Johannes Romberch's Congestorium Artificiose Memorie

Does anyone know where to get an English translation of Congestorium artificiose memorie? It was published in Venice in 1533, and I’ve only found versions in Latin.

The book has many interesting illustrations, like this one:

(More can be found here.)

The number system looks like an association system:
1 is a narrow window.
2 looks like a teapot.
4 is a flower, maybe because of the similarity of the words?
5 is a hand – five fingers.
12 looks like a kind of hook.

There are some alphabet systems which appear to be based on shapes:

I wonder if this one describes the space within a memory palace location:

There is more information on this page:

Romberch's book has four chapters; an intro, a section on places, a section on images, and a section on encyclopedic knowing. The places and images have been transformed somewhat in their new context of the Renaissance. Imaginary places like the cosmos are as good as real ones like the abbey. Strangely, there is a rule associated with human places, that the proper size is that of the human body. The image, like the famous Vitruvian Man by Da Vinci, resonates with other aspects of Renaissance Humanism.

The last chapter is perhaps the most interesting transformation, however. Why, all of a sudden is the memory system associated with Encyclodpedic learning? Why remember “everything”?


Hi Josh,

Did you ever find Congestorium artificiose memorie in English?


Sorry, I missed your comment before but just saw it now while browsing through old posts. I haven’t found a copy of it in English – just some copies like these:

Thank you!

Any updates Josh ? Im sure there are valuable information in this book!

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I haven’t found anything else. It does look interesting. :slight_smile:

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Perhaps someday someone will translate it into English from Latin. Maybe one of us will use our memory techniques to learn Latin to translate it ourselves. :slight_smile:

Finding someone who is not only ‘fluent’ in whichever style of late medieval Latin that Romberch used and ,ideally ,who is also a Mnemonist might prove to be tricky.
However having a little experience in such matters I did some quick googling to see if it had been translated into late medieval German as so many works were, however that seems not to have been the case either.

BUT WAIT! There’s more (as the TV Shopping channel says) according to Yates * bows down before her book *: “I use the edition of Venice, 1533. Romberch may be more agreeably studied in Lodovico Dolce’s Italian translation,” and I think (i don’t speak Italian) she means this
Should I be wrong and it was a different work of Dolce’s then it may also be on that site. So if we have anyone fluent in Italian…?

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Basically, exactly what @GibtsDochGarNicht already pointed out… people who’ve learned Latin will know Classical Latin and not this gibberish. It’s like handing someone with a couple of years of high school English Shakespeare’s version of Beowulf. Including all the necessary idioms… sticking with this example bee (beo) and hunter (wulf) to mean “bear”… or dragon plus shrimp means “lobster” (that’s Chinese though.)

Nope, you’re right… that is the one. Still a bit annoying with that long s (ſ) all over the place… belliſsima would of course be spelled bellissima today. I assume the first sentence would be “si meraviglieranno” instead of “ſi marauiglieranno” based on the context… to marvel / to wonder. So you also got a few us that would be vs. (Both these examples from the first page.)

Still better than this Gothic script, medieval church Latin in the link that @Josh posted above. I skimmed both the Latin version (horrible) and the Italian version (easier), but didn’t find anything of real interest; so no lengthy summary from me.

I’d think that Google Translate wouldn’t have much trouble helping anyone curious with the Italian version:


Shakespeare did a version of Beowulf? Did you skip part of that sentence cos I’m bloody sure Shakespeare didn’t.

Hmmm except that he is referred to as ‘biowulf’ in a large chunk of the text and whilst “Bee Wolf” (‘wulf’ is more commonly the OE word for its modern English cognate) as a Kenning is a neat solution there are problems with it.

PS Yes I am being picky and I know that you were merely using Beowulf as a quick example to illustrate your point but, dude, its nice to be able to correct you for once :stuck_out_tongue:


I was considering putting hypothetical in parenthesis somewhere, but then figured there’s no need for that as everybody would know it’s a made up example. Just didn’t wanna pick one over the other and then have someone here tell me that they think the Latin is more like the other or vice versa.

Always a bit tricky for sure… take the German name Wolfgang… “walking wolf”? Personally, I subscribe to the time travel interpretation of the name, where bay o’ wulf was actually based on the future bay of pigs. :wink:


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Um guys, the new phones such as the one from samsung can translate the picture words straight to english, lols

you dont even need to type them up into google XD

I said I was being picky . AngloSaxon/Old English scholars (not that I would class myself as one by any means) have a pet hate namely comments such as “So Old English is like what Shakespeare spoke then?” .

Which translates as 'Say Shakespeare spoke Old English again. I dare thee, I twice dare thee, Mother -Killer [which to the Anglo Saxon way of thinking was a more grievous crime than the one stated in the film!]

(for the record, anycase anyone doesn’t know, Shakespeare spoke ‘Early Modern English’ ie you can pick up an original copy of one of his plays and read it… with a dictionary to hand. You wouldn’t be able to read Gawain And The Green Knight in the original Middle English and Beowulf in the original Old English is unreadable being an entire different language, basically an extinct low German dialect that you cannot read without learning OE.)

Like to see you try it on the photo above :stuck_out_tongue:

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Pretty sure it’ll read the “ſ” as an “f”… and with a Samsung that might cos an explosion again. :wink: But give it a shot and let us know what it says on the first page.

Was tryna help, thank you.

Guess you guys are too good for me, bye.

100% with you as far as that…

…and in 1066 the Bastard became the Conqueror and cows started calling themselves beef, because it became the vogue thing to do.

Which brings me full circle to my original point…

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Which is what I said * puzzled *

Better than calling them ‘Organic,carbon neutral,Vegan nut cutlets’ because it is the ‘woke’ thing to do!


Google will translate Latin. I gave it a try but I I struggle with the medieval script. That would ease up after a bit of practice, but the text has to be transcribed by hand. Could be useful for translating small sections of particular interest.

Attending high school in London in the 60’s, I was forced through four years of Latin. Despite some natural talent for languages (I later went on to learn 5 more), I managed to learn almost nothing. I hated the language and disliked the Romans intensely. By and large, I came through with my ignorance unscathed. I still don’t care for the ancient Romans but with age, my take has become a bit more nuanced. :slight_smile:

It would be interesting to read but I doubt it holds any great secrets or even much that is really new. In my experience medieval treatises tend to be very short on important detail. The main mode of transmission in those days was still oral and the techniques of technical exposition were yet undeveloped.

I plowed through most of a Hebrew book on memory techniques from the same period. A lot of flowery text with not much content and certainly no novelties.