The last deserved triumph

Five decades after Diocletian, the emperor Constantius came to Rome with the intention of celebrating his triumph. But he was undeserving …

neither by his own exertions, nor by those of his generals did he ever conquer any nation that made war upon him; nor did he make any additions to the empire; nor at critical moments was he ever seen to be the foremost or even among the foremost

Like so many emperors, the blood that he had spilt was that of Roman foes. Not so Diocletian. Though he killed Romans in his twenty years of rule, he also saw off many German tribes and conquered the Persians. He had a right to hold …

a magnificent triumph which they (Diocletian and his fellow Augustus) celebrated at Rome over several nations, with a noble succession of pictures (representations of cities, rivers, and other objects in the conquered countries), and in which the wives, sisters, and children of Narseus were led before their chariots.

Had much to show …

all the booty, which they had looted from the Parthians.

Horses and Elephants …

They brought 13 elephants, 6 drivers and 250 horsemen into the city.

Maybe he rode past much of his own work …

While they were ruling many public works were (re)built: the senate, the forum of Caesar, the basilica Julia, the stage of the theatre of Pompey, 2 porticos, 3 nymphaea, 2 temples, the temple of Isis and Serapis, the new arch, and the baths of Diocletian.

as he led the conquered Kings up to Jupiter’s Capitol temple …

They placed the king of the Persians with all nations and their tunics of pearl in number 32 around the temples of the Lord.

That’s all we know about this triumph, probably the last deserved that Rome saw.

Constantius’ triumph was all armor and gold and ended with no honoring of Jupiter …

with a show of armed men, he himself came on, preceded by standards on both sides, sitting alone in a golden chariot, shining with all kinds of brilliant precious stones, which seemed to spread a flickering light all around.

Numbers also of the chief officers who went before him were surrounded by dragons embroidered on various kinds of tissue, fastened to the golden or jewelled points of spears, the mouths of the dragons being open so as to catch the wind, which made them hiss as though they were inflamed with anger; while the coils of their tails were also contrived to be agitated by the breeze.

After these marched a double row of heavy-armed soldiers, with shields and crested helmets, glittering with brilliant light, and clad in radiant breast-plates; and among these were scattered cavalry with cuirasses, whom the Persians call Clibanarii, protected by coverings of iron breast-plates, and girdled with belts of iron, so that you would fancy them statues polished by the hand of Praxiteles, rather than men. And the light circular plates of iron which surrounded their bodies, and covered all their limbs, were so well fitted to all their motions, that in whatever direction they had occasion to move, the joints of their iron clothing adapted themselves equally to any position. …

As he went on, having entered Rome, that home of sovereignty and of all virtues, when he arrived at the rostra, he gazed with amazed awe on the Forum, the most renowned monument of ancient power; and, being bewildered with the number of wonders on every side to which he turned his eyes, having addressed the nobles in the senate-house, and harangued the populace from the tribune, he retired, with the good-will of all, into his palace

Diocletian was different. How much did he draw on old practices? Was his chariot round? Pulled by four horses? White horses? Did a small bell hang in front, the executioner’s bell, a reminder by mortality? What did he wear? The clothes of Jupiter? But what were they? A toga no doubt. A purple robe interwoven with gold? Was he in a crown or a laurel wreath? Was his face red, because Jupiter’s was too that day?

Did his men march behind crying io triumpe? Did they insult him too? Was every temple open, full of garlands and incense? After climbing to his temple, how many gilded oxen did he kill for Jupiter before placing his crown on the god’s lap, a sign that he was no king. Or did this king keep his crown?

Within a year, Diocletian would retire. Perhaps he heeded the whispers …

He (The General in triumph) is admonished of his human nature, even when he is riding in triumphal procession in his lofty chariot; for even then a person placed behind him whispers in his ear, Look back: remember that thou art a man.

One Response to “The last deserved triumph”

  1. csgo skins drop Says:

    I treasure the knowledge on your website. Thanks for your time!.

Leave a Reply