The art of memory was designed to facilitate recall by associating the items to be remembered with vivid imagery, often related to the places in a building. Aristotle and Cicero explained the origins of this method from the story of Simonides who remembered all the guests who were killed at a banquet by the places they had occupied around the table.
Today, still advice books on improving memory recommend similar techniques of association with vivid images and places. Yates's book has left the impression that place memory was the main method of recall used from antiquity through the Renaissance. Without denying that place memory was used, especially for short-term recall to memorize a speech or perform a feat of memory, I emphasize that for the long-term retention and accumulation of information, note-taking was the more common aid to memory.
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Note-taking is documented in antiquity with Pliny and can be surmised ans the principal means of composition of florilegia and large compilations in the Middle Ages. Starting in the Renaissance, note-taking can be studied from abundant surviving sources. Images were valued as mnemonic aids in manuscript and print, but repetition and copying out were the keystones of Renaissance pedagogy.
Though he conceded that places could help, Erasmus maintained that 'the best memory is based on three things above all: understanding, system, and care. In practice, however, note-taking certainly did not preclude reliance on images or visual elements as mnemonic aids.
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For example, the abundant note-taker Conrad Gesner used an image of the hand as a mnemonic for the five Latin declensions; the hand was a widespread mnemonic image, the use of which did not involve elaborate place memory. Page layout in both manuscript and print could also facilitate recall of material from the look of the page on which it appeared Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age  The earliest surviving image of the Crucifixion appears to be an anti-Christian graffito discovered in carved in plaster on a wall near the Palatine Hill in Rome, now in the Palatine Antiquarium Museum.
A Greek inscription, translated as "Alexamenos worshipping his God," is scratched on the graffito causing it to be known as the " Alexamenos Grafitto. Contemporary Christian writers remark that pagans accuse Christians of worshiping an ass. It is one of several surviving Roman portraits depicting the symbols of literacy. In this sense, the portrait is evidence that literacy was far from universal in Roman Pompeii. But it is none the less an impressive fact, typical of the Roman world and difficult to parallel before modern times, that a provincial couple should have chosen to be painted in a way that very specifically celebrated a close relationship with the written word, on the part of both the man and his wife" Ward-Perkins, The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization  , plate 7.
The eruption of Mt. Vesuvius over two days in 79 CE buried the cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii in lava, destroying life, but preserving buildings in a remarkable way. They reflect wide use of writing and comparatively wide availability of literacy in Roman society. Inscriptions such as these are not necessarily good evidence of widespread literacy.
The enormous numbers that were produced in Roman times could reflect a fashion for this particular medium of display, rather than a dramatic spread of the ability to read and write. Walls on the main streets of Pompeii are often decorated with painted messages, whose regular script and layout reveal the work of professional sign-writers.
Some are advertisements for events such as games in the amphitheatre; others are endoresements of candiates for civic office, by individuals and groups within the city. These are found all over the city, scratched into stone or plaster by townspeople with time on their hands and a message to convey to future idlers.
Because graffiti such as those preserved in Pompeii were intended to be widely shared some have called these evidence of early social media. The Vindolanda Writing Tablets , excavated from the Roman fort at Vindolanda , one of the main military posts on the Northern frontier of Britain before the building of Hadrian's Wall , were written in carbon ink on wafer-thin slices of wood around CE. Experts have identified the handwriting of hundreds of different people in these documents. They confirm that the officers of Vindolanda were most certainly literate, and that some soldiers in the ranks may also have been literate.
However, others are private letters sent to or written by the serving soldiers. The content is fascinating, giving us a remarkable insight into the working and private lives of the Roman garrison. They also display a great variety of individual handwriting , which adds to our knowledge of Roman cursive writing around AD Instead they are wafer thin slices of wood, written on with carbon ink and quill-type pens. Even after specialised conservation the exacavated tablets are fragile and require a carefully controlled environment" British Museum, Our Top Ten British Treasures , accessed That letter carries a postscript in the hand of the sender that reads: 'Make and send to me copies of books 6 and 7 of Hypsicrates' Characters in Comedy.
