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The Roman Triumph (2007)
by Mary Beard
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The very concept of a Roman triumph is evocative; Hollywood (or HBO) have tackled it with abandon and deep pockets, militaristic rulers have aped it with gusto.
The challenge in pinpointing its form is that the sources are varied (from literature to art) and in disagreement over what happened, how and why.
Beard's approach is both readable and transparent in examining the undertow of academic debate. This may leave some readers unsatistied as there are no straightforward answers delivered, but I found it refreshing to see the complexities of the evidence meshed with a reasonable discussion of what may have occured.
There is an interesting current running through the work where Beard suggests that the triumph may not have been the glorious military display we assume it is, but instead sought to remind society that glory was fleeting and conquering achievements not all that. I'm not entirely convinced by the arguments, but it does raise some very interesting points.
Unlike most academic texts, Beard goes from the specific (Pompey's triumph following his victories in the east) to the general (origins in and impact on society).
She then examines the nitty-gritty (the route of the triumph, the changing format, the artistic, architectural and numismatic evidence) before rounding on the academic debate.
This represents an accesible, even-handed and pretty comprehensive examination of this fascinating cultural, political and religious ritual.
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English (3)
It followed every major military victory in ancinet Rome, the successful general drove through the streets to the temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill. A reexamination of this most extraordinary of ancient ceremonies, this book explores the magnificence of the Roman triumph but also its darker side.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)394.50937 — Social sciences Customs, Etiquette, Folklore General Customs Pageants, processions, parades
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