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Triumph and civil war in the late Republic

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 September 2013


Many of the wars of the Late Republican period were largely civil conflicts, and there was thus a tension between the traditional expectation that triumphs should be celebrated for victories over foreign enemies and the need of the great commanders to give full expression to their prestige and charisma, and to legitimate their power. Most of the rules and conventions relating to triumphs thus appear to have been articulated as the development of Roman warfare brought new issues to the Senate's attention. This paper will examine these tensions and the ways in which they were resolved. The traditional war-ritual of the triumph and the topic of civil war have both received renewed interest in recent scholarship. However, attempts to define the relationship between them have been hampered by comments in the ancient evidence that suggest the celebration of a triumph for victory in a civil war was contrary to traditional practices. Nevertheless, as this paper will argue, a general could expect to triumph after a civil war victory if it could be represented also as over a foreign enemy (the civil war aspect of the victory did not have to be denied); only after a victory in an exclusively civil war was this understood to be in breach of traditional practices.

Molte delle guerre del periodo tardo-repubblicano furono nella maggior parte dei casi conflitti civili, ed esiste pertanto una tensione tra l'aspettativa tradizionale secondo cui i trionfi avrebbero dovuto essere celebrati solo per le vittorie sui nemici stranieri e il bisogno dei grandi comandanti di fornire piena espressione al loro prestigio e carisma, e di legittimare il loro potere. Molte delle regole e delle convenzioni relative ai trionfi perciò appaiono essere stati articolati come se lo sviluppo della guerra romana portasse nuove questioni all'attenzione del Senato. Con questo articolo si esamineranno tali tensioni e i modi in cui furono risolte. Il tradizionale rituale militare del trionfo e il soggetto della guerra civile hanno entrambi ricevuto rinnovato interesse in recenti studi. Comunque, tentativi di definire la relazione tra loro sono stati ostacolati da commenti nelle fonti antiche secondo cui la celebrazione di un trionfo per la vittoria in una guerra civile era contraria alle pratiche tradizionali. Ciononostante, come si dedurrà in questo articolo, un generale poteva aspettarsi di trionfare dopo una vittoria in una guerra civile se questa poteva essere rappresentata anche come una vittoria su un nemico straniero (l'aspetto di guerra civile della vittoria non doveva essere negato); solo dopo una vittoria in una guerra meramente civile il trionfo sarebbe stato inteso come una rottura con le pratiche tradizionali.

Copyright © British School at Rome 2013 

There has been a recent outpouring of research on the Roman triumph,Footnote 1 and much of this attention has focused on the rules and conventions for qualifying for a triumph. We are best informed about this topic by Livy's evidence for the late third and early second centuries, and as a result much of the discussion has dealt mainly with this period. One aspect that has received mostly cursory and incidental comments is the convention that no triumph could be won for a civil war.Footnote 2 If one was nevertheless awarded, this was allegedly only possible by denying the ‘civil’ element of the war.Footnote 3 A thorough examination of this question is called for, and this paper seeks to meet this need.

The late Republic was a period of transformation in the development of rules and conventions across a full range of political phenomena and rituals, of which the triumph was just one, although an important one. The transformation of the Roman political system in the first century bc led to a corresponding transformation in the function and character of the triumph, with triumphal processions of unprecedented grandeur being celebrated by the great dynasts from Sulla to Octavian. Lesser commanders, whose triumphal ambitions were often obstructed by political opposition in the late Republic, enjoyed ample opportunities to triumph under the patronage of the triumvirs, but under the Principate the triumph rapidly became the exclusive prerogative of the imperial house.Footnote 4 Many of the wars of the period were largely civil conflicts, and there was thus a tension between the traditional expectation that triumphs should be celebrated for victories over foreign enemies and the need of the great commanders to give full expression to their prestige and charisma, and to legitimate their power.Footnote 5 This paper will examine these tensions and the ways in which they were resolved.


A general's quest for a triumph began in the field. The army acclaimed a victorious commander as imperator, and the commander then sent a despatch to the Senate, adorned with laurel, in which he reported the victory and requested a supplicatio, a ceremony in which all the temples were open and the whole people gave thanks and made offerings. The decreeing of a supplicatio typically predicated the subsequent grant of a triumph. When the commander returned to Rome and sought a triumph, a Senate meeting was held to hear his report and decide on his request, and it is in connection with these debates, as reported by Livy for the late third and early second centuries, that we generally hear of the various rules and conventions governing the award of triumphs.Footnote 6

The chief ancient source that outlines the rules and customary practice relating to triumphs is the chapter (2.8) that Valerius Maximus devotes to the topic as part of his treatment of disciplina militaris. The last section of this chapter (2.8.7) asserts that no supplicationes, ovations or triumphs had ever been held for a civil war and runs as follows:

Verum quamvis quis praeclaras res maximeque utiles rei publicae civili bello gessisset, imperator tamen eo nomine appellatus non est, neque ullae supplicationes decretae sunt, neque aut ovans aut curru triumphavit, quia ut necessariae istae, ita lugubres semper existimatae sunt victoriae, utpote non externo sed domestico partae cruore. itaque et Nasica Ti. Gracchi et Gaii Opimius factiones maesti trucidarunt. Q. Catulus, M. Lepido collega suo cum omnibus seditiosis copiis extincto, vultu moderatum prae se ferens gaudium in urbem revertit. C. etiam Antonius, Catilinae victor, abstersos gladios in castra rettulit. L. Cinna et C. Marius hauserant quidem avidi civilem sanguinem, sed non protinus ad templa deorum et aras tetenderunt. iam L. Sulla, qui plurima bella civilia confecit, cuius crudelissimi et insolentissimi successus fuerunt, cum consummata atque constituta potentia sua triumphum duceret, ut Graeciae et Asiae multas urbes, ita civium Romanorum nullum oppidum vexit.

Piget taedetque per vulnera rei publicae ulterius procedere. lauream nec senatus cuiquam dedit nec quisquam sibi dari desideravit civitatis parte lacrimante. ceterum ad quercum pronae manus porriguntur, ubi ob cives servatos corona danda est, qua postes Augustae domus sempiterna gloria triumphant.

(No man, however, though he might have accomplished great things eminently useful to the commonwealth in a civil war, was given the title of imperator on that account, nor were any thanksgivings decreed, nor did such a one triumph either in ovation or with chariot, for such victories have ever been accounted grievous, though necessary, as won by domestic not foreign blood. So Nasica and Opimius were sorrowful when they slaughtered the factions of Ti. Gracchus and Gaius. When Q. Catulus put an end to his colleague M. Lepidus along with all the forces of sedition, he returned to the city with only a moderate display of joy on his face. C. Antonius too, Catiline's conqueror, brought swords wiped clean back to camp. L. Cinna and C. Marius drank greedily of their countrymen's blood, it is true, but they did not go straightway to the temples and altars of the gods. Even L. Sulla, who won more civil wars than any man and whose victories were cruel and insolent beyond others, when he celebrated a triumph after consummating and consolidating his power, bore many cities of Greece and Asia in procession but no town of Roman citizens.

Revulsion and weariness forbid further advance through the hurts of the commonwealth. The senate gave no man a laurel nor did any wish to be given one with part of the community in tears. But hands are readily stretched forth to receive the oak, when a crown is to be granted for countrymen saved. With it the doorposts of the August dwelling triumph in eternal glory) (trans. Shackleton Bailey, Reference Shackleton Bailey2000).

Two recent discussions maintain that Valerius Maximus's whole chapter, and this section in particular, were driven by contemporary political requirements. Johannes Engels (Reference Engels, Zecchini, Gattinoni and Barzanò2001) argued that Valerius Maximus writes here as an imperial propagandist, Fabian Goldbeck and Peter Franz Mittag (Reference Goldbeck, Mittag, Krasser, Pausch and Petrovic2008) that he insinuates criticism of the regime. Neither view convinces. Here, as elsewhere, Valerius Maximus, who composed his work under Tiberius, writes as a loyal supporter of the house of the Caesars, but his primary purpose is to moralize and inform. Goldbeck and Mittag's most persuasive point relates to Valerius Maximus's puzzling insistence at 2.8.3 (based on an otherwise unknown and surely mistaken anecdote) that it was an offence to decline a triumph, which contradicts Augustus's frequent refusals of triumphs (Res Gestae 4.1) (Goldbeck and Mittag, Reference Goldbeck, Mittag, Krasser, Pausch and Petrovic2008: 62–3).Footnote 7 However, he cannot intend to imply criticism of the regime, in view of his loyal statements elsewhere and of the fulsome tribute to Augustus with which he ends the chapter.Footnote 8 In that section Valerius Maximus in fact neatly avoids the question of whether Caesar and Octavian accepted or declined to accept the prohibition on civil war triumphs, by refusing to pursue his survey of the civil wars beyond Catilina. This may well be intentional loyalism, as Engels suggested (Reference Engels, Zecchini, Gattinoni and Barzanò2001: 168). However, there is no reason to think that the topic had been introduced for this reason.

