memory  Mnemosyne by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1881

Mnemosyne ( Greek: Μνημοσύνη, pronounced [mnɛːmosýːnɛː]), source of the word mnemonic, was the personification of memory in Greek mythology. A  Titaness, she was the daughter of Uranus and Gaia, and the mother of the nine Muses.

The Muses -  Moũsai; perhaps from the o-grade of the Proto-Indo-European root *men- "think"

1. Calliope (epic poetry) 2. Clio (history) 3. Melpomene (tragedy) 4. Polyhymnia (hymns) 5. Terpsicore (dance) 6. Thalia (comedy) 7. Urania (astronomy) 8. Euterpe (music) 9. Erato (love poetry)

In one version, when Apollo arrived at Mount Parnassus where the Muses lived in a wild state, he civilized them and became their leader.

                                                                   The Muses Dancing, Baldassare Peruzzi, 1481-1536 

In Hesiod's Theogony, kings and poets receive their powers of authoritative speech from their possession of Mnemosyne and their special relationship with the Muses.

Mnemonics in antiquity were most often considered in the context of what is today known as the art of memory, also tricks to assist memory such as:


Ancient Greeks and Romans distinguished between two types of memory: the "natural" memory and the "artificial" memory. The former is inborn, and is the one that everyone uses instinctively. The artificial memory in contrast has to be trained and developed through the learning and practice of a variety of mnemonic techniques. Mnemonic systems are techniques or strategies consciously used to improve memory. They help use information already stored in long-term memory to make memorization an easier task.

 In Plato's Meno  Socrates develops his theory of anamnesis. He suggests that the soul is immortal, and repeatedly incarnated. What one perceives to be learning, then, is actually the memory of what one has forgotten.  Once remembered it is turned into genuine knowledge by understanding.

There is a journal dedicated to memory and language, appropriately named, Journal of Memory and Language, with at last count 90 volumes. I have no intention of entering that arena. No doubt language and memory are linked as were the Siamese twins Chang and Eng, how they got that way and how they interact is not my concern.  I will quibble with either modern science or with Plato.

                                                                              Now we turn to how mythos and logos are related.