Roman triumph

From Academic Kids

A Roman Triumph was a civil ceremony and religious rite of ancient Rome, held to publicly honour the military commander (dux) of a notably successful foreign war or campaign and to display the glories of Roman victory. Only men of senatorial or consular rank could perform a triumph and be a triumphator.

In order to receive a triumph, the dux must:

  1. Win a war against a foreign power. Civil wars and rebellions were disqualified as they brought neither spoils, nor slaves, to the public treasury.
  2. Be acclaimed as imperator ("general", not emperor) by the legions in the field of battle.
  3. Apply to the senate for the right of a triumph. At this point, internal politics and faction lobbying had an important role. There are examples of rightful triumphs refused and generals of not so successful wars granted a triumph.

The ceremony consisted of a spectacular parade, opened by the chiefs of conquered peoples (afterwards executed in the Tullianum), followed by wagons of gold and other valuable spoils captured during the campaign (including slaves), musicians, dancers, flags drawn with scenes of the war, the legions and finally the dux. It was a concrete exhibit of the spoils brought to the patrimony of Senatus Populusque Romanus (S.P.Q.R.).

The triumphator rode on a biga, a chariot pulled by two white horses. A slave behind the triumphator held a laurel crown over his head (not touching it). Notably, this slave had to repeat continuously "Memento homo." ("Remember you are only a man.") The ceremony bears many similarities to earlier Etruscan rituals.

The parade followed a precise route in the streets of Rome, starting outside the Servian Walls of the city, in the Campus Martius. The triumphator would then cross the pomerium into the city through the Via Triumphalis (which centuries later was reopened as the current Via dei Fori Imperiali) and travel along the Forum until he reached the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, where the laurels of victory were offered to the god.

To better celebrate the triumph, a monument was sometimes erected. This is the origin of the Arch of Titus and the Arch of Constantine, not far from the Colosseum. Or near battle site as is the case for Trophaeum Traiani

Several generations into the time of the Roman Empire, only members of the Imperial family were awarded with triumphs. Other citizens were awarded with Ornamenta triumphalia (triumphal regalia).

Flavius Belisarius was the last person to receive a triumph (ostensibly "sitting in" for Emperor Justinian I), in recognition for his defeat of the Vandals.

See also: Triumphal arch, Ovationde:Triumph (Erfolg) nl:Triomftocht pl:Triumf fi:Triumfi


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