the first-century encyclopedia that chronicled all things wondrous and useful for winning bar bets in the classical world, including the most exceptional memories then known to history. "King Cyrus could give the names of all the soldiers in his army," Pliny reports. "Lucius Scipio knew the names of the whole Roman people. King Pyrrhus's envoy Cineas knew those of the Senate and knighthood at Rome the day after his arrival. . . . A person in Greece named Charmadas recited the contents of any volumes in libraries that anyone asked him to quote, just as if he were reading them."And to think I used to be impressed by my ability, years after I was out of college, to remember the names and rooms of everyone who lived in my freshman-year dorm. Sheesh. Clearly I've got to step up my game.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
A loaf of bread, a quart of milk, a stick of butter . . .
Okay, one last tidbit from Joshua Foer's Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything before I file it away in the proxy memory of my bookshelves. In the course of setting the scene of ancient memory science, Foer cites Pliny the Elder's Natural History,