"It is so rare and refreshing to read a Roman history book which
recognizes and celebrates the sheer difficulty of writing history,
and the vulnerability of each solution."
-Times Literary Supplement
"This is one of the most interesting and original books about
the Later Roman Empire that I have ever read."
-T. D. Barnes, Professor of Classics, University of Toronto
The ruling elite in ancient Rome sought to eradicate even the
memory of their deceased opponents through a process now known as
damnatio memoriae. These formal and traditional practices
included removing the person's name and image from public monuments
and inscriptions, making it illegal to speak of him, and forbidding
funeral observances and mourning. Paradoxically, however, while
these practices dishonored the person's memory, they did not
destroy it. Indeed, a later turn of events could restore the
offender not only to public favor but also to re-inclusion in the
This book examines the process of purge and rehabilitation of
memory in the person of Virius Nicomachus Flavianus(?-394). Charles
Hedrick describes how Flavian was condemned for participating in
the rebellion against the Christian emperor Theodosius the
Great-and then restored to the public record a generation later as
members of the newly Christianized senatorial class sought to
reconcile their pagan past and Christian present. By selectively
remembering and forgetting the actions of Flavian, Hedrick asserts,
the Roman elite honored their ancestors while participating in
profound social, cultural, and religious change.
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