Brother? What Brother?


Character Assassination

In ancient Rome, prominent individuals could fall victim to the ultimate punishment of damnatio memoriae, a curse on their memory by senatorial decree. One famous victim was the short-lived emperor Geta (r. 211), whose statues were smashed and whose name was removed from inscriptions and documents after he had been murdered by his brother and co-ruler, Caracalla. Even a tondo from Egypt, showing the imperial family in happier days, sports a conspicuous gap where the face of the young ruler used to be.

Literature

• Friedrich Vittinghoff, Der Staatsfeind in der römischen Kaiserzeit. Untersuchungen zur „damnatio memoriae“ (Berlin 1936)
• Eric Varner, Mutilation and Transformation: Damnatio Memoriae and Roman Imperial Portraiture (Leiden – Boston 2004)
• Harriet I. Flower, The Art of Forgetting: Disgrace and Oblivion in Roman Political Culture (Chapel Hill, NC 2006)
• Florian Krüpe, Die Damnatio memoriae. Über die Vernichtung von Erinnerung. Eine Fallstudie zu Publius…

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