History of Erasing Unpopular Leaders: Damnatio Memoriae

Statue of Nero with his head removed

Q: Why haven’t we heard more about this?

Divine Augustus

Maison Carree, Temple of Augustus, Nimes, France

Emperor Nero


Q: What’s the part of Damnatio Memoriae that you know but didn’t realize?

Colossus of Nero
Defaced and clipped Nero coin
Name scratched off Sejanus coins
Defaced Caligula coin
Nerva replaces Domitian in Cancelleria Reliefs at Vatican Museum

Q: What are other notable examples throughout the history of Damnatio Memoriae?

The obliterated face of Akhenaten
Spartans in the movie 300
Stalin and Nikolai Yezkov

Q: Is Damnatio Memoriae the same as today’s “cancel culture?”

Q: What is different today about Damnatio Memoriae?

Modern erasures

Writer and technologist. Author of fascinating articles about history, tech trends, and pop culture. billpetro.com @billpetro

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