Dario Calomino, Curator of Roman Provincial Coins at the British Museum writes:
I work at the British Museum with Andrew Burnett on RPC 6 and I am currently developing a small exhibition on the damnatio
memoriae of Roman emperors accompanied by a book. I should explain that I am writing a booklet, not a corpus of all known specimens that
show signs of damnatio. The definition of damnatio is also controversial, I am considering examples of defacement of coins for political
reasons, mainly to attack the memory deposed emperors, but not exclusively; some nice examples also from different periods (even defaced
banknotes for my general introduction) could be considered if relevant.
Can anyone help? Dario can be reached at DCalomino@britishmuseum.org
We covered the topic of damnatio memoriae once before, in a Featured Web Page suggested by the late numismatic literature dealer John
Burns. Here's that article from April 7, 2013, taken from Wikipedia. -Editor
Damnatio memoriae is the Latin phrase literally meaning "condemnation of memory" in the sense of a judgment that a person must
not be remembered. It was a form of dishonor that could be passed by the Roman Senate upon traitors or others who brought discredit to the
Roman State. The intent was to erase someone from history, a task somewhat easier in ancient times, when documentation was much
The sense of the expression damnatio memoriae and of the sanction is to cancel every trace of the person from the life of Rome, as if he
had never existed, in order to preserve the honour of the city; in a city that stressed the social appearance, respectability and the pride
of being a true Roman as a fundamental requirement of the citizen, it was perhaps the most severe punishment.
Lucius Aelius Sejanus suffered damnatio memoriae following a failed conspiracy to overthrow emperor Tiberius in 31. His statues were
destroyed and his name obliterated from all public records. The above coin from Augusta Bilbilis, originally struck to mark the consulship
of Sejanus, has the words L. Aelio Seiano obliterated.
To read the complete article, see:
FEATURED WEB PAGE: DAMNATIO MEMORIAE
Wayne Homren, Editor
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