Damnatio Memoriae

While inscriptions reveal a number of elements of an emperors rule, certain aspects can also illustrate how their reign was remembered.  Many Romans that followed the reign of Commodus did not hold Commodus in high regard, and this led to the defamation of some of his inscriptions.  Clear defamation is evident in this inscription from Hungary from sometime between 183 and 185.  Dating is relatively simple by connecting the political titles to the years held.  In top line Commodus has been scratched out, but somewhat legible, and at the bottom of the text another name has been erased.  While Commodus’ assassination in 192 clearly means he had a number of enemies, the destruction of his name in inscriptions as far north as Hungary illustrates the extent of the defamation campaign, and how it extended to names beyond his own.

Intercisa, Pannonia Inferior, Hungary, 183-185

Imp(erator) Caes(ar) M(arcus) Aur(elius) [[Commodus]]
Antoninus Aug(ustus) Pius Sarm(aticus) Germ(anicus)
pont(ifex) max(imus) trib(unicia) pot(estate) VI imp(erator) IIII co(n)s(ul) IIII p(ater) p(atriae)
ripam omnem burgis a solo extructis
item praesidis per loca opportune
ad clandestinos latrunculorum
transitus oppositis munivit
per [[L(ucium) Cornelium
Felicem Plotianum
leg(atum) pr(o) pr(aetore)]]