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date: 13 July 2024

damnatio memoriaefree

damnatio memoriaefree

  • John Percy Vyvian Dacre Balsdon
  •  and Barbara Levick


  • Reception
  • Roman History and Historiography
  • Roman Material Culture

After the deaths of persons deemed by the senate enemies of the state, measures to erase their memory might follow. Originally there was no set package, as the phrase implies (cf. Ulp.Dig. 24. 1. 32. 7) but a repertoire (Tac.Ann. 3. 17. 8–18. 1): images might be destroyed (Sejanus; Valeria Messal(l)ina), and their display penalized (L. Appuleius Saturninus, 98 bce), the name erased from inscriptions, and a man's praenomen banned in his family (Livy 6. 20. 14; 384 bce!). With emperors their acts were abolished. Claudius prevented the senate from condemning Gaius (1) (Cass. Dio 60. 4. 5); but decrees were passed against Domitian (Suet.Dom.23), Commodus (SHA Comm. 20), and Elagabalus (SHA Heliogab.17).


  • P. Vittinghoff, Der Staatsfeind in der römischen Kaiserzeit (1936).
  • R. Bauman, Impietas in Principem (1974), see index.
  • H. I. Flower, The Art of Forgetting (2006).