For Harpocration says that they are among Polion's books. But it is likely that others, too, have got them. He also has prose epitomes of Thersagorus' work on the myths of tragedy.
Following this postscript is a note written in a different hand. It reads: 'According to Harpocration, Demetrius the bookseller has got them. I have instructed Apollonides to send me certain of my own books, which you will hear of in good time from Seleucus himself. If you find any, apart from those I possess, make copies and send them to me.
Education / Scholarship / Reading / Literacy : 3800000 BCE to 2020 CE
Diodorus and his friends also have some which I haven't got. The letter reveals a group of friends who acquired books by making copies from exemplars owned by friends who lived elsewhere Harpocration, Polion, Diodorus, and their circle. Yet there is mention of the bookseller Demetrius, who could serve as a fall-back source. Here, then, in provincial Egypt we see the independent coexistence of private and commercial means of obtaining books.
The books requested are scholarly, not books that have popular appeal, so it is surprising that the bookseller Demetrius might have them. One would expect a bookseller to deal in popular literature, as apparently was the case with the Roman booksellers we know by name. In a setting where a scholarly community was active, an astute dealer probably did not disdain service to that clientele.
Yet, as a rule, classical texts and especially scholarly tools and studies circulated principally if not exclusively through private channels. The practices of Cicero in late republican Rome, of the scholarly circle in Oxyrhynchus in the late second century, and of Libanius and his fellow scholars in fourth-century Syrian Antioch, widespread as these were in time and place, all attest that private copying and circulation formed the persistent norm for professional scholars. The quality of commercial copying was not particularly high, whereas scholars were fastidious, at least about their books.
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The complaints voiced by many ancient writers about the quality of commercial copies were consistent and continuous. The employment of mediocre copyists and the failure to collate copies and exemplars--practices that Strabo A History of Early Christian Texts  Turner, Greek Manuscripts of the Ancient World no.
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Like most Homeric papyri, it is incomplete, lacking the first lines of Iliad 24, and possibly all of Iliad The roll measures x mm. In April digital facsimiles of the papyrus unrolled and unpressed showing its wrinkles, and also flattened out under glass, were available from the British Library at this link. The papyrus also contains the names of characters in the margin to indicate passages of direct speech, and abbreviated notes marking narrative sequences of text. In the ancient world reading of literary texts was done aloud, and the accentual marks served as an aid for maintaining correct pronunciation.
Hilgard the role of the "corrector" was described:.
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Bankes retained as interpreter and intermediary another adventurer named Giovanni Finati , and it was Finati who acquired the manuscript, describing the purchase his memoirs, which Bankes translated from the Italian and edited for publication as Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Giovanni Finati, Native of Ferrara , 2 vols, London , vol. Notes in the left margin of the page include the names of characters to "passage of direct speech as well as abbreviated notes marking narrative sections in the text.
The main body of the text inscribed on the wax is in Latin, followed by a subscription written in Greek by an amanuensis on behalf of the woman, who was illiterate. On the outside there are copies of these sections and a list of the names of seven witnesses, all written in ink directly on the wood. The diptych was originally tied shut and sealed with the seals of the witnesses to prevent tampering with the inner text, the authenticated version, while the exterior text remained available for consultation" Hunt, R.
Looking for further information on this diptych, I found a full description by B. Sayce in Cairo and presented by him to the Bodleian Lat. The two tablets A and B, measure 15 x 12 cm. The interior pp. The exterior B p.
The exterior of A p. The impressions have perished, but traces of the indentation left by the string on the wax are preserved. One of these Lefebvre, Bull. It is dated A. Evidentaly therefore the order of the exterior writing on our tablet was not uncommon, though the customary arrangement of the exterior writing on a diptych e.
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