Complete Story

Balzotti, Jonathan Mark, and Richard Benjamin Crosby

Fall 2014, 44:4, pages 323-342

Diocletian’s Victory Column: Megethos and the Rhetoric of Spectacular Disruption

Abstract: This essay explores how the powerful system of cultural references in the architecture of Alexandria is disrupted by Roman visual rhetoric. Specifically, the essay closely analyzes Diocletian’s Victory Column, a monument to the third-century Roman ruler who put down an Alexandrian uprising. The authors argue that Rome employed a visual rhetoric of spectacular disruption as a means to insert itself into the city’s historical identity even after its siege created widespread disease and starvation. The essay builds on the substantial scholarship on public memory by describing a kind of rhetoric that poses a political, existential challenge to a reigning cultural identity. As rhetorical scholars continue to study public memory and the persuasive powers of designed space, the concept of megethos appears to be uniquely and increasingly relevant.

Read the Rhetoric Society Quarterly Get information about our conferences Get information about our institutes Learn about becoming a member Access members-only content