These and other recent discussions of the chapter have disregarded the question of Valerius Maximus's likely sources and method of composition for the chapter.Footnote 9 Recent discussions rightly have rejected older views that Valerius Maximus worked chiefly from an earlier collection of exempla and have shown that he made his own selection and arrangement of material drawn from a limited range of sources, principally Cicero, Livy and (for non-Roman items) Pompeius Trogus (Bloomer, Reference Bloomer1992: 59–146; Wardle, Reference Wardle1998: 15–18). However, it is likely that for some topics he started with a core of items taken from an individual source and then elaborated these with additional material from other sources, and for some chapters he can be shown to have used Cicero in something like this fashion (Bloomer, Reference Bloomer1992: 29–48). For chapter 2.8 on triumphal laws it seems unlikely that he built up the whole selection himself from different sources. More probably, he started with an earlier writer's treatment of the topic, and then added his own elaborations and additional instances, drawing either on other sources or on his own general knowledge. A likely candidate for the primary source for the chapter is Varro, either in his Antiquitates, in the De vita populi Romani or in his logistoricus, De bello et pace.Footnote 10

Valerius Maximus's own additions will account for the erroneous information at various points in the chapter, as with the strange story at 2.8.5 or the false statement that Marcellus was denied a triumph over Syracuse because he had been sent to the command without a magistracy. In 2.8.7 the primary source may have asserted the principle that no celebration was held after civil war and mentioned the case of Sulla, and may well have gone on to note the contrary instance of Caesar; Valerius Maximus may have been responsible himself for at least some of the further illustrations from the Gracchi to Catilina, and will certainly have contributed the avoidance of mentioning later civil wars.Footnote 11

As Mommsen noted (Reference Mommsen1887: 133),Footnote 12 the principle that triumphs and related ceremonies should not be held for civil wars is well attested in other sources besides Valerius Maximus. Cicero, in Philippics, maintained that supplicationes had never been requested or decreed for civil war victories.Footnote 13 Lucan, at the start of his poem, laments that the civil wars that were to be his theme were wars that could win no triumphs (1.12). Various sources, to be discussed further below, note the rule in relation to particular commanders: thus Florus (2.10.1, 9) mentions it in connection with Pompeius's Spanish triumph, Plutarch (Caes. 56.7–9) and Dio Cassius (42.18.1, 43.42.1) mention it in connection with Caesar's triumphs, and Dio Cassius (51.19.5) does so also in respect of Octavian's, while Tacitus (Hist. 4.4.2) reports the grant of ornamenta triumphalia to Vespasian's commanders as in breach of the rule. There was thus an ancient consensus on the matter of the triumph.

In Roman politics it was sometimes alleged of an opponent that he was seeking to triumph over a fellow-citizen, and thus Livy in his account of the year 386 bc reports that, when the dictator Cornelius Cossus, who had been opposing the agitation of Manlius Capitolinus, celebrated a triumph against the Volscians, the discontented claimed that he was really holding it over a citizen, not an enemy.Footnote 14

How did this principle come to be recognized? As Lundgreen has argued recently (Reference Lundgreen2011: 178–253), the question of triumphal rules needs to be considered in the larger contexts of Roman political rules and rule conflicts.Footnote 15 Most of the rules relating to triumphs appear to have been formulated alongside the development of Roman warfare, which brought new issues to the Senate's attention as it came to decide on the award of triumphs. Thus it was only on Marcellus's return from Syracuse in 211 bc that the issue first arose of whether a commander could triumph without bringing back his army (Livy 26.21.2–4), and only when Scipio returned from Spain in 206 that the question came up of whether a triumph could be held following a campaign in which the victorious general had been appointed to the command not as a magistrate, but as a privatus.

Similarly, the principle that triumphs should not be held for civil wars could have been articulated only in the first century, when civil wars actually broke out. However, unlike the other triumphal rules and conventions, the principle is unlikely to have been formulated through senatorial debate, since the issue of civil war triumphs generally had not been brought to the Senate's formal consideration. Thus it was probably through the informal dialogue of contemporaries that the principle came to be given expression, uttering the general inappropriateness of such celebration. It was perhaps particularly in connection with Caesar's triumphs that the issue came to the fore. However, Caesar's actions followed in a tradition that had begun earlier, with Sulla and Pompeius, as we shall now examine.


During the period from 87 to 82, Sulla and his adversaries fought Rome's first civil war. The political turmoil did not cease with Marius's death in 86. The son of Marius was elected consul in 82, even though not eligible, and was defeated near Praeneste. The city later surrendered and Marius's son committed suicide. Stating the obvious will hopefully help to clarify the matter at hand right at the outset: in 81, Sulla celebrated a two-day triumph de rege Mithridate (Degrassi, Reference Degrassi1947: 84–5, 563).Footnote 16 On the second day the procession carried gold and silver that the younger Marius had taken to Praeneste (Plin. HN 33.16):

In eadem post annos CCCVII, quod ex Capitolinae aedis incendio ceterisque omnibus delubris C. Marius filius Praeneste detulerat, XIIII pondo, quae sub eo titulo in triumpho transtulit Sulla et argenti VI.

(From the same city 307 years later the gold that Gaius Marius the younger had conveyed to Praeneste from the conflagration of the temple of the Capitol and from all the other shrines amounted to 14,000 lbs., which with a placard above it to that effect was carried along in his triumphal procession by Sulla, as well as 6,000 lbs. weight of silver) (trans. Rackham, Reference Rackham1952).

According to Plutarch (Sull. 34) Romans returning from exile were part of the triumphal procession. In this way Sulla celebrated post-civil war restorations.Footnote 17 However, this does not mean that this triumph was deemed to be celebrated over his civil war enemies.Footnote 18 Contra to this Sumi has argued:

Sulla was somewhat ambivalent about how he should celebrate his victory in the civil war. One reason for this is that Sulla's triumph was for a double victory, one over a foreign enemy (Mithridates) as well as one over a Roman citizen (Marius). The entry in the Fasti Triumphales appears to record only the victory over Mithridates – Marius is left unmentioned – indicating perhaps that Sulla desired to downplay his victory in Italy over Roman citizens, at least in the official records. (Sumi, Reference Sumi2002: 422).Footnote 19

Our evidence does not mention civil war enemies in connection with the granting of the triumph. The only Romans present in the procession were the returning exiles. Valerius Maximus states (2.8.7) that even though Sulla had won more civil wars than any other Roman, no Roman towns were paraded at his triumph; only towns from Greece and Asia were shown.Footnote 20

Cicero states that Sulla received no supplications (Phil. 14.23). He also points out that two men had celebrated triumphs against Mithridates, who nevertheless was still on the throne.Footnote 21 Pliny mentions the gold and silver carried in the triumphal procession, but does not suggest that the triumph was after a civil war, and neither does Appian (B Civ. 1.101) nor Plutarch (Sull. 34). In this case a foreign war certainly did not have to be invented, and nothing suggests that the Mithridates triumph was part of a cover-up of a civil war triumph. Having said this, the blurring between civil and foreign war is already visible at this early stage of the civil wars: the younger Marius is mentioned on a placard at Sulla's triumphal procession, thus acknowledging his defeat.Footnote 22 This may be a way of integrating civil war into the Republican triumphal procession.

There is, however, another aspect of Sulla's rule of great relevance to the development of the late Republican triumph.Footnote 23 In 88 Sulla had Marius and others declared public enemies (hostes) (Flower, Reference Flower2006: 90–8).Footnote 24 The leading opponents of Sulla could thus be killed with impunity. The heads of those executed were displayed in the Forum Romanum and the bodies thrown into the Tiber.Footnote 25 Marius's body was even exhumed and the remains scattered on the orders of Sulla (Cic. Leg. 2.56), and the trophies commemorating his victories removed.Footnote 26 Sulla's triumph was for a real foreign war, unrelated to the civil war. However, he did use it to celebrate recovery/restoration arising out of the civil war — the returned exiles and recovered moneys.


