Roman triumph  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Roman triumph (Template:Lang) was a civil ceremony and religious rite of ancient Rome. Its origins and development remain obscure: ancient Roman historians placed the first triumph in the mythical past. The triumph publicly celebrated and sanctified the military achievements of an army commander who had won great military successes, or originally and traditionally, one who had successfully completed a foreign war. In the Republican tradition, the triumphing general was ritually elevated to near-divine or near-kingly status for the day of the triumph, and thereafter retained the right to be described as vir triumphalis (roughly, "man honoured with triumph") for the rest of his life. After his death he was represented at the funeral of every descendant by a hired actor wearing his death mask (imago) and clad in the all-purple, gold-embroidered triumphal toga picta ("painted" toga). In the social and political instability of the Late republic, the triumph became a powerful tool of propaganda for military-political opportunists. From the Principate onwards, it reflected the ritual, military and political pre-eminence of the Imperial family. Most Roman accounts of triumphs were written to provide a moral lesson, rather than to provide an accurate description of processional rites. This allows for only tentative, and possibly misleading reconstruction and interpretation which combine accounts from various periods. Nevertheless, the triumph is considered a characteristically Roman ceremony which represented Roman wealth, power and grandeur, and has been consciously imitated by medieval and later states.

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