The Art of Forgetting

Disgrace and Oblivion in Roman Political Culture

By Harriet I. Flower

424 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 75 illus., 1 map, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-7188-1
    Published: February 2011
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-7746-3
    Published: February 2011
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7293-7
    Published: February 2011

Studies in the History of Greece and Rome

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Elite Romans periodically chose to limit or destroy the memory of a leading citizen who was deemed an unworthy member of the community. Sanctions against memory could lead to the removal or mutilation of portraits and public inscriptions. Harriet Flower provides the first chronological overview of the development of this Roman practice--an instruction to forget--from archaic times into the second century A.D. Flower explores Roman memory sanctions against the background of Greek and Hellenistic cultural influence and in the context of the wider Mediterranean world. Combining literary texts, inscriptions, coins, and material evidence, this richly illustrated study contributes to a deeper understanding of Roman political culture.

About the Author

Harriet I. Flower is professor of classics at Princeton University. She is author of Ancestor Masks and Aristocratic Power in Roman Culture and editor of The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Republic.
For more information about Harriet I. Flower, visit the Author Page.


"A very valuable book on a fascinating and important subject."--Journal of Roman Studies

"A much-needed articulation . . . of Roman commemoration practices. . . . An engaging survey of Roman history [for] the nonspecialist. . . . Well illustrated."--The Historian

"Closely argued and aptly illustrated. . . . Recommended."--CHOICE

"An important contribution to the study of commemoration in the classical world. . . . Thorough and well-argued. . . . Lucidly written and enriched by numerous illustrations, this book provides not only a rich source of information about Greek and Roman memory sanctions, but also offers a profound analysis on their development and implications for Roman republican and early imperial politics."--Tyche

“Flower’s writing style is accessible and the examples she cites are interesting enough to take the reader on the curious journey into an unfamiliar aspect of the ancient mind.”--United Nations of Roma Victrix

"This is an outstanding book. The phenomenon of memory sanctions has long needed proper treatment, and Flower's study is most welcome for anyone interested in the Graeco-Roman world. This book represents a major advance in scholarship."--Michael Peachin, New York University