As Mark points out , Gary Alan Fine finds the erasure of Paterno’s sporting accomplishments Orwellian, but such a practice is not just the stuff of dystopian fiction. At Reflection and Choice , Steven L. Jones writes:

Question:  What do Joe Paterno and the Roman Emperor Nero have in common? Answer:  damnatio memoriae

Damnatio Memoriae (Latin for “the condemnation of memory”)  is the act of trying to erase a person from history.  In the Roman world, this meant erasing the condemned man’s name from inscriptions, removing coins with his image from circulation, or defacing images and statues of him.

As you might imagine such an endeavor is extremely difficult to accomplish. Even in an age less bombarded by media than ours, it could be difficult to track down and remove every single mention of a person.  People who generate great anger are normally people who have also left a lasting and far-reaching mark.


Articles by Micah Mattix

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