I think it was a Roman law, and it said that when a horrific crime was committed, the criminal could not be named, and anyone who disobeyed would suffer capital punishment. I can't remember the name, although I think it may have started with an 'H'/

  • Perhaps you are thinking of a version of Ostracism? Somehow, loosing one's name sounds more semitic (Egyptian or Hebrew) than Roman legal practice. Perhaps there was a religious connection that required annihilating somehow the offender, both in the flesh and as a person?
    Jul 11, 2015 at 10:15
  • 1
    The Hebew shunning law is called Herem, but it was less severe than the law described by OP.
    – two sheds
    Jul 11, 2015 at 11:25

1 Answer 1


I believe you are thinking of Herostratus, the name of the man for whom the law was created (according to the History, he set fire to the temple of Artemis in Ephesus just in order to be famous and recorded in the History1)

More generally, that law (and other similar like those of romans, egyptians and the like) are usually called damnatio memoriae; usually they were applied against previous rulers or powerful officials who had fallen of grace, and included destroying their statues, erasing any written (or sculpted) apparition of their name.

Note: Ostracism was the name of exile. The name came because, being a severe punishment, it was usually decreed by all voting members of the polis which used ceramic pieces (ostrakas) to vote.

1: As you can see, he succeeded and the law failed.

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