History and Silence
Purge and Rehabilitation of Memory in Late Antiquity
Publication Year: 2000
Published by: University of Texas Press
Title Page, Copyright
List of Illustrations
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In 1757 Giovanni Battista Piranesi published the final edition of his collection of etchings of the ruins of ancient Rome, Le antichita` Romane. The frontispiece to that edition shows a palimpsested inscription: the original letters have been erased and over them a new...
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The best thing about publishing a book is that it provides an opportunity to acknowledge publicly the debts that have been incurred in writing it. I first began working on the inscription rehabilitating Virius Nicomachus Flavianus more than a decade ago in a seminar on Roman...
1. A PALIMPSEST
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In A.D. 431 a statue was erected in the Forum of Trajan in honor of an eminent Roman of the past, Virius Nicomachus Flavianus. The base of the statue has survived: it is about a meter and a half tall and three-quarters of a meter wide, and although the back of the base has been...
2. CURSUS AND CAREER
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The inscription of rehabilitation begins, as almost all Roman honorific inscriptions do, with a formulaic prescript which provides a dedicatory statement, reasons for the dedication, and an account of the career of the person honored, in Latin a cursus honorum. In this...
3. UNSPEAKABLE PAGANISM?
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Modern scholars know Flavian best for his religious activities. If the generalist knows of him at all, it is as the intransigent (or reactionary) champion of Roman paganism against the new religion of the empire, Christianity. From De Rossi’s initial publication...
4. REMEMBERING TO FORGET: The Damnatio Memoriae
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The inscription does not speak of certain of the positions held by Flavian and his son, nor does it allude to Flavian’s religious attitudes. What these omissions mean, or if they mean anything, must be a matter for discussion: there are silences in any text, and the...
5. SILENCE, TRUTH, AND DEATH: The Commemorative Function of History
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The first line of the imperial letter rehabilitating Flavian is remarkable in a variety of ways. It appears to invoke the authority of the Roman tradition of historiography and biography. It also alludes to the commemorative function of writing, which the rehabilitation...
6. REHABILITATING THE TEXT: Proofreading and the Past
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A metaphor running through the imperial letter suggests an equivalence between the rehabilitation of Flavian and the correction (emendatio) of texts. Most immediately the metaphor alludes to the comparability of a political rehabilitation and the practice of...
7. SILENCE AND AUTHORITY: Politics and Rehabilitation
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Many of the problems addressed in this book are traditional, if controversial. The activities of the Roman senatorial class have long been regarded as having played an important part in the transition from the later Roman world to the medieval period, the...
APPENDIX: Concerning the Text of CIL 6.1783
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List of Abbreviations
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Secondary Works Cited
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Index of Passages Cited
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Page Count: 366
Illustrations: 2 photos, 1 line drawing, 1 figure
Publication Year: 2000