The next stage came with Pompeius, as both his African and Spanish triumphs were for conflicts that were in reality civil wars. By decree of the Senate Pompeius was ordered to proceed to Africa in order to end Marian resistance.Footnote 27 Pompeius's African triumph, for which the date is uncertain, followed the suppression of the Marian opposition led by Domitius Ahenobarbus.Footnote 28 Domitius had been joined by Hiarbas, king of Numidia, so this enabled the conflict to be presented as a foreign war, and we do not hear of the foreign/civil issue being raised. Pompeius insisted on triumphing against Sulla's opposition, but Sulla is said to have based his objection on Pompeius's commanding as a privatus (and not even a senator).Footnote 29

In 77 Pompeius went to Spain to fight the enemies of Sulla. He returned in 71 to celebrate his Spanish triumph together with Metellus Pius. These were for wars in which the enemy commanders had been Roman (Sertorius, Perperna).Footnote 30 This point is raised by Florus (2.10.1): ‘Bellum Sertorianum quid amplius quam Sullanae proscriptionis hereditas fuit? Hostile potius an civile dixerim nescio, quippe quod Lusitani Celtiberique Romano gesserint duce’ (‘What was the war with Sertorius except an inheritance from the Sullan proscription? I know not whether to call it a war against enemies or a civil war, for it was waged by the Lusitani and Celtiberi under a Roman leader’) (trans. Forster, Reference Forster1984). However, it could be justified on the grounds that their soldiers were largely Spanish non-Romans. This point is certainly made by Florus (2.10.9): ‘Victores duces externum id magis quam civile bellum videri voluerunt, ut triumpharent’ (‘The victorious generals desired that the struggle should be considered a foreign rather than a civil war in order that they might celebrate a triumph’). It is not clear, however, whether there was any concern at the time — Pompeius's huge popularity at this point may in any case have overridden this. Pompeius's Spanish triumph thus provided a partial precedent for Caesar's Spanish triumph. Sadly, the notice of the triumphs of Pompeius and Metellus is lost in the Fasti Triumphales, but they were most likely specified just as ex Hispania. Similarly, Pompeius's African triumph provided a precedent for Caesar's African triumph, over Juba.


The year 49 once again saw civil unrest turn into civil war proper with Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon. The Senate had ordered him to dismiss his army and return to Rome, thus effectively relieving him of his command.Footnote 31 While initiating civil war was reprehensible, fighting one was not necessarily so, certainly not in Caesar's own view. Caesar's justification — as it would be for Augustus after him — was the rei publicae causa (‘for the sake of the commonwealth’): by defending the res publica the Romans might again be freed from fear (metus), the result of civil strife.Footnote 32

Civil war was disgraceful, but the principal theme running through the Bellum Civile is that Caesar's cause was that of peace (1.5.5), versus Pompeius, who wanted war (1.4.5) (Gelzer, Reference Gelzer and Rasmussen1967: 443; Collins, Reference Collins1972: 957; Henderson, Reference Henderson1998: 37–69). The enemies of Caesar had initiated the turmoil and thus were to blame (1.32.3). However, Caesar had scrupulously avoided even sending a despatch after his victory at Pharsalus (exclusively a civil war) in 48.Footnote 33 However, he had sent despatches and so received supplicationes for the foreign wars in Egypt and Pontus. Instead of obscuring the obvious truth that many conflicts during the late Republic were civil wars, the victors utilized that fact against their rivals: their opponents started the civil conflicts that they then quelled. This process of political justification is aptly described by Kurt Raaflaub: ‘We need to keep in mind what seems obvious but is easily overlooked: to begin a civil war was no minor matter’ (Reference Raaflaub, Breed, Damon and Rossi2010: 162).

Caesar returned to Rome in 46 to celebrate four triumphs, for his victories against Gaul, Egypt, Pontus and Africa. Suetonius associates these triumphs with civil war, as he lists Caesar's Roman enemies (Suet. Iul. 37): ‘Confectis bellis quinquiens triumphavit, post devictum Scipionem quater eodem mense, sed interiectis diebus, et rursus semel post superatos Pompei liberos’ (‘Having ended the wars, he celebrated five triumphs, four in a single month, but at intervals of a few days, after vanquishing Scipio; and another on defeating Pompeius’ sons') (trans. Rolfe, Reference Rolfe1951). Plutarch stresses that the African triumph was apparently over Juba, the African ally of L. Scipio, not Scipio himself (Plut. Caes. 55). In this respect it followed the precedent of Pompeius's African campaign. Sumi has stressed that the triumph of 46 could not avoid allusions to the recent past, to civil war (Reference Sumi2005: 57–60, esp. p. 59). Appian, however, shows that he did not try to avoid this allusion in any way. Caesar's fourth triumph in 46 was over King Juba, but this was just a pretext for celebrating his civil war victory.Footnote 34

A Senate decree of 48 had authorized Caesar to fight the Pompeians in Africa and to be arbiter of war and peace.Footnote 35 The justification seems to have been that, since they were enemies not citizens, collaborating as it were with foreign powers, Caesar was within his rights to fight them. According to Martin Jehne, this assignment only ended with its accomplishment (Reference Jehne1987: 43–56, esp. p. 52). The Senate even voted the triumph to Caesar, over Juba and the Romans fighting with him, before the war had begun and then, after the victory, 40 days' supplicationes and the right to triumph with white horses.Footnote 36 The vote before the war may have been in compensation for their inability to celebrate Pharsalus. However, the precedent of triumphs voted in absence to honour dynasts was to be followed.

Thus the African triumph itself was respectable and followed Pompeius's precedent. However, Caesar included depictions of the deaths of Scipio, Petreius and Cato, although without inscribing their names, according to Appian (B Civ. 2.101). Even though he did not parade an image of Pompeius in his triumph, it needs to be stressed just how outrageous this must have been – seemingly gratuitously provocative. However, Caesar still had established a model with his Juba triumph: he held ovations/triumphs only for civil wars which could be represented as external.Footnote 37 Importantly, he was certainly not concealing the civil element of the conflict (contra Gurval, Reference Gurval1995: 23).

Caesar's final triumph, following his defeat of Pompeius's sons at Munda in 45, was only over civil opponents.Footnote 38 This is seemingly a new departure, unequivocally triumphing after a civil war victory, and it is said to have provoked disapproval.Footnote 39 At the same time, there was a further flouting of the rules in the grant of triumphs ex Hispania to his legates, Fabius and Pedius, who had no independent imperium.Footnote 40 This was probably anomalous, but was later regularized in the Fasti Triumphales, where Pedius is called ‘proconsul’ (by the time of the triumph Fabius was consul), so as to suggest that they had had an independent imperium.

The assignment to pacify the empire was finally accomplished with the concluding of the civil war, and after Munda Caesar may have relinquished the powers invested in him by the Senate in 48, although we cannot know for certain (Dio Cass. 42.20.1) (Jehne, Reference Jehne1987: 55).Footnote 41 Caesar's Spanish triumph in 45 thus unequivocally broke the taboo on civil war triumphs. The question remains how different was it from the Spanish triumphs of Pompeius and Metellus Pius? These were also over Roman commanders, and both these and Caesar's triumphs were no doubt recorded as simply ex Hispania (although we lack Fasti notices). The difference was the predominantly non-Roman forces fighting on the Sertorian side. But the anti-Caesarian forces at Munda must have been to a considerable extent raised in Spain.Footnote 42 The resentment evoked by the Munda triumph may reflect not so much its novelty as the continuing strength of Pompeian sympathies in Rome.Footnote 43


In the Res Gestae Divi Augusti (1.1) Augustus claims that Antonius had oppressed the res publica through the tyranny of a faction. Liberating the state from the faction transformed the contentious act of raising an army into something legitimate (Lange, Reference Lange2009: 14–18). The ‘betrayal’ of libertas is used as a denouncement of the defeated faction: Pompeius and Caesar had done the same,Footnote 44 as had Sulla before them (App. B Civ. 1.57). The main justification in 44–43 was that Antonius started the war against Decimus Brutus at Mutina.Footnote 45 This is mentioned only indirectly in Res Gestae 1.1, but it is most probably the idea behind mentioning the tyranny of a faction.

