Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 January 2021
A counterpoint to Rome’s most powerful (and most proudly Roman) vehicle, essedum, is the subject this chapter. A brief introduction discusses another non-Roman battle car, the scythe-chariot, and the ways in which its portrayals can externalize onto Eastern enemies Roman currus’ dangers and violence. Essedum represents an alternate strategy of domestication. This war-chariot of the Britons, first encountered and described by Caesar during his British expedition, was subsequently appropriated as an exotic and fashionable means of getting around Rome and its environs. As the vehicle’s original associations fade through time, the conveyance becomes increasingly normalized for quick trips and even seems to have become a kind of light stagecoach for long-distance journeys. Still, as the chapter argues, essedum’s lingering identity as mobile spoils of war available for leisure use by elites allowed the vehicle to function as a safe, subordinate alternative to the pinnacle achievement represented by the triumph.