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La métaphore de la cire : réutilisation d’un motif platonicien (Théétète, 191-195) à Rome

Abstract : In the Theaetetus, the metaphor of wax illustrates the defective coincidence between what we perceive and what we remember; the imprint left by the seal, both a medium for, and a content of memory, expresses the reality of the perceived object or the gap between perception and reality. For the Roman writers, the image retains an epistemological dimension, linked to empiricism and a cognitive analysis of perceptions; it appears thus in Cicero, who nonetheless bends its philosophical perspective in order to use it as an anti-Stoic argument, by denouncing the limits of our senses to establish a criterion for distinguishing between different perceptions. But the metaphor is mostly used in the artes memoriae, as an analysis of the memory process. In Rhetorica ad Herennium or in Cicero, a shift occurs in its meaning in relation to the Platonic dialogue: what matters is not the imprint in the wax but the loci, the surface onto which the orator stamps his imagines, his speech. The loci are stamped onto the soul, unlike imagines, which are meant to be erased and replaced with other words with each new speech that is learnt. Quintilian draws the consequences of this reversal: although one uses associative memory to remember the couple loci / imagines, yet the ordo of loci isn’t stamped anywhere and the method calls for another step in the memorizing process, which acts as a new filter between the subject of memory and the memory of the orator.
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Contributor : Mélanie Lucciano <>
Submitted on : Monday, February 3, 2020 - 12:05:13 AM
Last modification on : Monday, February 3, 2020 - 1:27:33 AM

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Mélanie Lucciano. La métaphore de la cire : réutilisation d’un motif platonicien (Théétète, 191-195) à Rome. Sophie Aubert-Baillot; Charles Guérin; Sébastien Morlet. La philosophie des non-philosophes dans l'Empire romain du Ier au IIIe siècle, de Boccard, pp.97-120, 2019, 978-2-7018-0546-7. ⟨hal-02464104⟩

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