World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Spolia opima

Article Id: WHEBN0000186215
Reproduction Date:

Title: Spolia opima  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Roman triumph, Marcus Claudius Marcellus, List of duels, Capitoline Triad, Religion in ancient Rome
Collection: Military Awards and Decorations of Ancient Rome, Processions in Ancient Rome, Victory
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Spolia opima

The spolia opima ("rich spoils") were the armor, arms, and other effects that an ancient Roman general stripped from the body of an opposing commander slain in single combat. The spolia opima were regarded as the most honorable of the several kinds of war trophies a commander could obtain, including enemy military standards and the peaks of warships.

For the majority of the city's existence, the Romans recognized only three instances when spolia opima were taken. The precedent was set in Rome's legendary history when in 752 BC Romulus defeated and stripped Acro, king of the Caeninenses, following the Rape of the Sabine Women.[1] In the second instance, Aulus Cornelius Cossus obtained the spolia opima from Lar Tolumnius, king of the Veientes, during Rome's semi-legendary Regal period. The third and most historically grounded occurred before the Second Punic War when Marcus Claudius Marcellus (consul 222 BC) stripped the Celtic warrior Viridomarus, a king of the Gaesatae.[2] This incredible feat wasn't seen again until Augustus' adopted son Nero Claudius Drusus engaged multiple Germanic (at least three) chieftains during his conquest of Germany and defeated them in "dazzling displays of single combat" (12 BCE-9 BCE). This was especially significant due to the value single combat held to not only the culture of these Germanic tribes, but to their very psyche itself.[3]

The ceremony of the spolia opima was a ritual of state religion that was supposed to emulate the archaic ceremonies carried out by the founder Romulus. The victor affixed the stripped armor to the trunk of an oak tree, carried it himself in a procession to the Capitoline, and dedicated it at the Temple of Jupiter Feretrius.[4]

Imperial politics

During the earliest years in the rise of Augustus (still known as Octavian at the time), Marcus Licinius Crassus (consul 30 BC) defeated an enemy leader in single combat in Macedonia and was eligible to claim the honour of spolia opima.[5] This Marcus Crassus was the grandson of the triumvir Marcus Crassus, who had died in the disastrous Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC. His illustrious political lineage made him a potential rival to Octavian, who blocked the honors. Crassus may also have been the last Roman outside the imperial family to be awarded the honor of a triumph.[6]

See also

References

  1. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:10
  2. ^ J.W. Rich, "Drusus and the Spolia Opima," Classical Quarterly 49.2 (1999), p. 545.
  3. ^ Lindsay Powell , "Eager for Glory," biography p. 94-95.
  4. ^ Rich, "Drusus and the Spolia Opima," p. 545.
  5. ^ Ronald Syme, The Roman Revolution, p. 308
  6. ^ Ronald Syme, The Augustan Aristocracy ( (Oxford University Press, 1989), pp. 273–274. The sources are not entirely clear as to whether Crassus was actually allowed to celebrate his triumph, virtually the only honor his grandfather never gained.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.