Erasing People From History By Damnatio Memoriae

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Historians can't be sure if the Romans ever successfully accomplished damnatio memoriae. After all, if they did, we would have no record of it. We do know that they tried to erase Emperor Geta from history -- there's evidence of his face scratched out of artwork. Roman Emperor Maxentius was another victim of damnatio memoriae in 312 AD, attempted at the hands of Emperor Constantine. And it wasn't just the Romans: Stalin, for example, was known to erase the faces of people he didn't like from photographs.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Damnatio memoriae literally means a "condemnation of memory." 00:19

  2. Damnatio memoriae was performed on Emperor Geta, who was "removed from history" by brother Caracalla. 00:28

  3. Joseph Stalin performed damnatio memoriae on people he didn't like. 00:58