Damnatio memoriae is a modern Latin phrase literally meaning “condemnation of memory” – in German “Verdammung des Andenkens” – a form of dishonour that could be passed by the Roman Senate on traitors and troublemakers who brought discredit to the Roman State.
For most people at the time, this severe punishment of cancelling every trace of the person, as if they had never existed, was worse than death itself. Being a true, respectable Roman was a fundamental requirement of the citizen in these days. The intent was to erase all memory of the malefacto. Whiping out names on stones was the most common.
The Severan Tondo – Roman panel painting of the Imperial family of Septimius Severus, with the face of his younger son Geta obliterated in damnatio memoriae. Geta was murdered by his infamous older brother Caracalla in 211 AD. pic.twitter.com/GYj6O0mktp
— Gareth Harney (@OptimoPrincipi) 6 augustus 2018
It is simply impossible to know if this practice was successful as it would not be noticeable to later historians. But we do know many attempts failed. Many coins withs Geta’s image (erased from the image above) continued to circulate after his death. And with the damnatio memoriae of Roman emperor Commodus on an inscription (in the Museum of Roman History Osterburken) the abbreviation “CO” was later restored with paint.
Damnatio memoriae, early medieval style – a kneeling Pope Formosus was literally erased from this fresco c. 900, leaving just a shadow (from Laurent Jegou’s recent article on Formosus) pic.twitter.com/TzKbeWUd9e
— Charles West (@Pseudo_Isidore) 31 juli 2018
For the Romans damnatio memoriae was about erasing all things that ‘dishonoured their city’, but the dishonouring through visual censorship has been exploited in a political context throughout history, particularly during the political purges of Joseph Stalin, where the Soviet government attempted to erase some purged figures from Soviet history.
And why would our time be any different? The joyful removal of confederate statues, street names, Donald Trumps’ star and erasing of real people from the internet all seem to be a subtle, secretive or extravagant response to the same crime: dishonouring the global village – established by the globalist capitalist elites that have build rigid progressive belief systems (rather than cities or monuments) and therefor condemn (deny & erase) everything that discredits these systems.
BREAKING: West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously to remove President Trump’s star from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, says the mayor. It will now make a formal recommendation for its removal to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. pic.twitter.com/AmweQP0tB9
— AJ+ (@ajplus) 7 augustus 2018
The ‘West Hollywood City Council’ is in a way much like a Stalinist ‘courthouse’ that removes images it doesn’t like and projects the ones it does (called movies in Hollywood). The industry gathers for events to celebrate the stars that will definitely be remembered: ‘celebro memoriae’. Until someone disgracefully falls out of line and dishonours the beliefs. Erase. Or like I heard an anti-Trump protester say recently: “we are going to shame him away from the White House”.
And then there’s the tech giants that are currently deciding for us what we are allowed to see, hear and read. The coordinated, simultaneously attack on Alex Jones’ Info Wars shows that he and many others that are left in the unknown about what exact crime they have committed, were in fact just meant to disappear. Not critized, not prosecuted by law – not fought. But erased.
Author. Academic. Fighting nonsense. Thought junkie, creating free speech, connecting.