History And Silence

History And Silence

by Charles W. Hedrick


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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 public record.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780292718739
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication date: 01/01/2000
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.82(d)

About the Author

Charles W. Hedrick Jr. is Professor of Ancient History in Cowell College of the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Table of Contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1. A Palimpsest
  • Chapter 2. Cursus and Career
  • Chapter 3. Unspeakable Paganism?
  • Chapter 4. Remembering to Forget: the Damnatio Memoriae
  • Chapter 5. Silence, Truth, and Death: the Commemorative Function of History
  • Chapter 6. Rehabilitating the Text: Proofreading and the Past
  • Chapter 7. Silence and Authority: Politics and Rehabilitation
  • Appendix. Concerning the Text Of Cil 6.1783
  • Notes
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Secondary Works Cited
  • General Index
  • Index of Passages Cited

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T. D. Barnes

"This is one of the most interesting and original books about the Later Roman Empire that I have ever read."

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