That this was the basis is made clear by Cicero's use of a comparable argument shortly before, in Philippics 14, to defend the legitimacy of the imperatorial acclamations of Hirtius, Pansa and Octavian. This speech was delivered on 21 April 43, after the news of the battle of Forum Gallorum on 15 April, in support of a proposal to recognize the three commanders' acclamations and to decree supplicationes, and raising the latter to 50 days. Cicero, who since January had been trying to get Antonius declared a hostis,Footnote 46 argues that decreeing supplicationes would imply that Antonius was a hostis and so make the acclamations as imperator legitimate. In sections 22–4, he maintains that supplicationes and imperatorial acclamations had not occurred in earlier civil wars (24):Footnote 47

Quam ob rem aut supplicatio re publica pulcherrime gesta postulantibus nostris imperatoribus deneganda est, quod praeter A. Gabinium contigit nemini, aut supplicatione decernenda hostes eos de quibus decernitis indicetis necesse est.

Quod ergo ille re, id ego etiam verbo, cum imperatores eos appello: hoc ipso nomine et eos qui iam devicti sunt et eos qui supersunt hostis iudico [cum victores appello imperatores].

(Therefore, either you must refuse a public thanksgiving to our commanders for their splendid successes on behalf of the Republic when they are asking for it, something that has never happened to anybody except Aulus Gainius, or by decreeing a public thanksgiving you necessarily declare enemies those to whom your decree refers.

Therefore, when I salute our commanders as ‘imperators’, I am expressing in words what Servilius is expressing in fact: by this very title I declare enemies both those already thoroughly vanquished and those who remain).

The argument brought forward by Cicero is of course subtle and intricate. He conveniently omits Caesar's African and Spanish triumphs, and of course his argument that a supplicatio implied a hostis declaration was invalid: supplicationes could be voted for other reasons than victories over external enemies, and his own supplicatio (conspiracy of Catilina) showed that relief from a civil threat was one such reason (a point he does not adequately rebut at 24).Footnote 48

The Mutina victory (21 April) also initially was hailed with enthusiasm at Rome (although eventually fatal, with the consuls' deaths and Antonius's escape). Now Cicero at last got his way and the logic of his recommendation at Philippics 14 followed: Antonius and his followers were declared public enemies, and a triumph was voted to Decimus Brutus. The justification was thus that, since they were enemies not citizens, it was permissible to triumph over them. Cicero was of course happy to support Decimus Brutus's triumph, but in the end Brutus never celebrated it, as he never returned to Rome.Footnote 49 In effect the Senate's decision went beyond the Munda precedent, since the triumph was to be celebrated not ex Hispania, but over Italy itself. And this was perhaps the first time where such a triumph had been justified directly by a hostis declaration. The Senate also carried further Caesarian precedents by voting 50 days' supplicatio, and Cicero proposes that Decimus Brutus be included in the Fasti (Ad Brut. 1.15.8).

To their credit, the triumvirs did not follow these controversial precedents in holding triumphs for wars that were exclusively civil (hostis declarations or not): no triumphs followed Philippi or Perusia. However, Octavian did stage a triumph-like return to the city after Perusia, even wearing triumphal dress and a laurel crown (Dio Cass. 48.16.1).Footnote 50 This willingness to take traditions to their limits and beyond is also obvious in the joint ovation of Antonius and Octavian in 40.


After the Perusine war Antonius arrived at Brudisium in 40 and Rome almost had a new civil war on its hand, this time between the two triumvirs. In the end, however, their soldiers refused to fight. The settlement of Brundisium extended the triumvirs' assignment: the new task given to Octavian was to deal with Sextus Pompeius and thus to conclude the civil war.Footnote 51 The Fasti Triumphales mentions the ovation for Antonius and Octavian after the signing of the treaty (two similar entries):

Imp. Caesar Divi f. C. f. IIIvir r(ei) p(ublicae) c(onstituendae) ov[ans, an. DCCXIII] quod pacem cum M. Antonio fecit, [–––]

(40 bc: While Imp. Caesar Divi f. C. f. IIIvir r p c celebrated an ovation because he made peace with Antonius). (Degrassi, Reference Degrassi1947: 86–7, 568; cf. 342–3 — Fasti Barberiniani).

The entry is in itself surprising, as it does not mention a foreign foe. The context and wording ought to convince most that this is about avoiding civil war. This was peace through diplomatic concord, as opposed to civil war (Osgood, Reference Osgood2006: 191; Beard, Reference Beard2007: 267). This was a novel celebration, although Caesar's ovation in 44 had provided a precedent for an ovation without a preceding war (or indeed an enemy) (Degrassi, Reference Degrassi1947: 86–7, 567). Lepidus earlier had received a supplicatio for negotiations with Sextus Pompeius (Cic. Phil. 3.20–4, 5.38–41; Cic. Fam. 10.34–5). Amidst the proscriptions foreign wars appear to have faded into the background — and the Senate attempted to appease Lepidus by decreeing him honours (Sumi, Reference Sumi2005: 189–91). Lepidus's triumph of 43, however, was mainly for victories in Spain.Footnote 52

The ovations after Brundisium were of a quite different and novel form, namely the ovation as simply a ceremonial entry into Rome, without a preceding war (Lange, forthcoming). But even if the occasions for these ovations were altogether different from those that followed wars, they clearly implied a link between the idea of the triumph and that of civil war.


In 36 Octavian returned to Rome, entering the city in ovatio.Footnote 53 This was an appropriate honour after a slave war (Res Gestae 25.1); the slave wars of 132, 99 and 71 all provided the victor with an ovation.Footnote 54 As already mentioned this was part of the new task given to Octavian; to deal with Sextus Pompeius and thus to end the civil war.

The pretext of a foreign war was particularly strained in the case of the war in Sicily, but Alison Cooley (Reference Cooley2009) is certainly mistaken to argue that it was a civil war and thus did not qualify for a triumph, only an ovation.Footnote 55 It is true that Suetonius perhaps fell into this error, since he supposes that Octavian's first ovation was for Philippi (Aug. 22), but in that of course he was altogether wrong.Footnote 56 And if Valerius Maximus is reliable, this would in any case have been impossible, as a civil war victory could not earn the victor an ovation either (2.8.7).

It should be noted, incidentally, that Aulus Gellius appears to be mistaken in supposing that victory over pirates could win only an ovation (5.6.20–1). M. Antonius in 102 bc appears to have been voted a full triumph, although the only evidence is Plutarch's reference to him as ‘a man who had triumphed’ (Pomp. 24). In addition, the Fasti Triumphales include the pirates among those over whom Pompeius triumphed in 61 (Degrassi, Reference Degrassi1947: 84–5, 566). However, the precedents for the 36 ovation were those given for slave wars. In 36 Octavian genuinely could claim to have suppressed any form of internal war (App. B Civ. 5.130); but the war was still represented as a slave war. The civil war was not denied, but the war was declared or mainly represented as something else — and thus qualified for an ovation. A similar pattern can be seen in the aftermath of the battle of Actium.


The single most important piece of ancient evidence for the ideology of Augustus is the Res Gestae Divi Augusti (Scheid, Reference Scheid2007; Cooley, Reference Cooley2009; Lange, Reference Lange2009: esp. pp. 5–8).Footnote 57 The chapters of the Res Gestae should be read as Augustus's justification for his actions. Augustus mentions civil and foreign wars in chapter 3.1: ‘Bella terra et mari civilia externaque toto in orbe terrarum saepe gessi’ (‘I have often conducted wars by land and sea, civil and foreign, across the whole world’) (trans. Cooley, Reference Cooley2009). The ending of the civil wars is prominently mentioned in Res Gestae 34.1: ‘In consulatu sexto et septimo, postquam bella civilia extinxeram …’ (‘In my sixth and seventh consulship, after I had put an end to the civil wars …’).

