NYMYSTERIES February 19, 2021
Some Judsonites are keeping track of how often the former president’s name is mentioned in the New York Times. When I lived in Rome I learned about damnatio memoriae. Loosely translated that’s destroying the remembrance of an evil person. It usually applied to public figures such as senators and emperors. The next time you’re in Rome or any other ancient Mediterranean place, check out monuments that have had inscriptions destroyed and portraits of illustrious personages in which one is missing. Memory was an important part of learning in the ancient world. Who read? So it was equally important to erase the memories of felons, according to their accusers. Some example are Caracalla who erased Publius Septimus Geta, his younger brother. Another example is Constantine erasing Maxentius in 312 AD. In modern times Stalin destroyed photos of people out of favor. Do we practice damnatio memoriae when we remove statues from public exhibit? i.e. Robert E. Lee.