Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Canto 29: Advent of Pageant

Detail from the Arch of Titus showing his triumph after the Sack of Jerusalem in 78.

The Order of the Triumphal Progression

  1. The Senate, headed by the magistrates without their lictors.
  2. Trumpeters
  3. Carts with the spoils of war to demonstrate the concrete benefits of the victory
  4. White bulls for sacrifice
  5. The arms and insignia of the leaders of the conquered enemy
  6. The enemy leaders themselves, with their relatives and other captives
  7. The lictors of the imperator, their fasces wreathed with laurel
  8. The imperator himself, in a chariot drawn by two (later four) horses
  9. The adult sons and officers of the imperator
  10. The army without weapons or armour (since the procession would take them inside the pomerium), but clad to togas and wearing a wreath. During the later periods, only a selected company of soldiers would follow the commander in the triumph.

The imperator himself is painted red and wears a corona triumphalis, a tunica palmata and a toga picta. He is accompanied in the chariot by a slave holding a golden wreath above his head. The slave also constantly reminds the commander of his mortality by whispering into his ear. The exact words are not known for certainty, but the suggestions include "Respica te, hominem te memento" ("Look behind you, you are only a man") and "Memento mori" ("Remember (that you are) mortal").

Often the exact order of triumphal progression was augmented by the triumphator by adding exotic animals, musicians and slaves carrying pictures of conquered cities and signs with names of conquered peoples.

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