The ending of the civil wars, as mentioned in Res Gestae 34.1, must include Actium (Res Gestae 25.2), as part of the triumviral assignment (Lange, Reference Lange2009: 18–26). The adversary in chapter 24.1 is Antonius, and the oath for the war at Actium (Res Gestae 25.2) is again mentioned prominently in Res Gestae 34.1, with clear reference to the oath of 32. Here it is described as consensus, in the same sentence as civil war. Egypt is mentioned in Res Gestae 27.1 as a foreign expansion, and thus the victory over Egypt and Cleopatra cannot constitute the ending of the civil wars as mentioned in Res Gestae 34.1, at least not in the official ideology of the regime. Actium is thus also a civil war in the Res Gestae, but it was as a foreign war against Egypt and Cleopatra that it became eligible for a triumph.Footnote 58

Res Gestae 4.1 records triumphal matters and the triple triumph of 29 is mentioned. Less controversially than the triumph decreed to Caesar in 48, all of Octavian's triumphs and ovations were voted to him by the Senate before he returned, on learning of his successes — so without the indignity of his having to request them in person.Footnote 59 This is clearly the case for the Actian and Alexandrian triumphs (Dio Cass. 51.19.1, 5).Footnote 60 The returns of Caesar and Octavian constitute a change to the known pattern of triumphal return, as they did not have to meet with the Senate outside the pomerium.

As I have suggested elsewhere (Lange, Reference Lange2009: esp. pp. 79–90), Actium was considered as both a foreign and a civil war in the official ideology of the regime. Contrary to this, as mentioned, in traditional interpretations of Augustan ideology the war was represented only as a foreign war against Egypt and Cleopatra, even though in reality it was also a civil war.Footnote 61 Indeed, there can be no doubt that the war, when it finally came, was represented as a foreign war; the spear rite of the fetiales was performed by Octavian in person in 32, as a fetial, at the temple of Bellona on the Campus Martius (Rich, Reference Rich, Richardson and Santangelo2011: 204–9). This way Octavian successfully avoided starting a new civil war. But there were Romans helping Cleopatra, fighting against Rome, and these citizen-traitors automatically became enemies of the state when taking up arms against Rome. At the same time they, by their actions, turned a foreign war into a civil war. Octavian never denied that he fought Antonius (Lange, Reference Lange2009: 60–93). Accordingly, Dio Cassius underscores the official ideology of the Augustan regime when he states that the war was declared against Cleopatra, but was in reality against Antonius (50.4.5).

Dio Cassius also states (50.4.3–4) that not only was the war declared against Cleopatra, but that Antonius was not declared a hostis (see also Plut. Ant. 60.1). He was, however, deprived of all of his powers and of the consulship that he was due to hold in 31.Footnote 62 Antonius was now a privatus, and if he were to take up arms against Octavian and the res publica, he would declare war on the state and thus declare himself a hostis (Lange, Reference Lange2009: 68–9).Footnote 63

Antonius's main folly was in allowing Cleopatra to remain with his forces in Greece, and thus lend some colour to Octavian's claim to be defending the fatherland against a foreign aggressor. With Cleopatra close to Italy it was easy to declare a foreign war, a war that would turn automatically into a civil war when Antonius and Cleopatra's forces fought against Rome. Beard is thus wrong to claim that Actium was ‘a victory in a civil war, without even a euphemistic foreign label’ (Beard, Reference Beard2007: 303).Footnote 64 As far as we know, Octavian also abstained from directly commemorating the defeat of his citizen opponents in the ceremonies of 36 and 29: we do not hear of any representation of Antonius in the 29 procession, in contrast with Caesar's African triumph.


The honours presented to Octavian after Actium set a precedent for later emperors, with Augustus as the model predecessor.Footnote 65 The arch of Actium in the Forum Romanum was built on that particular location because of the triumph, as part of the triumphal route.Footnote 66 The Fasti Triumphales was most likely erected on the Arch of Augustus in or soon after 19 bc (the last entry), whereas the arch was presented to Octavian as an honour after the victory at Actium (Dio Cass. 51.19.1), as part of the batch of honours, including the triumph. A similar case is found earlier, after the victory at Naulochus in 36, but the arch was never built (Lange, Reference Lange2009: 34). This practice must have begun with Augustus, as we may note how little arches had been associated with triumphs before his time. The term arcus triumphalis may date from the third century ad (Beard, Reference Beard2007: 45–6), but the inscribed Fasti show a clear connection to the triumph. The arch commemorated the victor in a war that was both a foreign and a civil war.

The three triumphal arches still standing in the centre of Rome in fact all commemorate the victors of extended civil wars — Titus, Septimius Severus and Constantine. This is perhaps not purely a coincidence: like other less conspicuous or permanent honours voted by the Senate, the arches helped to legitimize new rulers and their new dynasties by proclaiming their honorands' virtues, commemorating their achievements, and — most simply — presenting a visual reminder of their existence. The triumph thus became part of the rhetoric of political legitimation for the victor: the triumph (and associated monuments) was there to shape perceptions of the war they celebrated, not just to reflect them. The recalibration of victories in civil wars as victories over foreign enemies was also part of this political legitimation; but importantly, the civil war aspect of these victories was hardly ever denied.

The triumphs of Vespasian and Titus were celebrated de Iudaeis, but an intriguing notice in Tacitus (Hist. 4.4.2) tells us about triumphal ornaments for Mucianus and others, disguised by reference to a Sarmatian campaign: ‘Multo cum honore verborum Muciano triumphalia de bello civium data, sed in Sarmatas expeditio fingebatur’ (‘In magnificent terms the senators gave Mucianus the insignia of a triumph, in reality for civil war, although his expedition against the Sarmatae was made the pretext’) (trans. Moore and Jackson, Reference Moore and Jackson1931). Vespasian and Titus were in the clear in celebrating their Jewish triumphFootnote 67 — as Sulla had been for Mithridates, but the Tacitus notice does suggest that, reverting to earlier precedents, they could not wholly resist triumphal celebration over the civil war. Indeed, the whole language of restoration suggests that there can be little doubt that the enemy was also internal (there was no real foreign enemy, only the suppression of an internal revolt). Similarly, peace often sounds so much better than just victory after civil war.Footnote 68 It thus seems reasonable to conclude that Vespasian's Temple of Peace celebrated both a foreign and a civil war victory. At the same time Vespasian's coinage proclaimed ‘libertas restituta’ (‘freedom restored’), and he was hailed as ‘adsertor libertatis publicae’ (‘protector of the free state’). The famous phrase ‘res publica restituta’ (‘the commonwealth restored’) is attested during the reign of Septimius Severus,Footnote 69 on his arch erected ad 203, and positioned in front of the Temple of Concord.Footnote 70 Later, the arch of Constantine commemorated his victory over Maxentius. On the attic inscription Constantine, the usurping conqueror of ad 312, is described as having saved the state from the tyranny of a faction, thus clearly echoing the words used by Augustus in the Res Gestae (1.1). He is also hailed as ‘fundatori quietis’ (‘to the founder of (internal) peace’) and ‘liberatori Urbis’ (‘to the liberator of the City’).Footnote 71

This development however, commemorating victories in what were partly civil wars, did not begin with Augustus, and there is every reason to suggest that civil war became an integrated part of the Republican triumphal tradition due to the changing circumstances of the late Republic. This, however, created and still creates problems of conceptualizing the victories, as there was often a marked blurring of the boundaries between civil and foreign war. However, the ‘sense of an ending’ implicit in the ritual of the triumph was no doubt helpful after a civil war conflict, in terms of political justification.Footnote 72 Both Caesar and Augustus stressed peace after their civil wars, but a peace that was of course the product of victory and triumph (Res Gestae 13).

The principle that triumphs should not be granted for civil wars could have been voiced only in the first century when civil wars broke out. Sulla, although he fought civil wars, only ever celebrated a triumph over an exclusively foreign enemy. A decisive change arrives with Pompeius, even if we do not hear of the foreign/civil issue being raised. However, his triumph most likely was justified on the grounds that the enemy soldiers were largely non-Romans. With Caesar, the blurring between civil and foreign war became even more problematic, although his African triumph followed Pompeius's precedent. Caesar's actions thus also followed in a tradition that had begun earlier, with Sulla and Pompeius. However, Caesar did, provocatively, include representations of the deaths of Scipio in his triumphal procession, and certainly Munda was exclusively a civil war. Declaring Romans hostes, however, created a new dimension to triumph and civil war: it was permissible, as a means of justification, to triumph over them as enemies of Rome. Later the Senate went further than Munda after the siege of Mutina, proposing a triumph not ex Hispania, but over Italy itself.

