Topography of Triumph

circus maximus

The Italian Football Squad’s triumphant return to Rome as World Cup
winners recalled the entries of previous victors into the city:

It is indeed as if the war were still being fought, now for the benefit of
the throngs crowding the streets, porticoes, theaters, circuses, and
probably the surrounding hills of Rome itself. In fact, if the triumph at
its most general level was, like the temple of Janus, a symbolic passage
between war and peace, then that passage has been extended by the procession
to include the entire city in the liminal stage of transition, in which the
triumphator is still, in effect, a symbolic warrior. The conquest-capture
thematics of the entry are thus reinforced by the construction of the
processional performance as a ritual re-enactment and prolongation of
‘battle’. This battle will finally conclude only with the symbolic – and
perhaps cathartic –
coup de grace of the execution of the enemy general on
the Capitoline, after which the triumphator would dedicate his spoils, lay
down his still active imperium militiae, and complete his incorporation into
the civil (peacetime) society of Rome.

(Allan Plattus ‘Passages into the City: The Interpretive Function of the
Roman Triumph’ The Princeton Journal: Thematic Studies in Architecture Vol 1
Ritual 1983)

Continuity in Architecture Rome correspondent Robert Coates – Stephens
reports that on Monday he

was there for the Azzurris’ triumphal arrival in the Circus Maximus last
night: they descended the rostra to the deafening strains of the “Ben Hur”
soundtrack! Closest thing you’ll ever see to an ancient Roman triumphal
procession-cum-gladiatorial extravaganza! Of course, it’ll never happen in England in our life times!

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