The Importance Of Actions

The passage from Ad Herrenium illustrates another similarity between our two systems. The emphasis on active images (imagines agentes) is identical; I have always stressed that each person must have a unique and distinguishing action, and here Simonides is saying that the image must be doing something.

There are only three examples of human images in Ad Herrenium. This is a pity, although I applaud the reason why the author didn't leave us with more. As I have stressed all along in this book, the best images are the ones that you make up for yourself. The author of Ad Herrenium took a similar line, stating his task as tutor is not to list a thousand examples, but to teach the method, give a couple of illustrations, and let the student do the rest.

Those images that we do have are, nevertheless, fine examples. In the same way that I asked you, when remembering a long number, to combine a person with the action to create a complex image, so the author of Ad Herrenium urges the student to throw together a number of different images.

In the following example, he chooses an image that a lawyer might use when remembering details about a case: the defendant has poisoned a man, the motive was to gain an inheritance, and there were numerous witnesses.

'We shall imagine the man in question as lying ill in bed, if wc know him personally. If we do not know him, we shall take someone to be our invalid, 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, in his left, tablets, and on the fourth finger, a ram's testicles. In this way we can have in memory the man who was poisoned, the witnesses, and the inheritance.'

This complex image would be placed on the first locus. The cup would remind the lawyer of the poison; and the tablets, the inheritance. The lawyer could, in this way, remember the pertinent details of the case. Further, related infor mation would be stored in similar form at the second locus, and so on. In effect, the lawyer is using his loci as a mental filing cabinet.

It is also worth noting here, although it is not as clear as it could be in this passage, that the author of Ad Herrenium is suggesting that we use people we know personally.

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