The triumvirs then pulled back from this to follow the earlier route of dressing up their civil wars as external. Octavian also conformed to the model established by Caesar's Juba triumph: he held ovations/triumphs only for civil wars that could be represented as external. The Sicilian war was represented as a slave war, and accordingly celebrated with an ovation. The Actian and Alexandrian wars were waged ostensibly against the ruler of Egypt, and accordingly merited triumphs. Roman citizens of course fought in these wars on the opposing side, and thus the wars were civil as well as external, something Octavian made no attempt to conceal. There was therefore often a marked difference between the awarding of a triumph for victory over a foreign enemy, and the ways in which a general could actually celebrate that triumph. It was quite possible to include conspicuous civil war connotations. Civil war, one way or another, could be a part of the triumphal celebrations. The developments of the late Republic do not show that there were no triumphal rules and conventions, as suggested by Beard (Reference Beard2007). Importantly, apart from a few exceptions — perhaps mainly justified by declaring Romans public enemies — a general could not expect to triumph after a victory in an exclusively civil war, only for a civil war that could also be represented as a foreign war; it was by nature of their external character that they qualified for a triumph.Footnote 73


1 See notably: Auliard, Reference Auliard2001; Flaig, Reference Flaig2004: esp. pp. 32–48; Itgenshorst, Reference Itgenshorst2005; Sumi, Reference Sumi2005: esp. pp. 29–35; Bastien, Reference Bastien2007; Beard, Reference Beard2007; Krasser, Pausch and Petrovic, Reference Krasser, Pausch and Petrovic2008; La Rocca and Tortorella, Reference La Rocca and Tortorella2008; Pittenger, Reference Pittenger2008; Östenberg, Reference Östenberg2009b; Lundgreen, Reference Lundgreen2011: 178–253. All abbreviations follow those listed in the Oxford Classical Dictionary (third edition).

2 On definitions of civil war, see: Armitage, Reference Armitage2009. For the huge disruptions caused by civil war, see: Millar, Reference Millar1984; Osgood, Reference Osgood2006. On Roman Republican civil war, see: Henderson, Reference Henderson1998; Breed et al., Reference Breed, Damon and Rossi2010.

3 So Theodor Mommsen (Reference Mommsen1887: 133) and Wilhelm Ehlers (Reference Ehlers and Wissowa1939: 498), who, echoing Mommsen's words on the matter, wrote: ‘Auch bei einheimischen Aufständen und Bürgerkriegen war er nicht statthaft, eine Regel, die bis auf die Verfallszeit der Spätantike (s. u.) wenigstens formell stets beachtet wurde’ (‘In addition in the case of domestic unrest and civil war it [the awarding of a triumph] was not permissible, a rule that was at least formally followed until the decadence of late antiquity’). Cf. Lundgreen, Reference Lundgreen2011: 223. Tanja Itgenshorst (Reference Itgenshorst2005: 219–26, esp. p. 224) has noted that Octavian's triple triumph of 29 was linked with civil war (cf. Dart and Vervaet, Reference Dart and Vervaet2011: 278–80). According to her, Augustus sought to situate himself within the Republican tradition, and place his ovations and triumphs within this tradition, as they were problematic civil war victories (2005: 219–21; cf. Itgenshorst, Reference Itgenshorst2004: 445, and n. 31). However, ovations are also mentioned on the independent Fasti Barberiniani. It is a common conception to say that the war at Actium was represented by the regime as a foreign war against Cleopatra, even though it was in reality a civil war (a ‘cover–up’). The classic account is that of Ronald Syme (Reference Syme1952: 270, 275). Cf. Eder, Reference Eder, Raaflaub and Toher1990: 100; Gurval, Reference Gurval1995: esp. p. 28, cf. 15–16; Galinsky, Reference Galinsky1996: 82; DeBrohun, Reference DeBrohun and Raaflaub2007: 257; Schipporeit, Reference Schipporeit, Krasser, Pausch and Petrovic2008: 96; and on the vast scholarship on the issue, see: Lange, Reference Lange2009: 79, n. 30. Contrary to this view Mary Beard (Reference Beard2007: 303) has suggested that Actium was exclusively a civil war and was even celebrated as such (see below, pp. 82–4). A similar view is that of Geoffrey Sumi (Reference Sumi2005: 216). For Actium as both a foreign and a civil war, see: Lange, Reference Lange2009: esp. pp. 79–90.

4 Cornelius Balbus proved to be the last commander to triumph, in 19 bc, outside the imperial family. There was no deliberate policy on the matter. Warfare in Africa ceased until ad 3, and by then the practice of granting triumphal ornaments to legati was well established. The same was then the case for proconsuls (see: Rich, Reference Rich, Campbell and Tritle2013: 556). For a different view, see: Itgenshorst, Reference Itgenshorst, Krasser, Pausch and Petrovic2008; Östenberg, Reference Östenberg, Hekster, Schmidt-Hofner and Witschel2009a.

5 Honours testified to the recipient's public acclaim and defined the relationship between the commander and his peers and rivals in the Senate (Wallace-Hadrill, Reference Wallace-Hadrill1990; Sumi, Reference Sumi2005; Hölkeskamp, Reference Hölkeskamp2010).

6 The classic treatments are those of Mommsen (Reference Mommsen1887) and Ehlers (Reference Ehlers and Wissowa1939). According to Mommsen (Reference Mommsen1887: esp. p. 134) triumphal regulations were inconsistent, but even if he ended up creating too rigid a juridic system, Mommsen's Römisches Staatsrecht is a theoretical more than an empirical work (Lintott, Reference Lintott1999: 8; Pina Polo, Reference Pina Polo2011: 2). For a criticism of Mommsen, see: Beard, Reference Beard2007: 187–218. She is overly sceptical about the possibility of reconstructing customary practices, for example on ‘laurelled letters’ (2007: esp. p. 203). It must, however, be acknowledged that her book has served a useful purpose in challenging traditional assumptions.

7 The cited instance of Fulvius Flaccus is otherwise unattested, and, since commanders traditionally had to ask for triumphs, it is hard to see how rejecting a triumph would have arisen in Republican times. Augustus and Agrippa did, of course, regularly decline triumphs: Augustus in 25 (Flor. 2.33.53; Dio Cass. 53.26.5) and in 20 (Dio Cass. 54.8.3 is wrong), Agrippa in 19 and 14 (Dio Cass. 54.11.6, 54.24.7).

8 Val. Max. 2.8.7; cf. 7.6.6. According to Goldbeck and Mittag (Reference Goldbeck, Mittag, Krasser, Pausch and Petrovic2008: 61–2), Valerius Maximus implies criticism of Augustus, as both his ovations of 40 and 36 and his triple triumphs of 29 were granted in what were partly civil wars. On Valerius Maximus's direct and indirect panegyric of the imperial house and Augustus at key structural points in his work, see: Wardle, Reference Wardle2000.

9 For example: Itgenshorst, Reference Itgenshorst2005: 180–8; Beard, Reference Beard2007: esp. pp. 209–11 (calling Valerius Maximus ‘a Mommsen avant la lettre’ (p. 209)); Lundgreen, Reference Lundgreen2011: 216–23. Christoph Lundgreen (Reference Lundgreen2011: 223) concludes that civil war was a matter of definition. This does not, however, take into account the possibility that nobody denied that these victories were partly civil. Denying a civil war altogether would have been foolish.

10 For Varro as a possible source here, see: Bloomer, Reference Bloomer1992: 117–19. Martin Bloomer himself argued against Varro as a source for the chapter, but he showed only that Varro cannot have been the source for all the material (obviously, in view of the mistakes) and that we cannot prove that Varro was the source. He failed to ask himself how Valerius Maximus could have put together a discussion of ius triumphandi at all. In general, Bloomer was too concerned to show that earlier attempts to identify individual sources cannot be proved right, and failed to allow for the fact that, although Valerius Maximus made heavy use of Cicero and Livy, he clearly cannot have got everything from them: so, rightly: Wardle, Reference Wardle1998: 16.

11 Sallust echoes: see: Bloomer, Reference Bloomer1992: 110–11. Piget taedetque … procedere (2.8.7) echoes Iug. 4.9.

13 14.22–4; 22: ‘numquam enim in civili bello supplicatio decreta est’ (‘for no public thanksgiving has ever been voted in a civil war’) (trans. Shackleton Bailey, Reference Shackleton Bailey, Ramsey and Manuwald2009).

