Augustus, tiberius, and the end of the roman triumph

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Abstract

The triumph was the most prestigious accolade a politician and general could receive in republican Rome. After a brief review of the role played by the triumph in republican political culture, this article analyzes the severe limits Augustus placed on triumphal parades after 19 BC, which then became very rare celebrations. It is argued that Augustus aimed at and almost succeeded in eliminating traditional triumphal celebrations completely during his lifetime, by using a combination of refusing them for himself and his relatives and of rewarding his legates who fought under his auspices with ornamenta triumphalia and an honorific statue in the Forum of Augustus. Subsequently, the elimination of the triumph would have been one natural result of the limit placed on further imperial expansion recommended by Augustus in his will, a policy his successors chose not to follow. Tiberius, however, was unwilling to conform to this new order and retired from public life to Rhodes the year after celebrating a triumph in 7 BC, the first such celebration since 19 BC. Tiberius' two triumphs and the senate's repeated offers of further triumphs to Augustus himself represented a different vision of the role triumphal celebration should take in a restored res publica and an ongoing challenge to the princeps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalClassical Antiquity
Volume39
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Classics

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