1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Triumph

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TRIUMPH (triumphus), amongst the ancient Romans, the highest honour bestowed upon a victorious general. Originally it was only granted on certain conditions, which were subsequently relaxed in special cases. Only those who had held the office of dictator, consul or praetor were entitled to the distinction; the war must have been brought to a definite conclusion, resulting in an extension of the boundaries of the state; at least 5000 of the enemy must have been slain; the victory must have been gained over a foreign enemy, victories in civil war or over rebels not being counted. The power of granting a triumph rested with the senate, which held a meeting outside the city walls (generally in the temple of Bellona) to consider the claims put forward by the general. If they were considered satisfactory special legislation was necessary to keep the general in possession of the imperium on his entry into the city. Without this, his command would have expired and he would have become a private individual the moment he was inside the city walls, and would have had no right to a triumph. Consequently he remained outside the pomoerium until the special ordinance was passed; thus Lucullus on his return from Asia waited outside Rome three years for his triumph.

The triumph consisted of a solemn procession, which, starting from the Campus Martius outside the city walls, passed through the city to the Capitol. The streets were adorned with garlands, the temples open, and the procession was greeted with shouts of Io triumphe! At its head were the magistrates and senate, who were followed by trumpeters and then by the spoils, which included not only arms, standards, statues, &c., but also representations of battles, and of the towns, rivers and mountains of the conquered country, models of fortresses, &c. Next came the victims destined for sacrifice, especially white oxen with gilded horns. They were followed by the prisoners who had not been sold as slaves but kept to grace the triumph; when the procession reached the Capitol they were taken off to prison and put to death. The chariot which carried the victorious general (triumphator) was crowned with laurel and drawn by four horses. The general was attired like the Capitoline Jupiter in robes of purple and gold borrowed from the treasury of the god; in his right hand he held a laurel branch, in his left an ivory sceptre surmounted by an eagle. Above his head the golden crown of Jupiter was held by a slave who reminded him in the midst of his glory that he was a mortal man. Last came the soldiers shouting Io triumphe and singing songs both of a laudatory and scurrilous kind. On reaching the temple of Jupiter on the Capitol, the general placed the laurel branch (in later times a palm branch) on the lap of the image of the god, and then offered the thank-offerings. A feast of the magistrates and senate, and sometimes of the soldiers and people, concluded the ceremony, which in earlier times lasted one day, but in later times occupied several. Generals who were not allowed a regular triumph by the senate had a right to triumph at the temple of Jupiter Latiaris on the Alban Mount. Under the empire only the emperors celebrated a triumph, because the generals commanded under the auspices of the emperors (not under their own) merely as lieutenants (legati); the only honour they received was the right of wearing the triumphal insignia (the robes of purple and gold and the wreath of bay leaves) on holidays. After the time of Trajan, when all consuls were allowed to wear the triumphal dress on entering office and in festal processions, the only military reward for a successful general was a statue in some public place. The last triumph recorded is that of Diocletian (A.D. 302). A naval or maritime triumph was sometimes allowed for victories at sea, the earliest being that celebrated by C. Duilius in honour of his victory over the Carthaginians in 260 B.C.

See Mommsen, Römisches Staatsrecht (1887), i. 126–136; Marquardt, Römische Staatsverwaltung (1884), ii. 582–593; H. A. Göll, De triumphi romani origine, permissu, apparatu, via (1854); S. Peine, “De ornament is triumphalibus” (1885), in C. E. Ascherdon's Berliner Studien, ii.