The Roman Republican Triumph: Beyond the Spectacle

Carsten Hjort Lange (Editor), Frederik Julian Vervaet (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportAnthologyResearchpeer-review


The Romans had an expectation that every new initiative, and indeed every war, would end in victory, and accordingly, in triumph – they suffered from what might rather fittingly be described as ‘victory disease’ (a term borrowed from the Japanese, used to describe the general feeling after Pearl Harbor – see Symonds 2011, 88-89). A public triumph was the greatest honour and the grandest spectacle that the Senate and the People of Rome could award to their victorious military commanders, who typically received the honorary title of Imperator during the last two centuries of the libera res publica. At the same time the need for these great Imperators to give full expression to their prestige and charisma and legitimate their power was an integrated part of Republican history (McCormick 1986: ‘triumphal rulership’). The following collection of papers on the phenomenon of the public triumph in the Roman Republic (509 to 27 BCE) emerge from a workshop entitled “Roman Republican Triumph: Beyond the Spectacle”, held at The Danish Institute in Rome 28–30 January 2013. This workshop and its co-edited proceedings, together with a forthcoming sole-authored monograph (Triumphs in the Age of Civil War: the Late Republic and the Adaptability of Triumphal Tradition), represent the culmination of Carsten Hjort Lange’s Carlsberg Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow project on the Republican triumph at the Accademia di Danimarca. The aim of the workshop was to further the field of Roman triumphal studies by exploring several key aspects of the Roman triumph and its colourful history, focusing mainly on the ways in which it evolved during the Republican and Augustan periods in response to changing circumstances in Roman society, a society almost constantly preoccupied with, and engaged in, war. One purpose was to look at the triumph in its relation to Roman warfare, bringing together various approaches and specialisms. Notwithstanding the current tendency to see Sparta, Rome and Athens as typical rather than exceptional, even when it comes to military matters (Eckstein on Rome, 2006; Hodkinson on Sparta, 2009; and Pritchard on Athens, 2010), the public triumph remains a specific Roman war ritual (contra Spalinger & Armstrong 2013, who propose that the triumph was not something typical Roman – although this comparative view is not without interest, they confuse triumph, meaning victory and/or victory celebration with the specific and multifaceted Roman ritual of the triumphus publicus). This should however be defined broadly and the political process was certainly always intended to be part of the project.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationRom
Number of pages261
ISBN (Print)978-88-7140-576-6
Publication statusPublished - 2014
SeriesAnalecta Romana Instituti, Suppl.

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