Divina Commedia, and image density


Hi people,
just a couple of annotations concerning how I am doing with my current quest (the Divina Commedia, nothing less!): at the moment I’m at the beginning of the 14th canto.

My memoria verborum needed some tuning, during these first 13 cantos: I came to the point where, for some time, I stopped completely using the Loci method,
just resorting to rote memorization: I simply could not see the point of the additional effort of creating images, and finding good loci for them, in addition to the constant repetition of the verses.
My problem - I don’t know how much it is related to this particular poem - is that the Divina Commedia is so incredibly visual almost everywhere, that very often the surprising images I try to create are so less memorable than the images concocted by Dante…
The other, basic problem, is that I was unable to understand the correct “image density”: it is poetry - I cannot create an image for each word, nor for each tercet.
How many images do I need, damn?

By the way, the two cantos where I didnt use the Loci remain the most confused in my memory :slight_smile:

I now returned to using the Loci, and my strategy is now very simple. Each group of tercets I memorize (~7-10, daily) is a locus. Scanning the 20-30 verses I find not less than 2-3 images - by alliteration mostly - that I put in place. In this phase I completely overlook the images that Dante is creating.
Then, rote memorization immediately shows me if there are some verses where I’m stumbling often, having a hard time memorizing them: at these points, by brute force I create a new image that usually solve the local problem immediately.

I’d love to hear from you, specially concerning the image density that people uses.

This is all for now, back to the Seventh Circle of Hell!!!


How long would it take to memorize the entire Christian Bible?
(Josh Cohen) #2

Thanks for the update. :slight_smile:
What kind of memory palace are you using?


Great idea for a project Alexxx. Are you learning the original Italian or a translation. If it’s English let me know which translation you’re using and I’ll join you on the conquest.


Due to the size of the poem I immediately excluded a real palace, and being at my ~1st attempt at using mnemotechnics I didnt feel confident I could manage an imaginary place.
So I’m using the 3 alternative roads I use for jogging: they’re ~10km each, in the park, so I thought I should find enough loci.
Sadly, I almost exhausted them, and I’m at the XIX canto, 15 to go just to finish Hell! … I fear I’ll have to expand my running activities…

Glad you’re interested too Dale, I really suggest you try it - I’ve never been too much into poetry but this poem is really a fundamental stone in world literature - and beautiful, funny, engaging… Moreover, as I said, it is so visual that for mnemotechnics purposes it’s really interesting.
I found in London 6 months ago a wonderful used exhibition catalog “Dante rediscovered” about the influence, mostly in painting and sculpture, of Divina Commedia in England: full of illustrations ready made for visualization!

… but I’m not using any translation: as a compensation for my inability to read Shakespeare in english, being italian I can memorize it in original!


Lucky bloke! I guess I could take a week out and learn Italian. BRB. The translations I’ve found are very obtuse (Shakespearean, if you will). I wonder if memorizing Dante’s images first would keep the words from being so difficult to learn.

Good luck,


if you are interested in Divina Commedia’s iconography, you have to check this http://www.worldofdante.org/


The basics of Dante’s Divine Comedy, as sung to the tune of Blondie’s “Rapture”


For something like this, a poem with vivid images, why not try putting the images from the poem in the loci.
Wouldn’t it be interesting to see all the images of the Inferno around your house or town?
Imagine the beasts he encounters on your couch or your kitchen. Or maybe you go into your bathroom and it’s the 1st circle of hell.