the atrium  
   email us

golden threads
   greek history
   roman history
   social history
   art and arky
   other cultures
   classical tradition
   text recs
   classics profession

the atrium
   this day
   media archive
   golden threads
   latin course
   sosii books
golden threads

ancient censorship
Date: Fri, 9 Feb 1996
From: Kotliar
Subject: Ancient censorship

Since net censorship is a hot issue these days, I wonder if anyone has an examples of conspicous decress or acts of censorship in the Ancient world that might be instructive for the modern debate. A few years ago I saw an exhibit at the New York public library entitled 500 years of censorship. So with the world wide web blackening its pages I thought maybe it might be fun to bring some notorious acts of censorship from much earlier. For example how did various ancient societies respond to "dangerous ideas" circulated from other societies, or illustrated erotic manuscripts. Some ancient societies must have been more prudish than their neighbors.

Date: Fri, 9 Feb 1996
From: cuibono
Subject: Re: Ancient censorship

in rome, the first example that comes to mind is the decree de bacchanalibus (186 bc, if i remember rightly), but beyond that, there were numerous purges , i.e. large scale book burnings, throughout the late republic and empire of magical/astrological books. the theodosian law code also provides numerous examples of censorship of "magicians" and "astrlogers."

Date: Fri, 9 Feb 1996
From: "p.d. snider"
Subject: Re: Ancient censorship

The first thing I thought of when I saw this post was a passage of Tacitus _Annals_ 4,34, which depicts the speech of Aulus Cremutius Cordus, who was charged with the new charge of praising Brutus and describing Cassius as the "last of the Romans" in his History. The speech points out that Augustus tolerated Livy's pro-Pompeian attitude, only calling him a Pompeian. He also notes that Asinius Pollio and M. Valerius Mesalla Corvinus showed Republican sentiments, but both lived out their lives safely. Further, Julius Caesar tolerated Cicero's, M. Furius Bibaculus and Catullus' abuse. However, what I find particularly striking is Tacitus summery in which he notes that Cremutius' books survived the attempt to burn them after this trial. He concludes "This makes one deride the stupidity of people who believe that today's authority can destroy tomorrow's memories. On the contrary, the repressions of genius increase its prestige. All that tyrannical conquerors and imitators of their brutalities, achieve is their own disrepute and their victims' renown." A distinct point.
Culled from the UMich archive of ancien-l.
Copyright © 2001 David Meadows
this page: