an unknown author in the 80s B.C, Rhetorica ad Herennium is the first known book on the art of memorization.
Those who tested the method described in this unique ancient text say the book really does improve your memory. The best part is that anyone can test and find out if the method works. It’s really easy!
Rhetorica ad Herennium was formerly attributed to , Cicero (Marcus Tullius, 106–43 BCE), Roman lawyer, orator, politician and philosopher, but of unknown authorship, sometimes ascribed to an unnamed doctor the book was the most popular book on rhetoric during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
The book is still used to today as a textbook on the structure and uses of rhetoric and persuasion.
Rhetorica ad Herennium focues on teaching the “method of loci,” also known as the “memory palace.”
The method is based on the assumption that you can best remember places that you are familiar with, so if you can link something you need to remember with a place that you know very well, the location will serve as a clue that will help you to remember.
The method involves associating each item you’re trying to remember with a specific image and place.
For example, say you’re trying to remember that you need to buy milk, eggs, and bread at the grocery store. You might picture taking a shower in milk, stepping out onto the bathroom floor which is covered in eggshells, and drying yourself off with slices of bread.
It does sound strange, but that’s how it works — you want to make the items stand out in your mind.
Before books were common, the method of loci helped lawyers and others retain and recall information necessary for their jobs.
There are people who can remember every day of their life, but most of us don’t have such an amazing memory.
There are several ways to improve memory though. Researchers have for example discovered that musical training lead to improvements in a wide variety of different skills, including memory and spatial learning.
Ancient Greeks and later Romans were able to memorize and give speeches that could last for hours. Obviously, the method of loci must have worked.
Modern scientists have conducted several experiments and there is plenty of scientific data based on numerous studies, extending back decades. Researchers can say with certainty that the method of loci improves memory.
If you are interested in testing the method of loci, New York Times created a short puzzle to test your memory. You can try it and see if it works for you.