Spolia opima  

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

Spolia opima (or "rich spoils/trophies") refers to the armor, arms, and other effects that an ancient Roman general had stripped from the body of an opposing commander slain in single, hand-to-hand combat. Though the Romans recognized and put on display other sorts of trophies--such as standards and the beaks of enemy ships--spolia opima were considered the most honorable to have won and brought great fame to their captor.

Over the course of their entire history, the Romans recognized only three instances of spolia opima having been taken. The first was in 752 BC by Romulus from Acro, king of the Caeninenses after the Rape of the Sabine Women; the second by Aulus Cornelius Cossus from Lar Tolumnius, king of the Veientes; the third by Marcus Claudius Marcellus from Viridomarus, king of the Gaesatae (a Celtic warband). As the first two figures are legendary, or semi-legendary, it may be said that Marcus Claudius Marcellus is the only Roman figure ever to have accomplished this feat.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Spolia opima" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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