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Short description of the Triumph

volume triplici invectus triumpho – the Roman triumph in Augustan time

The Roman triumph is a key place for Roman self-interpretation, the staging of individual and collective power, and the formation of the collective memory of the Roman society. More recently, research has focused on the conditions of the Republic and triumph as a medium of noble self-presentation and competition.


However, the planned volume is searching for a double shift in emphasis. This results on the one hand from the fact that the chronological focus is placed on the Augustan epoch which represents a fundamental change in the field of staging and instrumentalisation of triumph, resulting in a multifaceted change of perspective. On the other hand, the representation and commemoration of the triumph as well as a possible counteracting and transformation of this motive in different media should be taken into consideration. 


The following three sections result from this approach, in which the phenomenon of the triumph in Augustan times will be examined in more detail.

  • Triumph as a political ritual

In the Augustan period, on the one hand, the number of triumphs is drastically reduced; on the other hand, the triumph is increasingly monopolised by the princeps. Complementarily, other rituals gain importance in this horizon (supplicatio, etc.). As a complementary phenomenon of transformation, we must also consider the perpetuation of triumphant elements. This applies not only to the triumphant self-staging of the princeps in various media (titulatory, coins, statues) but also on the level of the conceptual design of the claim to power of the princeps and the Roman people. Here, a comparable change of perspective can be observed from the emphasis on the individual victory to the habitual victoriousness.


  • Triumph in visual arts

These developments correspond to the prominent significance of the triumph in contemporary visual art, in which a discourse on this subject can be observed in a multitude of media. Here, on the one hand, we should think of triumphal monuments such as arches, foundations, and historical reliefs and, on the other hand, of the role of triumph as a motif in works of art that were not created primarily as pictorial memoria of triumph and victory, or in works of art in which triumph is a motif, but not the main theme.


  • Triumph in texts

Analogously, contemporary literature intensively addresses different facets of triumph. This applies both to texts that stand in a situational context with real or imagined triumphs, as well as to those in which victoriousness is addressed in a more general form. In both cases, however, diverse stagings and functionalisations of triumphant imagery and triumphant perceptual habits can be observed, which also can be closely linked with other literary traditions (for example, Pindar’s victory odes, aretalogy, aitiology)