14 6.16.5: ‘Dictator de Volscis triumphavit, invidiaeque magis triumphus quam gloriae fuit; quippe domi non militiae partum eum actumque de cive non de hoste fremebant’ (‘The dictator triumphed over the Volsci, but gained more ill-will thereby than glory; for men murmured that he had earned it, not in the field, but at home, not over an enemy, but over a citizen’) (trans. Foster, Reference Foster1924). Stephen Oakley (Reference Oakley1997: 537) compared with Livy 3.63.8, 8.33.13; Vell. Pat. 2.67.4. See also Livy 1.23.1.

15 Other recent discussions of triumphal regulations include: Auliard, Reference Auliard2001; Itgenshorst, Reference Itgenshorst2005: esp. pp. 180–8; Beard, Reference Beard2007: esp. pp. 187–218; Goldbeck and Mittag, Reference Goldbeck, Mittag, Krasser, Pausch and Petrovic2008; Pittenger, Reference Pittenger2008; Lange, Reference Lange2011: 621–2.

16 For the triumph of 81: Cic. Leg. Man. 3.8; Val. Max. 2.8.7; Plin. HN 33.16; Plut. Sull. 34; App. B Civ. 1.101; Eutr. 5.9; Degrassi, Reference Degrassi1937: 18.

17 Cf. Res Gestae 24 on Octavian/Augustus; Lange, Reference Lange2009: esp. pp. 139–40.

18 See also: Itgenshorst, Reference Itgenshorst2004: 445, n. 31.

19 Cf. Sumi, Reference Sumi2005: 31–2; cf. Lundgreen, Reference Lundgreen2011: 223.

20 Contra Plin. HN 33.16.

21 Leg. Man. 3.8. Licinius Murena celebrated a triumph over Mithridates the same year as Sulla. See: Degrassi, Reference Degrassi1947: 84–5, 563.

22 Plin. HN 33.16. On placards: Östenberg, Reference Östenberg2009c.

23 On Sulla and justification, see: Vervaet, Reference Vervaet2004. On the triumvirs' use of Sulla as a model, see: Vervaet, Reference Vervaet2004: esp. p. 58.

24 On hostis declarations, see: Nippel, Reference Nippel1995: esp. pp. 66–7. The classic study is that of Friedrich Vittinghoff (Reference Vittinghoff1936). On the related topic of ‘damnatio memoriae’, see also: Hedrick, Reference Hedrick2000; Lange, Reference Lange2009: esp. pp. 136–40.

25 Livy, Per. 77; Val. Max. 3.1.2b; Vell. Pat. 2.19.1; Sen. Prov. 3.7; Sen. Clem. 1.12.1; Luc. 2.160; Plut. Cat. Min. 3.2–4; App. B Civ. 1.71; App. Mithr. 51. See: Flower, Reference Flower2006: 92.

26 Plut. Caes. 6; Vell. Pat. 2.43.4; Suet. Iul. 11.2; Val. Max. 6.9.14, later restored by Caesar.

27 App. B Civ. 1.80; Plut. Pomp. 11; Eutr. 5.9.1.

28 For the date between 82 and 79, see: Beard, Reference Beard2007: 16 and n. 28. The African triumph: Cic. Leg. Man. 61, cf. 28; Cic. Pis. 58; Cic. Phil. 5.43; De Bello Africo 22.3; Liv. Per. 89; Vell. Pat. 2.40.4, 53.2–3; Val. Max. 8.15.8; Luc. 6.817, 7.685, 8.24; Plin. HN 7.95, 8.4, 37.13; Plut. Pomp. 14; Plut. Crass. 7.1, 12.1; Plut. Sert. 18.3; Apophthegmata Pompei 5; App. B Civ. 1.80, De Viris Illustribus 77.2; Eutr. 5.9.1; Zonar. 10.2,5.

29 Plut. Pomp. 14. On the lack of status of Pompeius: Plut. Sert. 18.2; Cic. Leg. Man. 61; Plin. HN 7.95; Val. Max. 8.15.8. See, on the controversies of this triumph: Mommsen, Reference Mommsen1887: 131–2; Beard, Reference Beard2007, 15–18; Lundgreen, Reference Lundgreen2011: 233–6.

30 The Spanish triumph of Pompeius: Cic. Leg. Man. 62; Cic. Pis. 58; Cic. Sest. 129; Cic. Div. 2.22; Vell. Pat. 2.30.2, 40.4, 53.3; Val. Max. 8.15.8; Luc. 7.14, 8.809–15; Plin. HN 7.95–6; Plut. Pomp. 22.1, 23.2, 45.5; Plut. Crass. 11.8, 12.4; App. B Civ. 1.121; Flor. 2.10.9; Dio Cass. 36.25.3; Eutr. 6.5.2; Zonar. 10.2,5. For Metellus Pius's triumph, see: Degrassi, Reference Degrassi1947, 565.

31 See now: Morstein-Marx, Reference Morstein-Marx2007; Reference Morstein-Marx and Hölkeskamp2009. He has pointed out that the right to pursue the consulship in absentia was conferred in the Law of the Ten Tribunes of 52 bc. Caesar should, therefore, have been allowed to be elected consul while still at the head of his army (2009: esp. pp. 126–7).

32 Caes. B Civ. 1.9.5; cf. 1.8.3, 1.9.3; Caes. B Gall. 6.1.2.

33 Cic. Phil. 14.23; Dio Cass. 42.18.1.

34 Liv. Per. 115; Vell. Pat. 2.56.1–2; Plin. HN 9.171, 14.97, 19.144; Suet. Iul. 37, 49.4, 54.3; Suet. Aug. 8.1; Plut. Caes. 55; App. B Civ. 2.101–2; Flor. 2.13.88–9; Dio Cass. 43.14.3, 19.1–2; Oros. 6.16.6; Zonar. 10.10; Fasti Cuprenses: Degrassi, Reference Degrassi1947: 244.

35 Dio Cass. 42.20.1: a carte blanche?

36 Dio Cass. 42.20.5, 43.14.3. On the white horses, see: Weinstock, Reference Weinstock1971: 68–71.

37 Although Caesar's ovation of 44 was odd in that there was neither an enemy nor a preceding war (Ovans ex monte Albano: Dio Cass. 44.4.3; Suet. Iul. 79; Degrassi, Reference Degrassi1947: 86–7, 567).

38 Liv. Per. 116; Vell. Pat. 2.56; Suet. Iul. 37; Plin. HN 14.97; Quint. Inst. 6.3.61; Plut. Caes. 56.7; Dio Cass. 43.42.1–3; Flor. 2.13.88; Sumi, Reference Sumi2005: 63–4.

39 Plut. Caes. 56; Dio Cass. 43.42.1.

40 Dio Cass. 43.42.1; cf. Dio Cass. 43.31.1; Degrassi, Reference Degrassi1947: 86–7, 567; Rich, Reference Rich1996: 94 and n. 35.

41 Cf. below on the triumviral assignment of Octavian.

42 On their composition, and the high proportion of Spanish auxiliaries, see: BHisp. 7.4–5, 42.6; Brunt, Reference Brunt1971: 474.

43 Florus 2.13.89 is much too generous to Caesar: ‘Pharsalia et Thapsos et Munda nusquam. Et quanto maiora erant, de quibus non triumphabat!’ (‘Pharsalia, Thapsus and Munda made no appearance; yet how much greater were the victories for which he had no triumph!’).

44 Dio Cass. 41.57.1–2 on Pompeius and Caesar calling each other tyrant and themselves liberators.

45 Res Gestae 1.3: Octavian was given imperium and as praetor he was ordered to make sure Rome would come to no harm.

46 Francisco Pina Polo (Reference Pina Polo, Turner, Kim On Chong-Cossard and Vervaet2010: 87) rightly suggests that Cicero was one of the great promoters of the civil war of 43.

47 22: ‘nunquam enim in civili bello supplicatio decreta est’ (‘for no public thanksgiving has ever been voted in a civil war’). Again, the justification is a hostis declaration (Phil. 14.24). On the Philippics, see now especially: Manuwald, Reference Manuwald2007.

48 For Cicero's own references to this decision, see Cat. 3.15; Pis. 6; Phil. 2.13.

49 Cic. Ad Brut. 1.3.4, 5.1; Liv. Per. 119; Vell. Pat. 2.62.4; Dio Cass. 46.40.1 and a supplication of 50 days: Cic. Phil. 14.36–8, 14.11, 14.29; Dio Cass. 46.38.1–2; Cic. Fam. 11.18.3; App. B Civ. 3.74. Dio Cass. 46.39.3 proposes 60 days as the only source. Cicero also wanted an ovation for Octavian (Cic. Brut. 1.15.9). The proposal had been mentioned earlier by Brutus himself (Cic. Brut. 1.16.2). However, the other sources show that this proposal cannot have led to a senatorial decree to that effect, since there was no honorific mention of Octavian (Liv. Per. 119; Vell. Pat. 2.62.4–5; App. B Civ. 3.74; Dio Cass. 46.40; cf. App. B Civ. 3.80, 3.82, 3.89).

50 On Augustus's triumphal and non-triumphal returns to Rome, suggesting that even though he declined triumphs after 29, he still made a show of his returns, see: Lange, forthcoming. Augustus defined anew a traditional war ritual — the triumph — and at the same time he had initiated the process of defining the adventus of the princeps.

51 App. B Civ. 5.65; Dio Cass. 48.28.4; Lange, Reference Lange2009: esp. pp. 29–33. Fixed-term tasks, similar to the examples found during the triumvirate (Lange, Reference Lange2009), later became the standard method Augustus used to justify monarchy (Rich, Reference Rich, Turner, Kim On Chong-Cossard and Vervaet2010; Reference Rich and Rivière2012). Pacifying the Empire was one such task.

52 Lepidus's triumph: Degrassi, Reference Degrassi1947: 86–7, 567; Fasti Barb., see Degrassi, Reference Degrassi1947: 342–3; Cic. Phil. 13.7–9; Vell. Pat. 2.67.4; App. B Civ. 4.31. When Lepidus later joined Antonius, the Senate rescinded his honours: Cic. Fam. 12.10.1; Cic. Brut. 1.12.1–2, 15.9, 18.6; Vell. Pat. 2.64.4; App. B Civ. 3.96; Dio Cass. 46.51.4. At almost the same time Munatius Plancus, proconsul in Transalpine Gaul, triumphed over Gauls. For Plancus's triumph, see: Degrassi, Reference Degrassi1947: 86–7, 567; Fasti Barb., see Degrassi, Reference Degrassi1947: 342–3; CIL X 6087 = ILS 886; Vell. Pat. 2.67.4, ex Gallia. At their triumphs the soldiers shouted that it was over Germans not Gauls, the Latin word germanus meaning brother. Vell. Pat. 2.67.4; cf. Quint. 8.3.29; Woodman, Reference Woodman1983: 155. See also App. B Civ. 4.31 for the blurring between foreign and civil war.

53 App. B Civ. 5.130; Dio Cass. 49.15–16; Degrassi, Reference Degrassi1947: 86–7, 569: ovans ex Sicilia.

54 App. B Civ. 5.65; Sumi, Reference Sumi2005: 31; Goldbeck and Mittag, Reference Goldbeck, Mittag, Krasser, Pausch and Petrovic2008: 69; Lange, Reference Lange2009: esp. pp. 29, 33–8.

55 Christopher Dart and Frederik Vervaet (Reference Dart and Vervaet2011: 278) suggest that the Senate could have granted an ovation only after the 36 war, as it was first and foremost a civil war. According to Maria Dettenhofer (Reference Dettenhofer2000: 38) this is, at least partly, the civil war mentioned in Res Gestae 34.1, but in Res Gestae 25.1 Augustus mentions slaves and pirates (cf. Res Gestae 27.3). Regarding the problems of how to conceptualize this victory, see: Itgenshorst, Reference Itgenshorst2004: 445, n. 31; Osgood, Reference Osgood2006: 301. Josiah Osgood is certainly right in stressing that this was more than crushing a slave rebellion. Importantly, this war was represented mainly as a slave/pirate war, not just a civil or foreign war (see Res Gestae 25.1; Hor. Epod. 9.7–10; Vell. Pat. 2.73.3; Flor. 2.18.1–2; Dio Cass. 48.19.4; Osgood, Reference Osgood2006: esp. 203; Cooley, Reference Cooley2009: 214; Lange, Reference Lange2009: 33–8). For a more sympathetic account of Sextus Pompeius, see: Powell and Welch, Reference Powell and Welch2002.

56 For Octavian's ovations, see Res Gestae 4.1; Suet. Aug. 22.1; Degrassi, Reference Degrassi1947: 86–7, 568–9; Fasti Barb., see: Degrassi, Reference Degrassi1947: 342–3.

57 On the discussion concerning the Res Gestae and lies and deception, see: Ridley, Reference Ridley2003; and, for a more balanced account: Rich, Reference Rich, Turner, Kim On Chong-Cossard and Vervaet2010.

58 Since the war was also a civil war, Octavian/Augustus had an interest in playing down the carnage. Plut. Ant. 68.1 suggests that there were no more than 5,000 enemy dead at Actium. It may be no coincidence that, since the early second century, 5,000 had very likely been the minimum number of enemy dead to qualify a commander for a triumph. Augustus claimed to have killed just enough enemies to earn his Actian triumph (Lange, Reference Lange2011).

59 On triumphs being voted without being requested, see Dio Cass. 42.20.1–5, 43.14.2–3 on Caesar. The decreeing for Decimus Brutus after Mutina followed the same pattern. For the traditional procedure of requesting a triumph, see Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 3.22.3; Liv. 3.63.5–11.

60 It may be that Dio Cassius only knew that a decree was passed, not whether it was implemented (Rich, Reference Rich1998: 78–9; Swan, Reference Swan2004: 21–3; Lange, Reference Lange2009: 125–57).

61 According to Christopher Pelling (Reference Pelling, Breed, Damon and Rossi2010: 108) Actium only in retrospect became a civil war; the war was declared against Cleopatra, as she allegedly was planning to invade Italy with Antonius (Liv. Per. 132; Vell. Pat. 2.82.4; Tac. Ann. 3.18; Plut. Ant. 56.1–2, 56.4, 57.3, 58.1–2, 60.2, 62; Paus. 4.31; Dio Cass. 50.3.2, 50.9.2, 50.12–13; Flor. 2.21.1–3). The main argument against Pelling is the historical context (Lange, Reference Lange2009). Furthermore, later sources would have worked from contemporary evidence, at least implicitly, using evidence that derived from contemporary sources.

62 Against this view, see Suet. Aug. 17.2; App. B Civ. 4.38, 4.45.

63 Contra Walter Eder (Reference Eder, Raaflaub and Toher1990: 100), who agreed that Antonius was not declared a hostis but then added: ‘the declaration of war was directed against Cleopatra. The new war was not going to be a civil war’.

64 Cf. Sumi, Reference Sumi2005: 216. The omission of the Actium triumph in the Fasti Barberiniani is probably just a stone-cutter's error. It certainly cannot be anything to do with qualms about the triumph's civil war character (Beard, Reference Beard2007: 303–5; Lange, Reference Lange2009: 150–1; contra Gurval, Reference Gurval1995: 31–2).

65 On the honours after Actium, see: Lange, Reference Lange2009: esp. pp. 125–57.

66 On the triumphal route, see now especially: Östenberg, Reference Östenberg2010. Regarding the arch of Augustus the most likely scenario is still the one presented by Rich (Reference Rich1998), who suggested that the arch preserved is the arch of Actium. Later alterations meant it could accommodate the standards, in order to celebrate the Parthian settlement. Cf. Lange, Reference Lange2009: 163–6. Contrary to this, see: Nedergaard, Reference Nedergaard2001. It seems fair to suggest that it would seem very odd indeed if no monument commemorated Actium after 19; that is if the Parthian arch took over from the demolished Actian arch.

67 Suet. Vesp. 8.1; Joseph BJ 7.119–57.

68 On the Augustan ideology of peace, see: Lange, Reference Lange2009.

69 During the reign of Augustus it had figured at least in the Laudatio Turiae 2.25.

70 ILS 425 = CIL VI 1033. See: Rosso, Reference Rosso, Hurlet and Mineo2009; Rich, Reference Rich and Rivière2012: 110 (for the political slogans).

71 CIL VI 1139; and on the arch, see: Elsner, Reference Elsner2000.

72 On the ritual: Rüpke, Reference Rüpke1990: 225–6; cf. Flaig, Reference Flaig2004: esp. p. 32.

73 I am very grateful to Jesper Madsen, Ida Östenberg, John W. Rich, the two anonymous referees of the Papers of the British School at Rome, as well as its Editor for helpful suggestions and comments. A version of this paper was presented at an Associazione Internazionale di Archeologia Classica seminar at the British School at Rome in January 2012.


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